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MLA Style Guide: Home

A guide to help with the MLA Citation Style.

MLA Style - 8th Edition - Essential Overview

The MLA style’s 8th edition offers a new model for entries in a works cited list, so that rather than consulting the handbook for the proper way to document a specific type of source (i.e. videos, journal articles, reference titles, etc.), the writer creates entries by consulting MLA’s list of core elements and compiling them in the recommended order.

Core elements are those basic pieces of information that should be common to all sources, from books to articles, from lectures to tweets. The MLA core elements are as follows:

the basic elements of MLA style

1. What does it mean when MLA refers to the “container” for a source?

Containers are the elements that “hold” the source. For example, if a television episode is watched on Netflix, Netflix is the container. Both the title of the source and its container are included in a citation.

2. What if my source doesn't have an author?

If the core element of author name is not included, simply omit this part of the citation (placeholder terms for missing information are no longer used in MLA style).

3. What if the author and publisher for my source are one and the same, such as an organization's website? How do I cite it?

When an organization is both author and publisher of a work, the organization’s name is now given only once, usually as the publisher (p. 25 in the MLA handbook). No author is stated.

4. What if my source uses a pseudonym instead of an author name?

It is now acceptable to use online handles or screen names in place of authors’ names.


@WSJ. “Generation X went from the most successful in terms of homeownership rates in 2004 to the least successful by 2015.” Twitter, 8 Apr. 2016, 4:30 p.m.,

5. Do I need to cite reference books like encyclopedias or dictionaries using a different format than typical books?

No. Now that MLA focuses on the core elements common across all types of sources rather than focusing as much on the medium or physical format of the source, you would cite an encyclopedia or dictionary like any other book. The medium of the source (i.e. print, electronic, etc.) is only required in very rare circumstances when it is needed to provide clarity for the reader.

6. When citing a journal article, how do I format the volume number and issue number?

In the newest MLA style, you now use the abbreviations vol. and no. to refer to your journal's volume number and issue number. For example:

DelGuidice, Margaux. “When a Leadership Opportunity Knocks, Answer!” Library Media Connection, vol. 30, no. 2, 2011, pp. 48-49.

7. How do I cite a website or online source if it no longer has a valid URL?

In MLA 8th Edition, you cite all of the relevant elements which are present for your source, but sometimes not all elements will be present. In those situations, do not include an element if it does not apply to your particular source. In the above case, you would make sure to note the date you accessed your online source, but if there is no current valid URL, do not include the old URL in your citation. Keep in mind, if your source is a scholarly article with a digital object identifier (DOI), you would provide this instead of a URL.


Adapted in part from: EasyBib MLA 7th Edition vs. MLA 8th Edition Guide -, and Modern Language Association (MLA) - What's New in the Eighth Edition -

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