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The MLA presented a free webinar about what’s new in the ninth edition. In the webinar, MLA editors provided an overview of what’s covered in each chapter, discussed style changes, highlighted new material, and answered questions. Visit this site to view a recording of the webinar.

 

Finding the publication date for online sources can be challenging. Often, the publication date is listed near the title or author’s name or in the copyright line at the bottom of a website. But in the example below, an anonymous review published in Publishers Weekly, the publication date does not appear on the page, and the site does not provide a copyright date:

Publishers Weekly review

But if you click on Details at the bottom of the review,

Publishers Weekly Details buttong

you’ll find additional publication details, including the date on which the work was reviewed: 2 April 2020:

Publishers Weekly publication details

The review date can be listed in the Publication Date element in your entry:

Review of Or What You Will, by Jo Walton. Publishers Weekly, 2 Apr. 2020, www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-250-30899-3/.

For more details about how to find publication dates, as well as examples for many source formats, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.

If the title displayed on the title page of your source contains a serial comma, include the comma when you reproduce the title. For example, the title displayed on the title page below contains a serial comma:

Title with serial comma

The comma is thus included when the title is reproduced:

After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away

But here is an example of a title page displaying a title with no serial comma:

Title without serial comma

So no comma appears when the title is reproduced:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The ninth edition retains the MLA’s unique system of documentation established in the eighth edition. New to the ninth edition are hundreds of additional example citations and visuals; expanded guidance on formatting papers, citing sources, quoting and paraphrasing, and avoiding plagiarism; and entirely new sections on inclusive language, annotated bibliographies, and notes. The chart below gives a head-to-head comparison of the two editions.

 
  MLA Handbook, 9th edition MLA Handbook, 8th edition
Publication date April 2021 April 2016
Audience students, teachers, librarians, advanced scholars, writers, and editors students, teachers, librarians and advanced scholars
Format

paperback, hardcover, spiral, e-book

400 pages

142 visuals

paperback, large print, e-book

160 pages

24 visuals

Sample citations 333 sample citations in the text, with an appendix of over 200 additional examples by publication format 164 sample citations in the text
Citing sources

newly expanded guidance spans 3 chapters

Paper-formatting guidelines

plus new guidelines on group projects, title pages, and lists

 
Writing advice punctuation; capitalization; styling terms, names, and titles in prose; and more
Inclusive language guidelines tips to help writers use language thoughtfully when discussing race and ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, and economic or social status  
Plagiarism guidelines

with new advice on common knowledge, passing mentions, allusions, and epigraphs

Annotated bibliographies  
Quoting and paraphrasing sources

with new guidance on differentiating one’s own ideas from those of the source, punctuation and capitalization with quotations, and more

Footnotes and endnotes   
Abbreviations lists

with a new list demonstrating how to create abbreviations for any title

The ninth edition of the MLA Handbook aims for stylistic consistency in prose and works-cited-list entries. Since seasons are styled lowercase in prose (e.g., My favorite seasons are spring and fall), seasons are styled lowercase in the Publication Date element of works-cited-list entries as well. Seasons will most likely appear in entries for journal articles, as shown in the following example:

Belton, John. “Painting by the Numbers: The Digital Intermediate.” Film Quarterly, vol. 61, no. 3, spring 2008, pp. 58-65.

Yes. The following corrections have been made in the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook since its publication. This chart shows in which printing the changes first appeared.

