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Prof. Vecchio - 20th Century U.S. History - SPRING 2022: Citation: Elements of an MLA 8 Citation / Why Cite?

Common Elements of a Citation

9 Common Core Elements

Rather than give strict format rules for different types of sources, the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook identifies 9 "core elements" common to most sources and provides flexible guidelines on how to reference them in your Works Cited list.

(Commas separate details of the "container" or master work until all details are exhausted.)

Why We Cite

‚ÄčWhen you write a research paper, you use information and facts from a variety of resources to support your own ideas to develop new ones. You cite these sources for the following reasons:

  • To Give Credit
    Giving credit to the original source acknowledges experts and scholars for their contribution. In some fields, citations can lead to career advancement.
  • To Establish Credibility
    Citations build credibility because they demonstrate how much you have read and learned, including sometimes from competing and multiple viewpoints. It will be clear to your reader that your ideas are well supported. 
  • To Help the Reader
    Citations can guide your readers to more information about your topic. They can also offer in that they suggest clues to the larger conversation in which your work is positioned. 
  • To Participate in the Conversation
    Your work contributes to ongoing intellectual conversations. 

Example of Individual Elements in an MLA 8 Citation

Author (Last name, First name).

Weltman, Daniel.

"Title of Article."

“Must I Accept Prosecution for Civil Disobedience?”

Title of 1st Container, (journal)

Philosophical Quarterly,

volume #, issue #,

vol. 70, no. 279,

Date of publication,

April 2020,

Page numbers.


Title of 2nd Container, (database)

Academic Search Complete,

Location (DOI or URL without the https://).


Weltman, Daniel. “Must I Accept Prosecution for Civil Disobedience?” Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 70, no. 279, April 2020, pp.410-418. Academic Search Complete, doi:10.1093/pq/pqz028.

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