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Citation Guide: MLA 9th Edition

Get help on all citation formats!

What is MLA?

MLA stands for Modern Language Association. It is a way to format your paper and give credit to your sources. 

Who uses MLA style?

  • The humanities use MLA style including: art, literature, music, philosophy and others.

MLA 9th Edition Core Elements

When constructing a citation in MLA, you will use the following elements below for any source. Learn more and see examples in the MLA Handbook Plus chapter on the core elements. 

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container.
  4. Other contributors.
  5. Version.
  6. Number.
  7. Publisher.
  8. Publication date.
  9. Location (in work).

Citing & Writing Resources from Purdue OWL

Online Resources from MLA

Works Cited for this page

The information on this page comes from the MLA Handbook, 9th Edition. This book can be cited in MLA style like this:

MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021. 

The elements used here are: [2. Title of source] MLA Handbook. [5. Version] 9th ed., [7. Publisher] Modern Language Association of America, [8. Publication date] 2021. Because the publisher is an organization who is also the author, this organization - the Modern Language Association - is only listed once, as the publisher. 

An in-text citation for this handbook could be (MLA Handbook 45) to refer specifically to something on page 45. 

Examples of Works Cited & In-Text Citations

Journal Article 

on the works cited page:

Lorensen, Jutta. “Between Image and Word, Color, and Time: Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series.” African American Review, vol. 40, no. 3,2006, pp. 571-86. Academic Search Premier, Drect=true&db=f5h&AN=24093790&site=eho st-live. 

in text:

(Lorensen 577)


Newspaper Article found in a library database 

on the works cited page:

Fessenden, Ford, et al. "The Battle for New York's Key Voting Blocs in the Primaries." New York Times, 19 Apr. 2016, p. A 14. ProQuest Central, docview/1781721245?accountid=26523.

in text:

(Fessenden et al. A14)


News Article from a news website 

on the works cited page:

Chang, Kenneth. “NASA Will Send More Helicopters to Mars.” The New York Times, 27 July 2022,

in text:




on the works cited page:

Dorris, Michael, and Louise Erdrich. The Crown of Columbus. HarperCollins Publishers, 1999. 

in text:

(Dorris and Erdrich 110-12)


Article or Specific Chapter from a Book 

on the works cited page:

Copeland, Edward. “Money.” The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, edited by Copeland and Juliet McMaster, Cambridge UP, 1997, pp. 131-48. 

in text:

(Copeland 135)


Webpage on a Website 

on the works cited page:

“Infographic: Benefits of Language Learning.” Modern Language Association, 2022,

in text:

("Inforgraphic: Benefits of Language Learning")


Film on an App 

on the works cited page:

Mamma Mia. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, Universal Pictures, 2008. Netflix app. 

in text:

(Mamma Mia) or (Mamma Mia 59:03-61:23) - cite a specific scene with timestamps in the page number spot

How to Use the Core Elements

When constructing a citation for a works cited page, you will use the following list of nine elements that a source can have. You will not need all of the elements for any one source. The author and title elements are followed by a period and the other elements are followed by a comma, until the end. The end of the citation - no matter which element is last - has a period. 

  1. Author.
    • The author might be more than one person or a group of people, like a band or and organization. 
      • For two authors, write the names like this: Bagshaw, Anna, and Phil Yorke-Barber.
      • For more than two authors, write the first-listed author's name followed by et al., like this: Schutz, Suzanne, et al. 
  2. Title of source.
    • Though other elements are irrelevant to some sources, MLA guidelines require a title! Write a brief description if there is no title. 
    • Italicize the title or put it in quotations according to what kind of source it is. 
      • Books, films, and other sources that are self-contained are italicized.
      • Articles and other sources that are part of another container (like a journal) are put in quotation marks.
  3. Title of container.
    • A container is a bigger work that contains the work you are citing. A journal is the container of an article, the New York Times is the container for its articles, an album is the container for a song, and Instagram is the container for a photo found there. 
    • The container title is usually italicized: 
      • SoundCloud,
      • Mexican Literature in Theory, 
  4. Contributors.
    • A contributor might be a translator, an editor, a director, or an audiobook narrator. 
    • Define what kind of contributor it is:
      • Translated by Barbara Mellor,
      • Edited by Thomas R. Frazier,
  5. Version.
    • This could be the 2nd edition of a book, a certain translation of the Bible, or the director's cut of a movie. Capitalize the first word if there is a period before it and do not capitalize it if there is a comma before it. 
    • Examples:
      • e-book ed.,
      • Authorized King James Version,
  6. Number.
    • The number could be the volume and number of a journal or the season and episode number of a TV shows. 
    • Examples:
      • vol.46, no. 1,
      • season 1, episode 7,
  7. Publisher.
    • The publisher element can be filled by several types of entities, such as the publisher of a book, the network that aired a TV show, or a government agency that put out a report.
    • Examples:
      • U.S. Department of Justice,
      • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,
  8. Publication date.
    • Write the publication date that the source gives. For most books, this will be just the year, but other sources may be more specific. 
    • The MLA Handbook prescribes how to write dates, for example:
      • fall 2021, (do not capitalize season names)
      • 19 Mar. 2020, (use day-month-year order)
  9. Location.
    • For a print work, this will be page numbers. For example, for a short story within an anthology, the location is the pages of the anthology that contain the story. 
      • Write p. for "page" and pp. for "pages": p. 101 or pp. 101-120.
    • For something found digitally, the location is the URL or DOI. 
      • DOI (digital object identifier) is preferred if one is available. 
      • Include the http:\\ or https:\\

MLA Handbook, 9th Edition

Access MLA Handbook Plus online here or go to the front desk & ask to use the reserve hard copy.

MLA Style Video Tutorials

mla handbook plus mla style 101


How Containers Work

Rice, Kylan. "'Light—enabling Light': Emily Dickinson and the Apparatus of the
     Poet's I." Women's Studies, vol. 47, no. 3, Apr. 2018, pp. 317-32.
     Academic Search Premier,

This citation is for an academic article found in a journal that was accessed through a library database. This means there are two containers: the journal and the database. The article is inside the journal which is inside the database. Fill in all of the relevant information for the first container (here there's the title of the container, the number, date of publication, and location, which is page numbers) and then fill in the second container (here, the title of the container and the location, which is a DOI).

In the text of the paper, your parenthetical citation for a quote from this article might be (Rice 320) indicating that the quote is from page 320.