ContentsIntroductionChangesQuick GuideChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Index

Chapter 8: Bibliographies and Indexes

This chapter covers the way in which the information in a bibliography or index is to be set out. The first two sections apply to both bibliographies and indexes; they cover the ordering of names and terms alphabetically. This is followed by information about how to set out a bibliography or list of works cited in each of the two key referencing systems — citation in notes and author–date citation. Finally, advice is given on what to include in an index and how to organize index entries so that your reader can easily find the information they require.

§8.1. Inverting Names in Indexes and Bibliographies

A name must first be put into the right format for indexing or listing. For many Western names, this is very straightforward: simply invert the surname and forename and separate them with a comma.

  • McEwan, Ian
  • Ransmayr, Christoph
  • Vendler, Helen

In general, there is no need to give middle names unless authors always publish using a middle name or initial, such as:

  • Alcott, Louisa May
  • Jerome, Jerome K.
  • Proulx, E. Annie

Middle names, where needed, should be placed last, but compound surnames are more difficult, because they depend on the preferences or fame of the subject. For example, we would write Clinton, Hillary Rodham, not Rodham Clinton, Hillary, because she is almost always associated with her married name and not her birth name; but the critic of Spanish colonial literature in the New World should be inverted as Castellví Laukamp, Luis, not as Laukamp, Luis Castellví. While it is more common for Hispanic compound surnames to be treated in this way, each case in practice comes down to the preferences of the owner of the name.

Patronymics and similar particles, like the French honorific ‘de’, sometimes appear before and sometimes after the surname. As a general rule, if they are normally capitalized (as is the case with Ní Dhúill) then they come first, and if not then second. A historical figure such as Charles de Gaulle, who is always designated as ‘de Gaulle’ in contemporary accounts, would be an exception. Thus:

  • Ní Dhúill, Caitríona
  • Neumann, John von
  • Balzac, Honoré de
  • Orléans, Adélaïde d’
  • de Gaulle, Charles

Welsh names containing ap or ab are another exception. Names of historical figures are not inverted at all, while more recent names invert to begin with the ap or ab:

  • Maredudd ab Owain
  • ap Gwilym, Myrddin

Spelling and capitalization can be variable for French authors before the modern age. The library catalogue of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, <> [accessed 10 May 2023], may be helpful as an arbiter.

Pseudonyms and common-use names which differ from ‘real’ names also present an issue. A bibliography entry citing a pseudonymous work should certainly use the pseudonym, since that is what is printed as the author name, but an index might want to include the real name too. Some cultural figures come to be known under familiar names over time, such as Byron, or Donatello; and some contemporary figures have customary names already, such as Lula, the present President of Brazil. In such cases, good indexing style is to place the more familiar name first, and then give the proper names in brackets, where it is useful to do so.

  • Byron (George Gordon, Lord Byron)
  • Carlos the Jackal (Ilich Ramírez Sánchez)
  • Chanel, Coco (Gabrielle Chanel)
  • Ford Madox Ford (Joseph Madox Hueffer)
  • Lula (Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva)

There is no need to be overly pedantic: an index or bibliography is meant to serve the book which contains it, and not to be a reference work to full names of cultural figures.

Where an author or artist has produced work before and after changing their name (for instance through marriage or gender transition, or to reflect their heritage), and where it is necessary to include both names, give their current name followed by the previous name in brackets:

  • Tempest, Kae (formerly Kate)
  • Newton, Thandiwe (formerly Thandie)
  • Wachowski, Lana (formerly Laurence)

As noted in §8.2 below, if readers are likely to look up such a name under more than one form, use cross-reference entries so that each form is covered. For example:

Alighieri, Dante, see Dante

Where titles are given, they should appear after a name, divided by a comma:

  • Alfonso X, King of Castile
  • Anselm of Canterbury, St
  • Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

With regnal names, it is sensible to give the country if the book being indexed involves monarchs of more than one nation: John, King of England, is a different person from John, King of Bohemia. But if indexing a book which discusses only England, this is unlikely to be necessary.

§8.2. Sorting in Alphabetical Order

There are two common forms of alphabetization in use today, which differ only in how they handle multi-word entries: word alphabetization, sorting by each word in turn, and letter alphabetization, in which the spacing between words is ignored. To see the difference, consider:

  • German thought
  • Germanic literature

In word alphabetization, German comes before Germanic, and so ‘German thought’ comes before ‘Germanic literature’; in letter alphabetization, they are the other way around, because ‘germanicliterature’ precedes ‘germanthought’ at the seventh letter.

