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French Language, Literature, and Culture

A guide to French language, literature and culture resources in UVic Libraries

MLA Guidelines

The Modern Language Association (MLA) publishes a style manual generally used in the Humanities. Please note, there are no official MLA guidelines in French. The following information is based on my reading and personal translations.

In 2016, the MLA released a heavily revised new edition called "MLA 8." MLA8 differs radically from previous citation style manuals:

The eighth edition of the MLA Handbook introduces a new model for entries in the works-cited list, one that reflects recent changes in how works are published and consulted. [...] In the new model, the work’s publication format is not considered. Instead of asking, “How do I cite a book [or DVD or Web page]?” the writer creates an entry by consulting the MLA’s list of core elements—facts common to most works—which are assembled in a specific order.

“What’s New in the Eighth Edition.” Modern Language Association, Accessed 10 Apr. 2018.

The MLA Core Elements in French

Purdue Owl has a comprehensive guide to understanding the new citation elements in MLA8. I've adapted the following from Purdue Owl.

Thinking Meta

To understand MLA8, you must understand that with the proliferation of publication venues (periodicals, websites, films, etc.), an "item" or "source" might exist in multiple places, and this causes major problems for citation styles. For example, the film La double vie de Véronique might exist in multiple places: on a DVD, on YouTube, or as an .mp4 file on your library's media server (not to mention the original theatrical release). If you were to quote from the film, where would you cite it from?

MLA 8 addresses this problem by introducing two new concepts: The "Container" and the "Location."



In short, Containers are places in which the source is located. Think of putting a marble (a source) in a jar (a container). Now imagine putting that jar inside of a larger jar. Purdue Owl gives an excellent example of how this works. Let's say you want to cite from an episode of the TV show Parks & Recreation. The episode, or SOURCE, is called "94 meetings". It's container is a television series called Parks and Recreation. The episode originally aired on network television (NBC), but you have watched it on Netflix. The episode also exists on a DVD that your friend gave you for your birthday. See how difficult this can become when citing your "source"? The "container" helps us address this problem.

Technically, this "source" exists independently in three different places for you (TV, Netflix, DVD), but for the purposes of this example, we are only citing the place from which we watched it: Netflix. In the following example, you see the source, "94 Meetings," followed by two containers.

Example: “94 Meetings.” Parks and Recreation, season 2, episode 21, NBC, 29 Apr. 2010. Netflix,


Things to ponder: Imagine in the future if you were given access to Netflix through JSTOR at the university library's website (far fetched, but not impossible!). In that situation, you would have to add another container to your citation.










Visit the Quotation page to learn how to "translate" quotation marks and quotations within quotations, as well as how to use "quoted in" [qtd. in].