The MLA 8th Edition handbook, released in April 2016, includes major changes to the citation process. This page highlights a few of the differences between MLA 7 and MLA 8.
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Earlier editions of the MLA citation style placed emphasis on the importance of following specific and required guidelines for citation formatting. The 8th edition of MLA style, however, focuses on the process of research and writing. It seeks to provide a style guide to students and researchers that is applicable to any source type. Rather than mandating that writers adhere to strict citation formulas, it instead shifts the focus onto the writer’s own insights. The goal is for the writer to be able to create a document and a list of sources that is clear and consistent to all readers.
To learn more about how to cite your sources in MLA 8, check out our full citation guide here.
Key differences in MLA 8th Edition
1. One standard citation format that applies to every source type
In previous editions of the MLA Handbook, researchers were required to locate the citation format for the source that they used. For example, if a magazine was used, researchers needed to locate the specific citation format for periodicals. Due to the various ways that information is now received, in books, websites, lectures, tweets, Facebook posts, etc, it has become unrealistic for MLA to create citation formats for every source type. Now, there is one standard, universal format that researchers can use to create their citations.
2. Inclusion of “containers” in citations.
Containers are the elements that “hold” the source. For example, if a television episode is watched on Netflix, Netflix is the container. Both the title of the source and its container are included in a citation.
3. The ability to use pseudonyms for author names
It is now acceptable to use online handles or screen names in place of authors’ names.
@WSJ. “Generation X went from the most successful in terms of homeownership rates in 2004 to the least successful by 2015.” Twitter, 8 Apr. 2016, 4:30 p.m., twitter.com/WSJ/status/718532887830753280
4. Adding the abbreviations vol. and no. to magazine and journal article citations.
In MLA 7, there was no indication that the numbers in periodical citations referred to the volume and issue numbers.
Example of a journal article citation in MLA 7:
DelGuidice, Margaux. “When a Leadership Opportunity Knocks, Answer!” Library Media Connection 30.2 (2011): 48-49. Print
An example of a journal article citation in MLA 8:
DelGuidice, Margaux. “When a Leadership Opportunity Knocks, Answer!” Library Media Connection, vol. 30, no. 2, 2011, pp. 48-49.
5. Inclusion of URLS
In previous versions of the MLA handbook, it was up to the discretion of the instructor whether URLs should be included in a citation. In MLA 8, it is highly recommended to include a URL in the citation. Even if it becomes outdated, it is still possible to trace the information online from an older URL.
Omit “http://” or “https://” from the URL when including it in the citation.
6. Omitting the publisher from some source types
It is not necessary to include the publisher for periodicals or for a web site when the name of the site matches the name of the publisher. For periodicals, the name of the publisher is generally insignificant.
7. Omitting the city of publication
In previous versions of the MLA handbook, researchers included the city where the publisher was located. Today, this information generally serves little purpose and the city of publication can often be omitted.
Only include the city of publication if the version of the source differs when published in a different country (Example: British editions of books versus versions printed in the United States), or if the source was published before 1900.
Features that have not changed, and are the same as MLA 7:
- The overall principles of citing and plagiarism
- The use of in-text citations and works cited pages