MHRA style is to use word alphabetization for indexes and bibliographies, as is traditional in the publishing industry. Be warned, however, that word processors sometimes use letter alphabetization when sorting by default, because that is more usual for electronic catalogues and dictionaries.

Sort using the English alphabet. Treat accented letters as if they have no accent:

  • Süßmann, Christel
  • Sußmann, Hans

However, if two entries are identical in all respects other than an accent, place the unaccented version first:

  • Hebert, Ernest
  • Hébert, Ernest
  • Munster
  • Münster

In a book on Welsh studies, it may be sensible to follow Welsh orthography and sort digraphs such as LL as if they were single letters, but in a list which contains only one or two Welsh names, this is more likely to confuse than assist a reader. In Scandinavian languages, Æ, Ø, and Å sort after Z, and in that order. And in all languages, numbers should come before A: thus ‘99 Luftballons’ comes before ‘Allein Allein’.

If a reader may look up a name under more than one form, use a cross-reference. For example:

  • Alighieri, Dante, see Dante
  • de Beauvoir, Simone, see Beauvoir, Simone de

As noted below, within a given author’s entry in a bibliography, it may be necessary to alphabetize works by title, and the same can apply to index subentries:

  • Dickens, Charles:
    • The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home
    • Hard Times
    • The Pickwick Papers
    • A Tale of Two Cities

In general, the rules for alphabetizing titles are the same as for names: again, use word alphabetization. However, note that in English, the articles ‘A’, ‘An’, and ‘The’ should be ignored if they occur as the first word in a title. Thus An Unquiet Mind is alphabetized as if it were simply Unquiet Mind.

In other languages conventions may vary. In French, it is customary to ignore definite articles, but not indefinite articles. Thus Le Cabinet du docteur Caligari appears under C, but Une famille formidable under U.

§8.3. Bibliography with Citation in Notes

Where you have used footnotes or endnotes to reference sources, you may be asked to supply an alphabetical bibliography or list of works cited. If you are writing a book this will almost always be needed; some, but not all, journals also ask for a bibliography.

Web pages and the like can normally be included alphabetically among books, chapters, and journal articles in the normal way. However, some sources such as films, medieval manuscripts, or extensive online databases do not so easily belong to a regular bibliography. It may then be sensible to divide those categories off into a separate section of entries, such as a filmography, or a list of manuscripts and the libraries holding them.

In nearly all respects, the material provided in a bibliography matches that provided in notes, in terms of both information and presentation. The main exception to this is the treatment of names.

The name of the author or editor of a work is reversed, as detailed in §8.1 above, with the surname preceding the forename, middle name, and/or any initials. Where a work has multiple authors, this applies only to the first author: do not reverse the normal order of names after the first.

If a work has more than three authors, list only the first, followed by ‘and others’. Do not use ‘et al.’.

For an edited collection of contributed chapters, the editor’s name comes first, inverted as above, followed by ‘ed.’ or ‘eds’ as appropriate, placed within brackets.

For editions of an author’s work, the work should normally be listed under the author’s name, and the name(s) of the editor/translator should follow the title, preceded by ‘ed. by’ or ‘trans. by’, as is the practice in notes. In some cases (such as a large collected works of a classic author), the author’s name might form part of the title; in such cases, it may be preferable to list the work under the editor’s name.

Anonymous works, television series, or other works where there is no obvious author, such as a website, are listed under their title, ignoring any initial definite or indefinite article when determining alphabetical order.

If two or more essays in the same edited volume are cited, the bibliography should have separate entries for each essay, rather than one entry for the volume as a whole. Give the full details of the volume for each separate bibliography entry. This does not exclude also listing the volume separately under its editor(s) if it is felt to be a valuable resource. In general, it is sensible to avoid cross-references within a bibliography.

Unlike in a note, there is no full stop at the end of a bibliography entry.

In all other respects, the information in a bibliography entry matches the information in the corresponding note and authors should check this carefully. Whichever name has been used for short forms of reference in the notes (see §7.12) will be the name readers look up in the bibliography.

