The MLA’s system of documentation is based not on publication format but on a template of core elements. For each slot in the MLA template, you should include the pertinent information provided by your source. If a magazine you are citing provides volume and issue numbers in addition to a date, include the volume and issue numbers in the number slot and the date in the publication-date slot:
Note that a different version of the same source might not provide information for all the elements. The online version of the Washington Monthly article provides only months and year, so you would not include volume and issue numbers:
Page 49 of the MLA Handbook demonstrates how to create a works-cited-list entry for an artwork viewed firsthand at a museum. Include the name of the artist, the title of the work, the date of composition, and the name of the museum along with the city in which the museum is located:
The medium of publication and materials of composition, if important to your discussion, could be included at the end of the entry as optional elements.
If you viewed the same painting on the museum’s Web site, include the name of the Web site as the title of the container, followed by the publisher of the Web site and the URL. Following page 42 of the handbook, omit the publisher’s name if it is essentially the same as the title of the Web site:
Note that in the above works-cited-list entries, the date is followed by a comma in the first example and a period in the second. In the first example, 1975 is in the publication-date slot on the MLA format template. In the second example, 1975 tells you when The Train was created, not when it was published on the site MOMA. It thus appears in the optional-element slot after the element to which it relates (see the MLA Handbook 50–53 for more). There is no date after the title of the container (MOMA) because the date the image was posted is not given on the site.
No. Do not use placeholders for unknown information like n.d. (“no date”) and n. pag. (“no pagination”) unless your teacher asks you to do so.
(If facts missing from a work are available in a reliable external resource, they can be cited in square brackets; see section 2.6.1 of the MLA Handbook for more information.)
Yes. If an edition is named on the newspaper’s masthead, include it as the version in your entry. For more on versions, see section 2.3 of the MLA Handbook.
In its publications, the MLA uses the abbreviation US. (Practices among publishers vary, however, and it is not incorrect to use U.S. Whichever abbreviation you choose, be consistent.)
The MLA prefers to spell out the name United States in the main text of a work, in both adjective and noun forms. It uses the adjective form sparingly.
In the past, titles and terms in the Cyrillic alphabet were not italicized, partly because it is based on the Greek alphabet, which traditionally is not italicized (on this point, see Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., sec. 11.131). Letterspacing instead of italics was traditionally used to emphasize a word or phrase.
Today, Cyrillic cursive (the term italics is usually not used in this context) for titles and for emphasis seems to be used often in publications, including scholarly publications, perhaps because of progress in digital typesetting or because of a global trend toward standardization.
Note that there are many languages in the world that do not have an italic font—Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Armenian, for example. Arabic sometimes uses a typeface that slants to the left instead of to the right.
Given the complexity and specificity of historical, cultural, linguistic, and printing practices throughout the world, a writer should not use italics when a book title is in a foreign language that is not written in the Latin alphabet. If a work is being prepared for publication, let the author pass that buck to the publisher.
In the main text of your written work, use a suffix that is an essential part of the name—like Jr. or a roman numeral—when you cite a person’s name in full. Do not place a comma before numbered suffixes:
John D. Rockefeller IV
Place a comma before Jr. and Sr.:
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
In a sentence, add a comma after Jr. or Sr. if words follow; the suffix is parenthetical:
Sammy Davis, Jr., was a member of the rat pack.
But see the MLA Handbook, section 2.1.2, on inverting such names in the list of works cited.
When doing so is useful to readers, specialists often supply missing publication dates, using a range of methods. For example, a medievalist with expertise in paleography might date a manuscript by looking at its handwriting. If there is a compelling reason to supply a missing date of publication by looking at source code, a specialist researcher can follow the guidelines in the MLA Handbook, section 2.6.1, and use brackets and a question mark to indicate that the information is supplied by the specialist and not certain.
No. The text should always key to the list of works cited. You can provide the key in the parenthetical citation or in your text. Below are two acceptable ways to cite the MLA Handbook:
According to the Modern Language Association of America, documentation should be useful to readers (MLA Handbook 4).
According to the MLA Handbook, documentation should be useful to readers (4).
The following two examples are insufficient, because MLA Handbook
, the title of the work that begins the works-cited-list entry, is not mentioned:
Documentation should be useful to readers (Modern Language Association 4).
The Modern Language Association of America says that documentation should be useful to readers (4).
MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.
Citing sources in your text is covered in detail in the handbook (pp. 54–58 and section 3).