Section number Page number As originally published As corrected Reason for correction Printing number
ch. 3
91 When the dictionary gives both the capitalized and lowercased form as acceptable options—as many do for black and Black, for example—choose one and be consistent. If you are working directly with an author or discussing a person or community whose preferences are known, however, follow that preference. When the dictionary gives both capitalized and lowercased forms as options, choose one and be consistent. When the dictionary notes that one form is the more commonly used one, as Merriam-Webster does for Black, generally use the more common form. But when you are working directly with an author or discussing a person or community whose preferences are known, follow that preference. To reflect a dictionary change after the handbook went to press 3rd
5.41 148 Othello. Performances by Laurence Olivier et al., BHE Films, 1965. Othello. Directed by Stuart Burge, performances by Laurence Olivier et al., BHE Films, 1965. Generally list film directors as key contributors in the Contributor element 3rd
5.44 151 Burge, Stuart, director. Othello. Japanese subtitles by Shunji Shimizu, BHE Films, 1965. Othello. Directed by Stuart Burge, Japanese subtitles by Shunji Shimizu, BHE Films, 1965. Generally list film directors as key contributors in the Contributor element 3rd
5.48 154 Blade Runner. 1982. Director’s cut, Warner Bros., 1992. Blade Runner. 1982. Directed by Ridley Scott, director’s cut, Warner Bros., 1992. Generally list film directors as key contributors in the Contributor element 3rd
5.108 210 Blade Runner. 1982. Director’s cut, Warner Bros., 1992. Blade Runner. 1982. Directed by Ridley Scott, director’s cut, Warner Bros., 1992. Generally list film directors as key contributors in the Contributor element 3rd
6.1 238 And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street / And to Think In the Time of the Butterflies / In the Time Replaced example 3rd
7.1 288   Added cross-reference “Bilingual quotations: 6.75.” To aid navigation 3rd
appendix 2 contents 304 “With a generic label in place of title” “With a generic label and no unique title” To clarify terms “general label” and “unique title” 3rd
appendix 2 contents 307 “With Original Release Date Given Optionally” “With Original Release Date Given as Supplemental Element” To clarify use of supplemental elements 3rd
appendix 2 contents 308 “With format optionally given in final supplemental element” “With format given in final supplemental element” To clarify use of supplemental elements 3rd
appendix 2  318 “With a generic label in place of title” “With a generic label and no unique title” To clarify terms “general label” and “unique title” 3rd
appendix 2  329 “With Original Release Date Given Optionally” “With Original Release Date Given as Supplemental Element” To clarify use of supplemental elements 3rd
appendix 2 329 Blade Runner. 1982. Director’s cut, Warner Bros., 1992. Blade Runner. 1982. Directed by Ridley Scott, director’s cut, Warner Bros., 1992. Generally list film directors as key contributors in the Contributor element 3rd
appendix 2 331 “With format optionally given in final supplemental element” “With format given in final supplemental element” To clarify use of supplemental elements 3rd
index 358 A subentry of “online journal articles” shows the following: Location element for, 5.73, fig. 5.87 Location element for, 5.87, figs. 5.87–5.89 Correction 3rd
index 361 A subentry of “question marks” shows the following: in titles of works, 1.102, fig. 2.11, 2.102, 2.105 in titles of works, fig. 2.11, fig. 2.14, 2.101, 2.102, 2.105 Correction 3rd

The ninth edition of the MLA Handbook simplifies and clarifies the terminology used to describe some of the elements of a works-cited-list entry.

In MLA style, works-cited-list entries are created using a template of core elements. But on occasion it might be necessary or useful to supply other details about a source. In the previous edition, these elements were called optional elements. But since this information is sometimes required (as in example 1 below) and other times optional (as in example 2 below), the ninth edition uses the term supplemental elements to describe it.

Example 1: A Required Supplemental Element 

Translators play an important role in a work, so their names must be provided in the works-cited-list entry for a translation. In the entry below, Leila El Khalidi and Christopher Tingley are not listed in the Contributors element because they did not translate all the plays in Short Arabic Plays. They translated The Singing of the Stars, so their names are given in the middle supplemental element after the title of the play.

Fagih, Ahmed Ibrahim al-. The Singing of the Stars. Translated by Leila El Khalidi and Christopher Tingley. Short Arabic Plays: An Anthology, edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Interlink Books, 2003, pp. 140-57.

Example 2: An Optional Supplemental Element

Sometimes a section of a work has both a unique title and a generic label. If you think the generic label will provide important information to your reader, you can supply it in the middle supplemental element, but this information is optional. The entry below shows the generic label Introduction in the middle supplemental element after the unique title.

Seyhan, Azade. “Novel Moves.” Introduction. Tales of Crossed Destinies: The Modern Turkish Novel in a Comparative Context, Modern Language Association of America, 2008, pp. 1-22.

The ninth edition of the MLA Handbook simplifies and clarifies the terminology used to describe some of the elements of a works-cited-list entry. Thus, the element name Other Contributors, used in the previous edition, has been shortened to Contributor. The definition of the element remains the same: a contributor is a person who had a hand in creating the work but is not its primary author. The change in terminology helps clarify that works without a primary author (like an anonymously written work) can have a contributor (like an editor or translator). 

Sections 5.38–5.41 of the MLA Handbook, ninth edition, explain the Contributor element in detail.

This post supports the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, now in its ninth edition.

If you refer to a work that you wrote in collaboration with another author or with other authors, refer to yourself in either the first or the third person, and refer to your coauthor(s) in the third person. You may refer to yourself and the other author(s) either by name or by using pronouns. Create the works-cited-list entry for the source as you would for any other coauthored work.

Here are some suitable ways of referring to yourself and your fellow author(s):

In “Fleeing Feeling,” Daniel Murphy and I discuss the origins of the myth of British Victorian repression.

or

In “Fleeing Feeling,” Julie Anderson and Daniel Murphy discuss the origins of the myth of British Victorian repression.

or

In “Fleeing Feeling,” we discuss the origins of the myth of British Victorian repression.

Work Cited

Anderson, Julie, and Daniel Murphy. “Fleeing Feeling.” Victorian Zeitgeist, vol. 3, no. 4, Fall 2017, pp. 134-47.