The following examples illustrate these points:

Battlestar Galactica, David Eick Productions (British Sky Broadcasting, 2004–09)

La Chanson de Roland (Grasset, 1990)

Fonseca Pimentel, Eleonora, From Arcadia to Revolution: ‘The Neapolitan Monitor’ and Other Writings, ed. and trans. by Verina R. Jones (Iter Press and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2019)

Jeannelle, Jean-Louis, and others (eds), Simone de Beauvoir: Mémoires, 2 vols (Gallimard, 2018)

Kokobobo, Ani, ‘Tolstoy’s Enigmatic Final Hero: War, Sufism, and the Spiritual Path in Hadji Murat’, Russian Review, 76.1 (2017), pp. 38–52, doi:10.1111/russ.12118

Kokobobo, Ani, and Devin McFadden, ‘The Queer Nihilist: Queer Time, Social Refusal, and Heteronormativity in The Precipice’, in Goncharov in the Twenty-First Century, ed. by Ingrid Keespies and Lyudmila Parts (Academic Studies Press, 2021), pp. 132–52, doi:10.2307/j.ctv249sgs4.13

Rothberg, Michael, ‘Decolonizing Trauma Studies: A Response’, Studies in the Novel, 40.1–2 (2008), pp. 224–34, doi:10.1353/sdn.0.0005

Rye, Gill, and others (eds), Motherhood in Literature and Culture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Europe (Routledge, 2017)

Shen, Qian, ‘Hombres en un mundo de mujeres: estereotipos e identidades masculinas en el cine de Pedro Almodóvar’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2018)

Taylor, Helena, ‘Ancients, Moderns, Gender: Marie-Jeanne L’Héritier’s “Le Parnasse reconnoissant, ou, Le triomphe de Madame Des-Houlières”’, French Studies, 71 (2017), pp. 15–30, doi:10.1093/fs./knw261

—— ‘Antoinette Deshoulière’s Cat: Polemical Equivocation in Salon Verse’, Romanic Review, 112.3 (2021), pp. 452–69, doi:10.1215/00358118-9377358

Zava, Giulia, ‘Translating the Canzoniere into Images: The Petrarca Queriniano Incunable’, in Translating Petrarch’s Poetry: ‘L’Aura del Petrarca’ from the Quattrocento to the 21st Century, ed. by Carole Birkan-Berz, Guillaume Coatelen, and Thomas Vuong (Legenda, 2020), pp. 82–102, doi:10.2307/j.ctv16kkxw0.10

In the bibliography for a book, many author entries will have multiple works. For example, the following might be the entry for the author K. F. Hilliard:

Hilliard, K. F., ‘Atemübungen: Geist und Körper in der Lyrik des 18. Jahrhunderts’, in Body Dialectics in the Age of Goethe, ed. by Marianne Henn and Holger A. Pausch (Rodopi, 2013), pp. 293–313, doi:10.1163/9789004334359

—— Freethinkers, Libertines and Schwärmer: Heterodoxy in German Literature, 1750–1800 (Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, 2011)

—— ‘Goethe and the Cure for Melancholy: “Mahomets Gesang”, Orientalism and the Medical Psychology of the 18th Century’, Oxford German Studies, 23 (1994), pp. 71–103

——, and Katrin Kohl (eds), Wort und Schrift: Das Werk Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstocks (Harrassowitz, 2008)

Here a 2-em rule (typed as two consecutive em-dashes) ‘——’ is customarily used as a form of ditto-mark, meaning that the author is the same. Works by the author alone should appear first, and then those with co-authors, if any, whose names appear after a comma.

Otherwise, works should be in alphabetical order by title, disregarding initial definite or indefinite articles. If there is an academic justification for chronological order, be sure to be consistent throughout the bibliography. For example: ‘Atemübungen...’, Freethinkers..., ‘Goethe...’ as solo works, and then From... as the only co-authored work.

Corresponding examples for a bibliography in a work that uses author–date citation (where alphabetical order is a second-order issue) are given in §8.4.

If an author or artist has produced work under more than one name (for instance following marriage, gender transition, or a name change that acknowledges their heritage), each work should be listed in the bibliography under the name under which it was published. If you are citing work under both names, it may be helpful also to provide their new or former name to enable readers to match up the names. For example:

Tempest, Kae [formerly Kate], On Connection (Faber, 2020)

Tempest, Kate [now Kae], Brand New Ancients (Picador, 2013)

The same applies where you are citing work by the same author published under multiple names. For example:

  • Caeiro, Alberto [heteronym of Fernando Pessoa], ...
  • Pessoa, Fernando [see also Alberto Caeiro], ...

