MLA style is a system for documenting sources in scholarly writing. For over half a century, it has been widely adopted for classroom instruction and used worldwide by scholars, journal publishers, and academic and commercial presses.
The eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, published in 2016, rethinks documentation for an era of digital publication. The MLA now recommends a universal set of guidelines that writers can apply to any source and gives writers in all fields—from the sciences to the humanities—the tools to intuitively document sources.
The eighth edition of the MLA Handbook introduces a new model for entries in the works-cited list, one that reflects recent changes in how works are published and consulted. Previously, a writer created an entry by following the MLA’s instructions for the source’s publication format (book, DVD, Web page, etc.). That approach has become impractical today, since publication formats are often combined (a song listened to online, for example, could have been taken from a record album released decades ago) or are undefinable.
In the new model, the work’s publication format is not considered. Instead of asking, “How do I cite a book [or DVD or Web page]?” the writer creates an entry by consulting the MLA’s list of core elements—facts common to most works—which are assembled in a specific order. The MLA core elements appear below:
In the new model, then, the writer asks, “Who is the author? What is the title?” and so forth—regardless of the nature of the source.
What's new in the Eight Edition. Modern Language Association, 2016, https://www.mla.org/MLA-Style/What-s-New-in-the-Eighth-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).
Features that have not changed, and are the same as MLA 7:
Thanks to Easybib.