FAQ about MLA Style

MLA Style Resources

What is new in the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook?

The seventh edition introduces student writers to a significant revision of MLA documentation style. In the past, listing the medium of publication in the works-cited list was required only for works in media other than print (e.g., publications on CD-ROM, articles in online databases); print was considered the default medium and was therefore not listed. The MLA no longer recognizes a default medium and instead calls for listing the medium of publication in every entry in the list of works cited.

The seventh edition also introduces simplified guidelines for citing works on the Web. For example, the MLA no longer recommends the inclusion of URLs in the works-cited-list entries for Web publications. MLA guidelines now call for the inclusion of both volume and issue numbers in listings for journal articles in the list of works cited. We provide new guidelines for citing forms that are gaining more scholarly attention, such as graphic narratives and digital files.

This edition also introduces revised guidelines for preparing a printed paper. For instance, our examples assume that students will use italics, not underlining, for text that would be italicized in publication.

The preface of the MLA Handbook gives additional details on what is new in the seventh edition.

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Have there been corrections in the MLA Handbook since the release of the current edition?

Yes. The errors we have discovered in the initial release are listed below. The check marks indicate in which versions of the seventh edition the errors have been corrected so far. Corrections not yet made will be made in the next printing or online update.

Correction

Regular Edition

Large-Print Edition

Web Component

3.6.5: Under “Series,” “Masterpiece Theatre” should be omitted since the titles of broadcast programs and series are italicized (5.7.1). In the index in the print versions, the entries “radio broadcasts, titles of, series 3.6.5” and “television broadcasts, titles of, series 3.6.5” should be omitted.

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2nd printing

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2nd printing

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3.7.5: The quotation from Barbara W. Tuchman under the heading “Original” concludes with a citation containing the year of republication, 1979. The year should be followed by a semicolon, not a comma.

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2nd printing

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1st printing

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3.7.7: In the two examples referring to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “the doctor” should be replaced with “Victor Frankenstein” (the character is not a doctor in the novel).

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4th printing

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3.8.4: The names “Angel Del Río” and “Sinues de Marco, María del Pilar” are each missing an acute accent. They should read “Ángel Del Río” and “Sinués de Marco, María del Pilar.”

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2nd printing

 

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5.5.4: In the example for MacLaury, Paramei, and Dedrick, “John” should be omitted from the publisher’s name.

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Some copies of 1st printing; 2nd printing

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1st printing

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5.5.11: The example for Hildegard of Bingen should end with “Print.”

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Some copies of 1st printing; 2nd printing

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1st printing

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5.5.11: In the French title of the work by Gérard Genette, “d’art” should read “de l’art,” and “transcendence” should read “transcendance.”

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4th printing

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5.6.2c: In the caption to figure 31, “you do not need to include the place of publication” should read “you do not need to include the name of the publisher.”

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Some copies of 1st printing; 2nd printing

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1st printing

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5.6.2d: There should be a period after g in the abbreviation e.g., which appears in parentheses.

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Some copies of 1st printing; 2nd printing

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1st printing

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5.6.3 and 5.6.4: The two cross-references to 5.5 in each section should read 5.4.

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Some copies of 1st printing; 2nd printing

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1st printing

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5.6.4: The cited book review by Evangelista appears in volume 48 of Victorian Studies, not 46.

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2nd printing

 

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5.7.7 and 6.4.4: The place of a broadcast and its date should be connected by a comma, as in 5.7.1.

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3rd printing

 

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What is new in the third edition of the MLA Style Manual?

The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing is the association’s guide for graduate students, scholars, and professional writers. The third edition builds on material in the first two editions, yet it is also fully updated and contains significant revisions. The volume presents detailed, current advice on the review process used by scholarly journals and presses; an up-to-the-minute chapter on copyright, fair use, contracts, and other legal issues; revised instructions for the preparation of figures, tables, and captions; new guidelines on preparing electronic files and submitting them to a publisher; and an expanded discussion of issues to consider in the electronic submission of a dissertation. Following common practice, the MLA Style Manual now assumes the use of italic type in manuscripts for text meant to be italicized in publication.

This edition of the MLA Style Manual also presents a significant revision of MLA documentation style. Notable changes include the following:

  • The addition of the medium of publication as an element in entries in the list of works cited
  • Inclusion of the issue as well as the volume number (when available) in every entry for a journal article in the list of works cited
  • Simplified guidelines for citing works published on the Web (see 6.7)
  • New guidelines for citing digital files, graphic narratives, and press releases
  • Additional refinements aimed at simplifying and standardizing the formats for entries in the list of works cited

The preface discusses the rationale for and range of revisions, and chapter 6 (“Documentation: Preparing the List of Works Cited”) provides a comprehensive description of the documentation style used in MLA publications. Undergraduate and high school students should follow guidelines in the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

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Have there been corrections in the MLA Style Manual since the release of the current edition?

The MLA Style Manual is still in its first printing. The following corrections will be made if there is another printing. The corrections in the preface, 3.7.6, 6.6.8, 6.6.12, 6.7.4, 6.8.7, and 7.4.4 have already been included in the large-print edition.

Preface: The acknowledgments will recognize the chair of the copyright committee of the Association of American University Presses; the name of the organization is given incorrectly in the first printing.

3.6.10: The names “Angel Del Río” and “Sinues de Marco, María del Pilar” are each missing an acute accent. They should read “Ángel Del Río” and “Sinués de Marco, María del Pilar.”

