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MLA Style: MLA 8th Edition: What's New

Overview

The eight edition of the MLA Handbook, published in April 2016, introduces a new model for entries in the works-cited list, to reflect how research and documentation has changed in an era of digital content.

While earlier editions emphasized the importance of following specific guidelines for formatting, the new edition recommends a universal set of guidelines that can be applied to any source in any field. This new model embraces the idea that a style guide should offer a method that is widely applicable and flexible enough to accommodate new sources to come.

Core Elements

The MLA Handbook created a list of core elements to simplify the process of creating entries. Core elements are those basic pieces of information that should be common to all sources, from books to articles, from lectures to tweets, which are assembled in a specific order. Each entry should be uniform and simple, but should give enough information so readers can locate sources. Once you know the basic principles of style and citation, you can apply that knowledge widely, and generate useful documentation for any type of publication, in any field. By following these guidelines the work cited entries will be consistent and thorough. 

The MLA core elements are as follows:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

Note the punctuation after each element, because that is the proper way of using it in the works-cited list.

The core elements appear in the order they have to be listed in the works-cited list.

What's New: Entries

Abbreviations

  • Common terms in the works-cited list like editor, edited by, translator, and review are no longer abbreviated.

Authors

  • When a source has three (3) or more authors, only the first one shown in the source is normally given. It is followed by et al.

Books and Other Printed Works

  • Page numbers in the works-cited list (but not in in-text citations) are now preceded by p. or pp.
  • For books, the city of publication is no longer given, except in special situations.

Example:

Jacobs, Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. Oxford UP, 2011.

Journals

  • Issues of scholarly journals are now identified with, for instance, “vol. 64, no. 1” rather than “64.1”
  • If an issue of a scholarly journal is dated with a month or season, the month or season is now always cited along with the year.

Example:

Kincaid, Jamaica. “In History.” Callaloo, vol. 24, no. 2, Spring 2001, pp. 620-26.

Online Works

  • The URL (without http:// or https://) is now normally given for a Web source. Angle brackets are not used around.
  • The citing of DOIS (digital object identifiers) is encouraged.
  • Citing the date when an online work was consulted is now optional.
  • Placeholders for unknown information like n.d. (“no date”) are no longer used. If facts missing from work are available in a reliable external resource, they are cited in square brackets. Otherwise, they are simply omitted.

Miscellaneous

  • When an organization is both author and publisher of a work, the organization’s name is now given only once, usually as the publisher. No author is stated.
  • The medium of publication is no longer stated, except when it is needed for clarity.
  • When the title of a periodical (journal, magazine) begins with an article (A, An, The), the article is now treated as part of the title: the article is italicized and its first letter capitalized. For example, The New York Times