Cite Right: MHRA Style | Lex Academic Blog
Picky peer reviewers and exacting external examiners often impose corrections on academics owing to their use of referencing conventions. Lex Academic’s Cite Right series aims to help you reference your work to publishable standards from the get-go and thus accelerate publication and examination success.
This post is a quick guide to the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) referencing system, which is used by many arts and humanities journals and publishers. It won’t explain how to cite every variant of every publication type (for that, we’d recommend the official MHRA Style Guide, which can be downloaded for free), but it will cover books, journal articles, and chapters in edited volumes. So, if you don’t fancy trawling through 100+ pages, read on – you might find what you want to know here.
MHRA is a footnotes and bibliography system: superscript numbers (like this: 1) are linked to notes containing references at the foot of each page, and all cited works are listed at the end. The first reference to a work should be given in full. In later references, use the shortest intelligible form.
Footnotes – Books
Author(s), Book Title, edition (Place of publication: Publisher, YYYY), p. X.
1 Constantine Sandis, Character and Causation: Hume’s Philosophy of Action (Abingdon: Routledge, 2019), p. 10.
- For titles in English, capitalise all main words (and any word after a colon). For titles in other languages, follow the rules for the language in question, but for the sake of consistency punctuation can be modified in line with English norms. In French, for instance, it is usual to insert a space before a colon; if your work is in English, you can remove it
- Give the edition number only if it is not the first. This should be written like this: 2nd edn
- Give the page number only if referring to a specific page. Use ‘pp.’ for multiple pages
Footnotes – Journal Articles
Author(s), ‘Article Title’, Journal Title, volume (YYYY), XX–XX (p. X).
2 David Nelken, ‘Eugen Ehrlich, Living Law, and Plural Legalities’, Theorical Inquiries in Law, 9 (2008), 443–71 (p. 460).
- The title of the article is in Roman and single quotation marks. The journal title is in italic with no quotation marks
- There is no need to give the part/issue number
- Always give the page range, but give the page number in brackets only if referring to a specific page. The page range is not preceded by ‘pp.’
- Separate the first and last pages of the article using an en rule (–), not a hyphen (-).
Footnotes – Chapters in Edited Volumes
Author(s), ‘Chapter Title’, in Book Title, ed. by Editor(s) (Place of publication: Publisher, YYYY), pp. XX–XX (p. X).
3 Colleen Mack-Canty and Sue Marie Wright, ‘Feminist Family Values: Parenting in Third Wave Feminism and Empowering All Family Members’, in Feminist Mothering, ed. by Andrea O’Reilly (Albany: SUNY, 2008), pp. 143–59 (p. 145).
- The book title is preceded by the word ‘in’ – the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that this is not the case for journal titles!
- Use ‘ed.’ when there is only one editor but ‘eds’ (note: no full point) for multiple editors
Most of the information given in the first reference to a work is omitted in subsequent references. The author’s surname and page number are usually enough, e.g. Sandis, p. 86. If your bibliography contains multiple works by the same author, include an abbreviated title, e.g. Sandis, Character and Causation, p. 86.
Below is a bibliography of the works above:
Mack-Canty, Colleen, and Sue Marie Wright, ‘Feminist Family Values: Parenting in Third Wave Feminism and Empowering All Family Members’, in Feminist Mothering, ed. by Andrea O’Reilly (Albany: SUNY, 2008), pp. 143–59
Nelken, David, ‘Eugen Ehrlich, Living Law, and Plural Legalities’, Theorical Inquiries in Law, 9 (2008), 443–71
Sandis, Constantine, Character and Causation: Hume’s Philosophy of Action (Abingdon: Routledge, 2019)
- References are listed alphabetically by author surname. If your bibliography contains multiple works by the same author, list the works in alphabetical order of title, ignoring initial articles (‘a/an’ and ‘the’)
- In the bibliography, the author’s surname precedes their given name(s)
- Final full stops should not be used in the bibliography
Hopefully, this post has answered some of your questions about MHRA style. Which referencing systems would you like to see in our Cite Right series? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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