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Bibliographic Citations using MLA Style 8th edition (2016): Which Words Are Capitalized?

An introduction to the new (April 2016) edition of the MLA citation guide. The new Guide has introduced many new features to this widely used bibliographic style.

Capitalization

One of the hardest parts of MLA Citation Style is figuring out which words in a title or journal name are capitalized. The MLA Style Manual is not very helpful on this except to say "Capitalize the most important words". Here is the "official" list of which words are NOT capitalized. If it is not on this list, capitalize the word.

Note that there are 4 exceptions:

  • when one of these words starts a title.
  • when one of these words ends a title.
  • when one of these words comes after a colon, as in a subtitle.
  • finally, when a quotation is part of a title, follow the capitalization used in the quote:

Stasiak, Lauren. "'When you kiss me, I want to die': Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gothic Family Values." Goth: Undead Subculture, edited by Lauren M. E. Goodlad and Michael Bibby. Duke UP, 2007, pp. 307-15.

  • a
  • aboard
  • about
  • above
  • absent
  • across
  • after
  • against
  • along
  • alongside
  • amid
  • amidst
  • among
  • amongst
  • an
  • and
  • around
  • as
  • aslant
  • astride
  • at
  • athwart
  • atop
  • barring
  • before
  • behind
  • below
  • beneath
  • beside
  • besides
  • between
  • beyond
  • but
  • by
  • despite
  • down
  • during
  • except
  • failing
  • following
  • for
  • for
  • from
  • in
  • inside
  • into
  • like
  • mid
  • minus
  • near
  • next
  • nor
  • notwithstanding
  • of
  • off
  • on
  • onto
  • opposite
  • or
  • out
  • outside
  • over
  • past
  • per
  • plus
  • regarding
  • round
  • save
  • since
  • so
  • than
  • the
  • through
  • throughout
  • till
  • times
  • to
  • toward
  • towards
  • under
  • underneath
  • unlike
  • until
  • up
  • upon
  • via
  • vs.
  • when
  • with
  • within
  • without
  • worth
  • yet

 

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