Skip to main content

MLA Style Guide - From 7th to 8th edition: Update and changes: Home

Introduction to MLA 8

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and citing sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the  MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.
Definition Source: Purdue Owl 

This update's goal was to create a style guide that emphasized an applicable usage across the board. The MLA recognized that there is more use of digital information and reflected it in this recent update.  The 8th edition has it where every type of source follows a standard format. From books, websites, periodicals, etc., can now be cited using the same style.  This guide's goal is to help explain some of the changes but as always, please follow your professor's requirements and always ask them for help whenever you are not sure if you can utilize a resource. 

The 8th edition source book can be found at several Ivy Tech campus libraries for your own personal use within the library.  It is located in the Reference collection, which means it can only be used within the library. Check the link below to see if your campus library owns a copy of this useful resource. 

Standard citation format for MLA 8

MLA 8 Follows a standard citation format referred to as a "core element" standard.  Please refer to the image below to see the standard:

As you can see, the correct punctuation mark follows each element, unless it is the final element.  In this case it is a period.

An actual source would look like this when using MLA 8
Goodwin, Doris. 
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Simon & Schuster, 2012.

MLA features that have not changed

1. The overall principles of citing and plagiarism​

2. The use of in-text citations and works cited pages.

  • What is an in-text citation? 
    •  It is when you are referring to the works of others in your text and citing them. It involves placing parentheses after you quote or paraphrase that source. 
    • It is a brief reference within your text that lets your reader know the source that you consulted. It attributes credit to your source. The goal is to direct your readers to the entry into your works cited list.  
  • In Text Citation General Guidelines
    • Source information depends on two things: The source medium (Is it Print? from the Web? DVD?) and the source's entry on your Works Cited Page. 
      • Any source information that you provide in-text must correspond to the source information that you have included on your Works Cited page. It has to match. To be more specific: If you used a signal word or phrase in your text, then that has to match on the Works Cited Page. 
      • It will contain author's name and page number.  If the author is mentioned in the sentence, however, it would just contain the page number in parentheses. 

This image below illustrates a quick reference about the rules to use in-text citations 

If you should require more assistance or more examples of in-text citations, please refer to this link from Utica College's Library  

MLA 8 Features Video

For an understanding of all the updates to MLA in this new edition, please watch this video which does a great job of explaining the changes in the 8th edition. 

Key differences between MLA 7 and MLA 8

1.  There is one standard citation format that applies to every source type.
In previous editions of the MLA handbook, researchers had to locate the citation format for the specific source they used.  For example, if it was a magazine being used, there was a specific format used for periodicals.  Due to the many ways that information is received, it has become very difficult for MLA to create a format for every source type, so a universal format was created to use for citations.

2. The inclusion of "containers" in citations.
Containers are the elements that hold the source.  For example, if a television source is watched on Netflix then Netflix would be considered the container.  Both the title of the source and its container are included in the citation. 

3. The ability to use pseudonyms for author names.
It is now acceptable to use online handles or screen names in place of authors' names.

@WSJ. "Generation X went from the most successful in terms of homeownership

rates in 2004 to the least successful by 2015." Twitter, 8 Apr. 2016, 4:30


4. Including URLs
In the previous versions of MLA, it was up to the instructor as to whether or not URLs are to be included in a citation.  In MLA 8, it is highly recommended to included the URL in the citation because even if it becomes outdated, it would be possible to still trace the information online with an older URL. 

Remember to OMIT "http://" or "https://" from the URL when citing it in the citation. 
Example: NOT

5. Adding the abbreviations vol. and no. to magazine and journal article citations
In MLA 7, numbers in periodical citations did not have an indication that they referred to volume and issue numbers. there was no indication that the numbers in periodical citations referred to the volume and issue numbers. 

Example of MLA 7 journal article citation:
DelGuidice, Margaux. "When a Leadership Opportunity Knocks,

Answer!"  Library Media Connection 30.2 (2011): 48-49. Print.

Example of MLA 8 journal article citation:
DelGuidice, Margaux. "When a Leadership Opportunity Knocks,

Answer!" Library Media Connection, vol. 30, no. 2, 2011, pp. 48-49. 

6. Omit the publisher from some source types 
It is no longer necessary to include the publisher for periodicals or for a website when the name of the site matches the name of the publisher. For periodicals, the name of the publisher is generally insignificant. 

7. Omit the city of publication
In previous versions of MLA, researchers had to include the city where the publisher was located. The city can now be omitted unless the version of the source is different if published in another country. An example of this would be British editions of a book versus United States editions of a book.

For a bit more information on changes in the 8th edition. Idaho State University's Student Success Center offers a printable handout that provides more insight into more changes that took place with the update. 

Heather Ayres's picture
Heather Ayres
Director of Library Services - Valparaiso Campus
219-464-8514 ext. 4728