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MLA Style Guide, 9th Edition: About MLA

This LibGuide reflects the changes to MLA style as directed by the MLA Handbook, Ninth Edition

The MLA Handbook, 9th Edition was published in 2021 and adopted by Taft College Library in August 2021. The 9th edition retains the core elements introduced in the 8th edition while including new guidelines for commonly asked questions and restores and updates key sections from previous editions. Additional information about annotated bibliographies and visual examples are also included. 

Student Learning Outcomes

A student will be able to:

  • Define citation
  • Identify sources that need citation
  • Construct in-text citations for basic sources (books and articles) using a citation style
  • Construct a "Works Cited" or "References" page for an academic paper

The core elements of any entry in the Works Cited list are shown in the chart below. The core elements are in the order in which they should appear, followed by the appropriate punctuation mark. If an element cannot be found or does not apply to the source being cited, omit that element from the entry. End the entry with a period.

Each core element is explained in detail with examples on its own page under the Works Cited Entries Core Elements dropdown menu.

MLA Core Elements with Punctuation

Image credit: Modern Language Association. MLA core elements. 2016,

MLA Handbook, Ninth Edition

The standard citation style guide for the humanities, especially languages and literature, is the MLA Handbook, 9th edition, 2021. The Modern Language Association of America (MLA) publishes the manual. It is commonly referred to it as the "MLA Manual" or the "MLA Handbook."

Two types of citations are included in most research papers: citations within the text of the document and a list of reference citations at the end of the paper.

In-Text Citations:

In-text citations appear in the body of your paper. They identify your use of an idea or quotation from one of your sources. The MLA Handbook uses the author-page citation system for in-text citations. 

Reference Citations:

Information about the sources you use in your work are included as a separate list at the end of the paper.  The MLA Handbook suggests using the title "Works Cited" for the list.

Any source information that you provide in an in-text citation must correspond to a source in your Works Cited page.

Important elements of MLA citations

  • If a core element does not exist or cannot be found, simply omit the element from the Works Cited entry. Placeholders including "n.d." for "no date" and "n.p." for "no publisher" are no longer used.
  • For sources with three or more authors, list the first author's name followed by ", et al.".
  • The city of publication for books is no longer included.
  • Journal volumes and issues are now formatted: "vol. 12, no. 3,".
  • If a journal issue includes a publication month or season include that in the publication date, like: "Spring 2016," or "Jan. 2016,".
  • If an organization is both the author and the publisher, list the organization only once as the publisher and begin the citation with the title.
  • Include a DOI (digital object identifier) when available using the format "doi:############." If a DOI is not available, use a stable URL, also known as a permalink.
  • The URL, without http:// or https://, should be included for Web sources. Angle brackets are no longer used.
  • The source's medium (Print. Web., etc.) is no longer included.
  • In the Works Cited entry, "p." is used before citing a page number and "pp." is used before citing a page range. These are not used in the in-text citation.

Read more about the changes to the new Ninth Edition in this article from the Modern Language Association.


This work, MLA Style Guide, 8th Edition by Angie Neely-Sardon, Indian River State College, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It is based on the work, MLA Handbook, Eighth Edition by the Modern Language Association of America published in 2016.  Additions and changes were made to this guide by Terri Smith, Taft College Library, February 10, 2017.

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