Containers are like nesting dolls, with a small doll nesting into a larger doll. A source may be nested in one container. For example, an online article may be nested in one container, its website.
A source may have two containers. For example, a scholarly article may be nested in a journal (container 1) and the journal may be nested in an online database (container 2). Note that elements within the same container are separated with commas.
Here is a breakdown of the elements to create your citation.
Author: List authors in the order given from the source. One Author: Last Name, First Name Middle Initial. Two Authors: Last Name, First Name Middle Initial, and First Name Middle Initial Last Name. Three or More Authors: Last Name, First Name, et al.
Title of Source: Enclose the title of a source in quotation marks if it is nested in a container (Ex. Essay from an anthology). Italicize the title of a source if it is self-contained (Ex. A book).
Title of Container: If your source is contained in a larger work, you will need to identify the container. For example, a journal may be the container for an essay. A website is the container for a webpage/online article. Italicize the title of the container.
Other Contributors: This element may include editors, translators, creators, directors, or illustrators. Include the contributor’s role, followed by his or her name.
Version: This element typically refers to specific editions of your source.
Number: This element applies to sources with volumes or issues, including journals, comic books, or television episodes. Other sources, such as comic books, may be numbered. Use the abbreviation vol. for volume and no. for number.
Publisher: Provide the publisher’s full name. Omit business words (Company, Co., Corp., Inc.). Use the abbreviation P for Press or UP for University Press for academic presses. You do not need to include the publisher name for periodicals or for websites if it is the same as the website name. For film or television sources, use the production company or distributor.
Publication Date: Include the most current or relevant date. MLA follows a Day Month Year format. Abbreviate months (except for May, June, and July). If an article includes a time stamp, include that information after the date.
Location: For print sources, location refers to page numbers. For online sources, use the URL (web address) or permalink (stable link) to the source. If an online journal article has a DOI (digital object identifier), use that in place of the link. For DVD sets, indicate the disc number if citing a specific episode.
Container 2: Title of Container: A container can be nested in another container, such as an article from a journal in a subscription database or an online movie watched from an online streaming service. Italicize the name of the second container.
Optional Elements: Researchers can opt to include additional information to their citations. Optional elements include date of access, series name, or an “unexpected type of work,” such as a class lecture or PowerPoint. Optional elements are typically placed at the end of the citation.
Use the MLA Interactive Practice Template to help you identify your source's core elements and container(s). You may not need to fill in every field to create your citation. Open the template link to work with it online or download a fillable form of the template (Must have Adobe Reader).
This is not a citation generator but it will teach you how to gather and format the elements you need for your citation.
The MLA template of core elements with two containers, Fig. 5.94, p. 200, MLA Handbook, Ninth edition.
Each source in the guide includes a link to an MLA Practice Template example that illustrates how to fill out the template to create a citation. Pay attention to punctuation between elements and containers. Separate elements in the same container with a comma.
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