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Updates to MLA Citation Style

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As mentioned in the recent post about MLA Handbook Plus, the Modern Language Association’s citation style is largely the same in the recently published 9th edition of the MLA Handbook as it was in the 8th edition. These are some of the differences.

  • The Contributors element, formerly called Other Contributors, has been expanded to include key contributors like film directors, music conductors, and if citing a live performance, groups like dance companies and choirs. (5.38-5.47)

  • URLs that run three full lines or longer should be truncated. (5.96)

  • A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) should be presented as a URL starting with “https://doi.org/”. This is also how the APA citation style now presents DOIs in the current 7th edition of their publication manual. (5.93)

    • MLA 8th:   doi:10.1632/ORIW5168
    • MLA 9th:   https://doi.org/10.1632/ORIW5168
  • With MLA 8th, the words University and Press in the names of academic presses should be abbreviated as U and P, e.g., U of Hawaiʻi P. With MLA 9th, if the publisher’s name does not include the word University, Press should be spelled out. (5.65)

    • MLA 8th:   Belknap P
    • MLA 9th:   Belknap Press
  • When presenting variant forms of an author’s name, (e.g., an author’s real name for a work published under a pseudonym), use square brackets instead of parentheses. The expanded guidance in the 9th ed. gives you some latitude in presenting the information in a way that you feel is most helpful to the reader. (5.14)

    • MLA 8th:Bachman, Richard (Stephen King)
    • MLA 9th:Bachman, Richard [Stephen King]
      Stephen King [published as Richard Bachman]
  • When citing a social media post, MLA 8th had you use the author’s online handle as the author name, with the author’s real name in parentheses. MLA 9th calls for using the real name, followed by the online handle in square brackets. The online handle can be omitted if it’s similar to the real name and a URL to the post is given. (5.16)

    • MLA 8th:   @GrammarGirl (Mignon Fogarty)
    • MLA 9th:   Fogarty, Mignon [@GrammarGirl]
  • When a publication date includes a season, the season is not capitalized. The rationale is to bring this guidance in line with the practice of not capitalizing seasons in prose. (5.79)

    • MLA 8th:   Spring 2022
    • MLA 9th:   spring 2022
  • “Optional Elements” are now called “Supplemental Elements”, because there are cases in which these elements are required to supply necessary clarifying information. This could be information like a date of access for a source that has been altered or removed. Or an indication of the medium of publication might be needed if multiple forms of a work are available from the same place, such as a web page with both an audio clip and a transcript of that audio. (5.105-5.119)

Sources: MLA Handbook, 8th and 9th eds., Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed.

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