OK, so you’ve mastered the basics of MLA style. You know what a works-cited list is. You’re well versed in assembling in-text citations. You know the various parts of the MLA template of core elements like the back of your hand. But there’s so much more to MLA style. What follows provides a glimpse of some of the finer points of style included in the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.

Chapter 2: Mechanics of Prose

Course titles are not italicized or enclosed in quotation marks (2.110).

 Introduction to Literary and Cultural Analysis

Terms designating the divisions of a work, such as act, chapter, and introduction, are not capitalized, italicized, or enclosed in quotation marks (2.110).

In act 3, scene 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream . . .

As David Tod Roy notes in his introduction . . .

Use roman typeface (i.e., no italics) for a title within a title when both the internal title and the surrounding title are in italics (2.113).

 Approaches to Teaching Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

In discussions where few numbers appear, spell out those numbers that can be written in a word or two. Use numerals when more than two words would be needed (2.127).

The advanced seminars offered by the department were capped at twenty-five students each.

The Modern Language Association is nearly 140 years old.

Chapter 5: The List of Works Cited

When a nongovernment organization is both the author and the publisher of a work, skip the Author element and begin your works-cited-list entry with the title of the work (5.19).

Academic Freedom and Tenure: University System of Georgia. American Association of University Professors, 2021.

If a source lists two or more publishers, include each of them in the Publisher element, separating them with a forward slash (5.61). 

Ortiz Wallner, Alexandra. El arte de ficcionar: La novela contemporánea en Centroamérica. Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2012.

If the name of an academic press contains the words University and Press or a foreign language equivalent, use the abbreviation UP or the equivalent in the Publisher element (5.65).

Fordham University Press  Fordham UP
University of Chicago Press U of Chicago P
Presses Universitaires de Liège  PU de Liège

Change an ampersand or plus sign to and in a publisher’s name (5.66).

Harper & Row Harper and Row

Seasons included as part of a publication date should be lowercased (5.79).

Adams, Peter, et al. “The Accelerated Learning Program: Throwing Open the Gates.” Journal of Basic Writing, vol. 28, no. 2, fall 2009, pp. 50–69.

If a work in a periodical (e.g., a journal, a magazine, or a newspaper) is nonconsecutively paginated, include only the first page number, followed by a plus sign (5.92).

Yamashita, Karen Tei. “The Orange.” Edited by Linda Mathews, Los Angeles Times Magazine, 30 June 1991, pp. 12+.

A DOI should be preceded by “https://doi.org/” (5.93).

Berman, Russell A. “The Necessity of Second-Language Learning.” ADFL Bulletin, vol. 43, no. 2, 2015, pp. 11–14, https://doi.org/10.1632/adfl.43.2.11.

To document more than one work by the same author, give the author’s name in the first entry only. In subsequent entries, use three em dashes (or hyphens) in place of the author’s name (5.126).

Lee, Rachel C. The Americas of Asian American Literature: Gendered Fictions of Nation and Transnation. Princeton UP, 1999.

———. The Exquisite Corpse of Asian America: Biopolitics, Biosociality, and Posthuman Ecologies. New York UP, 2014.

Chapter 6: Citing Sources in the Text

To cite a numbered note or notes in a parenthetical citation, give the page number followed by the abbreviation n (for note) or nn (for notes) and the note number. Use the abbreviation un for an unnumbered note. If you cite only one numbered note or multiple consecutive notes, no spaces are needed between the various elements of the citation. However, if the notes are nonconsecutive or unnumbered, use spaces (6.29).

(44n2)

(44nn2–3)

(44 nn 2, 3, 5)

(350 un)

When you cite more than one source in a single parenthetical citation, separate each source with a semicolon. Use commas to cite different locations in a single source (6.30).

(Samuelson 43, 54; Miller 298)

If you quote from a text that uses ellipses, distinguish them from your ellipses in one of two ways: put square brackets around the ellipses you have added or include a parenthetical note at the end of the quotation (6.62).

In N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, when Mrs. St. John arrives at the rectory, she tells Father Olguin, “We live in California, my husband and I, Los Angeles. . . . This is beautiful country [. . .]” (29).

In N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, when Mrs. St. John arrives at the rectory, she tells Father Olguin, “We live in California, my husband and I, Los Angeles. . . . This is beautiful country . . .” (29; first ellipsis in source).

Appendix 1: Abbreviations

The abbreviations i.e. (“that is”), e.g. (“for example”), and etc. (“and so forth”) should be reserved for parenthetical use. Like many abbreviations, they are not appropriate in prose.

Many modernist women writers come to mind (e.g., Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, and Zora Neale Hurston).

Months that are longer than four letters should be abbreviated in works-cited-list entries.

Hallamore, G. Joyce. “The Symbolism of the Marble Muse in Stifter’s Nachsommer.” PMLA, vol. 74, no. 4, Sept. 1959, pp. 398–405.

Work Cited 

MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021. MLA Handbook Plus, 2021, mlahandbookplus.org/.

Photo of Susan Doose

Susan Doose

Susan Doose is an assistant editor at the MLA. She received her PhD in German studies from Rutgers University, where her dissertation focused on the function of framing devices in German realist literature. Before coming to the MLA, she worked as a freelance copyeditor, translator, and German-language teacher.