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


A style guide ensures that texts written by different authors, and works by a single author, are presented consistently. Rather than offering advice on rhetorical or argumentative style, a style guide enables writers to follow common practices in the functional elements of writing: spelling, punctuation, and the presentation of numbers, for instance. References to cited sources need to follow a consistent format so that readers and editors can absorb and review the information quickly and follow up references with ease.

As a major academic publisher in the arts and humanities, publishing a wide range of books and journals, the MHRA needs a style guide for the use of its authors and editors. Over the years, the MHRA Style Guide has become a key resource for writers and students at all levels.

The MHRA Style Guide has always striven to be compact and manageable. It makes no claim to be a comprehensive guide to all issues that might conceivably be encountered by writers in the arts and humanities. Instead, it covers the core issues that are likely to occur in most writing in our fields. These are summarized further in the Quick Guide which opens the Guide. An author who follows these few guidelines will produce a text that is substantially correct. Where an issue is not covered in the full Guide, for instance because the field of study involves unusual text types or ways of encoding information — such as choreography notation or patent applications — specialist advice on style conventions is generally readily available online.

Ten years have passed since the third revised edition of the MHRA Style Guide was published. While many aspects of scholarly practice have remained stable, the range of sources used by scholars and the ways that they can be accessed have changed considerably. We have therefore taken the opportunity for a thorough overhaul of the whole Guide, including the way in which the information is structured.

In just a few instances we have made alterations to our core style. In each case, this has been done in the interests of usability for both writers and editors. These changes are summarized in Changes to MHRA Style below. We hope that these new conventions will establish themselves quickly. There will be a delay while branded referencing software and the ‘quick guides to MHRA style’ that are provided by university libraries (both of which are beyond the control of the MHRA) catch up with these changes. In the interim, we recommend that university teachers allow old and new forms.

This new edition is for the first time published under the Creative Commons licence CC NC-BY. This allows institutions making use of the Style Guide to copy passages and examples freely from our website to their own guidance for students.

Readers who have been using the Guide for many years will notice the disappearance of many of the old examples of cited books, journal articles, chapters, and dissertations. Because references were previously retained from one edition to the next, most dated from before 1990. This might not seem to be an issue, given that today’s scholars often cite scholarship from the twentieth century. However, the unintended effect of loyalty to existing examples was that whole fields of study and many theoretical approaches not common before 1990 were not represented in the Guide. We felt that doctoral and early-career researchers, in particular, would not see their concerns reflected in the examples. The new examples are intended to provide a better reflection of our community’s actual range of writing and source materials in the 2020s.

This edition of the Style Guide was updated by a team made up of Derek Connon, Simon F. Davies, Gerard Lowe, Graham Nelson, Lucy O’Meara, and Chloe Paver. As today’s editors, we are only the current members of an informal committee which began before any of us were born. Though the first MHRA Style Book, edited by the Leeds-based scholarly journal printer Stanley Maney and the Shakespeare scholar Robert Smallwood, was not issued until 1971, it codified the work of editors of the Modern Language Review who had been meeting since 1905. We acknowledge in particular Glanville Price (chair of the editorial committee in 1991, 1996, 2002) and Brian Richardson (2008, 2013), who saw the last two editions of the Style Book and the first three of this modern-format Style Guide through press.

Unlike some of the larger US style guides, the MHRA Style Guide has no permanent staff. We are unable to enter into correspondence about style or give rulings on instances of style. However, we welcome suggestions for future editions at

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