I am trying to cite in MLA (8e) WTO disputes. My paper references about 20 of these, so it is important to cite them efficiently.

Here is an example source: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds489_e.htm

Notice each case is numbered, this one is: DS489.

I could have (wto.org, 2015), but I will have many citations from the same year, in which case I must denote them with a, b, c, which seems cumbersome.

These are not federal reports either, so I have cited them as a website.

Is it possible to ignore the citation, and say "As seen in case DS489", since these are official reports, and then have a footnote saying the reports can be found in through their webpage?

Correctly using a formal citation style is important for this report.

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Caelan. Please check out our tour and help center. And thanks for starting off with a solid question.
    – Cyn
    Jun 29, 2019 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


The 8th Edition of the MLA has changed the approach to citations:

Like earlier editions, this handbook includes information on evaluating sources, avoiding plagiarism, using quotations, constructing abbreviations, and other topics important to the scholarly writer. But what is different about the eighth edition is that it recommends a universal set of guidelines that writers can apply to any source, in any field. In the past, writers would create an entry in a works cited list by looking at MLA’s instructions for how to cite a specific type of source. For example, if you needed to cite a film, you would consult the handbook to see the proper format for documenting film. In this new edition, MLA explains that this method is no longer practical, since types of sources are sometimes undefinable, or accessible in more than one way (for instance, a YouTube clip from a film is not the same as the original film itself). Therefore, the eighth edition offers a new model for entries in a works cited list, so that rather than consulting the handbook for the proper way to document a specific type of source, the writer creates entries by consulting MLA’s list of core elements and compiling them in the recommended order.

The core elements are as follows:

  • Author
  • Number
  • Title of source
  • Publisher
  • Title of container
  • Publication date
  • Other contributors
  • Location
  • Version

From the link you provided, you would get:

  • Author: World Trade Organization
  • Number: DS489
  • Title of source: China — Measures Related to Demonstration Bases and common Service Platforms Programmes
  • Publisher: WTO
  • Title of container: Dispute Settlement Understanding (or Trade Disputes)
  • Publication date: 22 April 2015 (this is when the panel was established...you could argue other dates)
  • Other contributors: None
  • Location: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds489_e.htm
  • Version: 28 April 2016 (the latest change).

I assume you will have a bibliography with the full citations at the end of your paper and you're asking about how to cite within the text such that readers can easily find the correct reference.

WTO or wto.org both seem reasonable to me. You can use the year it began or the year of the latest version (2015 or 2016 or 2015-16). And yes you really should include the case number. That is going to be the core of what a reader needs to be able to find it.

(WTO DS489, 2015-16)


(wto.org DS489, 2015)

If it's not obvious what DS489 refers to, you can state it in the first in-text citation.

As seen in case DS489 (wto.org DS489, 2015), the United States and China...

  • Hello Cyn, thanks for your reply, I will use this guide to make my citations. My question was, for the parenthetical aspect, it takes up a lot of space, and it is repetitive to always cite every document, so I wondered if it is acceptable to not cite each document, but mention just thennumber ( like DS489), and have a footnote saying all DS#### refers to a WTO document, searchable at this link: WTO.blahblahblah.
    – Caelan
    Jun 29, 2019 at 17:55
  • I guess I should just reference everything, it is just a lot of extra baggage in the paragraphs that I was hoping to avoid. Also the report I reference is not ambiguous, even if I do not cite each one, it is easily searchable, so I was hoping to work around all the parentheticals. Do you have thoughts about that?
    – Caelan
    Jun 29, 2019 at 17:57
  • @Caelan I see, that wasn't clear from the question. Is this a paper for a class? If so, can you ask the teacher? Otherwise, maybe just say "WTO DS489." That's short and very clear.
    – Cyn
    Jun 29, 2019 at 18:01

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