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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 (8th 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, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2016-08-05 10:26:43

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 Section 1.6 in the MLA Handbook (8th ed.).

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

unless the name is only composed of initials only:

 

FDR

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, lb

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., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

Geographic Names

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

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

Scholarly Abbreviations

List common scholarly abbreviations as they appear below:

Publisher Names

Cite publishers’ names in full as they appear on title or copyright pages. For example, cite the entire name for a publisher (e.g. W. W. Norton or Liveright Publishing).

Exceptions are listed below:

For more information on scholarly abbreviations, see Section 1.6.3 of the MLA Handbook (8th ed.). See also the following examples:

U of California P
MIT P
Utah State UP
Teachers College P
Chronicle Books
Vintage Books
McGraw-Hill
Little, Brown

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