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Should professional titles be capitalized in MLA style?

In general, the MLA follows The Chicago Manual of Style for the capitalization of professional titles (“Titles”).
Thus, we capitalize a professional title when it is used before a person’s last name (e.g., President Smith), but we lowercase the title when it is used after the name (e.g., Jane Smith, the president of Cleopatra College, spoke at the ceremony) or instead of the name (e.g., The president of Cleopatra College spoke at the ceremony). In some materials, such as programs and invitations, we sometimes make an exception and capitalize a professional title when it is used as an adjective before the name (e.g.,

Published 10 June 2019

When should a beverage name be capitalized?

If the beverage is a brand name or a unique recipe title or includes a proper noun, capitalize it:

Frappucino  (a coinage trademarked by Starbucks)
Pear-enthetical Citation (a recipe title in MLA Members Cook!)
Arnold Palmer (named after a person)
Long Island iced tea (includes a place-name) 

But when the drink is a generic term, lowercase it:

pumpkin spice latte 
hot toddy
carrot smoothie

Sometimes drink names composed of proper nouns can be lowercased:

Manhattan or manhattan

Consult a dictionary for guidance or read our post on cocktail names.

Published 27 May 2019

How do I cite a work by an author with a Dutch name that includes the word van?

Particles in Dutch surnames—such as van, van den, van der, de, and ter—are lowercased in prose when the whole name is given:

Joost van der Berg plans to challenge Kaatje de Vries in the municipal council election.

When using only the last name, capitalize the particle:

Today the Volkskrant reported that De Vries would not seek a third term. The campaign office of Van der Berg could not be reached for a comment.

In an index or works-cited list, alphabetize a Dutch name by the main part of the last name and place the lowercased particle after the first name:


Published 15 April 2019

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
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

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