The Core Elements of MLA Citation (8th ed.)

The MLA Handbook, eighth edition, identifies nine “core elements” (20) that could appear in a works cited entry (not every source will have all nine core elements). The core elements are given below, followed by the punctuation mark that should follow when they appear in the works cited list.

  1. Author.
  2. The author refers to the person or entity who produced or created the work. So an editor, translator, producer, director or performer can go here as well.

  3. Title of source.
  4. The source can be a book, essay, story, poem, article, television series, television series episode, web site etc.


  5. Title of container,
  6. When the source (see above) is part of a larger whole, the larger whole is the container. Thus, a container can be a book that is a collection of shorter pieces, a periodical, a television series, a web site, a comic book series, a digital platform such as JSTOR, Google Books, or Netflix, etc.

    More than one container can enclose a source. For an article, its container is the periodical it was published in. However, this periodical is contained on JSTOR. In such a case, after all the core elements (6-10) have been given for the first container, put a period, and then give the second container title and its core elements.

  7. Other Contributors,

    Some sources have other important contributors besides the author: an editor, adaptor, director, performer(s) or others. Include those contributors who are most relevant to your essay. Before each name put the description of what that person does: edited by, adapted by, directed by, performances by, etc.


  9. Version,

    Version indicates the source has been published in different forms. For example, an edition is a version. A director’s cut of a movie would be considered a version.

  10. Number,
  11. Some sources are part of a numbered sequence. A number would include a book volume number, a periodical’s volume and issue number, a comic book number, or the season and episode numbers of a television series.

  12. Publisher,
  13. Publishers are the organization that are responsible for producing or making sources available: book publishers, film and television production companies, the many different kinds of organizations that have web sites etc.

  14. Publication date,
  15. Cite the date that is most relevant to your source, if more than one date is given. Write the full date as the source gives it: if the day and month is given, that is what you should use.

  16. Location.
  17. A location can be a page number or page range, a URL or web address, permalink or DOI, a disc number for a DVD set, the name of the city where a work of art can be found, an archive number, or the venue and city of a performance or other live presentation.

There are also several optional elements, on top of the core nine:

  1. Date of original publication.
  2. City of publication,
  3. Other facts about the source.
  4. This could be the following: transcript, lecture, address, total number of volumes in a multivolume publication, title of a book series, or information about original publication.

  5. Date of Access.

    Date of access can be helpful for online works.

We have used these nine core elements, and four optional elements, as the basis for the examples we give in our guide to citations in MLA 8th edition.