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Legacy Library

MLA Quick Guide: 8th Edition: Dissecting a Citation

Elements of a Citation

The following pieces of information are recommended by MLA 8th edition for inclusion in each Works Cited entry. They should be listed in the order below with the punctuation shown.  

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


Single Author

Provide the author's name in reversed order (Surname, Given Names or Initials). Give the full name as provided on the publication; do not shorten or abbreviate the name. Reversed order facilitates an alphabetical listing in the Works Cited section of the paper.

Example: Dickens, Charles. 

Multiple Authors

Provide the first author's name in reversed order and all subsequent authors in direct order, preceding each name with a comma and the final name with 'and'. 

Example: Mathews, Lesley A., Stephanie M. Cabarcas, and Elaine M. Hurt.


Transcribe the title of the publication or article as given on the item. Include any final punctuation that is part of the title. Title and Subtitle are separated by a colon.

Use standard 'title capitalization.' Capitalize the first word and last word of the title and all other words except: 

  • articles
  • prepositions
  • coordinating conjunctions
  • 'to' used in an infinitive

Publication Title

The title of the entire publication (book, journal, web site, etc.) is given in italics. Take the title from the title page of the publication.

Example: Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions.

Article Title

The title of a part of a publication (e.g. an article in a book or journal, a page in a website) is enclosed in double quote. Retain italicization of any titles within the article title. Replace any quotation marks with single quotes.

Example: "Southern Hesters: Hawthorne's Influence on Kate Chopin, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, and Tennessee Williams."

"Shin Splints- Symptoms and Causes."

Title of Container

The Title of Container component is new to the eighth edition. It refers to the larger whole that a source is contained in. Examples of containers include print anthologies (such as poetry collections), television series, websites (when an article or page is cited), and music albums, among others.

Publication Information


Provide the name of the publisher. Abbreviate university presses with "UP."

Example: Oxford UP

Serial Numbering


Provide the volume number. If the serial uses only sequential issue numbers without a volume number, omit the volume number.


If the serial numbers issues within each volume, provide the issue number following a period.


For most journals, the year of publication follows the volume and issue. For monthlies, give the month and year (abbreviate months longer than 4 characters). For newspapers give the full date in day month year format.

Example: Volume 32, Issue 2, 2010,

Example: 4 Apr. 2020

Optional Elements

The following are optional in MLA eighth edition.

City of Publication

In previous editions, the city of publication was required. In the eighth edition, the city of publication is only required if the source was published before 1900.

Date of Access

When using digital sources, including an access date is recommended, especially if no date of publication is provided.


Including the URL is also recommended by the MLA Handbook when citing online sources.