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MLA 9th Edition Changes

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MLA Ninth Edition: What's New and Different

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the MLA Handbook (i.e., MLA 9), which released in April 2021. The equivalent resource for the older MLA 8   can be found here .

The Modern Language Association (MLA) updated its style manual in April 2021. The MLA Handbook is a living document hoping to meet the ever-changing needs of writers while creating uniform standards for documentation. By updating and clarifying these standards, MLA seeks to build trust in the information and ideas we share. By helping us express our ideas in a standard way in which varieties of readers can understand where we found our information and how we chose to express our own ideas, MLA hopes in an age of mistrust of information, we can use their standards to legitimize our writings. However, MLA continues to emphasize that these guidelines are simply that: guidelines. Specific circumstances, such as class formatting instructions, project demands, and additional relevant information, may give cause for appropriate deviation, something the MLA encourages.  

This 9th edition focuses on clarification, guidance, and expansion on MLA 8, an edition that featured extensive changes. The use of core elements for Works Cited was designed to be more user-friendly, with built-in flexibility that allows writers to cite their sources in ways that works best for their specific projects. MLA 9, however, provides more guidance and focus for those seeking it after the last update, especially warranted with emerging sources, digital and otherwise. While retaining the overhauled system of core elements for documentation of MLA 8, MLA 9 responds to feedback asking for clarification and expansion on the meaning of each category (1. Author, 2. Title of Source, 3. Title of Container, 4. Contributor, 5. Version, 6. Number, 7. Publisher, 8. Publication Date, 9. Location) in different contexts of documentation. 

  Major Changes in the 9th Edition

While the rest of this overview will go into more detail regarding individual changes in this edition, the major changes are as follows:

Research Projects

After a brief, 1-edition reprieve, MLA 9 has reintroduced their guidelines for formatting a research paper. General formatting guidance has remained consistent from MLA 7 while this edition expands upon table, illustration, and list formatting. 

Grammar and Mechanics

Updates have been provided on spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and use of italics in prose. MLA 9 confirms that various spellings are acceptable but must be used consistently, except in quotations from another text. It also provides guidance on using plurals correctly. It provides in-depth examples of the correct and incorrect uses of commas, colons, dashes and parentheses, hyphens, apostrophes, and slashes. The chapter also asserts the use of italics for emphasis, word references, letters referred to as letters, and foreign words. Finally, MLA provides extensive examples of how to correctly format names of persons, organizations or groups, titles of works, and numbers into your writing. 

Inclusive Language

This new chapter on inclusive language recommends focusing on relevance, precision, respectfulness, thoughtfulness, and awareness of exclusionary pronouns, judgement, and offensive terms. Through these general principles, writers are encouraged to think critically about their language, contexts, and audiences. 

Plagiarism Guidance

This section focuses on recognizing and avoiding plagiarism through quoting, paraphrasing, and identifying when documentation is optional. It expands beyond common knowledge as a reason for omitting documentation and introduces passing mentions, allusions, and epigraphs. 

Works Cited Page

Works Cited guidance is one of the most widely-used elements of the MLA Handbook. Appropriately, this section features the most updates, responsive to users seeking more guidance, details, and examples on the aforementioned MLA 8 overhaul that introduced the core element template. Consequently, each element is defined, including the range of situations it applies to. There is also guidance on how to find information, such as “publication” in a variety of sources. Finally, more advice is given on how to style details of these elements in a Works Cited. 

Added Guidance on Core Template Elements

Supplemental Elements

Beyond the core elements are supplemental elements, previously titled “Optional Elements.” The change in name reflects the fact that different circumstances will dictate whether or not these elements are necessary for readers. 

In-Text Citations

While the guidance regarding in-text citation has not changed, the MLA 9’s adjusted approach seeks to reduce the confusion about in-text citations. This chapter explains the need for unambiguous, consistent references to the Works Cited. It also expands on how to style parenthetical citations with quotation marks. A new section, “When Author and Title are not Enough,” helps users navigate works when an author has more than one work of the same title. Finally, expanded guidance on subheads, multiple works, referencing items such as symbols or figure numbers, and quoting the same passage multiple times has been added. 

This new section explains when and how to use notes to provide commentary or additional information. It also explains where and how to place notes in text. 

