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When italic characters are unavailable, how should I style a title or a word used as a word?

In handwritten and typewritten material—where italics are impossible to render—titles of works normally italicized, words used as words, and letters used as letters are underlined:

MLA Handbook

Accommodation has two c’s and two m’s.

In digital environments, if italics and underlining are unavailable and you need to refer to the title of a work normally italicized, insert an underscore on either side of the title:

_MLA Handbook_

For words used as words and letters used as letters, use quotation marks:

Put “i” before “e” except after “c” or when sounding like “a” as in “neighbor” and “weigh.”

But if the quotation marks would cause clutter, . . .

Published 24 April 2018

How do I cite a quotation that I use in the title of my paper?

If you include a quotation in the title of your paper, you should discuss the quotation in the body of your essay. Do not place a parenthetical citation or an endnote with source information after the title. Instead, cite the quotation where it occurs in your essay. 
For example, in the March 2017 issue of PMLA, Heather Love’s essay is titled “‘Critique Is Ordinary.’” The quotation in the title is repeated in the text, along with the source of the quotation and a page number. Publication details for the source are given, as always, in the works-cited-list:

In The Limits of Critique, . . .

Published 16 April 2018

Should the font size for endnotes in a paper differ from the font size for the text of my essay?

No. In a research paper, dissertation, or other unpublished manuscript, you should select a standard font size (e.g., 12 points) and let the word processing program you are using style note numbers automatically. 
Although many professionally typeset books are designed with a variety of font sizes for different elements (text, headers, notes, and so on), such variation is unnecessary for manuscript preparation.
See our guidelines on formatting a research paper for more formatting information.

Published 30 March 2018

Is it OK to italicize a word for emphasis in my paper?

The MLA style discourages the use of italics in academic prose to emphasize or point, because they are unnecessary—most often, the unadorned words do the job without typographic assistance. And if they don’t, then rewording is often the best solution. This policy is a matter of stylistic convention, not grammar.  
Reserve italics for emphasis for those few occasions when misreading is likely to result without them or when you simply feel that emphasis is the most effective means of getting your idea across.
Advice: You should always give extra consideration to how a sentence reads without the italics you were thinking of adding, . . .

Published 23 January 2018

How do I shorten a long title?

Extremely long titles and conventional titles usually condensed may be shortened in your prose and in your works-cited list.   
Extremely Long Titles
Some works, particularly older ones, have very long titles, such as this treatise by the seventeenth-century English physician John Bulwer:

Philocophus; or, The Deafe and Dumbe Mans Friend, Exhibiting the Philosophical Verity of That Subtile Art, Which May Enable One with an Observant Eie to Have What Any Man Speaks by the Moving of His Lips

To shorten the title of a long work in your writing or in your works-cited-list entry, include the beginning words of the title up to at least the first noun.

Published 7 March 2018

How do I incorporate lists into my essay in MLA style?

In humanities essays, lists are generally run into the text rather than set vertically. A colon is often used to introduce a run-in list:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written four novels: Purple Hibiscus, Half a Yellow Sun, The Thing around Your Neck, and Americanah.

But no colon is used before a list when the list is the object of the verb that introduces it:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels include Purple Hibiscus, Half a Yellow Sun, and The Thing around Your Neck.

The list is the object of the verb include.

Published 22 November 2017

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