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Directions for Preparing Manuscripts

Please follow these directions in preparing your manuscript for submission to the MLA book publication program. Care taken during the initial stages of manuscript preparation will facilitate evaluation and accelerate production.

Whether you are an author, a coauthor, a translator, an editor, or a contributor to an edited volume, you will find important guidelines on this page. Contributors to an edited volume will need to consult with the volume editor when preparing materials for submission; volume editors are ultimately responsible for seeing that contributors follow the guidelines.

Editors must be members of the MLA when the prospectus is approved and at all later stages of the project’s development, through publication. Contributors to a volume must be members of the MLA when the approved manuscript is submitted, through publication. At the discretion of the general editor of MLA publications, waivers of the membership requirement may be granted for nonscholars and scholars who work in disciplines other than language and literature. Editors’ requests for waivers must be made before the prospectus is submitted, and contributors’ requests for waivers must be made before the manuscript is submitted.


1. MLA style
All documentation in the manuscript should follow MLA style as set out in the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook.

2. Uniform editions
Citations of major works should be uniform throughout a given volume. For instance, in a book about Germaine de Staël, all citations should refer to the same edition of de Staël and the same translation of her works. For an edited collection, the volume editor should establish the editions to be used and inform contributors accordingly. If it is not feasible for contributors to use the same edition or translation, the volume editor should make sure that the editions used are properly identified.

3. Works-cited list
  • If you are a volume editor, ask your acquisitions editor whether the works cited will be listed at the end of each essay or in a comprehensive list for the volume. If a comprehensive list is required, you are responsible for consolidating the list. Please also submit individual lists (electronically) for each essay to assist the copyeditor.
  • A full works-cited entry (see the guidelines on creating works-cited entries in the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook) must be provided for every work quoted, discussed, described, or referred to in a substantive way in the running text, the notes, and the appendixes. In addition, in the Approaches to Teaching series, all texts recommended as teaching resources in part 1, “Materials,” should appear in the list of works cited.
  • Inclusive page numbers should be given for all short works (e.g., introductions to anthologies, essays, poems, short stories) that appear in books and periodicals.
  • If an essay is dropped in the course of manuscript preparation, the works referred to in that essay should be removed from the works-cited list (unless they appear in other essays). If an essay is added, citations from that essay need to be added to the list. If an essay is revised, the list should be revised accordingly.
  • When two or more works are cited from one collection, a complete entry should be given for the collection and individual pieces should be cross-referenced to it (see the guidelines on creating cross-references in the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook).
  • Works-cited entries should be provided for primary as well as secondary works, for classic as well as modern works.
4. Parenthetical references
When the works-cited list shows more than one work for an author, all parenthetical references for that author should include a short title; for example, (Frye, Anatomy 10–11), (Frye, Fables 202).

Instructions for preparing electronic versions of your manuscript

1. Any manuscript submitted should be formatted as follows:

  • Use one font for everything, preferably 12-point Courier or Times New Roman.
  • Double-space everything, including notes, the table of contents, block quotations, and works-cited lists.
  • Use the tabulation key rather than the space bar to indent text.
  • Set off quoted text of more than four lines as a separate, double-spaced block of text, with an extra line above and below.
  • Make the left margin 1'', the right 1.25'', with 1'' at top and bottom. Set text ragged right, not right-justified.
  • Minimize formatting in the text: do not use all caps, display type, linked text, etc. Do not use bullets or ornaments. Do not use automatic hyphenation.
  • Use italics to indicate text that will be italicized.
  • Place heads and subheads flush left. Differentiate head levels by using boldface for level-l heads, normal type for level-2 heads, italics or underlining for level-3 heads.
  • Supply illustrations, tables, and charts in separate files. Indicate where they go in the text, but do not embed them.
  • Number pages consecutively.
2. If you are the editor of a volume, make certain that every contribution is formatted as above. Any person responsible for an entire volume should note the following:

  • Ask each contributor to submit a Word-compatible electronic file of his or her essay unless instructed otherwise.
  • Be sure that the volume is paginated consecutively, from beginning to end, with each file numbered to follow the preceding one.
  • Whenever you translate from one word-processing program to another, proofread for problems (e.g., loss of italics, faulty character substitutions) and correct.
Save front matter (e.g., title page, copyright page, table of contents, acknowledgments), essays, and back matter (e.g., notes on contributors, works-cited list) as a single file. Use a Word-compatible software program in a recent edition.


Authors should be aware that it is their responsibility to obtain permission in using material beyond fair use, including quoted matter, photographs or other illustrations, charts, and student writing (see MLA Style Manual, 3rd ed., 2.2.13–14). The permission should include wording allowing use of the material in electronic format as well as in print. Any costs associated with reproducing such material are also the responsibility of the author.

Questions about the above directions or about manuscript preparation should be addressed to your acquisitions editor.


© 2015 Modern Language Association. Last updated 06/15/2015.