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MLA Style Manual

Appendix B: Preferred Spelling and Usage

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z


Spell as above. May be used in singular or plural form.

ad hoc
Latin phrase meaning literally “for this.” Use all lowercase letters (unless part of the actual name of a committee; then use initial capitals. Do not italicize.

Do not use this combination of words; “or” alone is adequate.

appendix, appendixes
Spell plural as noted.

audiovisual (AV)
Spell out the phrase lowercase for the first reference; use the uppercase abbreviation after first reference.


Currently, the preferred term and spelling.

Boolean operators
Spell as above, with a capital “B.” When a Boolean operator is given, use all capital letters and place it in quotation marks (“AND” and “OR”).

Brandon/Hill lists
Spell as above.


Spell as above.

central processing unit (CPU)
Spell out the phrase lowercase for the first reference; use the uppercase abbreviation after first reference.

Non-gender-specific term used to indicate the appointed leader of any association unit.

chief executive officer, chief information officer (CEO, CIO)
Spell out the phrase lowercase for the first reference; use the uppercase abbreviation after first reference.

clinical medical librarians (CMLs); clinical medical librarianship
Spell out references to librarianship; use the abbreviation only for librarians.

Spell as above.

This term is hyphenated, as are “computer-assisted” and “computer-produced.”

Do not describe the MLA annual meeting as a “conference.”

continuing education (CE), continuing medical education (CME)
Spell the phrase lowercase when referring to the MLA program or courses; use the uppercase abbreviation after first reference and in conjunction with individual course numbers as part of the full name of a particular MLA course.

consortium, consortia
Spell as above. Use “consortia” for the plural form.

coworker, coworkers
Spell as above.

Spell both the verb and the noun as above.

cross section
Spell as above; however, spell the adjective form “cross-sectional.”


This word is always plural. The singular is “datum.”

Spell as above, one word.

Spell as above, one word.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Formerly “Veterans Administration,” abbreviated “VA.” The abbreviation is still in use; use all four words, no apostrophe and initial capital letters, when spelling out.

dialog boxes
Spell as above.

disc, disk
The term “disc” typically refers to laser disc formats; “disk” refers to computer hardware and data storage devices.

Discussion Group (formerly, Journal Club)

Refer to the MLA program that assigns academy credit for formal group discussions of library literature as “the MLA Discussion Group” the first time it is used and as “the Discussion Group” thereafter. Manifestations of the MLA Discussion Group at the local level are called “MLA Discussion Groups.”


Acceptable abbreviation for electronic-related term (e.g., e-commerce, e-journal, etc.). Spell as above, hyphenated except "email" (below) is acceptable.

Abbreviation for Latin exempli gratia; means “for example.” Note that “e.g.” is not interchangeable with “i.e.,” which means “that is to say.” Avoid the abbreviation except in parenthetical statements; use “for example,” or “such as” instead.

Electronic mail; spell as above.

email discussion list
The preferred term; “Listserv” is a trademarked name.

et al.
Abbreviation for Latin et alia; means “and others.” Spell as above, set in plain type. In text or Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA), formerly the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, running heads, use this term to indicate a work with more than two authors (“Jones et al.”).

When referring to the MLA Exchange, capitalize the initial “E.” Refer to “the MLA Exchange” on first reference; “the Exchange” alone is acceptable thereafter. Do not italicize either form. Although the Exchange is technically “published,” it is treated in text as an MLA product, program, or service.


grand rounds
Spell as above in lowercase letters.

grey literature
Spell as above in lowercase letters.


Use “MLA headquarters” on first reference to refer to the association office in Chicago, IL. Use “headquarters” thereafter; always lowercase this term in this context. Although the noun ends in an s, it is singular and takes a singular verb. To show possession, simply add an apostrophe following the s.

health care
Spell as above, two words. Do not hyphenate this term in adjective phrases.

health sciences
This broader term is preferred to “medical” when modifying “librarian” or “library.” Do not hyphenate this term, even when used as an adjective. Always use in the plural, unless specifically contraindicated, as in a proper name or a title of a cited paper.

home page
Spell as above in lowercase letters, two words.

A health care practitioner based primarily or exclusively in a hospital.


