The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook introduces a new model for entries in the works-cited list, one that reflects recent changes in how works are published and consulted. Previously, a writer created an entry by following the MLA’s instructions for the source’s publication format (book, DVD, Web page, etc.). That approach has become impractical today, since publication formats are often combined (a song listened to online, for example, could have been taken from a record album released decades ago) or are undefinable.
In the new model, the work’s publication format is not considered. Instead of asking, “How do I cite a book [or DVD or Web page]?” the writer creates an entry by consulting the MLA’s list of core elements—facts common to most works—which are assembled in a specific order. The MLA core elements appear below:
The concept of containers is crucial to MLA style. When the source being documented forms part of a larger whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container that holds the source. For example, an journal article may be contained in a database. The journal article is the source, and the database is the container.