MLA Style Manual
In general, avoid using abbreviations in running text. Many acceptable abbreviations and initialisms and their usage are specified throughout this manual and its appendixes. Check the word or topic in question. See also “initialisms and acronyms” in this section.
Some abbreviations are permitted in the MLA News and occasional MLA publications that are not permitted in the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA). These include state names (use two-letter postal abbreviations); ordinal numbers greater than nine (such as 17th, 50th); and elements of addresses such as “street,” “building,” and “suite.
Use the following common abbreviations in references only:
Spell these words out in text.
When setting a person’s academic degrees in initials in a byline, set them close without periods:
Spell out the word when speaking of academic degrees and use lowercase:
In general, omit “Co.,” “Corp.,” “Inc.,” and “Ltd.” from running text. If they must be included in text, spell them out (“Company,” “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Limited”). Always delete them from references.
In a directory or list whose main purpose is to help the reader contact a firm or to highlight MLA Corporate Partners or contributors, the above abbreviations or their spelled-out names should be retained; follow the individual company's preference. Otherwise, treat corporation names as trade names; that is, spell them as the corporation spells them, regardless of conformity to MLA style (e.g., retain ampersands and British spellings, do not add serial commas or other internal punctuation)
Leave a space between two initials in a person’s name.
Some abbreviations of trade names, organizations, or innovations function as initialisms or acronyms (e.g., UMLS, NLM, TQM), using the initial capital letters or parts of individual elements of the name as a shortened version of the name itself. See Appendix D for a list of abbreviations, initialisms, and acronyms common to MLA publications.
In text, spell out most initialisms and acronyms the first time they appear, followed by the initialism or acronym in parentheses; use the initialism or acronym alone thereafter. If no second reference appears, spell out the full name only and do not provide the acronym or initialism.
Do not use a comma between the name and “Jr.” or “Sr.,” but do use a comma between these abbreviations and any degrees or titles that follow. Do not use a comma to separate a name from the titles “II,” “III,” or “IV.”
Use the singular form for most common abbreviations even when they refer to more than one item (e.g., “p. 5–10,” “v. 1 and 2”).
Plurals of initialisms and acronyms are formed by adding an “s” (without an apostrophe):
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2013 July 31