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MLA 8th Edition Style Guide: Changes and Examples

Guide to the 8th Edition of the MLA Handbook

8th edition of the MLA Handbook

The 7th edition of the MLA Handbook offers a separate set of citation instructions for each format type; unfortunately, there are so many variations not all can be covered in one book.  The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, published in 2016, offers a new approach to documentation that will help address all of the formats including digital publications. They have created a universal set of guidelines or elements that allow writers to intuitively document sources from the sciences to the humanities.

Book

For a complete list of style rules, consult the MLA Handbook there are copies in the Reference Collection and also at the Reference Desk:

New Edition

This guide is for the MLA Handbook 8th ed. published in 2016. For more information and examples about this new edition and new rules, see the MLA Style Center website.

Container Basics

How to Format Containers in MLA 8

Sometimes a source is part of a larger whole. For example, a magazine article is part of a larger whole, the magazine itself.  For citation purposes, we call the larger whole, in this case the magazine, a container.  When citing sources, the container is generally italicized and is followed by a comma.

How to Cite Sources With One Container

When citing sources with only one container, the title of the direct source is placed in quotes, and the title of the container is italicized.   

How to Cite Sources With Two Containers

Sometimes the source you’re citing might have two containers.  For example, if an article is found on a database, the first container is the name of the larger whole, such as a journal.  The second container is the database where you found the article.

Another example might be a television series you watched on Netflix.  The first container is the name of the series, and the second container is Netflix.

"How to Format Containers in MLA 8 - EasyBib Blog." EasyBib Blog. N.p., 2016. Web. 05 July 2016. <http://www.easybib.com/guides/citation-guides/mla-8/container/>.

Major Changes in MLA 8th ed.

MLA 8 is arranged around “containers” instead of formats. Books, journals, and web sites are examples of containers. A container within a container is possible, so there could be a journal that is on a web site, or in a database.

Below are just a few of the changes you will find in the 8th Edition

Volume and Issue Number are listed using abbreviations

  • Instead of 32.3; it's: vol. 32, no. 3 [see pp. 39–40 in the new MLA Handbook 8th Ed.]

Place of publication is omitted

  • For books, the city of publication is no longer given, except in special situations [see p. 51 in the new MLA Handbook 8th Ed.]

Publishers’ names are now given in full

  • Publishers’ names are given in full except that business words like Company (Co.) are dropped and, for academic presses, the abbreviations UP, and UP are still used [see p. 97 in the new MLA Handbook 8th Ed.]

Page numbers are designated with p. or pp.

  • Page numbers in the works-cited list (but not in in-text citations) are now preceded by p. or pp. [see p. 46 in the new MLA Handbook 8th Ed.]

Date of access is now optional and place holders for unknown information like n.d. are not used.

  • If facts missing from a work are available in a reliable external resource, they are cited in square brackets (2.6.1). Otherwise, they are simply omitted. [see p. 53 in the new MLA Handbook 8th Ed.]

Medium of publication is omitted

  • You no longer note format - print, web etc. except when it is needed for clarity [see p. 52 in the new MLA Handbook 8th Ed.]

URL is now normally given for a Web source

  • The URL (without http:// or https://) is now normally given for a Web source. Angle brackets are not used around it [see p. 48 & p. 110 in the new MLA Handbook 8th Ed.]

Common terms are no longer abbreviated

  • editoredited bytranslator, and review of are no longer abbreviated. The 8th edition provides a list of abbreviations [see pp. 96-97 in the new MLA Handbook 8th Ed.]

Works Cited: A Quick Guide

Some Examples from the MLA Web Site