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If the title of an essay I am citing is also the name of a work that normally appears in italics, how should I style the name of the essay?

If the title of an essay consists solely of the title of a work normally styled in italics, the title of the work should be both italicized and enclosed in quotation marks: In the essay “The Portrait of a Lady,” about Henry James’s novel The Portrait of a Lady, the author provides a detailed character study of . . .

Published 21 August 2018

When creating a sortable list of alphabetized titles, where should the initial article be placed?

In an index or sortable list of titles, MLA style follows the The Chicago Manual of Style, which recommends placing initial articles at the end of the full title (16.51). A Tale of Two Cities would appear as Tale of Two Cities, A. Note that titles in indexes do not include subtitles unless they are “essential for identification” (16.55). If . . .

Published 24 July 2018

How do I distinguish between different dictionary entries for the same term in my in-text citation?

To distinguish between different dictionary entries for the same term, follow the principle in our previous post on distinguishing between works with the same title: provide additional details in your parenthetical citation, usually the first unique piece of information in your works-cited-list entries. For example, in the following works-cited-list entries for emoticon, the information in the . . .

Published 30 May 2018

When should you correct spelling in a title?

The spelling of a title should almost never be corrected, especially by students, even when the title seems to include an error. Sometimes the “error” is intended, as for the Stephen King novel and movie Pet Sematary, or may be otherwise purposefully made, however ill advised, as for the movie Two Weeks Notice. But sometimes an . . .

Published 23 May 2018

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

Is a compound subject a noun phrase for the purposes of abbreviating a title, or should I just use the first noun?

As section 3.2.1 of the MLA Handbook explains, when you need to shorten a title for a parenthetical citation, “give the first noun and any preceding adjectives, while excluding any initial article: a, an, the” (117). Thus, if a title consists of a compound subject, use only the first noun and any adjectives that precede it as the . . .

Published 11 April 2018

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