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MLA Style (8th/9th Ed.)

An Introduction to using MLA (9th Ed) in your projects.

MLA Changes & Updates

The Modern Language Association (MLA) simplified its citation guidelines in the 8th edition of their handbook.  

We now use a universal set of elements that can be applied to any format type. 

You may not need to include all of the elements, but the elements used must appear in the same order as shown in the list on the right, using the punctuation marks indicated.

Focusing on common elements is meant to make creating your citations easier;  particularly for new and emerging publishing platforms. 

The biggest change is that missing information is no-longer indicated in the citation. For practice templates and more information visit the MLA's online Quick Guide

The 9th edition of the MLA Handbook does not make drastic changes from the 8th edition, instead they have expanded on the number of examples provided and added more illustrations with expanded advice on writing, and manuscript formatting.  

New advice on using inclusive language can be found in chapter 3, pages 89 to 93.

New section on Annotated Bibliographies is on page 226: chapter 5 - section 132.

Chapter 7: Notes, is new and provides advice on using bibliographic notes, content notes and how to style them. Notes are not required and only used at the author’s discretion to provide additional information or commentary.

Element changes: Other Contributor(s) is now just Contributor.

‘Optional elements’ are now called Supplemental, and advice is provided for when to use it and where it should appear in your citation, which is after title of source & location. Supplemental elements are always followed by a period.

Major Changes

Major Changes:


  • n.d. for no date and n.p. for no publisher are no longer used
  • Common terms in the works-cited list like editor, translator and review of are no longer abbreviated, use "editor" - "translator" etc. 
  • Abbreviate a title for in-text citations if it is longer than a few words. If it starts with a noun phrase shorten it to only the noun phrase. Start in-text citation with the word used to alphabetize it in the works cited list. (pp.117 -118)
  • The eight edition provides a list of recommended common academic abbreviations (pp. 96-97)


  • When a source has three or more authors, use et al. after the first author.  Previously this was done when a source had four or more authors. (p. 22)

Books and Other Printed Works

  • In the works cited list, page numbers are preceded by p. or pp. Previously just the page numbers were given. (p. 46)
  • The place of publication is no longer given for books except books published before 1900.
  • Provide the publisher's full name.  Omit business words such as Company (Co.), Corporation (Corp.), Incorporated (Inc.) and Limited (Ltd.). 
  • Replace University Press with UP. (p. 97)


  • Volume and Issue numbers of scholarly journals are now labeled as vol. and no. e.g. for 73.6 you would now use vol. 73, no. 6 (pp. 39-40.)
  • If an article appears on non-consecutive pages use the first page number and a plus sign: p.50+.
  •  Rather than the URL cite the DOI (digital object identifier) if one is available (preceded by doi:). (p. 110)
  • Include the A, An, or The if the journal title (name) begins with A, An, or The. 

Online Works

  • The URL is now given for a web sources.  Omit the http:// or https://.  Angle brackets are no longer used around it. (pp. 48, 110)
  • Date accessed for online resources is no longer needed. (p. 53)


  • More than one publisher? Use a forward slash to separate them in the citation.
  • For works in a language not written in the Latin alphabet, writers must choose between giving titles and quotations in romanization or in the language’s writing system (pp. 74, 91).
  • Two forward slashes (//) mark stanza breaks in run-in quotations of verse (p. 78).
  • If a block quotation of prose contains internal paragraphing, the first line of the quotation now begins without a paragraph indention even if one is present in the source (p. 77).

Sample Article citation using elements of the 8th Edition

Sample Article citation using elements of the 8th Edition; this example has two containers.

The final citation in your works cited list, based on the sample below, would look like this:

Sample citation creation borrowed from MLA Style Guide. Note that the elements that are not necessary are left out.