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MLA 9th Edition: Sources

The Purpose of this guide is to help you use MLA style to format your writing and cite your sources.  MLA style is used for student and professional writing in the arts, English, language arts, foreign language, literature, and cultural studies.

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Make Decisions About Your Sources

What is your use of this source?

Are you citing a portion of a work, like a chapter or preface?

Are you citing a film because of a discussion within the text of your paper of the film's director, writer, or actor?

Are optional elements needed?

Is the original publication date relevant?

Is the publishing location important to your use of the source?

Is your source a unique kind of source like a transcript or speech?

Are there containers?

A source can have one or two containers.

Some sources are complete in themselves. They are not part of a larger container. A print novel is an example of a source that stands alone and is not part of any container. It is its own container so the title of the novel is placed in Core Element 3: Title of source, is italicized, and followed by a period.

If the work you are citing is part of a larger whole, like a chapter in a book, then the book containing the chapter is a container. The chapter title is Core Element 2: Title of source and the book is Core Element 3: Title of container. The book chapter title is in quotation marks and followed by a period. The book title is italicized and followed by a comma.

Some sources are part of two containers. If you are citing a journal article you obtained through a database, for example, you will need to use two containers in your citation. The article is contained in the journal, making the journal the first container. The journal is contained in a database, making the database the second container. List the pertinent core elements for the first container (e.g. journal) followed by the pertinent core elements from title of container through to location again for the second container (e.g. database). 


Attribution to Indian River State College MLA 8th Edition Libguide