MLA Citation & Style Guide

Core Element Descriptions

There are 9 core elements to look for to cite a source in the Works Cited list. Give each in the order listed below. Elements are followed by a period or comma as shown; final elements always end with a period. Only cite available info; often some elements will be left out. 

  • 1. Author(s).
  • 2. Title of source.


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


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

Works Cited Entry:

Author. Title. Title of container (self contained if book), Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), 

          Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication date, Location. (pages, paragraphs and/or URL, DOI or permalink).

          2nd container's title (usually database name), Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date,

          Location, Date of Access (if applicable).

1. Author(s).

Give author’s last name, followed by a comma and rest of name as given in the work. For 2 authors list 1st author in reverse order but 2nd author in normal order. For 3 or more authors list 1st author (last name first) followed by a comma and et al.:

  • -  Lopez, Maria Gabriela.
  • -  Nguyen, Peter T., and Erika M. Jones.
  • -  Cox, Laverne, et al.

If the main person/people responsible for a work is an editor or editors, list this after their name(s); authors can also be corporations, governments, etc.:

  • -  Lee, Charise, editor.
  • -  Trask, Eric, and Stacy Mill Park, editors.
  • -  Center for Disease Control.

2. Title of source.

For title, all major words should be capitalized. If your source is a book, ebook, an anthology/collection of essays, a website, a film, etc. it is italicized:

  • -  The Wretched of the Earth.
  • -  Jurassic Park.

If your source is part of a larger work such as an individual poem in a collection/anthology, a book chapter, an article in a journal, newspaper, magazine, or on a website, place it in quotation marks:

  • -  “Apple’s Value Soars to $600 Billion.”
  • -  “The Raven.”
  • -  “Women’s Rights in 21st Century China.”

3. Title of container, 


If your source is part of a larger work like an individual poem, short story or chapter in a book or anthology, an article in a journal, newspaper, magazine, or on a website, then the next piece of info listed is the name of the book, journal, newspaper, magazine, or website (MLA calls this a container) in italics:

  • -  The Journal of Modern African Studies,
  • -  The Huffington Post,
  • -  The Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe,


Some containers (e.g., journal, magazine, ebook) are housed in an even larger container such as an article database (e.g., JSTOR) or ebook database (e.g., eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)). For sources such as these in databases give information for 2 containers; CONTAINER 1 describes the journal or ebook while CONTAINER 2 lists database and URL. In the example below, notice the 2 different containers highlighted in yellow; the first is the name of the journal in which the article was published, and the second is the the name of the database containing the journal.

Journal Article in a Database Citation

Stone, Jim. "Harry Potter and the Spectre of Imprecision." Analysisvol. 70, no. 4, 2010,

          pp. 638-44. JSTOR,

Core Elements

  • 1. Author(s).  Stone, Jim.
  • 2. Title.  "Harry Potter and the Spectre of Imprecision."


  • 3. Title of container,  Analysis,
  • 4. Other contributors, 
  • 5. Version, 
  • 6. Number,  vol. 70, no. 4,
  • 7. Publisher, 
  • 8. Publication date,  2010,
  • 9. Location.  pp. 638-44.


  • 3. Title of container,  JSTOR,
  • 4. Other contributors,  
  • 5. Version, 
  • 6. Number, 
  • 7. Publisher, 
  • 8. Publication date,
  • 9. Location.


4. Other contributors, 

In addition to the author of a work, other people may be credited as contributors such as editors, directors, translators, performers (actors):

  • -  edited by
  • -  directed by
  • -  performance by
  • -  translated by
  • -  illustrated by

5. Version,

  • -  7th ed.,
  • -  updated ed.,
  • -  director's cut,
  • -  Expanded ed., 
  • -  unabridged version,

6. Number, 

  • -  vol. 5,
  • -  vol. 128, no. 1,
  • -  vol. 2, 
  • -  no. 19
  • -  season 4, episode 10

7. Publisher, 

Give the name of publisher (may be omitted for articles in periodicals and for websites whose title is the same as its publisher). Please note the words University and Press are abbreviated to U and P, respectively:

  • -  Oxford UP,
  • -  Penguin Press,
  • -  U of California P

8. Publication date, 

If known, list date of publication/creation. Abbreviate all months except May, June, July as follows: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

  • -  28 Dec. 2014,
  • -  1999,

9. Location.

For print sources in a container like a book chapter or journal article give page (p.) or page range (pp.). For web sources, MLA recommends a URL but instructors may ask they not be included; digital object identifier (doi) or permalink should be used in place of a URL if available. Location can also be a physical place:

  • -  pp. 193-200.
  • -
  • -  doi:10.1353/pmc.2000.0021.
  • -  Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside.

The MLA Handbook states that in addition to the 9 Core Elements - which should be included if they are available - a writer may choose to include additional "optional elements". The placement of these elements varies and the decision to include them should be dependent on their importance to your use of the source. For additional information consult pages 50-53 of the MLA Handbook (8th edition). Optional elements include:

  • -  Date of original publication
  • -  City of publication
  • -  Other facts about the source (e.g., number of volumes, series name)
  • -  Unexpected type of work (e.g., transcript, address)
  • -  Date of access