Container Example Faded

Container Title

Container Title

A container is a larger work in which the author’s work may be included.

There are many types of containers:

television series

Here is an example of a story in a newspaper:

Dougherty, Jack. “Heffalumps Win State Championship.” Chuggington Post [Feuilleton, CA], 9 Apr. 2016, F1.

In each case, italicize the container title and follow up with a comma.


Sometimes one container is found inside another container. The MLA Handbook calls this nesting, which is of course a mixed metaphor, since containers don’t nest. Still, it remains an apt description:

Sanchez, Alfie. “A Freudian Analysis of Don Quixote’s Tilting at Windmills.” Journal of Windmill Architecture, vol. 33, no. 1, 1973, pp. 1-18. Journal Pod,

In this case the journal is contained within a larger database of journals.

Fortunately, every container follows the same format, so find whatever information you can and plug it in!



In addition to the author of a work, other people may also be recognized for their contribution. Use a description such as the following:

adapted by
directed by
edited by
illustrated by
introduction by
narrated by
performed by
screenplay by
translated by
uploaded by

Here are some examples of what this looks like in practice:

“My Favorite Epic Fails.” Youtube, uploaded by Immature98, 19 Aug. 2008.

Flytrap, Venus. “The Science behind Trigger Warnings.” Mental Health and the Return to Nature. Peruvian Pavlovians Convention, introduced by Florence Wheelock, 3 July, 2009, Universidad Nacional Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza de Amazonas, Chachapoyas. Presentation.

Since an entry may have multiple containers, contributors can be listed for each one:

Lascaux, Yves. Caveman. Illustrated by Bertha Bush, lettering by Jean Old, no. 1, Old Time Comics, 2002. Neolithic Comics, edited by Frank Fly, vol. 1, Renaissance Reprints, 2011-15.

This way you can link the contributors to the specific project they worked on. Note too that if you start a container with the contributors you must capitalize the first letter.

Some contributions take more than one word to describe. The most common are general editor and guest editor. For these, follow up with a comma and then the name:

Rudimentri, Dimitri. “Eastern Europeans and The Fear of Washing the Baby Away With the Bath Water.” Fear and Courage, special issue of Studies in the History of Emotions, guest editor, Shirley McCormack, vol. 9, no. 3, 1988, pp. 55-69.

Collins, William, et al. “Wanton Willoughby and Wily Wickham: Austen’s Worst Womanizers.” A Moral Tract in Honor of Lady Catherine De Bourgh, general editor, Lady De Bourgh, Dowager Press, 1820, pp. 19-153.

The abbreviation et al. (here used for the authors) can also be used if there are many contributors. List one and add the abbreviation for the others.

On the other hand, you can also be selective about which contributions you want to recognize. In particular, films have numerous contributors, and it wouldn’t do to list them all:

Saws. Directed by Bruce Amblin, screenplay by Sara Tomlinson, Nightmare Studios, 1975.



You can note what version or edition of the work you have used.

If this is the first information for this container, start with a capital:

Tolstoy, Leo. War and Peace. Edited by Ivan Hadinov, abridged version, Pocket Book Press, 2009.

Shackleton, Kitty. Fifty Great Hikes in and near Antarctica. 22nd ed., Edgeworth Press, 1999.

Note that the word edition is always abbreviated (ed.).

Here are some other descriptions:

special ed.
extended ed.
collector’s ed.
expanded ed.
updated ed.
unabridged version
director’s cut

Normally you would not write 1st edition or signed edition. However, there are exceptions, particularly if you are an antiquarian or book dealer…

Indicating which version you are using is particularly important when citing the Bible:

The Bible. New Emphatic Diaglot Version, Wilson Press, 2015.

Common Bible translations include the New International Version, the New King James Version, and the English Standard Version.



Often a source is part of a longer series such as a set of volumes, the pages of a periodical, or the seasons of a television show.

