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MLA Citation Guide

Core elements template

MLA provides a template of core elements to assist in creating citations of sources for the works cited list.  For more information see chapter 5 of the MLA Handbook  OR

Image of MLA core elements template

  • Each entry in the list of works cited is composed of facts common to most works—the MLA core elements

  • The elements must be assembled in the order given in the template on the left

  • Use this template to create entries for all works cited

  • Note the punctuation!

  • Leave out any elements that are not relevant to the work being cited. (It is not necessary to use every element for every source).

  • Add another container for sources contained within another work

MLA core elements in detail


Format is last name, followed by a comma, followed by the rest of the name as it appears in the work.   e.g., Lee, Grace.

For two authors, list them in the order they are presented in the work. The  second author’s name is written in normal order.   e.g., Lee, Grace, and John Doe.

For three or more authors use et al.   e.g., Lee, Grace, et al.

Title of source.

Titles are given as they are found in the source.  Use title-style capitalization – capitalize the first and last words and all principal words.

Place titles in quotation marks if part of a larger work.   e.g., “Hounds of Love.”

Place titles in italics if the source is self-contained and independent.
e.g., Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Title of container,

If the source is part of a larger whole, the larger whole is thought of as the container.  The title of the container is italicized.
e.g., “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Four Novels of the 1960s,

Other contributors, People other than the author may have contributed to the work. Include a label describing the contributor’s role.   e.g.  edited by, translated by, directed by, illustrated by,

Use arabic numerals, and abbreviate revised to rev. and edition to ed.  e.g. 3rd ed.,   OR   rev. ed.,

Number, Use vol. and no. for journal volume and issue.  e.g. vol. 5, no. 3,
Publisher, This is who produced the work. For books look on the title page. For websites, look for a copyright notice or information on an ‘about’ page.
Publication date, The date the source was published.  If the source has more than one date, cite the most meaningful or relevant date for your use of the source.  Publication date styles vary, including: day-month-year, month-year, season-year, or year.

For a journal article or part of a book, the location is the page range.
e.g.  pp. 101-115

For online works, use the DOI, permalink, or URL (in that order of preference). Precede a DOI with:

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