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Waidner-Spahr Library

Citing Sources: Major Changes to the New MLA

The New MLA

Here are differences that might be overlooked by writers making the transition from the seventh edition.

Abbreviations

  • Common terms in the works-cited list like editoredited bytranslator, and review of are no longer abbreviated. The eighth edition provides a shorter list of recommended abbreviations (96–97).

Authors

  • When a source has three or more authors, only the first one shown in the source is normally given. It is followed by et al. (22). (Previously, the omission of coauthors was limited to sources with four or more authors and was presented as an option.)

Books and Other Printed Works

  • Page numbers in the works-cited list (but not in in-text citations) are now preceded by p. or pp. (46).
  • For books, the city of publication is no longer given, except in special situations (51).

Journals

  • Issues of scholarly journals are now identified with, for instance, “vol. 64, no. 1” rather than “64.1” (39–40).
  • If an issue of a scholarly journal is dated with a month or season, the month or season is now always cited along with the year (45).

Online Works

  • The URL (without http:// or https://) is now normally given for a Web source. Angle brackets are not used around it (48, 110).
  • The citing of DOIs (digital object identifiers) is encouraged (110).
  • Citing the date when an online work was consulted is now optional (53).
  • Placeholders for unknown information like n.d. (“no date”) are no longer used. If facts missing from a work are available in a reliable external resource, they are cited in square brackets (2.6.1). Otherwise, they are simply omitted.

Publishers

  • Publishers’ names are now given in full, except that business words likeCompany (Co.) are dropped and, for academic presses, the abbreviationsUP, and UP are still used (97).
  • A forward slash (/) now separates the names of copublishers (108).
  • The kinds of publications that don’t require a publisher’s name are defined (42).
  • When an organization is both author and publisher of a work, the organization’s name is now given only once, usually as the publisher (25). No author is stated.

Miscellaneous

  • Full publication information is now given for widely used reference works. Page-number spans are given for articles in alphabetically arranged reference books in print. In other words, reference works are treated like other works and are no longer subject to exceptions.
  • The medium of publication is no longer stated, except when it is needed for clarity (52).
  • If appropriate, offer translation of foreign language titles in Works Cited list in brackets (106-107)

In-Text Citations

The principles behind in-text citations in MLA style are unchanged. A few details have been added or clarified, though:

  • For time-based media like video, times are now cited in the text (57).
  • The use of my trans. to identify the writer’s translation of a non-English quotation is described (90–91).
  • How to shorten long titles when they have to be included in a parenthetical citation is clarified (117–18).
  • The common practice of documenting borrowings from Greek, Roman, and medieval works with part numbers, not page numbers alone, is described (122).
  • The punctuation used when various items are combined in one parenthetical citation is summarized (126–27).
  • Ways of formatting citations in research projects other than traditional papers are suggested (127–28).

See the drop-down menus under this tab for specific examples of citations in MLA.

 

Takeaways

From Owl@Purdue

If you are already familiar with traditional MLA citation methods, continue to use them in a more simplified form. Since the eighth edition emphasizes the writer’s freedom to create references based on the expectations of the audience, consider what your readers need to know if they want to find your source.

Think of MLA style principles as flexible guides, rather than rules. Part of your responsibility as a writer is to evaluate your readers and decide what your particular audience needs to know about your sources.

  • Your goal is to inform, persuade, and otherwise connect with your audience; error-free writing, along with trustworthy documentation, allows readers to focus on your ideas.
  • In-text citations should look consistent throughout your paper. The principles behind in-text citations have changed very little from the seventh to the eighth editions.
  • List of works cited/works consulted needs to include basic core information, such as author’s name, title of source, publication date, and other information, depending on the type of source. Each entry should be uniform and simple, but should give enough information so that your readers can locate your sources.
  • These updated MLA guidelines are based on a simple theory: once you know the basic principles of style and citation, you can apply that knowledge widely, and generate useful documentation for any type of publication, in any field.

Difference between 7th and 8th Edition

Print book with one author:

Eighth edition (the new way):

Jacobs, Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. Oxford UP, 2011.

Seventh edition (the old way):

Jacobs, Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.

Difference

  • In 8th edition, only the most essential information is included (author’s name, book title, publisher, and date).
  • The medium of publication is eliminated in 8th edition.
  • 7th edition includes the city of publication (Oxford) and the medium (print), which the new eighth edition does not require.

An article from a scholarly journal:

Eighth edition:

Kincaid, Jamaica. “In History.” Callaloo, vol. 24, no. 2, Spring 2001, pp. 620-26.

Seventh edition:

Kinkaid, Jamaica. “In History.” Callaloo 24.2 (Spring 2001): 620-26. Web.

Differences:

  • 8th edition specifies the volume (24), the number (2), and the page numbers (620-26) of the scholarly journal,while 7th edition includes the volume and number (24.2), and page numbers (620-26) of the journal, but does not explain those references.
  • In 8th edition, only commas separate the journal title, volume, number, date, and page numbers. While the 7th edition emphasized following a strict punctuation formula, such as parentheses around the date and the colon,