Update on changes from MLA 7 to 8 for faculty.

Why change?

The 8th edition

  • "gives users more freedom to create references to fit their audiences" 
  • "offers more flexibility that will better accommodate new media"
  • emphasizes the importance of a the inclusion of a reliable data trail
  • acknowledges that sources...are often discovered in locations and formats different from those in which they were originally published. 
  • (MLA p. vii-viii)

It's not just about giving generic credit to a source. Documentation is the means through which scholarly conversations are recorded, and the specifics matter. 

Shifting perspective from "prescriptive list of formats to overarching purpose of source documentation." 

Where can I get more details and examples?

Group Activity

Thanks to Modesto Junior College for permission to edit this guide. 

The Core Elements

                                                            

What is a container?

The containers concept is most of what's new about MLA 8. A container is a larger whole that "contains" one's source. For example, for an article in a journal, the article is the source and the journal is the container. 

Many sources have more than one container. For these sources, add the information about the second container after the information about the first container. 

Examples of sources with two containers:

  • For an article that was published in a journal that was accessed from a database or Web site: The article is the source, the journal is the first container, and the database or Web site is the second container.
  • For an essay in a book that was accessed from a database or Web site: The essay is the source, the book (eBook) is the first container, and the database or Web site is the second container.

For specific examples using the containers template, see the MLA Style Center.

What are the changes in MLA 8?

What hasn't changed:

  • The format of a paper 
  • In-text citations  

Big changes:

  • There is no longer a template for each type of citation. Instead, there is a general template that is used for ALL citations, regardless of the publication format of the source.
  • This new template is composed of "core elements," most of which (author, title, etc.) are familiar to you. See the box on the left.
  • The new "core element" is the container

Other changes:

  • Include URLs for Web sources and, optionally, for other sources accessed online (databases).
  • Omit the format of a source (Print, Web, DVD, etc.) at the end of a citation.
  • More changes are listed at the MLA Style Center.

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