MLA format uses containers as a way to format citations. A container is a work that contains another work; the container is the place that a source is found.
You can think about containers like Russian Nesting Dolls. A source is "contained" or is "inside" of another source.
Sometimes sources can have multiple containers.
Keep in mind, not every source will have a container. For example, if you wanted to cite an entire book you read in print, the book would have no container, since you are not citing a part of the book and it was not contained anywhere (like a database).
In MLA format, the container follows the name of its containee. See the example below (bold added for emphasis).
Example: Fallows, James. “Throwing Like a Girl.” The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings and Handbook, 5th ed., W. W. Norton, 2019, pp. 137-41.
In this example, The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings and Handbook is the container for "Throwing Like a Girl."
If a source has multiple containers, the containers go after their containees. See the example below (bold added for emphasis).
Example: Godwin, John. "Wallace’s 'Jest'." Explicator, vol. 61, no. 2, 2003, pp. 122-24. General OneFile.
In this example, Explicator (Container 1) is the container for "Wallace's 'Jest'" and General OneFile (Container 2) is the container for Explicator.
The below worksheet offers help with MLA Containers. Fill out each box in the worksheet with the information from the source in order to see the different containers and pieces of the citation.