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MLA Citation Style, 8th Edition: General Guidelines

A University of Lethbridge Library guide to MLA style citations.

MLA Style Guidelines

This section provides general guidelines on writing in-text references and works cited entries in MLA style.

The new MLA style is based on a general method that can be applied to any type of source. The extensive nature of the previous guides has been replaced by a few general principles and a straight-forward and flexible method that is adaptable to any type of media or source you may need in your research.

To begin, consult the list core elements of a citation, paying attention to the specific punctuation after each element.

Core Elements of a Citation


In the 8th edition of MLA, source refers to the title of a particular resource, whether that is a title of a book, chapter, journal article, song, or blog post.

Container refers to the larger whole of the resource. For example, the website on which a blog is published would be referenced as the container. An edited volume of a book would be the container for a single chapter.

Other contributors can include editors, translators, illustrators, etc. If you feel that the contribution is significant to your research, be sure to include them.

Version is included if the work is edited or if you are referencing a specific version of a work (e.g. The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998).

Number: If a source is part of a numbered sequence, include the numbers within your citation. Examples may include a multi-volume work, a journal with volume and issue, or a season of a television show.

Location: When citing the location of your source, try to be as specific as possible. Location could be the range of page numbers in an article or book; the URL of an online work; or the physical location of a piece of art.

It is important to note that not all core elements will be present in every citation. I.e., a book is its own container and may not have other versions, so it is not necessary to include these elements in the citation.

Optional Elements

A number of previously required elements are now optional in the MLA 8th edition. If you feel that this information would help your reader identify the source, without being unnecessary, please use the following at your discretion.

  • Date of original publication
  • City of publication
  • Date of access
  • URLs
  • DOIs


Please navigate to one of the pages below for citation guidelines:

For general document formatting information, which lies beyond the scope of this guide, see Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) website.