MLA style avoids ibid. and op. cit., using short titles instead, on the principles that (1) a short title makes your reference clearer to readers, not requiring them to look back in text, notes, or documentation, with a groan, to find what exactly the abbreviation is pointing to, and that (2) the days of expecting an educated person to know Latin and Greek are over—i.e. and e.g. notwithstanding. QED.
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When citing a work whose title ends in a question mark or exclamation point, should I also include a period?Answer
The MLA format template calls for a period after the title of a source, but if the title of a source ends in a question mark or exclamation point, do not include a period. Question marks or exclamation points, as stronger marks, always supersede a period:
Albee, Edward. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Signet, 1983.
If, however, the title of the container ends in a question mark or exclamation point, do add a comma after the question mark. MLA style allows a comma after a question mark or exclamation point if the comma facilitates reading or if rewording is impossible. Since a works-cited-list entry cannot be reworded and since the MLA template calls for a comma after the title of a container, retain the comma:
Tomlinson, Hugh, and Graham Burchell. Translators’ introduction. What Is Philosophy?, by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Columbia UP, 1994.
To cite a performance you watch in person, follow the MLA format template:
Astley, Rick. Concert. 6 Oct. 2016, Town Hall, New York City.
If you are discussing a collaborative performance, generally begin with the title of the source. In the below example, the author of the play, the director, and the lead performers appear in the “Other contributors” position. Provide the name of the company presenting the work in the publisher slot, then the date of the performance, and the location:
Heartbreak House. By George Bernard Shaw, directed by Robin Lefevre, performances by Philip Bosco and Swoosie Kurtz, Roundabout Theatre Company, 1 Oct. 2006, American Airlines Theatre, New York.
If your discussion of the work focuses on the contribution of a particular person, begin the entry with that person’s name, followed by a descriptive label:
Lefevre, Robin, director. Heartbreak House. By George Bernard Shaw, performances by Philip Bosco and Swoosie Kurtz, Roundabout Theatre Company, 1 Oct. 2006, American Airlines Theatre, New York.
The MLA’s system of documentation is based not on publication format but on a template of core elements. For each slot in the MLA template, you should include the pertinent information provided by your source. If a magazine you are citing provides volume and issue numbers in addition to a date, include the volume and issue numbers in the number slot and the date in the publication-date slot:
Jones, Mel. “The Second Racial Wealth Gap.” Washington Monthly, vol. 47, nos. 11-12, Nov.-Dec. 2015, pp. 11-14.
Note that a different version of the same source might not provide information for all the elements. The online version of the Washington Monthly article provides only months and year, so you would not include volume and issue numbers:
Jones, Mel. “The Second Racial Wealth Gap.” Washington Monthly, Nov.-Dec. 2015, washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/novdec-2015/the-second-racial-wealth-gap/.
Following the guidance given in section 1.2 to avoid special typography when using the title of a source in my writing, should I replace the ampersand with “and” in a title?Answer
Page 49 of the MLA Handbook demonstrates how to create a works-cited-list entry for an artwork viewed firsthand at a museum. Include the name of the artist, the title of the work, the date of composition, and the name of the museum along with the city in which the museum is located:
Bearden, Romare. The Train. 1975, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The medium of publication and materials of composition, if important to your discussion, could be included at the end of the entry as optional elements.
If you viewed the same painting on the museum’s Web site, include the name of the Web site as the title of the container, followed by the publisher of the Web site and the URL. Following page 42 of the handbook, omit the publisher’s name if it is essentially the same as the title of the Web site:
Bearden, Romare. The Train. 1975. MOMA, www.moma.org/collection/works/65232?locale=en.
Note that in the above works-cited-list entries, the date is followed by a comma in the first example and a period in the second. In the first example, 1975 is in the publication-date slot on the MLA format template. In the second example, 1975 tells you when The Train was created, not when it was published on the site MOMA. It thus appears in the optional-element slot after the element to which it relates (see the MLA Handbook 50–53 for more). There is no date after the title of the container (MOMA) because the date the image was posted is not given on the site.
The work I’m citing doesn’t have a publication date or page numbers. Should I include the abbreviations n.d. (“no date”) and n. pag. (“no pagination”) in the works-cited-list entry?Answer
No. Do not use placeholders for unknown information like n.d. (“no date”) and n. pag. (“no pagination”) unless your teacher asks you to do so.
(If facts missing from a work are available in a reliable external resource, they can be cited in square brackets; see section 2.6.1 of the MLA Handbook for more information.)
Yes. If an edition is named on the newspaper’s masthead, include it as the version in your entry. For more on versions, see section 2.3 of the MLA Handbook.
In its publications, the MLA uses the abbreviation US. (Practices among publishers vary, however, and it is not incorrect to use U.S. Whichever abbreviation you choose, be consistent.)
The MLA prefers to spell out the name United States in the main text of a work, in both adjective and noun forms. It uses the adjective form sparingly.
In the past, titles and terms in the Cyrillic alphabet were not italicized, partly because it is based on the Greek alphabet, which traditionally is not italicized (on this point, see Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., sec. 11.131). Letterspacing instead of italics was traditionally used to emphasize a word or phrase.
Today, Cyrillic cursive (the term italics is usually not used in this context) for titles and for emphasis seems to be used often in publications, including scholarly publications, perhaps because of progress in digital typesetting or because of a global trend toward standardization.
Note that there are many languages in the world that do not have an italic font—Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Armenian, for example. Arabic sometimes uses a typeface that slants to the left instead of to the right.
Given the complexity and specificity of historical, cultural, linguistic, and printing practices throughout the world, a writer should not use italics when a book title is in a foreign language that is not written in the Latin alphabet. If a work is being prepared for publication, let the author pass that buck to the publisher.