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How should I style a Web address like google.com?

As the MLA Handbook (2.5.2) notes, “When giving a URL,” or Web address, “copy it in full from your Web browser.” Thus, a Web address should generally be set roman and styled lowercase:

The search engine can be found at google.com.

Note, however, that a Web site’s address should not be confused with its title. In MLA style, you should use the title of a Web site as it appears on the site and italicize it as you would any independent work. Do not use the Web address as the title unless the address and the title are identical.

Published 1 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

How do I format the name of a ship in MLA style?

Names of ships, as well as names of aircraft and spacecraft, are italicized in MLA style. If the name has a prefix, such as USS or HMS, do not italicize the prefix and do not punctuate the prefix with periods.

The Pequod is one of the most famous ships in fiction, appearing in Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick.

The HMS Victory was the flagship when the British Royal Navy defeated the French and Spanish navies at the Battle of Trafalgar.

The first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb was the Enola Gay.

Published 25 July 2017

If I’m citing an entire play reprinted in an anthology, does it appear in italics?

Yes. As the MLA Handbook explains, the title of an independent work (that is, a work that usually stands alone, such as a play, novel, or artwork) is styled in italics, even when the work is contained in another independent work (27):
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. The Riverside Shakespeare, edited by G. Blakemore Evans et al., vol. 2, Houghton Mifflin, 1974, pp. 1307-42.
The following example shows an entry for a work of art contained in a Web site:
Bearden, Romare. The Train. 1975. MOMA, www.moma.org/collection/works/65232?locale=en.

Published 3 May 2017

Do I italicize Cyrillic book titles in the list of works cited?

In the past, titles and terms in the Cyrillic alphabet were not italicized, partly because it is based on the Greek alphabet, which traditionally is not italicized (on this point, see Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., sec. 11.131). Letterspacing instead of italics was traditionally used to emphasize a word or phrase.

Today, Cyrillic cursive (the term italics is usually not used in this context) for titles and for emphasis seems to be used often in publications, including scholarly publications, perhaps because of progress in digital typesetting or because of a global trend toward standardization.

Note that there are many languages in the world that do not have an italic font—Japanese,

Published 25 August 2016

How do I cite scriptural writings? And when do I use italics in referring to them?

Create a works-cited-list entry for scriptural writings as you would for any other source: follow the MLA format template. In general, begin with the title. The title should be italicized because you are referring to a published edition. (The published title might be, for example, The New Jerusalem Bible, or simply The Bible.) If the source indicates that there is an editor or translator, list this information as an “other” contributor (see pp. 37–38 of the MLA Handbook for a definition of this element). Then provide the publisher and the date of publication.

Published 16 June 2016

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