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MLA Abbreviations

Summary:

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

There are a few common trends in abbreviating that you should follow when using MLA, though there are always exceptions to these rules. For a complete list of common abbreviations used in academic writing, see Section 1.6 in the MLA Handbook (8th ed.).

Uppercase letter abbreviations

Do not use periods or spaces in abbreviations composed solely of capital letters, except in the case of proper names:

US, MA, CD, HTML
P. D. James, J. R. R. Tolkien, E. B. White

unless the name is only composed of initials:

FDR

Lowercase letter abbreviations

Use a period if the abbreviation ends in a lowercase letter, unless referring to an Internet suffix, where the period should come before the abbreviation:

assn., conf., Eng., esp.
.com, .edu, .gov (URL suffixes)

Note: Degree names are a notable exception to the lowercase abbreviation rule.

PhD, EdD, PsyD

Use periods between letters without spacing if each letter represents a word in common lowercase abbreviations:

a.m., e.g., i.e.

Other notable exceptions:

mph, os, rpm, ns, lb

Abbreviations in citations

Condense citations as much as possible using abbreviations.

Time Designations

Remember to follow common trends in abbreviating time and location within citations. Month names longer than four letters used in journal and magazine citations:

Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

Geographic Names

Use geographic names of states and countries. Abbreviate country, province, and state names.

Logan, UT; Manchester, Eng.; Sherbrooke, QC

Scholarly Abbreviations

List common scholarly abbreviations as they appear below:

  • anon. for anonymous
  • c. or ca. for circa
  • ch. for chapter
  • dept. for department
  • ed. for edition
  • et al. for multiple names (translates to "and others")
  • fwd. for foreword
  • jour. for journal
  • lib. for library
  • no. for number
  • P for Press (used for academic presses)
  • p. for page, pp. for pages
  • par. for paragraph when page numbers are unavailable
  • qtd. in for quoted in
  • rev. for revised
  • sec. or sect. for section
  • ser. for series
  • trans. for translation
  • U for University (for example, Purdue U)
  • UP for University Press (for example, Yale UP or U of California P)
  • var. for variant
  • vol. for volume

Publisher Names

Cite publishers’ names in full as they appear on title or copyright pages. For example, cite the entire name for a publisher (e.g. W. W. Norton or Liveright Publishing).

Exceptions are listed below:

  • Omit articles and business abbreviations (like Corp., Inc., Co., and Ltd.).
  • Use the acronym of the publisher if the company is commonly known by that abbreviation (e.g. MLA, ERIC, GPO). For publishers who are not known by an abbreviation, write the entire name.
  • Use only U and P when referring to university presses (e.g. Cambridge UP or U of Chicago P)

For more information on scholarly abbreviations, see Section 1.6.3 of the MLA Handbook (8th ed.). See also the following examples:

U of California P
MIT P
Utah State UP
Teachers College P
Chronicle Books
Vintage Books
McGraw-Hill
Little, Brown
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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.