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Gerald R. Sherratt Library


Information Literacy & Library Research: Citing with MLA 8

Information literacy is the ability to know when information is needed and to be able to identify, locate and evaluate, and then legally and responsibly use and share that information.

Why MLA?

Citation is an important part of information literacy, because it helps you trace where your information came from and support it with evidence. It also gives credit to the original author, which helps you avoid plagiarizing their work. While there are lots of different citation styles, almost as many as there are disciplines to study, each contains the same elements that shows where the information was published and who created it.

MLA is the citation style of the humanities and social sciences. This is the style that you will use for any English classes that you take, so no matter what you are studying, it's a useful style to know. The good part about learning any citation style is that once you know one, it's easy to pick up another, since they do have similar formats and all use the same information.

Note for INFO 1010:

MLA 8 is the citation style you will use for your ENGL 2010 papers. Proper citations are also required for both the Module 4 and 5 assignments. Citations are very detail oriented and sensitive. Every period and comma are there for a purpose, and you need to be sure of each one. The additional resources and quick guides in the box to the bottom left are super helpful if this guide leaves you with more questions. Also, the librarians are always happy to help you with proper citation.

Citation Formats

Citation style formats are guides on how to organize the information so that it's easily recognizable and others can find the sources used by an author. Think about the citation information as being the address or directions to locating the information. You need to know where exactly the address is located if you are going to find it. Maybe if you were using Google Maps to find an address, you could figure out where it was located still with some missing information, but maybe not. What if there were multiple cities with that street name. How would you know which one was right?

Google maps address entry with an incomplete address, showing how many potential addresses could start with 1000 University

Citation formats are just like address formats in that they quickly tell us where the article, book, or video can be found and who created it.

Core Elements of MLA 8

List of core elements of MLA 8

Finding Permalinks in ASU

Hanging Indents


Works Cited Page

The nice thing about MLA 8 is that it always follows the same format and order with the core elements of the source (see image to the box to the left or above). If the source doesn't have a certain element, you simply skip it. Here is how a book and an article commonly look with the elements that commonly apply:

Last, First (author). Title of the Book (container). Edition (version), Publisher, publication date.

Last, First and First Last (author). "Article Title (title of source)." Journal Title (container), vol. # (version), no. # (issue = no.), publication date, page range (location). Database (2nd container), DOI/URL/Permalink (location).

Books are considered containers, because they have smaller parts inside, and don't have  volumes or issues, so the title is italicized and you skip to the publisher and date. When you are citing articles, you will cite the actual article you are using, as well as the container it's published in, or the journal or magazine title. Then you list the volume and issue that article is published in. Each journal or magazine will have a slightly different system of numbering the volumes and issues. Some newspapers and magazines will only have the date they were published because they are daily or weekly. Some will have a volume and issue number. Academic journals can be published less frequently, and will usually have both a volume or issue. Whatever the system, provide as much information as you have, in the proper formatting.

When listing sources on a works cited or references page, it might help to think of the citations as little sentences describing the information, separated with the appropriate punctuation.

You will need to follow these structures for Module 4 Assignment, so pay close attention to the patterns so you can accurately create your own citations for your own sources.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • The titles of the container or publication will always be italicized. This means the book, journal or magazine title.
  • Parts of the publications, or the source, will be in quotes. This means book chapters and articles.
  • The first author will have their name formatted last, first. All remaining names will be in first last format.
  • All the publication information is grouped into one sentence, separated by commas.
  • Any article or ebook that you access from the library website through the databases will need a permalink or DOI at the end. (See video Finding Permalinks in Academic Search Ultimate). Permalinks are different than the browser URL, which is temporary and connected to your specific search session. Permalinks are meant to be permanent and shareable. 
  • The image below shows the same process, but starting from the Library Catalog to get the permalink for an ebook. Look for the link titled "Click here for online access" to go to the ebook's database record and then select permalink from the right toolbar. The permalink will then appear above.

instructions on how to access the ebook record from the library catalog to locate the permalink.


Akhtar, Salman. Fear : A Dark Shadow Across Our Life Span. Routledge, 2013. EBSCOhost,

Skabelund, Aaron H. Empire of Dogs: Canines, Japan, and the Making of the Modern Imperial World. Cornell University Press, 2011.

Magazine Articles

Drury, Bob. “The Dogs of War.” Men’s Health, vol. 26, no. 8, Oct. 2011, pp. 168–195. EBSCOhost,

Knight, India. “Dogs Don’t Need Mental Health Care -- They Need Responsible Owners, Not Lazy Urbanites Who Treat Them as Cute Accessories.” Sunday Times, 2020, p. 5. EBSCOhost,

Journal Articles

Gadomski, Anne M et al. “Pet Dogs and Children's Health: Opportunities for Chronic Disease Prevention?.” Preventing chronic disease, vol. 12, no. E205, 25 Nov. 2015. PubMed,

Su, Bingtao, et al. “How Japanese Companion Dog and Cat Owners’ Degree of Attachment Relates to the Attribution of Emotions to Their Animals.” PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 1–14. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0190781.


"Evaluating Articles with the CRAAP Test." YouTube, uploaded by SUU Library, 27 Sept 2018,

"Finding Permalinks in Academic Search Ultimate." YouTube, uploaded by SUU Library, 16 Aug 2018,


Smith, Jane. Personal interview. 19 May 2014.

One of the newest additions in MLA 8 is the concept of containers, or the bigger work where the source is contained, such as in a book, journal, or subscription service such as a database. Books are considered containers because they are larger publications with smaller parts inside (chapters). Journals and magazines are containers because they contain articles. Databases are also considered containers because they contain journals and articles.

Databases are cited as a second container, the container the journals or books are stored in. This means you include the name of the database where you accessed the article, italicized, right before the URL (permalink for EBSCO databases) as a second container after the primary container (the journal the article was published in) at the end of the finished citation. This would also be used for a movie accessed through Netflix or other streaming service, etc.

Thompson, Michael D., and Robert O. Riggs. “Institutional Expenditure Patterns and the Facilitation of Mission.” Community College Review, vol. 27, no. 4 , 2000, pp. 1-15. EBSCOhost,

In this example the primary container is the journal Community College Review, but the secondary container is the database it was accessed through, EBSCOhost.

Citation Generators

Citation generators (such as the EBSCO database generator or products like BibTeX or Zotero) are really nice tools for saving time, but they aren't always 100% correct, so being familiar enough to spot the mistakes is always a good idea when using them. They save a lot of time in the copying and pasting and formatting departments, but don't forget to double check those citations for machine generated mistakes. The databases can only be as smart as the data entry, so things like ALLCAPS, mistakes in the DOI, or missing italics happen. Always make sure to proofread!

Citation generator from EBSCO databases, with the MLA 8 citation highlighted.

And when copying from EBSCO, make sure to merge formatting or paste plain text to remove the funky tan/gray background, and to match the same font and style you are using.

Note for INFO 1010:

You will be asked to create or use proper citations for both Module 4 and Module 5 assignments. These can be either created by hand or copy and pasted from the citation generator. However, either way you will have to carefully proofread to make sure these citations are correct and in a consistent format to the rest of your assignment. Common errors include having things in ALL CAPS or losing the italics when you merge the formatting. Make sure that you use the proper permalink or DOI as well.