3.7.6: Greek lambdas were inadvertently substituted for Cyrillic els in the example texts. The examples will read as follows in the next printing:

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3.8.5: Under “Series,” “Masterpiece Theatre” should be omitted since the titles of broadcast programs and series are italicized (6.8.1). In the index, the entries “radio broadcasts, titles of, series 3.8.5” and “television broadcasts, titles of, series 3.8.5” should be omitted.

3.9.7: In the two examples referring to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “the doctor” should be replaced with “Victor Frankenstein” (the character is not a doctor in the novel).

6.6.8: The Felstiner example contains several errors. Here is the corrected example:

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6.6.11: In the French title of the work by Gérard Genette, “d’art” should read “de l’art,” and “transcendence” should read “transcendance.”

6.6.12: In the seventh line on page 199, a comma will follow the word name.

6.7.2d: There should be a period after g in the abbreviation e.g., which appears in parentheses.

6.7.4: The cited book review by Evangelista appears in volume 48 of Victorian Studies, not 46.

6.7.4: The Tolson example omits the word early. This is the corrected example:

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6.8.7 and 7.4.4: The examples for television and radio broadcasts have a punctuation error. The place of the broadcast and its date should be connected by a comma, as in 6.8.1.

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Does the MLA offer templates or software for formatting research projects?

We try to keep our guidelines simple enough that a project can be formatted without special tools, and so we have not produced such templates or software. The essential formatting guidelines are shown in fig. 7, fig. 8, and fig. 12 in the MLA Handbook and in sec. 4.2 in the MLA Style Manual.

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Does the MLA offer software for managing citations?

No. While it is tempting to think that every source has only one complete and correct format for its entry in the list of works cited, in truth MLA style often provides several options for recording key features of a work. This is because different kinds of research projects call for different emphases in documentation, and MLA style meets these needs precisely. Automated templates lack the power to provide this level of precision in documentation, and thus software programs that generate entries are not likely to be useful.

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Does the MLA offer site licenses for the Web component of the MLA Handbook?

No site licenses are available at this time. See “A Note to Librarians” for an explanation of our current business model. For information on the permitted uses of the Web component, see “Terms of Use, Including Privacy Statement.”

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Documenting Sources

How do I cite an e-book?

In the section citations below, the first number refers to the MLA Handbook and the second to the MLA Style Manual.

In general, a work formatted for reading on an electronic device like Kindle, Nook, and iPad is covered by 5.7.18 (6.8.18). Begin the entry in the works-cited list like the entry for a comparable printed work and end it with a designation of the medium of publication. The medium is the type of electronic file, such as Kindle file, Nook file, EPUB file, or PDF file. If you cannot identify the file type, use Digital file. For example:

Rowley, Hazel. Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage. New York: Farrar, 2010. Kindle file.

If the work presents electronic and print publication information, the electronic information should usually be cited.

Most electronic readers include a numbering system that tells users their location in the work. Do not cite this numbering, because it may not appear consistently to other users. If the work is divided into stable numbered sections like chapters, the numbers of those sections may be cited, with a label identifying the nature of the number (6.4.2 [7.4.2]):

According to Hazel Rowley, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt began their honeymoon with a week’s stay at Hyde Park (ch. 2).

or

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt began their honeymoon with a week’s stay at Hyde Park (Rowley, ch. 2).

(The abbreviation ch. is shown in 7.4 [8.4]. There is a comma in a parenthetical citation after the author’s name if the following reference begins with a word.)

If the work is a PDF file with fixed pages, cite the page numbers. If the work lacks any kind of stable section numbering, the work has to be cited as a whole (6.4.1 [7.4.1]).

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How do I cite a tweet?

Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.

Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet). For example:

Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

The date and time of a message on Twitter reflect the reader’s time zone. Readers in different time zones see different times and, possibly, dates on the same tweet. The date and time that were in effect for the writer of the tweet when it was transmitted are normally not known. Thus, the date and time displayed on Twitter are only approximate guides to the timing of a tweet. However, they allow a researcher to precisely compare the timing of tweets as long as the tweets are all read in a single time zone.

In the main text of the paper, a tweet is cited in its entirety (6.4.1 in MLA Handbook or 7.4.1 in MLA Style Manual):

Sohaib Athar noted that the presence of a helicopter at that hour was “a rare event.”

or

The presence of a helicopter at that hour was “a rare event” (Athar).

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I am citing a work in a newspaper that paginates sections separately, and the sections are designated only by title, not by number or letter. How do I format the entry in the list of works cited?

Give the title of the section before the abbreviation sec.

Dwyer, Jim. “Yeats Meets the Digital Age, Full of Passionate Intensity.” New York Times 20 July 2008, early ed., Arts and Leisure sec.: 1+. Print.

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Formatting Your Writing

Should I use underlining or italics in my research project?

Writers commonly use italics for text that would be italicized in a publication. The examples in the MLA Handbook and MLA Style Manual follow this practice. Choose a type font in which the italic style contrasts clearly with the regular style.

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How many spaces should I leave after a period or other concluding mark of punctuation?

Publications in the United States today usually have the same spacing after a punctuation mark as between words on the same line. Since word processors make available the same fonts used by typesetters for printed works, many writers, influenced by the look of typeset publications, now leave only one space after a concluding punctuation mark. In addition, most publishers’ guidelines for preparing electronic manuscripts ask authors to type only the spaces that are to appear in print.

Because it is increasingly common for papers and manuscripts to be prepared with a single space after all punctuation marks, this spacing is shown in the examples in the MLA Handbook and the MLA Style Manual. As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise.

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