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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

If I have a work by one author and a work by that author and coauthors in my works-cited-list, how do I order my entries?

A work by one author should be listed before a work by that author and a coauthor.

Rappaport, Joanne. The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial Kingdom of Granada. Duke UP, 2014.
Rappaport, Joanne, and Tom Cummins. Beyond the Lettered City: Indigenous Literacies in the Andes. Duke UP, 2012.

If there is more than one coauthored work by that author in the list of works cited, list the entries alphabetically by the last name of the coauthor.

Ender, Evelyne, and Serafina Lawrence. “Inside a Red Cover: Proust and the Art of the Book.” Proust and the Arts,

Published 6 June 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

Do I introduce an author’s full name and the full title of a work in each chapter of a book or dissertation?

It depends on the focus of your work. In a dissertation on a single author or title—say, Gabriel Marcel’s Being and Having: An Existentialist Diary—it would be overkill to introduce the author and full title of the work anew in each chapter. References to the author’s last name and a shortened title are sufficient.

But if your work focuses more broadly, use judgment. For example, in a book primarily discussing a few core texts—say, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man—subsequent references to Woolf’s Room,

Published 12 September 2017

When a publisher’s name appears as an acronym on the title page but is spelled out on the copyright page, which do I use?

Page 41 of the MLA Handbook advises writers to first look for the publisher’s name on the title page, so in your works-cited-list entry, use the form found on the title page even if it varies from the form found on the copyright page. Thus, if you find NYU Press on the title page but New York University Press on the copyright page, use NYU Press.

Published 11 September 2017

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

When should the name of the library from which I have retrieved my source be included in a works-cited-list entry?

Include the name of the library in the publisher slot on the MLA format template if the library is the publisher of the work or in the location slot if you are citing a unique work available only at the library, like a manuscript in an archive:

Baron, Sabrina Alcorn, et al., editors. Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of Massachusetts P / Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Circa 1400-10, British Library, London, Harley MS 7334.

Published 15 March 2017

How do I cite a book for which no organization is named as the publisher?

As noted on page 42 of the MLA Handbook, if the book is published by its author or editor, omit the publisher’s name from the works-cited-list entry:
Hocking, Amanda. Fate. 2010.
If the publisher is unknown—as in the example below—follow the guidelines on page 20 of the handbook: “An element should be omitted from the entry if it’s not relevant to the work being documented.”
Cummings, E. E. The Enormous Room. 2017.
Keep in mind, though, that a source whose publisher is unknown may not be reliable. Established publishers generally ensure that the texts they publish are accurate versions of the author’s work.

Published 9 March 2017

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