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Research Help: MLA Style Guides

MLA List of Core Elements

MLA citations are made up of the following core elements* (in this order):

  1. Author.
  2. Title of Source. 
  3. Title of Container,
  4. Other Contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication Date,
  9. Location.

Each element is followed by the punctuation as shown in the list above. 

Not every element will be relevant to every item being documented. 

A single item may have more than one container.

For more information and examples, please see Works Cited: A Quick Guide accessible at the MLA Style Center.


* In addition to the core elements, there are optional elements that may also be included in a citation (see pages 50-53 of the Handbook). 

MLA Style: 8th Edition

Please note: this guide will be updated over the course of the summer to reflect the publication of the new 9th edition.  Links and information below pertain to the 8th and 7th editions. 

MLA is the citation style most commonly used in the Arts and Humanities. 

The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook introduced many changes and a different approach to documenting sources. 

  • The 8th edition recommends a universal set of guidelines that can be used for any source regardless of format
  • Citations are created by referring to the MLA list of core elements
  • Elements are then assembled in a particular order. 
  • MLA uses the concept of "containers" to describe when a source is part of a larger whole. 

Online Guides with Examples:

  • The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) MLA Formatting and Style Guide includes examples of citations for a variety of formats, including books, articles and online sources. Includes a "Sample Works Cited Page" with examples of print and online sources, and a "Sample Paper." 
  • Simon Fraser University Library's MLA Citation Guide covers in-text citation and includes a range of examples (such as citations for A-V materials and lectures and indirect citations). 

Print Copies of the MLA Handbook:

  • Multiple copies of the 8th edition are available at the R.P. Bell Library and Music Library (LB 2369 .G53 2016 REF). 

MLA Style Center:

The MLA Style Center provides a range of guides and resources, including:

  • Works Cited: A Quick Guide provides a brief tutorial using the MLA Practice Template and list of core elements to create an entry for a Works Cited. 
  • A blank MLA Practice Template may be accessed here.
  • Formatting a Research Paper: a brief guide to formatting your paper the MLA way (covers margins, text formatting, headers and titles, and more)
  • Sample Papers in MLA Style: examples of fully formatted papers demonstrating how sources are documented, line spacing, etc. 
  • Additional details, including a description of what is different in the 8th edition, can be found on the What’s New in the Eighth Edition page of the Style Center. 

7th edition MLA Style Guides

The following guides are based on the older 7th edition of the MLA Handbook:

The MLA Handbook

New 9th edition now available!

8th edition (2016)