Abbreviation for Latin id est; means “that is.” Note that “i.e.” is not interchangeable with “e.g.,” which means “for example.” Set “i.e.” in plain type with periods and a comma following. Avoid the abbreviation except in parenthetical statements; use “that is,” “or,” or “that is to say,” instead.

Index Catalogue
Spell as above. The full title is Index Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office, United States Army. The full title is unnecessary in most circumstances. Ceased publication in the mid-1950s with the fifth series.

One who works in the field of medical informatics. Preferred to “information scientist.”

Informationists have knowledge about both subject domain and locating, analyzing, and synthesizing information.

Spell as above, capitalized; avoid the “’Net.” A single location transmission-control protocol Internet protocol (TCP/IP)–based computer network may be spelled lowercase.

Spell as above, lowercase; a “fenced” network with Internet access and protected by a firewall; Internet technology for use internally by an institution’s employees or members only, not for the general public.


Joint Commission
The name for the accreditation organization formerly known as Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

Spell as above.


Spell as above.

Spell as above, one word.


login, logoff, logon, logout
Spell as above for a computer user’s identification (“your network logon”). Spell as two words for the verb (“I log on to the ftp server every day”).


machine readable cataloging (MARC)
Spell the phrase lowercase for the first reference; use the uppercase abbreviation after first reference.

Matheson Report or Cooper-Matheson Report
Shortened name of a seminal article published in the Journal of Medical Education by MLA member Nina W. Matheson, AHIP, FMLA, and John Cooper. [Matheson NW, Cooper JAD. Academic information in the academic health sciences center: roles for the library in information management. J Med Educ. 1982;57(2):1–93.] Spell as above, with initial capital letters.

Spelled uppercase. See Appendix C for trade names derived from MEDLINE.

This word is always plural; the singular form is “medium.” Avoid using this word as a synonym for newspapers, radio, and television.

medical informatics
Relating to the subject of handling information in medicine (e.g., gene-mapping data).

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
Use italics only when referring to the publication itself. Do not say “MeSH subject headings”; this is redundant. Use “MeSH descriptors” or “MeSH terms” (set in plain type).

MeSH terms
When using MeSH terms in text, set the term in title case with quotation marks.

Spell as above for the weekly publication that includes a group of articles and an email (consolidation of MLA News and MLA-FOCUS).

Former MLA twice monthly email publication of news items.

MLA’s website is spelled all uppercase.

MLA News
Former print and then online only MLA newsletter.


networks, library
“Greater Midwest Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine” is a formal title. See “regions.”

nonprint media
Avoid using this term as a synonym for such items as “videodisks,” “film,” “magnetic tape,” and “electronic publication”; instead use the specific term that is meant. This term may be used collectively to describe all of these items to distinguish them from printed materials.


online, offline
Spell as above.

online public access catalog (OPAC)
Spell the phrase lowercase for the first reference; use the uppercase initialism after first reference.


Spell as above.

past president
Spell as above.

Spell as above; see “capitalizing names and titles” and “capitalizing MLA items” in the Names and Terms section of the MLA Style Manual.


reader/printer (microform)
Spell as above.

Spell as above.

For Regional Medical Libraries or networks in general, use lowercase; each has its own name. For specific regional names, use initial capitals.


Always follow W11 except in cases noted in this manual (database, online, etc.). In general, change British and Canadian spellings to US ones (e.g., change “theatre” to “theater”). Proper names, titles of works, and quotations should be spelled as they exist but verify any suspicious spellings.

Spell as above.

When referring to the collective entity, use a singular verb.

General style conventions conform to CMS17 except in cases noted in this manual. Reference style is in accordance with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals prepared by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers.


Spell as above.


Set close without periods. This abbreviation should be used only as an adjective.


Washington, DC
Spell as above; do not spell out “District of Columbia.” In JMLA references, in MLAConnect, in monographs, on MLANET, and in other publications, use the postal abbreviation “DC,” without periods.

wide-area information server (WAIS)
Spell the phrase lowercase for the first reference; use the uppercase abbreviation after first reference.

web, web meeting, web page, webcast, webinar, website
Spell as above. Currently, the preferred term for the Internet medium and related words; avoid “World Wide Web” or “WWW.”

Web 2.0, Web 3.0
Spell as above.

Spell as above.

Spell as above.


X ray
When referring to X radiation or X-ray films, spell as above; the “X” is capitalized and “ray” is lowercase.