§8.4. Bibliography with Author–Date Citation

A bibliography for author–date citations is presented as in the section on Bibliography with Citation in Notes above, except that the date follows the name of the author(s) or editor(s), with a full stop either side of the date:

Jeannelle, Jean-Louis, and others (eds). 2018. Simone de Beauvoir: Mémoires, 2 vols (Gallimard)

Joshua, Essaka. 2020. Physical Disability in British Romantic Literature (Cambridge University Press)

Mukherjee, Ankhi. 2010. ‘“What is a Classic?”: International Literary Criticism and the Classic Question’, PMLA, 125.4, pp. 1026–42

Mukherjee, Paromita. 2021. ‘The Non-Human, Haunting, and the Question of “Excess” in Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Demon Lover”’, Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry, 8.1, pp. 41–59, doi:10.35684/JLCI.2021.8103

Tholl, Egbert. 2023. ‘Schauspielhaus Zürich: Beim Geld hört die Wokeness auf’, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 6 March <> [accessed 17 June 2023]

West-Pavlov, Russell. 2022. ‘Modernism and Modernities in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart’, English Studies in Africa, 65.1, pp. 72–86, doi:10.1080/00138398.2022.205586

As explained in §7.13, where multiple authors cited in the text share a surname, the initial letter of an author’s first name is used in in-text citations as a succinct way of identifying them, e.g. ‘(A. Mukherjee 2010: 1035)’. In a bibliography, however, given names are written out in full, except in cases where the author has published under their initials.

If the list includes more than one work by the same author, a 2-em dash should be substituted for the name after the first appearance and works should be listed in date order. Co-authored works follow single-authored works. For example:

Hilliard, K. F. 1994. ‘Goethe and the Cure for Melancholy: “Mahomets Gesang”, Orientalism and the Medical Psychology of the 18th Century’, Oxford German Studies, 23, pp. 71–103

—— 2003. ‘Atemübungen: Geist und Körper in der Lyrik des 18. Jahrhunderts’, in Body Dialectics in the Age of Goethe, ed. by Marianne Henn and Holger A. Pausch (Rodopi), pp. 293–313

—— 2011. Freethinkers, Libertines and Schwärmer: Heterodoxy in German Literature, 1750–1800 (Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies)

——, and Katrin Kohl (eds), Wort und Schrift: Das Werk Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstocks (Harrassowitz, 2008)

If two or more works by the same author(s) have the same publication date, they are arranged in alphabetical order of title and distinguished by adding letters after the date (e.g. ‘2019a’, ‘2019b’):

O’Healy, Áine. 2019a. Migrant Anxieties: Italian Cinema in a Transnational Frame (Indiana University Press)

—— 2019b. ‘Witnessing Mediterranean Migration through a Postcolonial Lens’, Imago, 19.1, pp. 105–20

§8.5. What to Index

Most scholarly indexes should include subject-matter as well as names. It is much easier to compile a name index, but the reader of a book on America in the 1960s who needs to know about mixed marriages or monetary policy, and who finds nothing between ‘Miller, Arthur’ and ‘Monroe, Marilyn’, will feel cheated.

Names of authors and critics whose work is engaged with substantively should always be indexed. Simply quoting from a scholar probably does not warrant their inclusion in the index. Similarly, if a note simply cites a source, perhaps to justify a remark made in the text (‘Baudelaire had a difficult family.10’), then the author of that source would not normally go into the index. Index entries should relate only to material in the body of the book; no page references should be made to the bibliography pages. Index literary works under their authors (e.g.: ‘Eliot, T. S., The Sacred Wood’) unless they are anonymous, or (as in the case of some medieval texts) much better known under their titles.

If you use indexing software, be aware that it may not be able to recognize names reliably. It is also unlikely to be able to distinguish between trivial and significant keywords or to understand more complex themes and concepts, and the relationships between them. Leave time to check it by hand.

As with all authorship, the creation of an index requires human judgement rather than the following of rigid rules. Where the guidelines below would lead to unhelpful index entries, use your discretion. Keep in mind the most important aspect of an index, which is that a reader should be able to find the information they are looking for.

§8.6. Organizing an Index

For most types of work (e.g. biographies or critical studies) a single index is normally best. For others (e.g. catalogues of manuscript collections) several indexes may be needed, but keep these to a minimum.

Headings with a substantial number of page references should be subdivided: no one wants to look at all thirty-seven pages on which a person is mentioned in order to find the one that gives the date of birth. However, avoid an elaborate system of sub-entries: for many books a single level of sub-entry is sufficient.

