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MLA Citation Guide (MLA 8th Edition): Permalinks, URLs, and DOIs, Oh my!

This guide will help you cite your sources properly using MLA 8th edition

MLA 8th Location Element for Electronic Sources

The MLA 8th Edition requires a Location Element for all source types (e.g., a page number if you are citing information from a book or the name of the museum that you saw a piece of art from). The Location Element is the last part of your citation unless you are including an "Accessed by" date. 

Many times, we are accessing information from electronic sources such as websites or articles from the library's databases. In this case, there are a few different ways to list the location element. In order of preference you will list: 

1). DOI (Digital Object Identifier)

2). Permalink (if there is no DOI listed)

3). URL (If there is neither a DOI nor a Permalink)

DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers)

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency (The International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the internet. The publisher assigns a DOI when an article is published and made available electronically. 

All DOI numbers begin with a 10 and contain a prefix and a suffix separated by a slash. The prefix is a unique number of four or more digits assigned to organizations; the suffix is assigned by the publisher and was designed to be flexible with publisher identification standards. 

The DOI is typically located on the first page of the electronic journal article, near the copyright notice. The DOI can also be found on the database landing page of the article by clicking on the article's title from the results page (see example below). 


When you are doing research on the web, you may not have a DOI or a Permalink option for many sources. You will have very little choice but to use a URL as your location element. These URLs are called dynamic URLs. A dynamic URL means that the URL was created at the time you visited that particular website. Because websites are updated often, the URL you save today may not work tomorrow. This is why DOIs and Permalinks are preferable. 

If you use a URL as your location element, copy it directly from the address bar at the top of the web page. Any typo in the URL will result in an error message. 

Remember, do not include the https:// when copying the URL into your citation. The MLA 8th edition does not require it. 

An example URL will look like: 



Some articles do not have DOIs. In this case, you will use a Permalink. A Permalink is a persistent URL that will return the user to the same article every time. A proxy prefix should be a part of every permalink and will allow students, faculty, and staff affiliated with FRCC to gain free access to the article. Without the proxy prefix, users who are trying to access the article from off-campus will not be recognized as an authorized user of that database and will be denied access. 

The proxy prefix is:

To retrieve the persistant URL (or Permalink) you will: 

  1. Conduct your search
  2. In the list of search results, click on the title of an article
  3. On the right side of the page, you will see a Tools column (see image below)
  4. In the Tools column, click on the word Permalink
  5. A green Permalink box will now appear above the article's title
  6. Copy the Permalink (do not include the https://)​

Note - These are directions on how to find the Permalink in EBSCO databases. The Permalink may be located elsewhere in different databases. Ask your librarian for help if you don't know where to look.