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MLA Abbreviations

Summary:

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Contributors:Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2013-08-06 10:33:51

There are a few common trends in abbreviating that you should follow when using MLA, though there are always exceptions to these rules. For a complete list of common abbreviations used in academic writing, see Chapter 7 of the MLA Handbooks for Writers of Research Papers, (7th ed.), and Chapter 8 of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, (3rd ed.).

This guide provides only a very small portion of the abbreviations suggested by MLA. Each section cross-references the appropriate sections and page numbers of the MLA Handbooks for Writers of Research Papers and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.

Uppercase letter abbreviations

Do not use periods or spaces in abbreviations composed solely of capital letters, except in the case of proper names:

US, MA, CD, HTML
P. D. James, J. R. R. Tolkien, E. B. White

Lowercase letter abbreviations

Use a period if the abbreviation ends in a lower case letter, unless referring to an Internet suffix, where the period should come before the abbreviation:

assn., conf., Eng., esp.
.com, .edu, .gov (URL suffixes)

Note: Degree names are a notable exception to the lowercase abbreviation rule.

PhD, EdD, PsyD

Use periods between letters without spacing if each letter represents a word in common lower case abbreviations:

a.m., e.g., i.e.

Other notable exceptions:

mph, os, rpm, ns

For more on upper- and lowercase letter abbreviation designations, see Section 7.1. Introduction (234) of the MLA Handbooks for Writers of Research Papers, (7th ed.), or Section 8.1. Introduction (261-62) of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, (3rd ed.).

Abbreviations in citations

Condense citations as much as possible using abbreviations.

Time Designations

Remember to follow common trends in abbreviating time and location within citations. Month names longer than four letters used in journal and magazine citations:

Jan., Sept., Nov.

For more information on time designations, see Section 7.2. Time Designations (235) of the MLA Handbooks for Writers of Research Papers, (7th ed.), or Section 8.2. Time Designations (262-63) of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, (3rd ed.).

Geographic Names

Use geographic names of states and countries. Abbreviate country, province, and state names.

Logan, UT; Manchester, Eng.; Sherbrooke, QC

For more information on time designations, see Section 7.3. Geographic Names (236-40) of the MLA Handbooks for Writers of Research Papers, (7th ed.), or Section 8.3. Geographic Names (264-69) of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, (3rd ed.).

Scholarly Abbreviations

List common scholarly abbreviations as they appear below:

For more information on scholarly abbreviations, see Section 7.4. Common Scholarly Abbreviations and Reference Words (240-47) of the MLA Handbooks for Writers of Research Papers, (7th ed.), or Section 8.3. Common Scholarly Abbreviations and Reference Words (269-82) of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, (3rd ed.).

Publisher Names

Shorten publisher's names as much as possible in book citations. You only need to provide your readers with enough information for them to identify the publisher. Many publishers can be identified by only acronyms or a shortened version of their names.

MLA suggests a few rules for you to follow when abbreviating publishers:

Here is a short list of publisher abbreviations that you might use. Consult Chapter 7 of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers for a more complete list.

For more information on publisher names, see Section 7.4. Publishers’ Names (247-49) of the MLA Handbooks for Writers of Research Papers, (7th ed.), or Section 8.3. Publishers’ Names (282-85) of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, (3rd ed.).

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