Here are some descriptive words we can use for this information:

season and episode


A work may be published in multiple volumes. Typically you would cite just the single volume you have consulted.

If this is the first information you have for the container, start with a capital:

Devereux, Bob, editor. The Secret Correspondence of Elizabeth I. Vol. 5, Essex Press, 1991.

Fielding, Annabel, editor. Famous Defamation Suits from Britain and France. Revised ed., vol. 7, Subpoena Press, 2001.

If you want to indicate the complete number of volumes in the series, you can add this at the end of the entry:

Devereux, Bob, editor. The Secret Correspondence of Elizabeth I. Vol. 5, Essex Press, 1991. 6 vols.

Note that this information is optional.

On the other hand, if you have cited multiple volumes from a series, then it is best to give the complete number of volumes instead of the single volume:

Devereux, Bob, editor. The Secret Correspondence of Elizabeth I. 6 vols, Essex Press, 1991.

The current MLA guide does not deal with this possibility, but that’s what we would recommend.

Volume and Issue

Journals (or periodicals) are usually organized in volumes and issues.

In any given year a journal might publish a number of issues. For instance, many academic journals publish on a quarterly basis—so four issues per year. All the issues in a year are called a volume.

Cite as much of this information as you can find:

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.” ROFL, vol. 5, no. 1, Dec., 2005, pp. 1-14.

If the journal does not use volume numbering, provide just the number:

Groom, Edward. “Changing Attitudes to Wacky Hair Day.” Coiffure, no. 59, 2017, pp. 7-8.

Comic Books are often also numbered:

Splash, Paige. A Trail of Slime. Slugman, no. 8, Gutter Press, 2016.

Season and Episode

This is how you would cite a television show that is part of a longer series:

“The Shish Kebab Murder.” Inspector Grilling, directed by Emma Killjoy, performance by Quentin Gifford, season 2, episode 3, Feel Good Films, 2008.

Finally, if you come across some other descriptive term for the numbering, use that instead.



The publisher is the organization that prints, produces, funds, or distributes the work.

If multiple organizations have cooperated on a project, separate them with a slash (/). Most often, however, you should cite only the main publisher.


For books, the publisher’s name is typically found on the title page or copyright page. You can leave out business lingo such as Inc. (incorporated) or Ltd. (limited):

Naylor, John. The Complete History of Baseboards. Thumbnail Press, 2015.

Flagstone, Ed. The Joys of Exam Writing. Honour Roll Press, 1992.

Note that you always capitalize the publisher.

University Press

If a publisher’s name includes the words University Press, you may shorten it as follows:

Oxford UP

U of Toronto P

If the name of the academic press includes another word that is similar to university, then shorten just the word Press:

Saint Sebastian College P

Brain Trust Institute P

For all other publishers, spell out all the words (including Press).

Films and Television Series

For works produced by media companies and their subsidiaries, cite the organization that is primarily responsible for production and distribution:

Mortimer, Ravi, director. Dessert in the Desert. Performance by Sarah Sand, Dromedary Films, 2011.

Web Sites

If it’s clear that a web site is published or operated by one or more organizations, be sure to cite them:

Zen, Iris. “Black Jellybean.” The Happiness Project, Museum of Possibility / The Jellybean Centre, 28 Feb. 2012. Photo.

No Publisher

If the author or editor of a work is also the publisher (e.g., in the case of a personal web site), don’t cite his or her name again. The same rule applies if a website title is similar to the publisher’s name.

In fact, for many of your sources you do not need to provide a publisher. This includes articles or essays published in a journal, magazine, or newspaper. It also includes organizations that distribute work (e.g., Youtube) but do not produce it.

Nevertheless, such organizations often do contribute their own content. A good example is Netflix, which creates many of its own shows.

Publication Date

Publication date

Every publication date contains at least the year of publication.

For some sources, that’s all you need. Books are a good example:

Tobago, Winnifred. The Towering Kauri. 2nd ed., Tane Mahuta Press, 2017.

