MLA Style Manual: An Overview

12 12 2012

The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (2008) is the third edition of The MLA Style Manual, first published by the Modern Language Association of America in 1985. It is an academic style guide widely used in the United States, Canada, and other countries, providing guidelines for writing and documentation of research in the humanities, especially in English studies; the study of other modern languages and literature, including comparative literatureliterary criticismmedia studiescultural studies; and related disciplines (but not history, which follows The Chicago Manual of Style).

According to the MLA book catalogue description, since first being published in 1985, the MLA Style Manual has been “the standard guide for graduate students, scholars, and professional writers.” MLA style “has been widely adopted by schools, academic departments, and instructors for over half a century”; the MLA’s “guidelines are also used by over 1,100 scholarly and literary journals, newsletters, and magazines and by many university and commercial presses,” and they are “followed throughout North America and in BrazilChinaIndiaJapanTaiwan, and other countries around the world” (“What Is MLA Style?”).

The MLA Style Manual is one of two official publications of the MLA presenting MLA documentation style written by Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Director of Book Acquisitions and Development (“Book Publications Program: General Information”), co-author with Walter S. Achtert of the first edition. The audience is primarily graduate students, academic scholars, professors, professional writers, and editors.

The other publication is The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, whose primary audience is secondary-school and undergraduate students and their teachers.

The most recently published editions of both works have been updated and adapted to accommodate advancements in computer-generated word processing, electronic publishing, and related digital-publishing papers.

The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd ed. (2008), by the Modern Language Association of America (based on the work of Joseph Gibaldi with co-author Walter S. Achtert for The MLA Style Manual [1985], revised in the 2nd ed. in 1998), is addressed primarily to academic scholars, professors, graduate students, and other advanced-level writers of scholarly books and articles in humanities disciplines such as English and other modern languages and literatures. Many journals and presses in these disciplines require that manuscripts be submitted following MLA style.

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