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Citing and Writing MLA 9: MLA Core Elements

Information on style guides, specifically MLA (9th edition), example citations, and other resources for citing and writing.

In-text citations

In-text citations

Example of in-text citation: In-text citations are used in your paper to credit the source of your information and direct your reader to the proper citation in your Works Cited. Below is an example of an in-text citation (author last name page number), followed by the citation which would appear on the Works Cited page: 

Ruth Asawa's approach to life was informed by two experiences. One being the artist's exposure as a child to California's progressive education system which provided the opportunity to delve into art making and second, the impact of Asawa's family being placed in internment camps in the U.S. during World War II (Molesworth 25). 

On your Works Cited page, the below entry would appear in alphabetical order: 

Molesworth, Helen and Ruth Erickson. Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957. Institute of Contemporary Art, 2015.

MLA Core Elements

What are the core elements of MLA citations?

The MLA Handbook described the different parts distinct parts of a citation in terms of core elements. These core elements are shown in the below table in the order they should appear in a citation. If an element is not relevant, skip it. The punctuation mark which follows the element is also shown.

Example citation for a book:

Author. Title of source. Version, Publisher, Date.

Honour, Hugh, and John Fleming. The Visual Arts : a History. 7th ed., Laurence King, 2009.

Example citation for an online article found in the library’s resources:

Author. "Title of source." Title of container, Number, Location. Title of container, Location.

Goldfine, Gil. “The Evolution of a Four-Legged Table: A Conversation with Nahum Tevet.” Sculpture, vol. 37, no. 10, Dec. 2018, pp. 26-33. EBSCOhost Art & Architecture Source,




Lastname, Firstname. Ex. writer, creator, artist, editor


 Title of source.

If the title is an independent work, italicise it. Ex. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

If the title is part of a larger work, use quotation marks: Ex. “An Open Book of Grass.” Why Look at Plants. (“An Open Book of Grass” is the name of a chapter in the book with the title Why Look at Plants).


 Title container,

A magazine or journal would be the container for an article and italicised. If the article you are citing is from a magazine that you found in an online database, there would be 2 containers: the magazine and the database, both italicised (see above example).


 Other contributors,

Ex. translators, editors



Ex. a specific edition of a book



Ex. a volume of a book, or a volume and issue number of a magazine



Organization that produced the work so it is accessible to the public.


 Publication date.

Format for the date of publication varies, citations for books require only a year, but citations for blog posts require day, month and year, date for artwork refers to date of creation.



Ex. page number, page range, URL, DOI (digital object identifier)


 Optional elements.

Optional elements may be included if they are relevant to the source or your use of it. Some optional elements are placed at the end of the entry, while others are placed near the core element. Ex. Information about a prior publication (Originally published in Canadian Art, July 2019, pp. 42-44.); date of access for a webpage; city of publication