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MLA Citations (9th ed.): Optional Elements

This guide will help you format your paper and cite resources according to MLA citation style.

Optional Elements Explanation

The core elements of the entry--which should generally be included, if they exist--may be accompanied by optional elements, at the writer's discretion. Your decision whether to include optional elements depends on their importance to your use of the source. 

THIS LIST IS NOT EXHAUSTIVE. You should carefully judge whether other kinds of information might help your reader. 

Date of Original Publication

When a source has been republished, consider giving the date of the original publication if it will provide the reader with insight into the work's creation or relation to other works.

The date of the original publication is placed immediately after the source's title. 

Here are some examples:

Franklin, Benjamin. "Emigration to America." 1782. The Faber Book of America, edited by Christopher Ricks and William L. Vance, Faber and Faber, 1992, pp. 24-26.

Newcomb, Horace, editor. Television: The Critical View. 1976. 7th ed., Oxford UP, 2007.

Scott, Ridley, director. Blade Runner. 1982. Performance by Harrison Ford, director's cut, Warner Bros., 1992.

City of Publication

The traditional practice of citing the city where the publisher of a book was located usually serves little purpose today except in a few circumstances.

Books published before 1900 are conventionally associated with their cities of publication. In an entry for a pre-1900 work, you may give the city of publication in place of the publisher's name. 

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann and Soret. Translated by John Oxenford, new ed., London, 1875.

A publisher with offices in more than one country may release a novel in two versions--perhaps with different spelling and vocabulary. If you read an unexpected version of a text (such as the British edition when you are in the United States), place the name of the city before that of the publisher. 

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. London, Bloomsbury, 1997.

Finally, also include city of publication whenever it might help a reader locate a text released by an unfamiliar publisher located outside North America.

Multi-volume Publication

You might include the total number of elements in a multi-volume publication

Here are some examples:

Caro, Robert A. The Passage of Power. 2012. The Years of Lyndon Johnson, vol. 4, Vintage Books, 1982- . 4 vols.

Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2nd ed., Oxford UP, 2002. 2 vols.

Unexpected Type of Work

If the source is an unexpected type of work, you may identify the type with a descriptive term.

For instance, if you studied a radio broadcast by reading its transcript, the term Transcript will indicate that you did not listen to the broadcast. 

Here is an example:

Fresh Air. Narrated by Terry Gross, National Public Radio, 20 May 2008. Transcript.


If a book you are documenting is part of a series, you might include the series name, neither italicized nor enclosed in quotation marks, and the number of the book (if any) in the series. 

Here are some examples:

Kuhnheim, Jill S. "Cultures of the Lyric and Lyrical Culture: Teaching Poetry and Cultural Studies." Cultural Studies in the Curriculum: Teaching Latin America, edited by Danny J. Anderson and Kuhnheim, MLA, 2003, pp. 105-22. Teaching Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

Neruda, Pablo. Canto General. Translated by Jack Schmitt, U of California P, 1991. Latin American Literature and Culture 7.

Lecture or Other Address

lecture or other address heard in person may be indicated as such. 

Here is an example:

Atwood, Margaret. "Silencing the Scream." Boundaries of the Imagination Forum. MLA Annual Convention, 29 Dec. 1993, Royal York Hotel, Toronto. Address.

Prior Publications

When a source was previously published in a form other than the one in which you consulted it, you might include information about the prior publication

Here is an example:

Johnson, Barbara. "My Monster / My Self." The Barbara Johnson Reader: The Surprise of Otherness, edited by Melissa Feuerstein et al., Duke UP, 2014, pp. 179-90. Originally published in Diacritics, vol. 12, no. 2, 1982, pp. 2-10.

Bills, Reports, or Resolutions

When documenting a bill, report, or resolution of the United States Congress, you might include the number and session of Congress from which it emerged and specify the document's type and number. 

Here is an example:

United States, Congress, House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Al-Qaeda: The Many Faces of an Islamist Extremist Threat. Government Printing Office, 2006. 109th Congress, 2nd session, House Report 615.

Date of Access

Since online works typically can be changed or removed at any time, the date on which you accessed online material is often an important indicator of the version you consulted.

The date of access is especially crucial if the source provides no date specifying when it was produced or published.

Here is an example:

"Under the Gun." Pretty Little Liars, season 4, episode 6, ABC Family, 16 July 2013. Hulu, Accessed 23 July 2013.