MHRA Style Citation Demonstration

According to the MHRA Style Guide, this item should be cited in a bibliography as follows:

Beer, Dan. 2002. Michel Foucault: Form and Power (Cambridge: Legenda)

This is in the author-date variant of MHRA style. MHRA's journals don't allow author-date citation, but some of its book series (notably Legenda) do: please talk to your editor before using this. (To see the demonstration for regular style instead, follow this link.)

Let's take this bibliography entry one step at a time:

Step 1. The entry begins with the author(s) or editor(s) of the volume, with the first name inverted into Surname, Forename. This is because a Bibliography is a list in surname order, so we need a surname up front.

Beer, Dan

Step 2. Now a full stop, the year of publication, and another a full stop:

Beer, Dan. 2002.

Step 3. Here we have the book's title, in italics, not quotation marks.

Beer, Dan. 2002. Michel Foucault: Form and Power

Step 4. Since this is a book, not a journal issue, we have to identify its source, in round brackets. First, place of publication. This can be ambiguous. Legenda may be edited in Oxford, but the registered address of MHRA, which owns Legenda, is in Cambridge.

Beer, Dan. 2002. Michel Foucault: Form and Power (Cambridge

Step 5. Now a colon, a space, and the publisher's name. Here that's Legenda because this is the imprint name under which the book is published, even though Legenda is not strictly speaking a company. To decide these things, one must look at the exact wording of the preliminary pages. Our preference is for Legenda books to be cited as 'Legenda', and we word our preliminaries with that aim.

Beer, Dan. 2002. Michel Foucault: Form and Power (Cambridge: Legenda

Step 6. Since we had the date of first publication up front, we don't need it here, so we're done with the bracketed part.

Beer, Dan. 2002. Michel Foucault: Form and Power (Cambridge: Legenda)

And that's the finished bibliography entry. Note that there's no final full stop.

So how about citations in the main text, or in footnotes or endnotes?

The advantage of the author-date system is that these are very concise. In fact, you don't need a note at all. Suppose we quote from page 21:

The author reminds us of Shakespeare’s view: ‘Better a foolish wit than a witty fool’ (Beer 2002: 21).

And notes are concise too. There's no difference in how to treat the first and subsequent notes.

34 Beer 2002.

So is author-date easier than regular MHRA style? Not always. Firstly, it may not be allowed by your editor, so check before using. But secondly, it makes books easier to write, but only at the cost of making them harder to proof-read. If you discover at the last moment that Blenkinsop 1996 was actually published in 1995, that can mean hundreds of corrections to make, and it gets worse if an author has many publications in the same year, because Blenkinsop 1996e and Blenkinsop 1996d are easy to confuse.