How to Format Abbreviations in MLA

When it comes to formatting abbreviations in the MLA style, adhering to certain conventions is crucial. The following guidelines cover common trends for abbreviating in MLA works cited and in-text citations.

  • If the abbreviation ends with a small letter, use a period at the end, except for Internet suffixes, where the period comes before the abbreviation.
  • Don’t use periods or spaces for abbreviations in all capital letters, unless it’s a proper name.


In references, months longer than four letters should be abbreviated, such as Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec.

Academic presses in the publisher field are abbreviated as follows: University (U) and Press (P), forming abbreviations like Harvard UP or U of Oxford P.

The following abbreviations are recommended:

Appendix app.
Book bk.
Circa ca.
Chapter ch.
Definition def.
Department dept.
Edition ed.
For example e.g. 
And others et al. 
Et cetera etc.
Figure fig.
Foreword fwd.
That is i.e.
Journal jour.
Library lib.
Manuscript(s) MS
Number no.
Page(s) p., pp. 
Paragraph par. 
Press P
Quoted in qtd. in 
Revised rev. 
Section sec. 
Series ser.
Translation trans.
University U
University Press UP
Version vers.
Variant var.
Volume vol. 

Acronym Consistency: Ensure uniformity when using acronyms or abbreviations throughout your MLA citations. Once you introduce an abbreviation, consistently use it throughout the document. This not only enhances readability but also avoids confusion for the reader.

Citations Context: Tailor your use of abbreviations to the specific context of your citations. While MLA style allows for abbreviations to enhance brevity, it’s crucial to assess whether the abbreviation contributes to or hinders the clarity of your citations. Be mindful of the readers’ understanding and consider providing the full term along with the abbreviation upon first mention to establish clarity.


In narrative citations, Shakespearean plays are abbreviated, and it’s important to note that these abbreviations, being titles of works, are italicized. However, exceptions exist for references to the first and second folios and the quarto, as these are descriptors. Full references in the works cited list include the complete title and do not employ the abbreviations.

Much Ado about Nothing Ado.
Antony and Cleopatra Ant. 
All’s Well That Ends Well AWW 
As You Like It AYL
Coriolanus Cor.
Cymbeline Cym.
The Comedy of Errors Err.
First Folio (1623) F1
Second Folio (1632) F2
Hamlet Ham.
Henry IV, Part 1 1H4
Henry IV, Part 2 2H4
Henry V H5
Henry VI, Part 1 1H6
Henry VI, Part 2 2H6
Henry VI, Part 3 3H6
Henry VIII H8
Julius Caesar JC
King John Jn.
A Lover’s Complaint LC
Love’s Labour’s Lost LLL
King Lear Lr.
The Rape of Lucrece Luc.
Macbeth Mac.
Measure for Measure MM
A midsummer Night’s Dream MND 
The Merchant of Venice MV 
Othello Oth.
Pericles Per.
The Phoenix and the Turtle PhT
The Passionate Pilgrim PP
Quarto edition Q
Richard II R2 
Richard III R3
Romeo and Juliet Rom.
The Taming of the Shrew Shr.
Sonnets Son.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona TGV
Timon of Athens Tim.
Titus Andronicus Tit.
The Tempest Tmp.
Twelfth Night TN
The Two Noble Kinsmen TNK
Troilus and Cressida Tro.
Venus and Adonis Ven.
The Merry Wives of Windsor Wiv.
WT The Winter’s Tale


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Hannah Berry (Ph.D.)

Hannah Berry has lectured at several colleges and teaches at the WEA. Besides publishing extensively, she has taught citation skills and written multiple style guides.

Learn how to cite in MLA