MLA Style and Formatting Guide

How to make a MLA bibliography correctly? What elements should be included in each item on the list?

In total, you should have 9 elements:

  • Author.
  • Source name.
  • Container name.
  • Other members.
  • Version.
  • Number.
  • Publisher.
  • Date of publication.
  • Location.

After the name and surname of the author, as well as the name of the source, there should be a period, after all other elements – a comma.

Please note that in the eighth edition of the MLA style guide, punctuation has been simplified. Previously, different punctuation marks were used between elements. For example, the journal number was indicated in parentheses, and a colon was put after the issue number.


Please note that first you need to write the author’s surname, then put a comma and only after that – the name. After the name, put a period:

Lowery, L. Charles. The Handbook of Dewey’s Educational Theory and Practice. Brill Sense, 2019.

Source name

The source name follows immediately after the author’s name, and is separated from it by a dot. You can highlight the title in italics or in quotes, it depends on the type of source. If it’s a book, put the title in italics:

Noddings, Nell. Philosophy of Education. 4th ed., Routledge, 2018.

The individual web page must be enclosed in quotation marks. The parent site, which MLA defines as a “container”, should be italicized:

Bhandari, Kabir. “Lose weight in 10 days with these 6 tips, get fitter and happier”. Hindustan times,

Note that the eighth edition of the MLA recommends including URLs when citing online resources.

A scientific article in the journal is highlighted with quotation marks:

Pavlis, Dimitris and John Gkiosos. “John Dewey, From Philosophy of Pragmatism to Progressive Education.” Journal of Arts & Humanities, vol. 6, no. 9, 2017, pp. 23-30.

Enclose the song or music album name in quotation marks, with the album name in italics:

Rihanna. “Kisses Don’t Lie”. A Girl like Me, Def Jam Recordings, 2006.

Container name

What is a “container” as defined in the 8th edition of the handbook? Let’s give an example. You want to quote a verse that is in a collection of poems. The verse is the source and the collection is the “container”. The container name must be italicized and separated by a comma:

Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 306-07.

Other types of containers:

  • The season name of the television series.
  • The website that hosts articles and publications.

The container can be located inside a larger container. The small container is the name of the book or series, and the large container is the name of the online library or company that made the series.

For instance:

“Nosedive”. Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 1, October 21, 2016. Netflix.

Other contributors

Editors, translators, co-authors should also be indicated in the literature source. Moreover, in the eighth edition of the handbook, the terms “illustrator”, “editor”, “translator” no longer need to be abbreviated. For instance:

Woolf, Virginia. Jacob’s Room. Annotated and with an introduction by Vara Neverow, Harcourt, Inc., 2008.

Edition or version

If the book has been reprinted several times, indicate the edition number:

Noddings, Nell. Philosophy of Education. 4th ed., Routledge, 2018.


If the literature source is a journal number or a specific volume of a book, you must specify the volume or journal issue number. For instance:

Razzak, Abdul N. “Paulo Freire’s Critical and Dialogic Pedagogy and its Implications for the Bahraini Educational Context.” Educational Philosophy and Theory, vol. 52, no. 9, 2020, pp. 999-1010.


Since the role of the publisher is very important (he distributes the source to the public), it must also be indicated in the source of literature. If there are several publishers, include all of them, separate them with a slash “/”.

Primak, Shoshana. “The Existential Philosophy of David Foster Wallace.” William J. Devlin / Laura A. McAlinden / Gal Kober. Bridgewater State University. May 12, 2020.

In some cases, the publisher’s name is optional:

  • Periodicals.
  • Works published by an editor or author.
  • Websites that are named after the publisher.
  • Online channels and sites that open access to works, but do not publish them (WordPress, YouTube).