Annotated Bibliographies

A section has been added that offers guidance for annotated bibliographies. Annotations are succinct descriptions and/or evaluations of a source. Sources should be styled no differently from a list of works cited. However, annotations should be appended at the end of an entry, with one-inch indentations from where the entry begins. Annotations may be written as concise phrases or complete sentences and typically do not exceed one paragraph.

This update includes fewer large overhauls to the methods of MLA 8. MLA 9 instead focuses on providing specificities and examples to each element. This version continues giving writers freedom to judge the appropriate information needed for their specific projects while adding more guidance for readers looking for it. Through MLA 9, users will better understand the following:

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  1. Reference List: Electronic Sources (Web Publications)

    Article from a Database. Please note: APA states that including database information in citations is not necessary because databases change over time (p. 192). However, the OWL still includes information about databases for those users who need database information. When referencing a print article obtained from an online database (such as a database in the library), provide appropriate print ...

  2. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    Mission The Purdue On-Campus Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement. The Purdue Writing Lab serves the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus and coordinates with local literacy initiatives.

  3. Online Libraries

    Online Libraries The Internet Public Library is an online reference site, the IPL organizes websites into subjects as well as provides links to e-texts, magazines, and newspapers. NOTE: This site is still online but is no longer being updated.

  4. MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources (Web Publications)

    Cite your source automatically in MLA Cite Using citation machines responsibly Powered by Best Practices for Managing Online Sources Because online information can change or disappear, it is always a good idea to keep personal copies of important electronic information whenever possible.

  5. APA Formatting and Style Guide (7th Edition)

    Basic Rules Basic guidelines for formatting the reference list at the end of a standard APA research paper Author/Authors Rules for handling works by a single author or multiple authors that apply to all APA-style references in your reference list, regardless of the type of work (book, article, electronic resource, etc.) Articles in Periodicals

  6. MLA Formatting and Style Guide

    Start Here General Format Guidelines on writing an MLA style paper MLA Formatting and Style Guide Overview of how to create MLA in-text citations and reference lists In-Text Citations Resources on using in-text citations in MLA style The Basics General guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay Works Cited Page

  7. A-Z Databases

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  9. Purdue Online Writing Lab

    The links below will take you to the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) website. Introduction to Graduate Writing Graduate Writing Topics Graduate Writing Genres Writing a Thesis/Dissertation Creating an Annotated Bibliography The OWL also provides guidance on creating an annotated bibliography, a common tool and assignment for graduate students.

  10. Library Guide for Education Graduate Students

    Purdue's OWL (Online Writing Lab) provides instruction on how to use APA 7th. Below are a few topics covered by the OWL. APA Style Introduction APA 7th APA Overview and Workshop APA 7th General Formatting APA 7th In-Text Citation: Authors APA 7th Foot Notes and Appendices APA 7th Changes in the 7th Edition APA 7th Last Edited: May 1, 2023 2:40 PM

  11. MLA 9th Edition Changes

    Number, 7. Publisher, 8. Publication Date, 9. Location) in different contexts of documentation. Major Changes in the 9th Edition While the rest of this overview will go into more detail regarding individual changes in this edition, the major changes are as follows:

  12. Home

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  13. Database Search Tips

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  14. Research Data

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  15. Scholarly Spaces

    Ask a Librarian Database and Journal Access Issues Frequently Asked Questions Librarians by Subject Technical Support. ... Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN, 47907, 765-494-4600. Purdue University Libraries is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government information.

  16. Drug Databases

    When you log into the Purdue University Libraries system to access these databases, the URL is specific to YOU at that moment; no one else would be able to use it and access the same information. Use only the company or vendor URL as your reference. Authors (if applicable). Name of monograph or document. Database name.

  17. Zotero Basics

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  18. Citing Your Sources

    When you find a resource, simply scan the database for a "(quotation mark)" icon, ... The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist ...

  19. Empirical Research

    Databases for Finding Empirical Research Engineering Village (Compendex & INSPEC Combined) Proquest Statistical Insight Scopus Web of Science: All Databases Guided Search Guided Search: Finding Empirical Research Articles This is a hands-on tutorial that will allow you to use your own search terms to find resources. Google Scholar

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