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Why does the MLA capitalize certain words in titles?

MLA style’s rules for capitalization are intended to help authors remain consistent while also respecting the ways in which titles have traditionally been styled in different languages. The history of capitalization in titles is complicated, though titles of printed works from earlier eras written in English generally conform to a currently recognizable style. For instance, the . . .

Published 29 April 2018

Can I silently change the initial capital letter in a quotation to fit the quotation syntactically into my sentence?

No. As the MLA Handbook advises, “Unless indicated in square brackets or parentheses, changes must not be made in the spelling, capitalization, or interior punctuation of the source” (75). Let’s say your original source reads as follows: Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. If you need to lowercase the initial letter of the first word . . .

Published 23 April 2018

How do I style the names of centuries in MLA style?

MLA style spells out the names of centuries in prose and in titles of English-language works, even when the title page uses a numeral: Queen Victoria ruled England for most of the nineteenth century. Music of the Twentieth Century We make an exception and retain the numeral if it precedes an abbreviation in a title: The Ekopolitan . . .

Published 3 April 2018

Do I capitalize the names of dog breeds?

Do not routinely capitalize the names of dog breeds. Many breed names are composed of proper nouns that you capitalize and generic terms (like retriever or terrier) that you lowercase.  Breed names are often composed of a place-name, as in these references to the breed’s country of origin: French bulldog German shepherd Irish setter Portuguese water dog Sometimes . . .

Published 26 March 2018

If an untitled poem is known by its first line, how do I style that line in my works-cited-list entry?

The MLA Handbook explains that when you refer to an untitled poem known by its first line, you should style the line the way it is shown in the source (68). This guideline applies both to the text and the works-cited list: Dickinson’s poem “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—” contrasts the everyday and the momentous. Work Cited Dickinson, . . .

Published 19 January 2018

Why is the label before a contributor’s name sometimes capitalized and sometimes lowercase in MLA works-cited-list entries?

Whether the label before a contributor’s name–for example, edited by or translated by–is capitalized or lowercase depends on its position in the MLA template of core elements. In the following example, the label is capitalized because the contributor’s name follows the “Title of source” slot. Since the title of a source is always followed by a period, the . . .

Published 31 October 2017

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