If a book’s copyright page contains multiple dates, try pick the one that belongs to your edition. Usually that would be the most recent date.

For other sources, try follow whatever dates they provide. The basic pattern is day-month-year. Here are some examples:

Winter, 2003
18 July, 1993
Sept., 1963

Notice that the last example is of a multi-year project: in such cases, cite both the first and last date. For abbreviations of months of the year, please see the MLA Abbreviation Page.

In some case you may have a choice of dates. For instance, for a television show, you may pick between the date when it first aired and the date of release on DVD. If the show is later picked up by a streaming service such as Netflix, you might add another date in a separate container.

The same thing goes for publications that appear both online and in print. Try to cite the date of the version you have used.

Please note that the date of publication is not the same as the date of access. The latter refers to when you looked at the material and is an optional element.

Missing Date

If your source lacks a publication date, but you know when it was published, you can add this details in square brackets:

Scarface, Richard. Ye Olde Style Guide. Boston: Crammer Publications, [1709].

If the date you’re supplying is an estimate, you can add circa (around):

[circa 1866]

If you’re unsure you can add a question mark:


And if you’re really unsure just omit the date altogether.



A location can be one of a number of things, including the following:

A page range
A city
A disc number
A conference venue
An archive number or code

Since the location is the last element in the container, be sure to end it with a period.

Page Numbers

The page range shows the first and last page where the text may be found:

Maestro, Julia. “Beyond Beyonce’s Booty-full Body: How I Got My Teenager Listening to Classical Music.” Sharp and Natural, Dec. 2014, pp. 1-3.

If the text is found on only one page, use a single p. (for page). If the page number is not continuous, use a plus sign after the starting page (e.g., p. 1+).

In addition, when a source uses a different type of numbering, follow that. For example, newspaper sections are usually identified by letter (e.g., E5)

URLs and DOIs

For online sources, you may want to provide a link.

If your works cited page is in print form, make sure that the link is not a clickable hyperlink. If the link is underlined, right click it and select Remove Hyperlink.

When you copy the URL, you may omit the http:// or https://:

“My Favorite Epic Fails.” Youtube, uploaded by Immature98, 19 Aug. 2008.

Remember too that that you can add a line break after a slash (/) in the URL.

Since URLs are likely to change, databases often provide a stable or persistent URL. If you find such a permalink, use it instead.

However, even better than a permalink is a DOI, or digital object identifier:

Zinzendorf, Obadiah. “George Herbert’s Visual Poetry: Hidden Easter Eggs in ‘The Easter Bunny.’” The Shapely Poem, vol. 88, no. 5, 2000, pp. 90-105. Journal Pod, doi:10.1234/tsp.2000.4321.

If you have a choice, use a DOI instead of a URL.

Yet even though the MLA handbook recommends the use of URLs and DOIs, many academic publications avoid them, especially when the source is found both online and in print. Long links look ugly and clutter up the works cited page. Don’t be surprised, then, if your instructor tells you that they’re unnecessary.

City or Place

Another common location is the city or place where the work is found or was performed. For example, the following presentation was given at a university in Chachapoyas (Peru):

Flytrap, Venus. “The Science behind Trigger Warnings.” Mental Health and the Return to Nature. Peruvian Pavlovians Convention, introduced by Florence Wheelock, 3 July, 2009, Universidad Nacional Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza de Amazonas, Chachapoyas. Presentation.

Locations can be museums, art galleries, archives, conference venues, and so forth. If the city name is already part of the place name (e.g., The Honk Kong Stock Exchange) then you can omit it.

Other locations include disc numbers (e.g., disc 2) and archive numbers (e.g., Library of Alexandria, papyrus roll 19022).

Finally, note that for books the MLA handbook no longer requires a city of publication.

For more information on Containers, please see especially pp. 30-53 of the MLA Handbook (8th ed.).