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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.
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.
In “Fleeing Feeling,” Julie Anderson and Daniel Murphy discuss the origins of the myth of British Victorian repression.
In “Fleeing Feeling,” we discuss the origins of the myth of British Victorian repression.
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.
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=
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.
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.
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”).
“C. S. Lewis Quotes.” BrainyQuote, 2001-20, www.brainyquote.com/
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”).
MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.
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”).
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.
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.
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
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.
When you right-click a word in Microsoft Word, a drop-down menu appears. In some versions you will see “Look Up.” In recent versions you might see “Smart Lookup.” If you click that, a pane pops up with definitions of the word. Earlier versions of Word use the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary, while more recent versions use the Oxford English Dictionary. These dictionaries are not contained in the Microsoft Word software. They are retrieved from external websites. Much like Google results, the search results from the “Look Up” feature of Word are not works that can be cited. (See our post on citing Google definitions.) If you want to cite a dictionary, you should navigate to the website of the dictionary itself or use a print edition.
Collective nouns, like team, family, class, group, and host, take a singular verb when the entity acts together and a plural verb when the individuals composing the entity act individually. The following examples demonstrate this principle:
The team is painting a mural. (The team collectively paints the mural, so the verb is singular.)
The team are in disagreement about how to paint the mural. (The people on the team disagree with one another, so the verb is plural.)
The family takes a trip to California once a year. (The family collectively takes a trip, so the verb is singular.)
The family have differing ideas about the annual trip. (The individuals in the family have differing ideas, so the verb is plural.)
Note, though, that since some readers may find a singular verb with a collective noun distracting, it may be best to revise:
The team members are in disagreement about how to paint the mural.
The artists are in disagreement about how to paint the mural.
The family members have differing ideas about the annual trip.
An opera waltz, like any portion of a larger musical work, is styled roman, in quotation marks.
The Chicago Manual of Style explains, “Titles of operas, oratorios, tone poems, and other long musical compositions are italicized and given standard title capitalization. Titles of songs and other shorter musical compositions are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks, capitalized in the same way as poems” (“Operas”). This means that if the composition is referred to by its first line of text, its title will use sentence-style capitalization (“Poems”).
The sentence below refers to a waltz first by its opening line of text, using sentence-style capitalization, and then by its popular title, using title-style capitalization. The larger work containing the waltz, the opera La bohème, is italicized.
Act 2 of La bohème features one of the most famous selections from any opera, known as “Quando m’en vo” or “Musetta’s Waltz.”
Introduction to Research in Music notes that terms identifying the genre of a musical selection “are left as lowercase words when they are not part of a specific title” (Wingell and Herzog 213).
The waltz from Eugene Onegin includes sung text but is sometimes recorded with instruments alone.
Compositions that belong to a specific genre (waltz, march, etc.) may also have titles that do not include the generic term.
George Balanchine’s ballet Vienna Waltzes begins with Johann Strauss’s “Tales from the Vienna Woods.”
“Operas, Songs, and the Like.” The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., sec. 8.194, U of Chicago P, 2017, www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/book/ed17/part2/
“Poems Referred to by First Line.” The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., sec. 8.182, U of Chicago P, 2017, www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/book/ed17/part2/
Wingell, Richard J., and Silvia Herzog. Introduction to Research in Music. Prentice Hall, 2001.
Use the pronoun who to refer to the subject of a verb and the pronoun whom to refer to a verb’s object or to the object of a preposition:
Who wants to go on vacation?
I don’t know whom to tell.
To whom should I give the book?
In the examples above, who is the subject of the verb wants, the first whom is the object of the verb tell, and the second whom is the object of the preposition to.
But beware of tricky constructions. In the following example, should you use who or whom?
The neighbor _____ they wanted to invite was out of town.
Here you should use whom because it is the object of wanted to invite. If you are unsure, you can rearrange part of the sentence as a test: they wanted to invite whom.
Here’s another example where rearranging the sentence can be helpful:
Is there someone _____ I can help?
Here the correct term is whom because it is the object of can help: I can help whom? You could also try substituting a personal pronoun. Would you say I can help she? No, you would say I can help her. Her and whom are both object pronouns, so if the sentence makes sense with her, then you should choose whom.
Let’s try another one:
The woman returned the toy to the child _____ she assumed had lost it.
Here the correct term is who because it is the subject of had lost. To test, try removing she assumed from the sentence: The woman returned the toy to the child who had lost it.
Finally, keep an eye out for verbs followed by prepositions. Which of the following sentences is correct?
There’s no accounting for who loves you.
There’s no accounting for whom you love.
Trick question! Both are correct. The key is to determine how the pronoun relates to the verb. In the first example, who is the subject of the verb loves. In the second example, whom is the object of the verb love.
Think you understand the difference between who and whom? If so, test your knowledge with our quiz.
For more on pronouns, see our Grammar Topics page.
When citing interviews of the same person taken from different collections, treat the person being interviewed as the author in each instance, as is generally the case with interviews. Next, list the title of the chapter in which the interview appears. You may choose to include the interviewer’s name in the optional-element slot after the title of the interview. After this, list the title of the book as the title of the container and the author or editor of the book in the Contributor element. Finally, list the publication details and the page range for the chapter.
In the example that follows, the editor of the collection from which the interview is taken is someone other than the person who conducted the interview:
Stoppard, Tom. “Dialogue with Tom Stoppard.” Interview conducted by Joseph McCulloch. Tom Stoppard in Conversation, edited by Paul Delaney, U of Michigan P, 1994, pp. 38–45.
If the interviewer and the author of the collection of interviews are one and the same, there is no need to include additional information on the person who conducted the interview. In the following example, Mel Gussow is both the author of the book Conversations with Stoppard and the person who conducted the interview:
Stoppard, Tom. “‘Happiness Is Equilibrium. Shift Your Weight.’” Conversations with Stoppard, by Mel Gussow, Limelight Editions, 2004, pp. 39–76.
When referring to these interviews in the prose of your text, provide the author’s first and last name on first mention and the title of the interview. Parenthetical citations should generally include the author’s last name (unless the name of the author has already been mentioned in your prose), a short form of the title of the interview, and, where appropriate, a page number or page range. In parenthetical citations, the author’s last name and the short form of the title should be separated by a comma. For instance:
(Stoppard, “Dialogue” 44)
(Stoppard, “Happiness” 62)
Cite the essay the same way you would cite an essay in an anthology with one difference: whereas for an anthology you would list the name of the book’s editor in the Contributors element, preceded by the label “edited by,” for a monograph you would list the name of the book’s author in the Contributors element, preceded by the label “by”:
Luhmann, Niklas. “Cognition as Construction.” Luhmann Explained: From Souls to Systems, by Hans-Georg Moeller, Open Court, 2006, pp. 241-60.