Using MLA Abbreviations

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When writing under the MLA format, use the suggestions and guidelines for MLA abbreviations for general abbreviations and for those in cited sources. The guide below covers some of the more common abbreviations, but the complete list is found in the 7th Edition MLA Handbook.

MLA abbreviations apply to common abbreviations that may appear within the text of your paper, but many abbreviations apply to listing sources on the Works Cited page. Some abbreviations also have periods and spacing applied differently, so knowing how to abbreviate correctly might involve looking up the information in the MLA Handbook when you cannot find the abbreviation in the list of examples provided here.

MLA abbreviations, periods and spacing

For MLA abbreviations that are in all capital letters, omit the periods and spaces.

  • US
  • HTML
  • DVD

Proper names are the exception to the above rule, and periods and a space are used after first and/or middle initials.

  • E. E. Cummings
  • J. R. R. Tolkien
  • R.L. Stine

If the letters of a lowercase abbreviation correspond to a word in a recognizable abbreviation, periods are used after each letter with no spaces following them within the MLA abbreviation.

  • a.m.
  • e.g.
  • i.e.
  • p.m.

The above rule does not apply to all MLA abbreviations, however. Some exceptions follow.

  • mph = miles per hour
  • rpm = revolutions per minute
  • n or nn = note, notes
  • ns = new series

When a lowercase letter ends an abbreviation, a period is used following the last letter of the MLA abbreviation.

  • assoc. = associate, associated
  • attrib.= attributed to
  • dept. = department
  • Eng. = English
  • esp. = especially

Degree names do not follow the standard MLA abbreviations rule for lowercase letters; instead, no periods are used when these end with a lowercase letter.

  • EdD
  • PhD
  • PhysD

Website URL abbreviations (extensions) require a period before the abbreviation.

  • .com
  • .edu
  • .net
  • .gov

MLA abbreviations in citations

As you use citations, use MLA abbreviations whenever you can to keep the citations as short as possible. The list that follows contains some of the more common abbreviations that are used in citing sources; however, for a complete list, refer to your MLA Handbook.

MLA abbreviations for months

Any month that is longer than four letters is abbreviated.

  • Jan. – January
  • Feb. – February
  • Mar. – March
  • Apr. – April
  • May – May
  • June – June
  • July – July
  • Aug. – August
  • Sept. – September
  • Oct. – October
  • Nov. – November
  • Dec. – December

In addition, dates in the MLA format are written in the date, month, year format. Use one number for single-digit days (7 instead of 07). The abbreviated month is used (when it is less than four letters), and the year is shown in the full, four-digit form.

  • 3 June 2012
  • 19 Sept. 2009
  • 27 Dec. 2003

MLA abbreviations for time

  • AD = Anno Domini
  • BC = Before Christ
  • wk. = week
  • mo. = month
  • yr. = year
  • a.m. = morning
  • p.m. = afternoon

MLA abbreviations for geographic locations

For US states, use the postal code, two-letter code as MLA abbreviations. [URL]Check the complete list of states if you are unsure of the correct abbreviation.

MLA abbreviations for missing information

  • no pag. = no pagination
  • N.p. = no publisher (common for websites)
  • n.d. = no date

MLA abbreviations for publisher names

When citing publisher names, a few special rules apply to allow you to shorter them as much as possible.

  • Do not include the articles of “a,” “an” and “the”
  • Do not include business abbreviations, such as “Co.,” “Inc.” or “Ltd.”
  • Omit any descriptive words at the end of a publisher name, such as “books,” “Press,” “Publishers” or “House”
  • Use the letter “P” for all university presses in case a university publishes independently, such as “Michigan State P” for “Michigan State Press”
  • Use only the surname when a publisher name has the full name of one person within it, such as “Wiley” for “John Wiley & Sons Inc.”
  • Use only the first surname when a publisher has more than one surname within it, such as “Farrar” for “Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc.”
  • Utilize other MLA abbreviations that may apply whenever possible, such as “UP” for a university press or “Acad.” for Academy
  • Use an acronym if a publisher is commonly known by it.

Publisher examples

  • Basic = Basic Books
  • GPO = Government Printing Office
  • Little = Little, Brown and Company, Inc.
  • MIT UP = MIT University Press
  • Scribner’s = Charles Scribner’s Sons
  • U of Chicago P = University of Chicago Press

MLA abbreviations for scholarly words

Many scholarly words also appear in various citations, especially those that are from scholarly journals. Keep this in mind, and utilize MLA abbreviations for scholarly words whenever possible. The list that follows includes common ones, but consult your MLA Handbook for a complete list.

anon. = anonymous
ca. = circa
ch. = chapter
comp. = compiler
fwd. = foreword
jour. = journal
lib. = library
par. = paragraph
publ. for publisher or publication
sec., sect. = section
ser. = series
var. = variant
writ. = written by, writer