If I am discussing a story collection that uses line numbers, should the page numbers or the line numbers be cited?

Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.

In general, the page numbers should be cited. Line numbers, if provided, are most helpful to readers for citations of “commonly studied poems and verse plays,” since the numbers can be used to locate text easily in various editions (MLA Handbook 121). Since short fiction is rarely published with line numbers, including them in the citation won’t benefit readers of other editions.

Instructors who prefer to have students cite the line numbers for pedagogical reasons should feel free to do so, while acknowledging the scholarly convention.

Work Cited

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.