How do I provide original publication information?

Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.

The MLA Handbook gives examples of how original publication information can be provided as an optional element in a works-cited-list entry (53). But MLA style generally avoids annotating works-cited-list entries: if information is important for the reader to know, it belongs in your discussion or in a note.

For example, let’s say that you quote from the following version of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, a novel that was originally published as a series of short stories:

Asimov, Isaac. I, Robot. 1950.

In an endnote, you might explain the original publication context for the novel, if relevant to your discussion:

The stories in I, Robot were originally published separately: “Robbie” appeared as “Strange Playfellow,” in Super Science Stories 1940; the others appeared in Astounding Science Fiction—“Runaround” (1942), “Reason” (1941), “Catch That Rabbit” (1944), “Liar!” (1941), “Little Lost Robot” (1947), “Escape!” (1945), “Evidence” (1946), and “The Evitable Conflict” (1950).

You may also discuss the publication history of a work in the text of your essay or article, if it is central to your point.

Work Cited

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.