You are viewing all posts tagged

Should there be a space between a time and a.m. and p.m. in both prose and works-cited-list entries?

Yes. In MLA style, there should always be a space between the time and a.m. and p.m.:

Responding to the MLA Style Center post “Apostrophes,” Doug asked, on 30 March 2018, at 1:16 p.m., whether one should write “Albert Camus’ novel or Albert Camus’s novel.”
Work Cited
Doug. Comment on “Apostrophes: One Mark, Three Ways.” The MLA Style Center, 30 Mar. 2018, 1:16 p.m.,

Published 7 May 2019

In prose and titles, should an author use 3-D and 2-D or spell out the abbreviations?

It depends. MLA style minimizes the use of abbreviations in prose, but if in certain contexts the abbreviation is more common than the spelled out term, use the abbreviation. For example, you might refer to 3-D movie rather than three-dimensional movie, but you might write a two-dimensional surface rather than a 2-D surface. 
If you are citing the title of a published work that includes the abbreviations, use the abbreviations. If you are supplying the title of your own work, be consistent: use whichever form—abbreviation or spelled-out term—that you have used in your paper.

Published 14 February 2019

Should I use BC and AD or BCE and CE for era designations?

The choice of era designations is up to the writer. In our publications, we prefer to use BCE (before the common era) and CE (common era), both of which follow the year:

200 BCE
300 CE

If you use BC (before Christ) and AD (anno Domini, medieval Latin for “in the year of the Lord”), note that, by convention, BC follows the year, and AD precedes it:

200 BC
AD 300


Published 25 January 2019

Should et al. be italicized in MLA style?

Only italicize et al., meaning “and others,” if it is referred to as a term, as the examples in this sentence and the question above show. In parenthetical citations and works-cited-list entries, the abbreviation should be set roman, as shown in the MLA Handbook (116, 22):

(Burdick et al. 42)
Burdick, Anne, et al. Digital_Humanities. MIT P, 2012.

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

Published 17 January 2019

How do I abbreviate the name of a corporate author in my in-text citation?

Use either the first few words of the name or, if not cumbersome, the entity’s initials. For example, Institute of Medicine (US) Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes and Its Panel on Folate, Other B Vitamins, and Choline might be shortened to Institute or Institute of Medicine, but National Institutes of Health might be shortened to NIH.
Whichever form you choose, use it consistently throughout your work.

Published 30 November 2018

When is Press spelled out in a publisher’s name in the new MLA style?

If the name of an academic press contains the words University Press, use the abbreviation UP in the publisher’s name, as indicated in the MLA Handbook (97):

Oxford UP (not Oxford University Press)
State U of New York P (not State University of New York Press or SUNY Press)
PU de Grenoble (not Presses Universitaires de Grenoble)

But for other academic presses and for nonacademic presses that have Press in their names, spell out Press:

Academic Press
Belknap Press
MIT Press
New Press


Published 16 February 2018

When a publisher’s name appears as an acronym on the title page but is spelled out on the copyright page, which do I use?

Page 41 of the MLA Handbook advises writers to first look for the publisher’s name on the title page, so in your works-cited-list entry, use the form found on the title page even if it varies from the form found on the copyright page. Thus, if you find NYU Press on the title page but New York University Press on the copyright page, use NYU Press.

Published 11 September 2017

Does the MLA allow the use of contractions in scholarly writing?

Yes. The MLA allows contractions in its publications. In professional scholarly writing, sometimes a formal tone is desired, but often a more conversational approach is taken. When overused, contractions can be distracting. But there is nothing inherently incorrect about contractions, which often keep prose from being stilted and make it more approachable and easier to read. However, clarity and context matter.
Contractions may not be suitable for all types of formal writing—like a research paper, where protocols for formal writing are being learned. After all, it’s easier to understand when to bend a rule once it has been mastered. There are countless other examples of formal writing when contractions would be unsuitable (e.g.,

Published 25 May 2017

Get MLA Style News from The Source

Be the first to read new posts and updates about MLA style.

The Source Sign-up - Style Center Footer