MHRA Style Citation Demonstration

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

Cox, Fiona. 1999. Aeneas Takes the Metro: The Presence of Virgil in Twentieth-Century French Literature, Studies In Comparative Literature, 3 (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.

Cox, Fiona

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

Cox, Fiona. 1999.

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

Cox, Fiona. 1999. Aeneas Takes the Metro: The Presence of Virgil in Twentieth-Century French Literature

Step 4. This book belongs to a series, so we'll name that. If the series is numbered, we give the number, too. No italics, no quotation marks in the series name.

Cox, Fiona. 1999. Aeneas Takes the Metro: The Presence of Virgil in Twentieth-Century French Literature, Studies In Comparative Literature, 3

Step 5. Since this is a book, not a journal issue, we have to identify its source, in round brackets. Until 2024, MHRA style required a place of publication - for example, New York or Oxford. This is no longer given except in special circumstances.

Cox, Fiona. 1999. Aeneas Takes the Metro: The Presence of Virgil in Twentieth-Century French Literature, Studies In Comparative Literature, 3 (

Step 6. 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.

Cox, Fiona. 1999. Aeneas Takes the Metro: The Presence of Virgil in Twentieth-Century French Literature, Studies In Comparative Literature, 3 (Legenda

Step 7. Since we had the date of first publication up front, we don't need it here, so we're done with the bracketed part.

Cox, Fiona. 1999. Aeneas Takes the Metro: The Presence of Virgil in Twentieth-Century French Literature, Studies In Comparative Literature, 3 (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’ (Cox 1999: 21).

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

34 Cox 1999.

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.