For teachers in my city (including me), school starts tomorrow (though our students won’t return to their desks until the following week). For English teachers in my high school (also including me), this means the newest standards of the MLA format go into effect tomorrow,
as well. The guidelines we have become accustomed to teaching for the last several years have changed, and our students are expected to begin employing the updates this fall. If you are a teacher who teaches the MLA format, or a student who learned the format last year, the changes are pertinent, as we all must begin using them now. Below is a look at some, though not all, of the major changes.
When citing a book in the works cited, one is no longer required to include the city of publication or the medium (in the case of a book, print). A works cited entry for a book in the updated edition would look like this:
Author’s Last Name, First Name. Book Title. Publisher, Year of Publication.
Lee, Harper. Go Set a Watchman. Harper Collins, 2015.
Articles in Print Periodicals
Labels have been added to works cited entries for articles in print periodicals. A works cited entry for an article in a print periodical would look like this:
Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Magazine or Newspaper Title, Edition, Date
of Publication, Page Numbers.
Creasey, Amanda S. “Savor the Sweet.” Richmond Times Dispatch, 24 July 2016, p. F9.
Note that if an article spans multiple pages, the abbreviation would change from a single “p.” to two: “pp.” For example, an article that ran from page 5 to 14 would be cited as pp. 5-14.
Did you know…?
MLA is an acronym for Modern Language Association.
Articles on Websites
In earlier editions of MAL, brackets <> enclosed the URL, and often, the inclusion of the full URL was optional. It would have looked like this:
In the new edition, one must include the full URL, but it need not be enclosed in brackets.
As with books, one no longer needs to include the medium (in this case, in the older version, web).
Under MLA 8, a works cited entry for an article on a website would be formatted like this:
Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Website Title, Publisher or Sponsor of Site,
Date of Publication, URL.
French, Richard. “On Heroism.” American Museum of History, American University,
9 March 2015, amh.org/2015/03/09/on-heroism/.
Changes to the rules regarding citing an entire website resemble those regarding citing an article found on a website.
The updated format looks like this:
Author’s Last Name, First Name. Website Title. Publisher or Sponsor, Date Range of
Morgan, Smith. Poe Museum. The Poe Museum, 2012-16, poemuseum.org.
The Hanging Indent
Please note that the hanging indent is still used in the newest version of the MLA standards, but depending on the device used to view this post, it may or may not show up on your screen.
If you are unfamiliar with the term “hanging indent,” it refers to the way an individual entry is formatted in an MLA works cited. The first line of an entry always begins at the left margin. Any subsequent lines of that entry are indented to the right. Think of it as the reverse of paragraphing in the body of a paper, where you indent to the right only the first line of a paragraph, and all subsequent lines of that paragraph are flush with the left margin.
This post is a very basic overview of some of the most obvious changes to the MLA format. For further information, consider checking out the following sources: