The MLA International Bibliography contains citations to over 2.5 million scholarly publications, including print and electronic books, journal articles, and Web sites. Publications must meet certain criteria, including standards of form and content, to be included. 

Citations in the MLA International Bibliography are indexed by subject terms and may include abstracts and links to full text where available online. For more on subject indexing, visit our page on the MLA Thesaurus. For more information on full-text links, see “Accessing Full Text Documents” on our page about Using the MLA International Bibliography.

The MLA provides a list of essay collections indexed in the MLA International Bibliography since 2008 as well as a list of all journals indexed in the bibliography since 1926. A searchable database of journals and series cataloged in the MLA Directory of Periodicals is available to MLA members here. Searchable Web site listings from the MLA International Bibliography are also available to members. 

Indexers generally use the full text of items when indexing. Exceptions are books by a single author (or multiple authors writing collaboratively) and critical editions and translations of literary works. For these, bibliographers may as necessary base their indexing on front matter, such as the table of contents, introduction, or foreword, supplemented by other materials provided by the publisher and related book reviews. 

Criteria for Inclusion in the MLA Bibliography

General Criteria

The MLA International Bibliography lists published works written for a scholarly audience as well as those of interest to scholars written for general audiences. Works listed may be in any language and from any place of origin and in any medium, physical or electronic, including film, audio, and microform. Both restricted-access and open-access electronic materials are included.

In general, only original publications or revised editions of previously published works are listed. Reprints are not listed unless they are of significant scholarly works otherwise unavailable to the scholarly community. Self-published materials are not included.

Most of the materials listed in the bibliography were published after 1926. However, some publications from as early as 1866 have been included, primarily as a result of our indexing of the JSTOR Language and Literature periodicals collection. The majority of works represented on the teaching of language, the teaching of literature, and rhetoric and composition have been published from 1998 to the present.

Subject Matter Indexed

The bibliography indexes works published in the following subject areas:

  • Literature from any country and in any language (except certain classical languages in some cases; see below)

  • Literary theory and criticism

  • Dramatic arts (theater, film, radio, television, opera, video)

  • Folklore

  • Linguistics

  • Rhetoric and composition, including literary and nonliterary rhetoric and both written and oral discourse 

  • History of printing and publishing

  • University-level teaching of language, literature, and rhetoric and composition

Not covered are works exclusively on classical Greek or Latin literature, on religious texts such as the Bible or the Koran (unless as they relate to other literature or language topics within the scope of the bibliography), and on aesthetics, human behavior, communication, and information processes (unless they treat human language or literature).

Types of Materials Indexed

Materials indexed include

  • scholarly books, articles, journals, and collections of essays

  • dictionaries, catalogs, handbooks, bibliographies, indexes, and other reference works

  • conference papers and proceedings

  • critical editions and translations of literary works, when accompanied by a new critical or bibliographic apparatus or are based on a newly established authoritative text

  • dissertations available through stable repositories

  • scholarly Web sites

Materials not indexed include

  • fiction, poetry, and other works of creative writing

  • book reviews, with the exception of review articles that provide scholarly and thematic context and significant depth of analysis

  • letters to editors, obituary notices, and similar materials, unless they make a significant contribution to scholarship

  • unpublished dissertations

  • individual entries in reference books

  • self-published material

  • textbooks, syllabi, courseware, lesson plans, and how-to guides

  • master’s theses, guides that are essentially plot summaries, and other apprentice or simplified works

  • electronic journals that do not meet our current guidelines