MHRA Style Citation Demonstration

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

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles. 2011. ‘The Poet-Outsider and the Passion of Christ: Interlacing Myths in the Middle Irish Preface to Cáin Adomnáin’, in Myth, ed. by John McKeane and Joanna Neilly (= MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, 5) <http://www.mhra.org.uk/publications/wph-5> [accessed 16 October 2021]

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. We start with the name(s) of the author(s) of the article, inverting the first name into the form 'Forename, Surname'.

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles

Step 2. In author-date style, we have a full stop, then the year, then another full stop. If there are multiple entries with the same author and year, letters would be used to distinguish them: e.g., Bloggs 1994a, Bloggs 1994b.

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles. 2011.

Step 3. Now we add the title, in single inverted commas. Any single quotation marks already in the title must be converted to doubles.

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles. 2011. ‘The Poet-Outsider and the Passion of Christ: Interlacing Myths in the Middle Irish Preface to Cáin Adomnáin’

Step 4. We have to say where this comes from, so:

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles. 2011. ‘The Poet-Outsider and the Passion of Christ: Interlacing Myths in the Middle Irish Preface to Cáin Adomnáin’, in

Step 5. Next we identify where the article is to be found, using italics, not quotation marks, for the volume title. This is actually a journal issue, but it's a themed number with a title, so we give that title here just as if it were a book.

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles. 2011. ‘The Poet-Outsider and the Passion of Christ: Interlacing Myths in the Middle Irish Preface to Cáin Adomnáin’, in Myth

Step 6. After the title come any editors or translators. It's 'ed. by', not 'ed by', because although 'ed.' abbreviates 'edited', we regard the 'd' as the second letter of 'edited', not the last: so the abbreviation doesn't contain the last letter, and thus must have a full stop '.'

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles. 2011. ‘The Poet-Outsider and the Passion of Christ: Interlacing Myths in the Middle Irish Preface to Cáin Adomnáin’, in Myth, ed. by John McKeane and Joanna Neilly

Step 7. We gave this a title as if it were a book, but we need to give the equivalent journal citation as well: note the '=' sign.

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles. 2011. ‘The Poet-Outsider and the Passion of Christ: Interlacing Myths in the Middle Irish Preface to Cáin Adomnáin’, in Myth, ed. by John McKeane and Joanna Neilly (= MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, 5)

Step 8. This is an electronic publication, so we give the URL. Note the angle brackets!

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles. 2011. ‘The Poet-Outsider and the Passion of Christ: Interlacing Myths in the Middle Irish Preface to Cáin Adomnáin’, in Myth, ed. by John McKeane and Joanna Neilly (= MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, 5) <http://www.mhra.org.uk/publications/wph-5>

Step 9. Electronic publications cited by URL rather than DOI must give an access date. For this demonstration, it's today. Note the format, Day Month Year, with the Month spelled out in full.

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles. 2011. ‘The Poet-Outsider and the Passion of Christ: Interlacing Myths in the Middle Irish Preface to Cáin Adomnáin’, in Myth, ed. by John McKeane and Joanna Neilly (= MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, 5) <http://www.mhra.org.uk/publications/wph-5> [accessed 16 October 2021]

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’ (O'Donnell 2011: 21).

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

34 O'Donnell 2011.

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.