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What is the MLA’s approach to the singular they?

In its publications, the MLA generally does not use the plural pronoun they (or their, them, and themselves) to refer to singular nouns. While the singular they is not uncommon in spoken English and in some informal contexts, in formal writing it is best to reword for agreement in number. In the following example their and they are mismatched with each student:

Each student is expected to choose the topic of their research paper before they take the midterm.

In our editorial practice,

Published 3 October 2018

How do I style the names of fictional characters?

Style the name of a fictional character just as you would the name of a person: capitalize the initial letter of each name. Do not put a fictional name in italics or in quotation marks:

In an interview, the writer Stephen King said that one of his favorite books features a character named Margaret Ridpath.

If the title of a work contains the name of a fictional character, style the name as a name and the title as a title (that is, in italics or quotation marks):

Emma Woodhouse is the heroine of Jane Austen’s novel Emma. 
Willa Cather’s short story “Paul’s Case”

Published 22 March 2018

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