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How does the MLA use emeritus and emerita?

In its publications the MLA follows Merriam-Webster, allowing the inflected forms emeritus to refer to a man or woman, emerita to refer to a woman, and emeriti to refer to a plural group. When individuals state a preference for emeritus or emerita, however, we follow their preference.

Published 9 January 2019

When I use too in the sense of “also,” should I use a comma before it?

In most cases, you need not use a comma before too at the end of a sentence or commas around it midsentence:

She likes chocolate chip cookies too.
She too likes chocolate chip cookies.

But, as usage experts note, you must use commas when too separates the verb from its object (Cook 126):

I note, too, that you have eaten all the chocolate chip cookies.

Work Cited
Cook, Claire Kehrwald. Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1985. 


  . . .

Published 20 November 2018

How do I style percentages?

The general guideline is to use the percentage symbol with numerals and to use the word percent with spelled-out numbers.
In statistical copy that calls for frequent use of numbers, it’s appropriate to use numerals, and so the percentage symbol would be used, as in the following example, drawn from a report on a census of language enrollments:

Japanese enrollments increased by 3.1%, from 66,771 in 2013 to 68,810 in 2016; Korean enrollments increased by 13.7%, from 12,256 in 2013 to 13,936 in 2016. (Looney and Lusin 3)

In prose that does not make extensive use of numbers, as in the example below, . . .

Published 14 November 2018

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 you make a plural out of the word so?

Someone might write, for example, “There are too many sos in this sentence,” in response to:

So many people were present, so he said so, so they were all so very pleased, but others felt that attendance was not so great, was, in a word, so-so.

But “sos” is hard to read. It looks at first like a mistake. Using italics might help a bit but not much: sos. Another option would be to add an apostrophe: so’s. But MLA style uses apostrophes only to form plurals of letters: p’s and q’s.
Note that dos and don’ts is fairly well established—that is, . . .

Published 7 February 2018

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