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MLA : General


General Rules for MLA Format 8th Edition

How is MLA 8 different than MLA 7?

One standard citation format that applies to every source type

In previous editions of the MLA Handbook, researchers were required to locate the citation format for the source that they used. For example, if a magazine was used, researchers needed to locate the specific citation format for periodicals. Due to the various ways that information is now received, in books, websites, lectures, tweets, Facebook posts, etc, it has become unrealistic for MLA to create citation formats for every source type. Now, there is one standard, universal format that researchers can use to create their citations.

Inclusion of “containers” in citations

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.

The ability to use pseudonyms for author names

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., twitter.com/WSJ/status/718532887830753280

Adding the abbreviations vol. and no. to magazine and journal article citations

In MLA 7, there was no indication that the numbers in periodical citations referred to the volume and issue numbers.

Example of a journal article citation in MLA 7:

DelGuidice, Margaux. “When a Leadership Opportunity Knocks, Answer!” Library Media Connection 30.2 (2011): 48-49. Print

An example of a journal article citation in MLA 8:

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

Inclusion of URLS

In previous versions of the MLA handbook, it was up to the discretion of the instructor whether URLs should be included in a citation. In MLA 8, it is highly recommended to include a URL in the citation. Even if it becomes outdated, it is still possible to trace the information online from an older URL.

Omit “http://” or “https://” from the URL when including it in the citation.

Omitting the publisher from some source types

It is not necessary to include the publisher for periodicals or for a website when the name of the site matches the name of the publisher. For periodicals, the name of the publisher is generally insignificant.

Omitting the city of publication

In previous versions of the MLA handbook, researchers included the city where the publisher was located. Today, this information generally serves little purpose and the city of publication can often be omitted.

Only include the city of publication if the version of the source differs when published in a different country (Example: British editions of books versus versions printed in the United States), or if the source was published before 1900.

Author Rules:

List entries in the works cited list alphabetically by author last name.

Citing one author

To cite an author, use the last name followed by the first name and if given, the middle name of initial.


Last name, First name. Title. Publisher, Year.

Citing two authors

To cite two authors, use the last name followed by the first name and then inverse to first name and last name.


Last name, First name and First name Last name. Title. Publisher, Year.

Citing three or more authors

If you are citing three or more authors, list the first author’s name, then include the abbreviation “et al.”.


Last name, First name, et al. Title. Publisher, Year.

Contributor information:

Contributor information (editor, compilers, and translators) are typically cited after the name of the source. DO NOT abbreviate the contributor’s role. (i.e. “Ed.” for editor). Instead, write out the role in its entirety.


Last name, First name. “Chapter Title.” Book Title, edited by First name Last name, Publisher, Year, page numbers.

Audio/Visual Rules

Film/Online Video:


Last name, First name of the creator. Title of the Film/Video. Role of other contributors and their First name Last name, Version, Numbers, Publisher, Publication date.


The Little Mermaid. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, Walt Disney Pictures, 17 Nov. 1989.



Singer’s Last Name, Singer’s First Name. “Title of the Song.” Title of the Album, Publisher, Year of publication, track number. Website or Database Name, URL.


Sheeran, Ed. “Don’t.” X, Asylum Records, 2014, track 4. Spotify, play.spotify.com/track/34gCuhDGsG4bRPIf9bb02f.


Online Sources Rules



Author’s Last name, First name. “Title of the Article or Individual Page.” Title of the Website, Name of the publisher, Date of publication, URL.


White, Lori. “The Newest Fad in People Helping People: Little Free Pantries.” Upworthy, Cloud Tiger Media, 3 Aug. 2016, www.upworthy.com/the-newest-fad-in-people-helping-people-little-free-pantries?g=2&c=hpstream.

Citing an Online Newspaper Article


Shorto, Russell. “Going Dutch.” New York Times, 3 May 2009, www.nytimes.com/news/going-dutch-shorto.

Citing a Journal Article found in an Online Database


Glotzer, Richard and Anne Federlein. “Miles that Blind: Commuter Marriage and Family Strength.” Michigan Family Review, vol. 12, 2017, pp. 7-31. Academic OneFile, db12.linccweb.org/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA369065399&v=2.1&u=lincclin_ircc&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=481641178d785366b35d618e23308ebf


View our comprehensive citation guide on the Fundamentals of MLA Format.

View our visual citation guide on MLA 8 Containers.

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View our visual citation guide on how to cite a General in MLA format.

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