A general rule is to use sub-entries when a main entry has more than six page references, though they may be helpful even in shorter entries.

An exception to the ‘single level of sub-entries’ rule may be made in the case of a book dealing with a single author, which covers a range of their works and various aspects of their life. Taking Charles Baudelaire as an example, under the index entry for his name, there may be a sub-entry ‘Poems’ and sub-sub-entries listing the poems cited in the book, in alphabetical order of title, as in this abbreviated illustration:

  • Archimbaud-Dufaÿs, Caroline 2, 11
  • Baudelaire, Charles:
    • life:
      • circumstances of birth 2
      • death 231
      • family 1–5
      • father, see Baudelaire, Joseph-François
      • mother, see Archimbaud-Dufaÿs, Caroline
    • poems:
      • ‘Abel et Caïn’ 30
      • ‘L’Albatros’ 21
  • Baudelaire, Joseph-François 2, 23 n. 2

It is helpful to index concepts and broad topics, but also helpful to group these as sub-entries under main entries which a reader might plausibly look up. For instance, the main entry ‘censorship’ might have ‘of television’ and ‘of theatre’ as sub-entries.

Apparently identical words that have different senses, or represent different parts of speech, must not be grouped in a single entry.

Substantial treatment of a topic throughout several consecutive pages is shown as e.g. ‘28–32’. However, passing references to that topic on each of several consecutive pages is shown as e.g. ‘28, 29, 30, 31, 32’.

Sub-entries should be indicated on the page by indentation. In the electronic copy, use a single tab character to achieve this rather than a series of spaces.

In general, avoid several levels of indentation, since this would lead to very short lines in a two-column index.

‘See’ and ‘see also’ should be used sparingly: cross-references are best kept to cases that are genuinely helpful. For entries referring to the same topic that have only a few page references, it is more helpful to repeat the page references, rather than supplying a cross-reference.

Entries should be placed in alphabetical order, ignoring accents or other diacritics, following the rules outlined in §8.2. Alphabetization should be checked multiple times before submission as mistakes are easily made.

Within an entry, any sub-entries must also be in alphabetical order, but an initial preposition does not count. In the following example, ‘in legal documents’ is deemed to begin with ‘L’, and so follows ‘Justice’:

  • Accademia della Crusca 13, 33, 37
  • Albinus, De arte rhet. dial. 58 n. 11
  • allegory 2, 15, 67–69, 101–23
    • Justice 88
    • in legal documents 96

§8.7. Index Entries

The following elements of indexing style are used in the MHRA’s own publications. Since each publisher has its own indexing style, authors submitting work to other publishers should enquire about the publisher’s preferences before beginning to compile an index.

Entries should begin with lower-case letters (except proper names or words capitalized in the text). They should end without punctuation.

No comma is necessary between the entry and the first page-number, although a colon should be inserted if entries end in a numeral (for instance, ‘Catch-22: 13, 45’).

A colon also appears at the end of an entry or sub-entry if there are no page numbers to the entry itself. For instance, ‘Empson, William:’ has a colon in the example below because there are no general page references concerning him: all of the references are in sub-entries.

For cross-referencing, follow these examples:

  • Dante, see Alighieri, Dante
  • Empson, William:
    • Argufying 100
    • and I. A. Richards 102
    • see also Practical Criticism

To indicate a point in the text where a key distinction or contrast is drawn, use the abbreviation ‘vs’ (no full stop, roman type) for ‘versus’, discounting ‘vs’ in the alphabetical sequence. For example:

  • audience figures 63, 79-82
    • television vs cinema 65-67
  • Heimatfilm:
    • vs Bergfilm 95
    • plot structure 88, 90

Special features, such as pages with illustrations or with substantial bibliographical references, may be indicated by bold or italic numerals, but such devices should be used sparingly.

For inclusive numbers, use the convention specified in §5.2, e.g. ‘301–03’ (not ‘301–3’ or ‘301–303’) but ‘1098–1101’ (not ‘1098–101’).

Page references to footnotes should be given in the form ‘41 n. 3’, meaning note 3 on page 41. There should be spaces on either side of ‘n.’. If two notes on the same page are referred to, use the form ‘41 nn. 3 & 4’, with an ampersand.

Avoid ‘ff.’ where an explicit page range can be given: for instance, ‘34–37’ rather than ‘34 ff.’. Similarly, avoid using ‘f.’ to mean ‘and the page after’.

ContentsIntroductionChangesQuick GuideChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8