MLA vs. 'Modified MLA' What's the Difference?
The objective of English Section "Modified MLA" formatting (cf. "house
style" under Which Citation Style Should I
Use?) is to simplify student work on papers written for Section
courses while remaining consistent with MLA guideline principles. While
students may certainly use the MLA guidelines as they appear in the
Style Guide, the English Section "house style"
guidelines (see example)
usually will be simpler to produce and result in less
Following are some of the differences and the reasoning:
"Works Cited" Listings
- The full names of publishers may be given, for example Oxford
University Press or Prentice-Hall Publishers, Inc. instead of
the MLA style of "abbreviating" publisher names (e.g. Oxford UP or
Prentice). The MLA guideline assumes usage by advanced scholars
who would likely be familiar with mainstream Humanities
publishers; this cannot be assumed for general university students.
Further, it is simpler for students to give complete publisher references
than it is to determine how to "abbreviate" them; this has the additional
benefit of being clearer for non-experts to read.
Likewise, when Citing Newspapers and
Periodicals, full spellings of the names of months and words like
"edition" may be used instead of their abbreviated forms.
- Boldface text may be used to indicate titles of major works (and
italic text for titles of minor works) rather than the MLA practice of
using underscores for major titles and quotation marks for minor titles (a
- For HTML versions of papers particularly, the <UL>
("unordered list") command should be used (along with the <LI>
"list item" command for each listing) for "Works Cited" entries, rather
than the "second-line indentation" MLA practice. Indentations are
problematic in HTML, and using an "unordered list" style instead will
clearly distinguish between the different Works Cited entries while
avoiding the problematics of line indentation.
List entries may be either single-spaced (the HTML default) or
double-spaced (by adding a <P> before each <LI> after the
first). If relatively few sources are listed, single-spacing may be
easily readable. If numerous sources were used, double-spacing usually
provides easier readability.
The Text of the Paper
- Full-block paragraphing should be used instead of 5-space indentations
for paragraphs. This is quicker and neater to produce for
digital texts, and avoids problematics encountered when converting
to other digital formats (for example between Word and HTML).
- As with #3 above, boldface and italics may be used for titles rather
than underscoring and quotation marks.
- The <blockquote> command may be used to offset "long"
quoted passages by indenting it from the left and right sides. The MLA
style only indents the left side of the text; using <blockquote>
is not only easier than changing the left-indent margin, but indenting on
both sides results in an easier-to-read layout.
- A "cover page" is not required; it is enough to center the title of
the paper (in a larger-size font) and name of the author, course, etc., on
the top of the first text page (cf. the PK5 Paper Template, and various student
- No "running author line" is necessary in the paper header (see MLA
sample page), only page numbers beginning with the second text page
(applies only to printout, RTF or PDF versions; not to HTML documents).
PK6 Class Schedule
Citation Examples Index
PK6 Reference Index
Last Updated 29 September 2010