How does the MLA style the name of the 2019 coronavirus?
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.
The name of the 2019 coronavirus is styled by most organizations as either Covid-19 or COVID-19. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains on its website, “ ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease” (“Frequently Asked Questions). Both the CDC and the World Health Organization, which coined the abbreviation (Ghebreyesus), style the name in all capital letters. Some publications, such as The New York Times and The Guardian, style the abbreviation with an initial capital c only, as shown in articles on their websites (“Worldwide Coronavirus Cases”; Boseley et al.).
The MLA follows Merriam-Webster for spelling and The Chicago Manual of Style for capitalization and thus uses the spelling with all capital letters (“COVID-19”; “Styling COVID-19”).
Boseley, Sarah, et al. “What Is Coronavirus, What Are Its Symptoms, and When Should I Call a Doctor?” The Guardian, 17 Apr. 2020, www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/17/what-is-coronavirus-what-are-its-symptoms-and-when-should-i-call-a-doctor.
“COVID-19, N.” Merriam-Webster, 2020, www.merriam-Webster.com/dictionary/COVID-19.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services, 20 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#Coronavirus-Disease-2019-Basics.
Ghebreyesus, Tedros Adhanom. “We now have a name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus: COVID-19. Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing.” Twitter, 11 Feb. 2020, twitter.com/DrTedros/status/1227297754499764230.
“Styling COVID-19 and Related Terms.” CMOS Shop Talk from The Chicago Manual of Style, 21 Apr. 2020, cmosshoptalk.com/2020/04/21/styling-covid-19-and-related-terms/.
“Worldwide Coronavirus Cases Top Two Million.” The New York Times, 22 Apr. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/04/15/world/coronavirus-cases-world.html.