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MLA Style Guide, 8th & 9th Editions: About MLA

This LibGuide reflects the changes to MLA style as directed by the MLA Handbook, Eighth & Ninth Editions.

Information about MLA Changes

The MLA Handbook Eighth Edition was published in April 2016 and adopted by IRSC Libraries in August 2016. In 2021, the Modern Language Association released the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition. There are no major changes in this edition. However, changes, updates, and clarifications found in the Ninth Edition are reflected in this guide. Many databases and citation generators have been updated to the Eighth Edition. Please check with your instructor about which version of MLA to use in your assignments.

Visit the IRSC LibGuide for MLA, 7th Edition.

About this Guide

Always refer to the MLA Handbook for authorized examples of citations.

Some of the citations in this guide are taken from the MLA Handbook; others are recommendations from IRSC librarians.

Always ask your instructor for specific directions pertaining to your assignment.

MLA Handbooks, 8th and 9th editions

Copies of the eighth and ninth edition MLA Handbooks are available at all IRSC campus libraries.

The Core Elements


The core elements of any entry in the Works Cited list are shown in the chart below. The core elements are in the order in which they should appear, followed by the appropriate punctuation mark. If an element cannot be found or does not apply to the source being cited, omit that element from the entry. End the entry with a period.

Each core element is explained in detail with examples on its own page under the Works Cited Entries Core Elements dropdown menu.

MLA Ninth Edition Core Elements Template

Image credit: Modern Language Association. Works Cited: A Quick Guide. 2021, MLA Style Center,

MLA References

The standard citation style guide for the humanities, especially languages and literature, is the MLA Handbook, 8th edition, 2016. The Modern Language Association of America (MLA) publishes the manual. It is commonly referred to it as the "MLA Manual" or the "MLA Handbook".

The English departments at IRSC recommend MLA format for papers written in these fields.

Two types of citations are included in most research papers: citations within the text of the document and a list of reference citations at the end of the paper.

In-Text Citations:

In-text citations appear in the body of your paper. They identify your use of an idea or quotation from one of your sources. The MLA Handbook uses the author-page citation system for in-text citations. 

Reference Citations:

Information about the sources you use in your work are included as a separate list at the end of the paper.  The MLA Handbook suggests using the title, "Works Cited", for the list.

Any source information that you provide in an in-text citation must correspond to a source in your Works Cited page.

Major Changes in the Eighth & Ninth Editions

  • If a core element does not exist or cannot be found, simply omit the element from the Works Cited entry. Placeholders including "n.d." for "no date" and "n.p." for "no publisher" are no longer used.
  • For sources with three or more authors, list the first author's name followed by ", et al.".
  • The city of publication for books is no longer included.
  • Journal volumes and issues are now formatted: "vol. 12, no. 3,".
  • If a journal issue includes a publication month or season include that in the publication date, like: "Spring 2016," or "Jan. 2016,".
  • If an organization is both the author and the publisher, list the organization only once as the publisher and begin the citation with the title.
  • Include a DOI (digital object identifier) when available using the format "". If a DOI is not available, use a stable URL.
  • The URL, without http:// or https://, should be included for Web sources. Angle brackets are no longer used.
  • The source's medium (Print. Web., etc.) is no longer included.
  • In the Works Cited entry, "p." is used before citing a page number and "pp." is used before citing a page range. These are not used in the in-text citation.

Read more about the changes to the new edition in this article from the Modern Language Association.

Changes from MLA 8th Edition to MLA 9th Edition

Old Way (MLA 8th Edition)

New Way (MLA 9th Edition)

Core element: Other Contributors

Core element: Contributor

Core element: Optional Elements

Core element: Supplemental Elements

This change was made because, in some cases, the information that corresponds to this element is not optional, but rather required.

No guidance on group assignments Paper formatting for group assignments
No mention of inclusive language Instructions for using inclusive language in research papers

Seasons are capitalized e.g. Spring 2008

Seasons are now lowercase e.g. spring 2008

Instructed to style University Press publishers as UP Continue to abbreviate University Press as UP but publishers like MIT Press should remain MIT Press
Digital object identifiers were styled doi:  Digital object identifiers should include the prefix to make them active links.

In-text citations for works without page numbers

Can skip in-text citation completely if the author was listed in the prose

Little to no guidance regarding annotated bibliography formatting Guidance on annotated bibliography formatting - see the new template here


Additions in the Ninth Edition

The MLA Handbook Ninth Edition was published in 2021. It does not feature any major changes from the previous edition - mostly additions and clarifications. Copies of the MLA Handbook Ninth Edition are available at each IRSC Libraries location. The MLA Handbook Ninth Edition includes:

  • additional examples and visuals
  • more information about paper formatting
  • new guidelines for group projects
  • new guidelines for using inclusive language
  • a new section on annotated bibliographies
  • information on including footnotes and endnotes (optional)

Inclusive Language

The MLA Handbook Ninth Edition includes a new section with guidance on using inclusive language when discussing race and ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, and economic or social status. See pp. 89-93 in the MLA Handbook. Some highlights include:

  • Make references to identity relevant.
    • Do not include terms that specify a subject's race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, or economic or social status unless it is meaningful to the context because including it for no reason may imply that this characteristic places the subject outside of the norm.
    • Reword gender-specific terms for gender neutrality. For example, use "humankind" instead of "mankind".
    • Avoid using gender-specific terms to refer to people. For example, use "server" instead of "waitress".
  • Choose terms of identity that respect your subject.
    • Use people-first language. For example, use "a person with HIV" instead of "an HIV positive person" as this puts the person ahead of the identity. Some individuals prefer identity-first language so reflect the subject's expressed preferences when they are known.
  • Be thoughtful about capitalization and styling.
    • When the dictionary gives both the capitalized and lowercased form as acceptable options, choose one and be consistent. For example, "deaf culture" or "Deaf culture". If the preference for the individual or group you are writing about is known, use their preferred capitalization.
    • Do not place quotation marks around or italicized words used to define a person's or group's identity even if the terms do not yet appear in the dictionary.
  • Minimize pronouns that exclude.
    • Instead of writing "he or she" when discussing people or groups in a context where the gender is not relevant, rewrite the sentence to avoid the use of pronouns. For example, instead of writing "he or she will take the exam" write "the student will take the exam".
    • Use the preferred personal pronouns for individuals, if known. The pronoun "they" may be used in a singular sense as a person's preferred pronoun or "as a generic, third-person singular pronoun to refer to hypothetical or anonymous people" (MLA 92).
    • Avoid the assumption that all individuals identify as male or female.
  • Avoid negatively judging others' experiences.
    • Avoid language that can evoke emotions or imagery that may not be accurate such as describing a person who uses a wheelchair as "wheelchair-bound" or "confined to a wheelchair".
  • Use a dictionary to check for offensive terms.
    • Consult a current dictionary to see if a term is considered offensive before using it.
    • If you are quoting a slur from a work you are writing about, you can give the first letter then a dash to avoid reproducing the full word in your paper. If you are paraphrasing, try to find an inoffensive and current term to use in place of terms that are no longer respectful.


Indian River State College

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MLA Style Guide, 8th & 9th Editions LibGuide by Angie Neely-Sardon, Indian River State College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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