Research Guide: Citations

Using "Containers" in MLA

The 8th edition of the MLA handbook introduced one standard citation format that applies to every source type. Additionally, citations no longer indicate format. Instead, in the new MLA style, citations are built around the concept of containers. So what is a container?

A website, a book, a journal, and a newspaper are all examples of containers, because each contains content. You can have containers within containers too. It may sound complicated, but use the formula and fill in the information you have for a source and you'll soon have a citation. In the blue chart here, you can see the formula with some examples.

Below is a link to an MLA practice template that you can print and use to help you create citations. 

MLA Handbooks

MLA Citation Style

MLA Citation Style

MLA (Modern Language Association) Style is used in Literature, Arts, and Humanities disciplines. Always consult your assignment or ask your instructor for the correct citation style to use

Source: "Introduction to Citation Styles: MLA 9th ed." by CSUDH Library, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn the basic conventions of citing sources in-text and in a works cited page using the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style, 9th edition.

Source: "MLA Citations: Understanding Containers" by sc4library, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to use containers when citing resources in MLA style.

Basic Formula For MLA Works Cited Citations (with example)

Basic Formula For MLA Works Cited Citations
(with example)

Include as much of the following as possible:
Author. Title of SourceTitle of Container, Contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location. Date Accessed.

Part of the Formula Examples and Explanation Example of article citation from a database
Author. •    one author: Last Name, rest of name as presented in the source. (example: Williams, Fred Laurence.)
•    two authors: reverse name of first author followed by a comma, then second author’s first name and then last name. (example: Cordell, Barbara, and Jane Buckle.)
•    more than two authors: reverse the name of the first author, follow with a comma and et al.  (example: Browne, Charlene, et al.) 
Cordell, Barbara, and Jane Buckle.
Title of Source.

• Put name of source in italics.
• HOWEVER, if citing an article or only part of the source, instead put that title in quotation marks with no italics: “Article Name.”

"The Effects of Aromatherapy on Nicotine Craving on a U.S. Campus: A Small Comparison Study."
Title of Container,

• When the source is part of a larger whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container (example: a whole book is a container for a book chapter)
• Put the title of the container in italics (if you have cited an article or part of the whole source container)

Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine,
Contributors, Example: edited by,  
Version, Example: 7th ed.,  
Number, Any numbered sequence. Example: vol. 3, no. 7 vol. 19, no. 8,
Publisher, (however, no publisher is required for articles)  
Publication date, date as given on source but following this date style: 28 Jan. 2020, 1 Aug. 2013,

• Example of website: do not include http:// in the URL
• Example of chapter pages in a hardcopy book: pp. 250-259.
• Example of article from database: pp. 195-212. ProQuest Research Library,
**if no “DOI,” include stable URL or “permalink” without the http://

pp. 709-13. ProQuest Research Library, https://doi:10.1089/acm.2012.0537.


Quick Guide - MLA

Quick Guide - MLA Citation Style

Other Helpful Websites - MLA

MLA style guides on other websites

Use the links below to access guides on other websites that provide APA style explanations and examples:

MLA Style
Annotated Bibliographies
Citing Government Resources
Legal Citations

Automatic Citation Generator


Access online tutorials using the links below: