editorial guidelines

Authors of essays accepted for publication should refer to the following guidelines when preparing manuscripts. For matters not mentioned below, refer to MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.


  • Please submit essays as Microsoft Word documents via email attachment.
  • Clear all headers and footers, including page numbers, as well as section and page breaks.
  • Set all margins to one inch.
  • Double-space all text, including Notes and Works Cited, and use left justification.
  • Use endnotes rather than footnotes, and use them sparingly, if at all. Please enter notes and corresponding symbols manually, as automated notes do not migrate correctly into our design software. Notes should appear after the text, preceding Works Cited. Endnote reference numbers occurring in the text should be superscripted.

quotation marks and italics

  • Use smart (“ ”) quotation marks. Use em-dashes (—) for long dashes and en-dashes (-) for hyphens. Do not use automated hyphenation.
  • Use italics for book titles, titles of plays, collections of short stories, and television shows. Titles of novellas, if published singly, should be set in italics. If the novella is one of several in a collection, or is in a collection of short stories, use quotation marks.
  • Use quotation marks for individual short story titles, titles of poems, and individual episodes of ongoing TV shows.
  • Foreign words not listed in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition, are italicized at first mention, but roman thereafter.
  • Punctuation following an italicized word, as in a book title, is roman (as in, Who wrote Bitter in the Mouth? or Who edited The Emancipated?).


  • Spell out all numbers less than one hundred. Spell out round multiples of numbers under one hundred (fifteen thousand, three hundred) unless falling amid nonround numbers over one hundred (17, 312) or if many round numbers over one hundred occur in the same paragraph.
  • Indicate decades numerically, without an apostrophe (The 1970s witnessed a renaissance in student activism in the United States). Do not abbreviate (the 1970s, rather than the ’70s).
  • Write out the names of centuries, such as the nineteenth century, rather than the 19th century.


  • Give all page number ranges, including those in Works Cited, in full (132–133, not 132–33).
  • In text: Cite only page numbers on which quoted material occurs in parentheses following the closing quotation mark. Unless also using attribution, provide name as well. Supporting text must clearly indicate where quoted material originates. Do not use foot- or endnotes for citations. Do not abbreviate shortened titles (Collected Essays 202, not CE 202).
  • Block: Use indented blocks for quoted text longer than three lines, or for lines of dialogue taken from a script or screenplay. Indent block quotation by one tab, not two.
  • Notes: Provide full bibliographic information in the note for sources not also cited in the body of the essay. Do not repeat such sources in the Works Cited list. For sources also cited in the body of the essay, provide only a parenthetical name and page number reference, as in an in-text citation.
  • Works Cited: Only include sources actually cited in the body of the essay. Use current MLA format. Use UP for University Press, but make no other abbreviations (Louisiana State UP, not LSU Press), except in the case of major presses (Random House, not Random House, Inc.). Drop leading articles from most serial titles (Southern Literary Journal, not The Southern Literary Journal, but The New Yorker, not New Yorker).


  • Avoid using abbreviations, particularly for titles (The House on Mango Street, not Mango Street).
  • Always observe distinction between that/which, where/in which, and then/than.
  • Use serial commas for three or more items in a list.
  • Use small caps for A.M./P.M. and signs, labels, mottos, or other text in all caps (The motto reads, LUX LIBERTAS).
  • Use either ellipses (…) or three periods in succession to indicate omissions. Do not separate with spaces (. . .). Do not use ellipses at the beginning or ending of a quotation.
  • Use italics for emphasis only to point to a word or phrase as such and elsewhere only to disambiguate syntax or clarify meaning; do not use italics merely to stress a main point.
  • Use toward rather than towards.
  • Use only one space, not two, between sentences.