MHRA Style Citation Demonstration

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

Nelson, Graham (ed.). 2020. The MHRA Centenary Lectures (MHRA)

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.

Nelson, Graham

Step 2. If somebody has a role other than that of author, it goes next, in brackets. One editor becomes '(ed.)', two or more '(eds)'. (Remember: 'ed.' stands for 'editor', not 'edited', so the full stop must be used, because 'd' is not its last letter.)

Nelson, Graham (ed.)

Step 3. Now a full stop, the year of publication, and another a full stop:

Nelson, Graham (ed.). 2020.

Step 4. Here we have the book's title, in italics, not quotation marks.

Nelson, Graham (ed.). 2020. The MHRA Centenary Lectures

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.

Nelson, Graham (ed.). 2020. The MHRA Centenary Lectures (

Step 6. Now a colon, a space, and the publisher's name. Abbreviating to 'MHRA' is fine here.

Nelson, Graham (ed.). 2020. The MHRA Centenary Lectures (MHRA

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.

Nelson, Graham (ed.). 2020. The MHRA Centenary Lectures (MHRA)

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’ (Nelson 2020: 21).

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

34 Nelson 2020.

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.