Read our related post on how authors should cite their own works.

This post supports the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, now in its ninth edition.

Begin with the title of the episode as it appears on YouTube. Then, following the MLA guidelines for citing an online video, list YouTube in the Title of Container element, the name of the uploader in the Contributor element, the date of upload in the Publication Date element, and the URL in the Location element. For example, an episode of the television series M*A*S*H that was uploaded to YouTube would appear as follows:

M*A*S*H Season 10 Episode 3 Rumor at the Top. YouTube, uploaded by DINH TAN 3, 21 Jan. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rMSkzmHz1o&list=
PLJz0BbTwAJLgSjC1iZI0-5duKL71efE2t&index=2.

Italicize the title since the episode is a stand-alone work, and ensure that the name of the account that uploaded the video is reproduced precisely. Information such as series title, season number, and episode number, which typically appears as separate information, is not included in this entry because the episode was viewed on YouTube. In this example, YouTube is the work’s container—not M*A*S*H

This post supports the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, now in its ninth edition.

When you cite an unpublished work such as an employee handbook, follow the MLA format template and provide as much information as you can. 

If the handbook does not name a specific author, put the name of the organization that produced the handbook in the Author element. Then give the title of the handbook in quotation marks (since it is an unpublished work) or a description if there is no title. Provide the date of the handbook, if given. In the optional-element slot at the end of the entry, indicate the format. Here are two examples of works-cited-list entries for employee handbooks:

Brewlala Coffee and Tea. “Employee Code of Conduct.” Apr. 2018. Typescript.

Dastardly Donuts. Employee handbook. 2020. PDF.

To learn how to cite other kinds of unpublished works, read about unpublished notebooks, unpublished translations, and unpublished scripts.

This post supports the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, now in its ninth edition.

Quotations on compilation websites may contain errors or even be misattributed, so it’s best to track down the source of the quotation. If doing so isn’t possible, then in your works-cited-list entry list the author of the web page (if one is identified), the title of the page, the name of the website, the publication date (if available), and the URL, following the MLA format template. Key your in-text citation to the first element of the entry.

According to C. S. Lewis, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success” (qtd. in “C. S. Lewis Quotes”).

Work Cited

“C. S. Lewis Quotes.” BrainyQuote, 2001-20, www.brainyquote.com/
authors/c-s-lewis-quotes.

Note that the page “C. S. Lewis Quotes” has no clear author, so the works-cited-list entry skips the Author element and begins with the title of the page.

Note also that “qtd. in” in the citation indicates that this is an indirect source, following section 3.4 of the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. If your discussion makes clear that the quotation is from an indirect source, then the abbreviation “qtd. in” isn’t needed:

C. S. Lewis quotations like this one can be found all over the Internet: “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success” (“C. S. Lewis Quotes”).

Work Cited

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

This post supports the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, now in its ninth edition.

The source in the footnote might be better placed in the text, because MLA style uses in-text citations to refer to individual sources. See section 3.5 of the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook for how to cite a source repeatedly in the text.

A note may be used instead of an in-text citation if the note includes many sources or significant annotation that would clutter the text. See our post “Using Notes in MLA Style” for more on when to use notes.

If citations are consistently placed in notes, then a repeated citation would require a new note. Note numbers are not reused in an essay in MLA style; instead, notes are numbered consecutively, as recommended by The Chicago Manual of Style (“Sequencing of Note Numbers”).

Works Cited

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

“Sequencing of Note Numbers and Symbols.” Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., sec. 14.25, U of Chicago P, 2017, www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/book/ed17/part3/ch14/psec025.html.

 

This post supports the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, now in its ninth edition.

No. The printing of a source should not be indicated in the source’s works-cited-list entry. An edition number, however, can be listed in the Version element according to the MLA format template, as shown in the example below:

Yeats, W. B. The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats. 2nd ed., Scribner, 1996.

This post supports the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, now in its ninth edition.

If you are quoting from unpublished audio transcripts, you should cite the audio recording itself. If it is important to note that you are working from unpublished transcripts that you made, you could say that in an endnote the first time you quote from the recording. The following are examples of works-cited-list entries for audio recordings, the first published and the second unpublished:

Kennedy, John F. “City upon a Hill Speech.” 9 Jan. 1961. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/historic-speeches/the-city-upon-a-hill-speech. Audio recording.

Menchú, Rigoberta. Interview. Conducted by Elisabeth Burgos-Debray. Elisabeth Burgos-Debray papers, Hoover Institution archives, Stanford, CA, 7 Jan. 1982, 2001C89.197, cassette 1.1

See our related posts on citing speeches and on citing sound recordings.

Note

1. This entry is adapted from Tom McEnaney’s “‘Rigoberta’s Listener’: The Significance of Sound in Testimonio,” PMLA, vol. 135, no. 2, Mar. 2020, p. 400.