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A Quick Guide to MHRA Style

This section of the Style Guide summarizes the main features to be noted by authors who are following MHRA style. A full discussion can be found in the chapters and sections indicated. On some points the Guide gives the author choices of style convention: make a consistent choice throughout your text.

Preferred spellings (see §2.1)

Where verbs can end in -ize or -ise, use -ize forms (e.g. civilize, civilization), but be aware that some verbs (revise, exercise, etc.) always have the -ise spelling, and note the British spelling of analyse.

Use of full stop for abbreviations (see §2.10)

While the abbreviated form of a full word (e.g. Prof.) takes a full stop, a contracted form of a word that ends with the same letter as the full form, including plural -s, is not followed by a full stop:

Prof., Dr, Jr, Mme, Mr, Mrs, St, p., pp., vol., vols

Commas (see §2.5 (c))

In an enumeration of three or more items, the practice in MHRA journals is to insert commas after all but the last item, to give equal weight to each enumerated element: ‘The University has departments of French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese within its Faculty of Arts.’ The comma after the penultimate item may be omitted in books published by the MHRA, as long as the sense is clear.

Omissions from quotations (see §2.12 (d))

In quotations, points indicating an ellipsis (i.e. the omission of a portion of the text) should be enclosed within square brackets:

Elizabeth Bowen writes: ‘The silence was so intense […] that no tread could have gained on hers unheard’.

Numbers (see §5.2)

In expressing inclusive numbers falling within the same hundred, the last two figures should be given, including any zero in the penultimate position:

13–15, 44–47, 100–22, 104–08, 1933–39

Short quotations in running text (see §2.13)

Short quotations (no more than forty words, and no more than two lines of verse) should be enclosed in single quotation marks and run on with the main text. If a verse quotation includes a line division, this should be marked with a spaced upright stroke ‘|’:

Philip Larkin sees only ‘the deep blue air, that shows | Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless’.

For a quotation within a quotation, double quotation marks should be used.

Unless the quotation forms a complete sentence and is separated from the preceding passage by a punctuation mark, the final full stop should be outside the closing punctuation mark.

Longer quotations (see §2.14)

A long quotation (more than forty words, or more than two lines of verse) should be presented as a paragraph in its own right, with a blank line before and after, and indented.

Long quotations should not be enclosed within quotation marks.

Footnote and endnote numbers (see §2.16)

A note reference number should follow any punctuation except a dash, which it should precede:

After a comma,13 not after a dash14 — but after a full stop.15

The text of a note should end with a full stop:

13 Like this.

Citation in notes (see §7.1)

If you are writing for publication, your editor will tell you whether to supply your references in the form of notes (footnotes or endnotes) or to use the author–date system. MHRA style supports both. The following sections of the ‘Quick Guide’ show how notes are to be formatted for each of the main types of source and how they are shortened in subsequent references. See below for a short explanation of the alternative author–date notation.

The first time you cite a book in a note (see §7.3 (a)), follow:

Priyamvada Gopal, Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent (Verso, 2020), p. 63.

Becoming Visible: Women in European History, ed. by Renate Bridenthal, Susan Stuard, and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, 3rd edn (Houghton Mifflin, 1998).

For a chapter from an edited collection (see §7.3 (b)), follow:

Ani Kokobobo 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 (pp. 146–47), doi:10.2307/j.ctv249sgs4.13.

For a journal article (see §7.4), follow:

Doriane Zerka, ‘Constructing Poetic Identity: Iberia as a Heterotopia in Oswald von Wolkenstein’s Songs’, MLR, 114.2 (2019), pp. 274–93 (p. 279), doi:10.5699/modelangrevi.114.2.0274.

For a play or a longer poem (see §7.3 (c)), follow:

The Merchant of Venice, ii. 3. 10.

Paradise Lost, ix. 342–50.

For the Bible (see §7.3 (d)), follow:

Isaiah 22. 17.

ii Corinthians 5. 13–15.

For websites and social media (see §7.5), follow:

Amel Mukhtar, ‘How Failure Freed Coco Jones, R&B’s Soulful New Star’, British Vogue, 28 March 2023 <https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/coco-jones-interview> [accessed 4 April 2023].

Virago Press (@ViragoBooks), ‘💙 Some readers have told us they always shed a tear at the ending of Carrie’s War’, Twitter, 10 April 2023 <https://twitter.com/ViragoBooks/status/1645445347378970624> [accessed 27 April 2023].

For newspaper articles (see §7.6), follow:

Olivier Ubertalli, ‘Entre Antoine Gallimard et Vincent Bolloré, la guerre du livre’, Le Point, 25 February 2023 <https://www.lepoint.fr/medias/entre-antoine-gallimard-et-vincent-bollore-la-guerre-du-livre-25-02-2023-2509972_260.php> [accessed 3 April 2023].

For audiovisual works and software (see §7.8), follow:

The Grapes of Wrath, dir. by John Ford (USA, 1940).

Der geteilte Himmel, dir. by Konrad Wolf (East Germany, 1964).

‘Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency’, Mad Men (Lionsgate Television, 2007–15), season 3, episode 6 (2009).

Brian Hanrahan, ‘East Germany Opens the Gates’, BBC News, BBC 1, 9 November 1989.

Abbreviated references to works already cited (see §7.12)

In all references to the same source after the first, the shortest intelligible form should be used. The abbreviated reference will normally be the author’s name followed by the title (abbreviated where appropriate, for example by dropping any subtitle), the volume number (if applicable), and page reference:

Zerka, ‘Constructing Poetic Identity’, p. 281.

Böll, Werke, xx, pp. 24–25.

The author–date system (see §7.13)

Author–date is an alternate form of citation in which brief references such as ‘Joshua 2020’ are used in the text:

The Romantic age had no settled definition of disability (Joshua 2020).

A fuller description is then given in a bibliography at the end of the work. When writing for journals whose articles do not have bibliographies, this is not possible, but it is a viable option for full-length books, if your editor agrees, or for theses, or student essays. If this system is used, it must be used consistently, either all citations using author–date or none.

References in the text should give in parentheses the surname(s) of the author(s), the publication date of the work, and, where necessary, a page reference, e.g.: ‘(Joshua 2020: 1–2)’; ‘(Rye and others 2017)’.

Add initials if you need to distinguish authors with the same surname: ‘(S. Kemp 2005)’, ‘(A. Kemp 2010)’.

Add letters after the dates if you cite two or more works by the same author from the same year: ‘(Jones 2017a)’, ‘(Jones 2017b)’.

When the author’s name is given in the text, it need not be repeated in the parentheses: ‘Smith (2021) argues that...’, not ‘Smith (Smith 2021) argues that...’.

Bibliography with citation in notes (see §8.3)

Bibliography entries, unlike notes, do not end in full stops. In nearly all respects, the material provided in a bibliography matches that provided in notes, as detailed above, 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, with the surname preceding the forename, middle name, and/or any initials.

Gopal, Priyamvada, Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent (Verso, 2020)

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’.

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

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

Keespies, Ingrid, and Lyudmila Parts, eds, Goncharov in the Twenty-First Century (Academic Studies Press, 2021)

Bibliography with author–date citation (see §8.4)

Bibliographies for books, theses, or essays using author–date citations are almost the same as bibliographies provided with citation in notes, except that the date follows the name of the author(s) or editor(s), with a full stop either side of the date:

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

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


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