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MLA Handbook, 8th Edition
The MLA (Modern Language Association) just published the 8th edition of its ubiquitous style guide! Many CCA courses require the use of MLA in student work. The MLA claims to have modernized and simplified citations in this revised guide. They’ve even given the guide itself a simpler name — it’s gone from being the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers to simply the MLA Handbook.

The 7th edition was a clunky 292 pages of specific and arcane rules, but the 8th comes in at a streamlined 146 (plus a complementary online guide).

We have copies of the new guide in both the Meyer and Simpson Libraries. We’re still figuring out all of the changes, but here’s a quick comparison of 7th edition and 8th edition citations:

7th Edition Book Citation

Thackara, John. How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow’s World Today. New York, Thames & Hudson, 2015. Print.

8th Edition Book Citation

Thackara, John. How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow’s World Today. Thames & Hudson, 2015.

The differences? You don’t need to identify the publisher’s location, and you don’t need to specify “print” (or web).

7th Edition Article Citation

Chalabi, Deena. “What is Visual Activism?” Journal of Visual Culture 15.1 (2016): 32-34. Print.

8th Edition Article Citation:

Chalabi, Deena. “What is Visual Activism?” Journal of Visual Culture, vol. 15, no. 1, April 2016, pp. 32-34.

The new format for a journal article citation takes away the secret code in the 7th edition. An experienced research would know that the 15.1 referred to volume and issue number, but to a novice researcher it’s a mystery. An experienced researcher might know that the last numbers listed are for the pages, but nothing in the citation itself explains that. In the new system, vol., no., and pp. are all clear and meaningful, even to inexperienced scholars. Sure, it means the citation is slightly longer, but it also makes more sense to the untrained eye.

MLA has also eliminated a lot of the extra punctuation. Elements in the citation are now separated either by commas or periods — there is no more memorizing of what needs parentheses or colons. The quotation marks and italics mean the same as before — a title in quotation marks is one part of a larger source (chapter in a book, article in a magazine, webpage on a website, song on an album, etc.), while italics are for the names of books, journals, websites, or albums (etc.).

7th Edition "Electronic Source"

Westin, Monica. “An Insider’s Guide to Navigating the San Francisco Art Scene.” Artsy. Artsy, 10 May 2016. Web. 30 June 2016.

8th Edition Website

Westin, Monica. “An Insider’s Guide to Navigating the San Francisco Art Scene.” Artsy, 10 May 2016, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-an-insider-s-guide-to-navigating-the-san- francisco-art-scene.

In 7th edition, the MLA wanted users to name the website and the website publisher, even if those were the same (hence the repetitive Artsy). It also included both the published date and accessed date, but didn’t make clear which was which. The 7th edition also wanted URLs left out, since they were concerned about how often URLs change or are broken. In the 8th edition, it is presumed that the website was accessed in the past, and understood that websites might change; therefore, the accessed date is not needed. Instead of writing “Web,” the user includes the URL, indicating the online location of the source. URLs can and do change, but it is better to include than to leave out.

What do you think? Will this be easier?