Tuesday, August 2, 2016

New MLA Guidelines - 8th Edition

When I heard the MLA guidelines were changing, the emotion I felt is best described as "Ack!"  I have spent countless hours teaching and developing resources for the seventh edition guidelines, and re-learning and changing my resources seemed like a laborious task.

When I ordered the new book, however, and sat down to read it, I immediately lost that bad feeling. Although I was comfortable with the old guidelines, I immediately saw the wisdom in the changes. In-text citations are the same, but gone are the days of the nitpicky works cited entries, where each type of resource had particular, not necessarily intuitive, specifications.

In a nutshell, the new guidelines for the Works Cited page ask for the most important features of each source. What should be included is flexible, based on the purpose of the source, and any source fits into the general formula. With more varied sources available with technology, it's a plus that you only need to know the basics to figure out how to document the entry.

Here is the list of items you should find, if applicable, for documentation, for any source:

Title of source
Title of container (meaning the journal, magazine, search engine, television series etc...)
Other contributors (translator, editor, producer, etc...)
Publication date
Location (URL or doi)

Once you've got these items, you can easily put together the citation, and you can add any additional helpful information.

In the MLA Handbook, they include a handy chart that also shows what punctuation to use after each entry. I've re-created the chart with some modifications for my classrooms.

For detailed information, examples, and an overall great free reference source, go to The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

I've also created a product with all the basics for the classroom: guidelines, examples, and charts for both in-text citations and the Works Cited entries. What I thought was going to be laborious turned into a labor of love!

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