MLA Core Elements

MLA 9th Edition has maintained the 8th edition's unique system of documentation. Now that we are in the era of digital publication, MLA updated their citation style to depend less on a strict structure based on source type and more on core citation elements that can be applied in order to any type of source, whether it is a journal article or a YouTube video.

For each resource you want to cite, you can go down this list one by one and include the elements that apply to your source! Each element should be followed by the corresponding punctuation mark listed below. The core elements are as follows:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of Source.
  3. Title of Container,
  4. Other Contributors,
  5. Versions,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication Date,
  9. Location.

A container is the larger work that a source is a part of and sometimes a source can have multiple containers. A few examples of containers are an academic journal, a database, or a website (like YouTube). Some sources, like books, are their own containers so that element of the citation does not apply to them.

  • Example: An article (the source) published in the American Journal of Medicine (1st container) and located in one of our online databases, Academic Search Complete (2nd container)

Citation Resources

Basic Citation Information

A citation identifies a book, periodical article, or other information resource. A citation will include the basic pieces of information necessary to allow you to find the article. That same information is used to create the list of references, or bibliography you will put in your research paper. Your instructor can then use the citations in the bibliography of your paper to identify and locate those same articles.

A single citation is sometimes called a "reference." A list of citations is generally known as a "bibliography," although sometimes the list is called simply a "works cited" page or "list of references."

When you place citations in your research paper, they must be written in a correct format by following the style manual of a particular discipline. Citation styles you may be required to use are: 

  1. APA (American Psychological Association)
  2. MLA (Modern Language Association)
  3. Chicago 

In-Text Citations

Purdue Owl: 

    Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263).
    • Because we already stated the author's name at the beginning of the sentence we only need to cite the page number.

  • Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).
    • If there are more than three authors, just list the first last name and then et. al. 

  • Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).
    • Although we are not directly quoting Wordsworth, we still want to give credit to Wordsworth's idea.