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How do I style genus and species names, such as Homo sapiens, in MLA style?

MLA style was developed to be used by writers in the humanities, so we defer to our colleagues at The Chicago Manual of Style regarding how to style genus and species names. The manual notes: “Whether in lists or in running text, the Latin names of species of plants and animals are italicized. Each binomial contains a genus name (or generic name), which is capitalized, and a species name (also called specific name or specific epithet), which is lowercased (even if it is a proper adjective)” (“Genus”). See the manual for guidance on abbreviating genus names (“Abbreviation”). 

Published 6 March 2019

In MLA style, should any part of a two-word preposition, such as according to, be capitalized in a title?

A preposition that is not at the start or end of a title should be lowercased, no matter how many words compose it and no matter how long those words are. A few examples:
according to
as regards
concerning
except for
other than
Some other styles capitalize a preposition or a word that belongs to a preposition if it has five letters or more.
If John Irving’s novel appeared in an essay or works-cited list published by the MLA, it would be styled The World according to Garp.

Published 1 January 2019

How do I style geographic terms such as north and south in MLA style?

MLA style follows The Chicago Manual of Style (8.47) for geographic terms. For example, we capitalize northsoutheast, and west when the terms refer to regions or cultures:

Customs in the East differ from those in the West.
She moved from the East Coast to the West Coast.
The South lost the war.
You should read both Western and Eastern philosophy.
Many scholars now study the global South.

We lowercase the terms when they refer to directions:

He headed east.
The United States is located north of Mexico.

Published 13 September 2018

Should shortened generic forms of proper nouns be capitalized?

In general, lowercase generic forms of proper nouns:

the United States Army, the army
President Kennedy, the president
the Brooklyn Bridge, the bridge
Housatonic River, the river

But, as The Chicago Manual of Style notes, capitalize generic terms if necessary for clarity (“Wars”):

the French Revolution, the Revolution of 1789, the Revolution, the revolution of 1848

Work Cited
“Wars and Revolutions.” The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., sec. 8.113, U of Chicago P, 2017, www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/book/ed17/part2/
ch08/psec113.html.
 
 
 

Published 9 August 2018

How do I style the names of functional elements of a Web site when I refer to them in my prose?

In its online and print publications, when the MLA refers in prose to the label or functional element of a Web site or other electronic device (like a phone), it usually styles the label without quotation marks and capitalizes it like a title: 

To change your institutional affiliation, go to Update Your Profile.
Select Save My Vote and Continue to move to the next screen.
To stop receiving calls from someone, hit Block This Caller.

On our Web site, a link containing a page title or header is styled the same way:

Calls can be viewed on the Calls for Papers page.

Published 21 June 2018

When should I capitalize the first letter of the first word of a quotation?

Whether to capitalize or lowercase the first letter of the first word of a quotation depends on how the quotation is integrated into your prose and what appears in the original.
After a Verb of Saying
Capitalize the first letter if the quotation appears after a verb of saying, regardless of the case used in the source–but flag any alterations you make.
A quotation that follows a verb of saying (e.g., writes, says, states, exclaims) and is run in to your text is introduced with a comma and begins with a capital letter.

Published 22 May 2018

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