Fig. 1. Core elements of an MLA citation: (1) Author. (2) Title of source. (3) Title of container, (4) Contributor, (5) Version, (6) Number, (7) Publisher, (8) Publication date, (9) Location. From "Works Cited: A Quick Guide," The MLA Style Center.
Citations for all sources follow the core elements in the order listed by MLA (fig. 1):
Author. Title of source. Supplemental element 1 (only when needed). Title of container, Contributor, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location. Supplemental element 2 (only when needed).
A container has all of the information about where you found your source - for example, a website or database. Some works are self-contained, meaning that the only container elements used would be the publisher, publication date, and sometimes location. An example of this is a physical printed book. Sometimes you will need two or more containers. A good example is a journal article (your source), which is published in a scholarly journal (first container), and which you are likely to find in a database (second container).
For some sources, not all of the information listed in the MLA core template will be available. Only include information that is relevant to the source you’re citing, and do not include placeholders such as “n.d.” (no date). When creating your citation, your goal is to give your reader enough information to find the source online or in a library.
The writer, editor, director, or other creator(s) of a work. This can be one or more people, a government organization, or a company.
The title of the book, article, chapter, movie, podcast, etc., that you used. Shorter works or episodes are in “quotes.” Longer standalone works are in italics. Some sources, such as maps, artifacts, and social media posts, do not have titles. When this is the case, create a short description to use in the Title element (do not put the description in quotes or italics).
Use this for information relevant to the work that is not relevant to the container. Usually this would be additional contributors or an original publication date.
Only added to the citation if the work you used is part of a larger work (for example, a short story from an anthology, an article from a newspaper, or an episode of a TV show).
Editor(s), translator(s), performer(s), or other people who contributed to the work.
Edition or version of a work, such as the 9th edition of the MLA Handbook, the King James Version of the Bible, or the director’s cut of Blade Runner.
Applies to works in serial format, such as magazine articles or episodes of a TV show. Also applies to multi-volume works, such as encyclopedias.
The company, organization, or government entity responsible for publishing or producing the work.
The date the work was published, posted, or released.
Where to find the work – for example, the URL or an article’s page numbers in a magazine.
Used for information that applies to the entire work, including its containers. The second supplemental element slot can contain the following information (this is not a complete list – for more, consult a librarian or see the MLA Handbook, 9th edition, pp. 208-217):
If you found your source in a database, you will need to repeat the following two elements at the end of your citation:
Remove the following words and abbreviations from a publisher's name:
University is abbreviated as U, and press is abbreviated as P. Examples:
May, June, and July are not abbreviated. The other nine months are abbreviated as follows – January: Jan. / February: Feb. / March: Mar. / April: Apr. / August: Aug. / September: Sept. / October: Oct. / November: Nov. / December: Dec.
When you use information from an article that is summarizing outside sources, MLA recommends that you cite the article you got the information from and not the ones whose information you are summarizing.
For example, look at this quote from an article in the Britannica Encyclopedia about a coffee experiment.
Meghan Grim, Niny Rao, and Megan Fuller at Thomas Jefferson University roasted Colombian beans at five different temperatures....To extend the research, Grim, Rao, and Fuller are currently standardizing their process and asking additional questions like, how does roasting temperature affect coffee's many flavor compounds? The researchers are presenting their results at the American Chemical Society's Spring 2020 National Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia.
To incorporate this information in your essay, you can either paraphrase, use a direct quote, or summarize the information. Here are two examples. If you need more help paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing you can find more examples in our How to Avoid Plagiarism Guide.
For both examples above, your citation stays the same and you should cite the Britannica Encyclopedia authors in both instances.
Myhrvold, Nathan. "coffee roasting". Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 Jan. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/topic/coffee-roasting.
When you create your Works Cited page, use the following format: