MLA 8th Edition: The Core Elements

MLA handbook’s eighth edition has deliberately loosened the rules to reflect the ever-changing way that works are published and consulted.

There is now less emphasis on the work’s publication format when creating citations.

Instead, the writer creates an entry by consulting the MLA’s list of core elements, which are assembled in a specific order. The MLA Style Center provides a practice template to help with this.

And we’ve linked this template below.

Don’t worry about filling all the template’s fields. The idea is to get the citation as complete as possible so that readers can refer to your sources.

To gather information ask the following:

  • Who is the author of the source?
  • What is the title of the source?
  • How was the source published?
  • Where did you find the source?
  • When was the source published?

The concept of containers is crucial to MLA Style – When the source being documented forms part of a larger whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container that holds the source.

Let’s look at some examples together:

Do you want to cite a journal article found in the database? This is an example of a source that has two containers.

The first container is the journal and the second is the database. Gather information about the source and record it in the template like this.

 The template will guide what punctuation you use. Note that the title of the smaller article source is in quotations while the title of the larger container is in italics. Both titles are written in title case.

Use the template to piece together the citation, like this.

Do you want to cite a portion of a book, such as a chapter or an essay from an anthology? If the chapter is found in a printed book, it is an example of a source with one container. If it is located in an eBook, it is an example of a source with two containers, the book is the first container and the ebook platform where the book is located is the second container.

Information gathered about a portion of a printed book is recorded in the template like this.

And the citation would look like this.

Information gathered about the chapter in an ebook is recorded in the template like this.

And the citation would look like this.

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