The MLA style manual

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The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (1998), published for the Modern Language Association of America, by Joseph Gibaldi, is the second edition of The MLA Style Manual (1985). It is an academic style guide widely used in the United States, Canada, and other countries, providing guidelines for writing and documentation of research in the humanities, especially in English studies; the study of other modern languages and literatures, including comparative literature; literary criticism; media studies; cultural studies; and related disciplines ("What Is MLA Style?"). According to the MLA, "Since its publication in 1985, the MLA Style Manual has been the standard guide for graduate students, teachers, and scholars in the humanities and for professional writers in many fields."

The MLA Style Manual is one of two official publications of the MLA presenting MLA documentation style written by Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Director of Book Acquisitions and Development ("Book Publications Program: General Information"), co-author with Walter S. Achtert of the first edition. The audience is primarily graduate students, academic scholars, professors, professional writers, and editors.

The other publication is The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, whose primary audience is secondary-school and undergraduate students and their teachers.

The most recently-published editions of both works have been updated and adapted to accommodate advancements in computer-generated word processing, electronic publishing, and related digital-publishing practices.

The third edition of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing is forthcoming from the MLA in March 2008. According to its Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 Publications catalogue, "Only guides from the MLA are certain to present MLA Style accurately." According to the catalogue description, "Reorganized and revised, this new edition of the MLA Style Manual offers complete, up-to-date guidance to writing and documenting scholarly texts, preparing them for publication, submitting them to publishers, and dealing with complex legal issues. Previous editions sold more than 140,000 copies." It includes the following "new and notable" features: Template:Quote

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The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (2nd ed.)


The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 2nd ed. (1998) (ISBN 0-87352-699-6), by Joseph Gibaldi (based on his work with co-author Walter S. Achtert for 'The MLA Style Manual' [1985]), is addressed primarily to academic scholars, professors, graduate students, and other advanced-level writers of scholarly books and articles in humanities disciplines such as English and other modern languages and literatures. Many journals and presses in these disciplines require that manuscripts be submitted following MLA style.

Document format

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Citation and bibliography format

Works cited

MLA style provides a bibliography of "Works Cited" listing works cited in one's text and notes (either footnotes and/or endnotes), which is placed after the main body of a term paper, article, or book. Brief parenthetical citations, including the name or names of author(s) and/or short titles (as needed) and numbers of pages (as applicable), are used within the text. These are keyed to and direct readers to a work or works by author(s) or editor(s) and sometimes titles, as they are presented on the list of works cited (in alphabetical order), and the page(s) of the item where the information is located (e.g. (Smith 107) refers the reader to page 107 of the cited work by an author whose surname is Smith). If there are more than one author of the same name and/or more than one title of works by that author or authors being cited, then a first name or initial and/or titles or short titles are also used within the text's parenthetical references.

Selected bibliography or Works consulted

In addition to "Works Cited", MLA style also provides other possible options for bibliographies such as more-selective lists headed "Selected Bibliography" or "Works Consulted".

In-text citations

When citing a work within the text of a paper, try to mention the material being cited in a "signal phrase" that includes the author's name. After that phrase, insert in brackets, the page number in the work referred to from which the information is drawn. For example: Template:Quotation The reader can then look up Lopez in the works cited list for complete information about the publication for which page 253 is being cited.

If the author is not mentioned in a "signal phrase" the author's name, followed by the page number, must appear in parentheses. Example: Template:Quotation

If you are citing an entire work, or one without page numbers (or only one page), write just the author's name in parentheses.

Your bibliography may, of course, contain more than one work by an author. If the text preceding your citation does not specify which work you are referencing, place a comma after the author's name, followed by a shortened version of the title in question (or the entire title if it is short) and the page number. This is typically the first word or two of the title: Template:Quotation with the title italicized for a book or within quotation marks for an essay, a poem, or a speech, as appropriate. (In the "Works Cited" or bibliography, three short dashes [––– if word processed; hyphens (---) when typed] are used when the author or authors' name is the same in subsequent works being listed. These in-text parenthetical citations guide the reader to the pertinent entries in the attached list of "Works Cited": Template:Quotation Template:Quotation Template:Quotation

List of works cited

The first page of a "List of Works Cited" is headed "Works Cited", centered in Times New Roman, 12-point font. Entries should be double-spaced, alphabetized, and use a hanging indent of 0.5 inches (beginnings of entries are not indented, but wrapped text is). Dates should be written with the day of the month first, the three letter abbreviation of the month and the year (example: 1 Jan. 2000). The title can either be underlined or italicized. It does not matter which style is chosen, but it should be consistent throughout the page.


Author last name, first name. Book title. Original publication information (optional). Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication. Template:Quotation

Note that MLA heavily abbreviates publication information. Only the city of publication is typically given, though The MLA Handbook advises writers to add abbreviations for foreign cities that may be unfamiliar to the reader.[1]

If the book had been previously published before the publication of the cited version, you may include that information—either the location, publisher, and year, or just the year. For example, both of the following citations are correct: Template:Quotation or Template:Quotation

Entry in an encyclopedia or dictionary

Author of entry. "Title of entry." Title of Reference Book. Edition number (if applicable). Year of publication. Template:Quotation If the work is not particularly well-known,[2] the writer is advised to add the publication details required in a normal book entry. If it is arranged alphabetically, page numbers are not necessary. Template:Quotation

Article in a periodical (magazine or journal, as well as newspapers)

Author last name, first name. "Article title." Title of periodical Date of periodical (or, if a consecutively paginated journal, volume number, followed by year in parentheses): Pages. Template:Quotation Template:Quotation If citing a journal that continues its page numbering from issue to issue within one volume, the issue number is not needed. If the pages start at 1 every issue, or if the writer is not sure, include it.
If citing a newspaper whose city of publication is not in its title, the city is put in brackets after the publication name.

Sound recording

Composer/conductor/performer. Title of recording. More personnel (optional). Date recorded. Medium (if not CD). Manufacturer, year of issue. Template:Quotation The writer may put either the composer, conductor, or performer(s) first, depending on the desired emphasis. The remaining personnel can be added after the recording's title. If citing a specific song, place its name in quotation marks after the performer's name. If the performers vary from song to song on the recording, place that information (if necessary) after the song title. Each individual's role is indicated after his/her name, except for orchestras, which are listed as their own sentence, and composers, who are listed as authors if at the beginning of the citation or "By ___" if after the title. Template:Quotation Template:Quotation


Author of webpage. "Article Title." Title of webpage. Date of publication (or date page was last modified). Sponsoring Agency. Date of retrieval <url>.


Author's last name, first name. "Article title of printed source." Periodical title of printed source, or title of printed analogue Date: inclusive pages. Title of database. CD-ROM. Name of vendor or computer service. Electronic-publication data or data for access.

Personal interview

Person interviewed last name, first name. Personal interview. Date interviewed. Template:Quotation


  1. If the writer wants to include this information, American states are given their postal abbreviations and Canadian provinces are given their two-letter abbreviations; other geographic names are abbreviated according to the list in "Abbreviations". (Cf. Gibaldi, The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed., 264-65.)
  2. The MLA Handbook gives as examples of "familiar reference books" for which the writer should "not give full publication information": Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Who's Who in America, The Encyclopedia Americana, Encyclopædia Britannica, and The Oxford English Dictionary (Gibaldi 161). One must, however, still specify which edition one is using.

Works Cited

External links