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MLA Citation & Formatting: Works Cited Core Elements

Useful information to help you create a well-formatted document in MLA 9th edition style

MLA Citation Template

MLA Works Cited list entries are built upon the core elements that are listed and defined below. 

Each core element covers a range of situations, and some elements may not apply to every citation. The MLA Interactive Practice Template can help you organize your citations by allowing you to enter relevant information from your sources and displaying the results.


About the Core Elements of Citation

Core Elements Format Examples
1: Author.
Primary creator of the work you are citing.
Ex: individual, group, organization

One author: Last name followed by a comma, then the rest of the name as it appears on the work.
Two authors: List the first name as described for one author, followed by a comma and the word and, then the second name in normal order.
Three or more authors: List the first name as described for one author, followed by a comma and the abbreviation et al.
Online handle: If different from author's account name, place in brackets after the name.
Organization or group: omit initial article (a, an, the).

One author: Watts, Cedric Thomas.
Two authors: Devisch, Renaat, and  Francis B. Nyamnoh.
Three authors: Czernichowski, Konrad, et al.
Handle: Gaiman, Neil [@neilhimself].
Company: Wisecrack.
Organization: Modern Language Association.

2: Title of Source.
Title of the work you are citing.
Ex: book, article, essay, story, poem, film, tweet, image, song
In general: list the full title as it is found in the source and end the element with a period (unless the title ends in other punctuation).
For a work that is part of a whole: enclose the title in quotation marks, capitalize all important words, and place a colon and a space between the main title and the subtitle (if there is a subtitle).
For a self-contained work: place the title in italic font, capitalize all important words, and place a colon and a space between the main title and the subtitle (if there is a subtitle).
Book (entire): A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures - Continental Europe and its Empires.
Journal article: "Polish African Studies at a Crossroads: Past, Present and Future."
YouTube video: "Heart of Darkness - Thug Notes Summary and Analysis."
3: Title of Container,
A work that contains another work.
Ex: periodical, anthology, website, social media platform, database, music album or CD
List the full title in italic font and capitalize all important words. Normally the title of a container is followed by a comma, because publication information will follow. Book (edited): Postcolonial African Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook,
Scholarly Journal: Africa Spectrum,
Database: JSTOR,
Website: YouTube

More About Containers:
When the source you are citing is part of a larger whole, the larger whole is considered the container of the source.


  • an article from a scholarly journal is a source, and the journal is the container
  • a research database may be considered an additional container if a source was retrieved from the database
  • a poem, short story or essay from an anthology is a source, and the anthology is the container
  • an article on a website is a source, and the website is the container
  • a YouTube video is a source, and YouTube is the container
4: Contributor,
Other than primary creator.
Ex: translator, editor, film director, performer
Indicate the type of contribution followed by the name(s) of the contributor(s). End with a comma if more publication information will follow this element.

Editor: (Book Title), edited by Pushpa Naidu Parekh and Siga Fatima Jagne,
Translator: (Book Title), translated by Kevin Crossley Holland,

5: Version,
For a work released in more than one form.
Ex: revised edition, second edition, e-book edition, director's cut
Use arabic numerals for ordinal numbers (2nd, 8th, etc.). Abbreviate the words revised and edition (Rev. ed.). Descriptive terms such as expanded are generally written in lower case unless they directly follow a period. Common abbreviations for works-cited entries can be found in appendix 1 of the MLA Handbook, 9th ed. End with a comma if more publication will follow. The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments Translated Out of the Original Tongues. Standard text ed., 
The Norton Anthology of Poetry . Shorter 5th ed., 
6: Number,
Source's place in a sequence.
Ex: volume, issue, episode, season
If the source is part of a numbered sequence, include that number preceded by an abbreviation (see appendix 1) or term that identifies the type of sequence. Use arabic numerals, converting roman numerals and spelled out numbers. End with a comma if more publication information will follow.

Journal article: Sewanee Review, vol. 125, no. 3, 
TV show: Lore, season 1, episode 5, 

7: Publisher, 
Entity that produced a work.

Ex: book publisher, film studio, website organization, government agency
List publisher information as it is found on the source. Standardize capitalization according to MLA guidelines for capitalization. Separate co-publishers with a forward slash (/).Truncate government agencies. Abbreviate University Press and foreign language equivalents (UP). Change an ampersand (&) to and. City of publication is generally omitted unless publisher is multinational or the book was published prior to 1900. End with a comma. Academic Publisher: John Wiley and Sons
Film: Media Education Foundation, 
Government Agency: U.S. Dept. of Education,
University Press: Stanford UP, 
8: Publication Date,
For the version you are citing.

(date of publication, revision or upload; date source was viewed)
In general: provide the most specific date you can find in the source. Use day-month-year format if all of this information is available. Display year in arabic numerals; use lowercase for seasons of the year; capitalize months, and abbreviate month names longer than four letters. End with a comma if location information follows, otherwise end with a period. Year (book): 2020
Day-month-year (news article): 9 Nov. 1989
Season-year (journal article): Fall 2020
9: Location. 
Depends on the format of the work.

Ex: page range for print; DOI (preferred), stable URL, or browser URL for online.
For paginated works that are contained in another work (articles, book chapters, etc.) provide the entire page range of the work. Precede a page range with pp. or a single page with p. (pp. 25-36, p. 32) Use the same numbering system as the source (arabic or roman). If the work is printed on nonconsecutive pages, use the first page number with a plus sign (pp. 25+) If a DOI (digital object identifier) is included on the work, provide the DOI formatted as a URL ( If no DOI is provided, use a stable URL if possible, or a URL copied from your browser without https://.  End with a period. Scholarly article example: 
Pittner, Fruzsina, and Iain Donald. "Gaming the Heart of Darkness." Arts, vol. 7, no. 3, 2018, pp. 1-13

Supplemental Elements
Additional information about a work inserted in one of three places:

1. After Title of Source: if it doesn't pertain to the entry as a whole
2. At the end of the entry: to clarify something about the entry as a whole
3. Between containers: placed after the container it pertains to

Examples and more details about Supplemental Elements can be found in Chapter 5 (sections 105-119) of the MLA Handbook, 9th edition.

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