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MLA Style Guide: Works Cited Core Elements

The Core Elements

MLA Ninth Edition Core Elements Template

Image credit: Modern Language Association. Works Cited: A Quick Guide. 2021, MLA Style Center,

Components of Works Cited Entries

Works Cited entries are made up of core elements. To create your Works Cited reference citation, move down this table from Author to Location, inputting the relevant information into your citation.

Some core elements will not be necessary or available for some sources. Include the core elements you have, need, and are relevant to your use of the source. Supplemental Elements may be added. Visit the Supplemental Elements page for more information.

Some sources are part of one or two containers and will require the repetition of some core elements for each container. Add the elements to your reference entry from Author through to Location, then add any second elements in that same order. For example, online articles from databases have two containers: the first is the journal in which the article is contained and the second is the database in which the journal is contained. The same article could also have two locations: the first is the page number and the second is the Digital Object Identifier (doi). 

MLA Works Cited Core Elements

When deciding how to cite your source, start by consulting the list of core elements. These are the general pieces of information that MLA suggests including in each Works Cited entry. In your citation, the elements should be listed in the following order:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of source.
  3. Title of container,
  4. Other contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.

Each element should be followed by the corresponding punctuation mark shown above. Earlier editions of the handbook included the place of publication and required different punctuation (such as journal editions in parentheses and colons after issue numbers) depending on the type of source. In the current version, punctuation is simpler (only commas and periods separate the elements), and information about the source is kept to the basics.