Skip to Main Content

Core Elements

Taken from Modern Language Association. MLA Core elements. 2016,

The Core Elements

All sources posses elements that are unique to that source.  These elements are necessary to find the source.  The MLA handbook refers to these as Core Elements.  List the elements in the order according to the chart on the left.  If a source does not have a particular element, it is omitted.  All citations end with a period.


The author is the person(s) or entity responsible for the source. List authors in the order they appear in the document or text.  Reverse the name of the first author followed by a comma.  Use the word "and" before the last name if there are multiple authors.

One Author Flygare, Jennifer
Two Authors Flygare, Jennifer, and Christine Edwards
Three or More Authors Flygare, Jennifer et al.
Corporate or Organization  Oklahoma State Department of Education


Use this if you are citing a work as a whole

The editor(s) are responsible for putting it together.

Single editor: Otter, Sabrina, editor

Two Editors: Otter, Sabrina, and Matt Litts, editors

More than two editors: Otter, Sabrina, et al.



List the title in full exactly as they are found in the source.  The formatting of the title helps your reader identify the nature of your sources on site.  A title in quotation marks indicates it is part of a larger source - such as an article in a magazine.  A title in italics is a standalone source - such as a book.

Title of a Book

Clowes, Dan. Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. Fantagraphics, 1993.

Title of an Article

Pope, Victoria, and Jerelyn Eddings. "An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove." U.S. News & World Report, vol. 121, no. 7, 19 August, 1996, p. 26. Academic Search Premiere, \

Article on a Website

Parker, John R. "The Evolution of Daniel Clowes." The Comics Alliance. 2015.


Parker, John R. "The Evolution of Daniel Clowes." The Comics Alliance, 2015.

The container is the element where the source is found.  An article is contained in a magazine or journal.  A chapter is contained in a book.  

Sometimes a source can have more than one container - an article contained in a journal which is contained in a database.

Essay in a Book

Cancian, Francesca M. "The Feminization of Love." Women and Romance: A Reader, edited by Susan Ostrov Weisser, New York UP, 2001, pp.189-204.

Article in a Magazine or Journal

Barthelme, Frederick. "Architecture." Kansas Quarterly, vol. 13, no. 3-4, 1981, pp.77-80.

Article in a Journal Found in a Database

Pope, Victoria, and Jerelyn Eddings. "An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove." U.S. News & World Report, vol. 121, no. 7, 19 August, 1996, p. 26. Academic Search Premiere,

Song on an Album

Duran Duran. "Girls on Film." Decades, 1989,


Other contributors are the person or persons that have contributed to the source in a way that is important to your research and/or is important to identifying the source.  This can be an editor(s), translator(s), director(s), etc.

Edited Book

Herzinger, Kim. "Glory Days: The Day I Met Buddy Holly." It's Only Rock and Roll: An Anthology of Rock and Roll Short Stories, edited by Janice Eidus and John Kastan, David R. Godine Publisher, 1998, pp. 24-34.

Translated Book

Tolstoy, Leo. Anna KareninTranslated by Rosemary EdmondsPenguin Books, 1978.

If the source is produced in more than one form, indicate which version in the citation.  This could be something like a particular edition of a book, unabridged version or a director's cut. This element begins with a capital only if the preceeding element ends with a period.  If it ends with a comma, then use a lower case letter.

Book Edition

Lafont, Maria. Soviet Posters: The Sergo Grigorian Collection. 2nd. ed., Prestel, 2008.

Alternative Version of a Source

Spielberg, Steven. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Director's cut, Sony Pictures, 2007.

Rumi, Jalal al-Din. Masnavi, Book One. Translated by Jawid Mojaddedi, unabridged version, Oxford World Classics, 2004. ProQuest eBook Central,


This indicates if a source is part of a numbered sequence.  Journals and magazines are numbered by volume and issue.  Encyclopedias usually are part of a multi-volume set.

Journal Article

Pope, Victoria, and Jerelyn Eddings"An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove." U.S. News & World Report, vol. 121, no. 7, 19 August, 1996, p. 26. Academic Search Premiere,

Encyclopedia Volume

Gaukroger, Stephen. "Bacon, Francis (1561-1626). Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Donald M. Borchert, 2nd ed., vol. 2, Macmillan Reference USA, 2006, pp. 442-452.

The publisher is the entity that is responsible for producing the source and making it available to the public.


Bremmer, Jan, and Lourens Van Den Bosch. Between Poverty and the Pyre: Moments in the History of Widowhood. Taylor and Francis, 2002. 


Spielberg, Steven. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Director's cut, Sony Pictures, 2007.


"The Tarascan Empire." Guggenheim. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2007,

On a website, the publisher information can often be found in a copyright notice at the bottom of the page or on a page that give information about the site.

The date is the date that the source was published.  The form of the date depends on the source.  Include the information that is available.

Book - Include only the publication year

Fukuyama, Francis. Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. Farrar, 2002.

Article - Include the information that is available.  

Bello, Grace. "From Indie Comics to Birth Control." Publisher's Weekly, vol. 260, no. 41,14 Oct. 2013, p. 28. Academic Search Premiere,


Gregory, Steve. "Operation Husky 2013." Canadian Military History, vol. 22, no. 3, Summer 2013, p. 3-4. Military & Government Collection,


The location refers to where the source was accessed or can be found.  This can be page numbers for a print source, or a URL or DOI for an online source.

Scholarly journals require a page range.  If the journal appears exclusively online that does not make use of page numbers, indicate the URL,DOI or or other location information.

What is a DOI? - A DOI or Digital Object Identifier is a string of numbers that is unique to an article.  Scholarly articles are usually assigned a DOI.  A DOI usually starts with a 10 and looks something like this: 10.1017/S0018246X06005966.


Chapter in a Book:

Lennon, John. "Assembling a Revolution: Graffiti, Cairo and the Arab Spring." Cultural Studies Review, vol. 20, no. 1, March 2014, pp. 237-275. Art, Design, & Architecture Collection. Accessed 20 October 2017.

When using a URL, omit the http://


Barker, Jessica. "Legal Crisis and Artistic Innovation in Thirteenth Century Scotland." British Art Studies, vol. 6, 2016, doi: 10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-06/jbarker/000Accessed 20 October 2017.