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MLA 8: Guiding Principles

MLA 8: Guiding Principles

The approach to citing sources in the MLA Handbook, 8th Edition, is a fundamental shift from the 7th edition, which primarily impacts bibliographic citations, in which a "universal set of guidelines" is used for all types of sources. In addition, the concept of the "container" (as well as containers within containers, like the idea of the Russian Matryoshka dolls) is a metaphor used throughout this edition of the handbook.  

By Stephen Edmonds from Melbourne, Australia CC BY-SA 2.0 

Parenthetical or "in-text" citations essentially remain the same. Given this fundamental shift, it is worth reviewing the thinking behind these changes by reviewing the handbook itself. 

However, a very basic guideline is listed below of the general elements and punctuation for the 8th edition. Any elements not available for any particular source is excluded.*

  1. Author (Last name, First name; if personal author).
  2. "Title of Source."
  3. Title of Container,
  4. Other Contributors, 
  5. version,
  6. number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication Date, 
  9. Location. 


*Note, elements 3-9 will repeat if your source has multiple containers. For example, a print book that is accessed electronically through a subscription database such as ProQuest eBrary.

Putting it all together:

Below is a brief guide for some of the most common sources students are likely to use for their research assignments. This guide is still in draft format. However, it may be reproduced for faculty and student use. 


Easy Bib on MLA 8th

Resources on MLA 8th

MLA 8th Edition

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