Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) is an academic referencing style mostly for arts and humanities. It uses the footnotes for full referencing of a citation. Footnoting is an advantage for MHRA users as readers do not have to consult the bibliography to find an individual reference as all the details are in the footnotes.

History of MHRA

MHRA Style Guide is in its third edition. It is a publication by Modern Humanities Research Association. Earlier releases had a different title-MHRA Style Book- until a change of name in 2002. It sells widely in the UK, the home of MHRA and also in the United States.

The third edition of MHRA style guide is free for downloading from the official website.

Before it are other editions published in the following years.

MHRA Style Book

First 1971
Second 1978
Third 1981
Fourth 1991
Fourth edition(with amendments) 1995
Fifth Edition 1996

MHRA Style Guide

First 2002
Second 2008
Third 2013

Purpose of MHRA

A well-written university assignment draws on ideas and research by other writers. MHRA referencing of sources demonstrates that you read work by major writers in your specialty. It also enables students to:

  • Acknowledge the writers of the word and ideas they borrowed for their papers.
  • Provide evidence that supports claims and assertions in their assignments to show markers of their papers that they understand the field

MHRA applies to these two widely-used methods of referencing in the history of academic writing. In-text referencing: Identifies the author and publication year of his/her works the body of a university paper and list of references at its very end.

Footnote Referencing: Allocates a number to each reference mostly listed in full on the bottom of a section or page.

For this approach to referencing, it usually requires you to add a bibliography at the end of your assignment and includes all the work you read instead of only those cited.

There has been a traditional preference for footnote method in humanities subjects because it is less disruptive to the flow of writing.

General rules on MHRA referencing

  • Authors and editors: Give only up to 3 full names of authors or editors for any work you are citing. Provide only the first name of the writer and others when citing works by 3 or more editors or writers.
  • First Author.Invert the name (surname first) of the first author in references within the bibliography but not in the references that appear in the footnotes.
  • First footnote. When making a reference to an item within the notes, use a format similar to the one you used to reference an article in your bibliography. Do not invert the first author’s name and include specific page references.
  • Later footnotes. Abbreviate them to the shortest possible intelligible form.
  • Page number. Use abbreviations p. to signify a single page and pp. for a range of pages. When a volume number immediately or closely precedes page numbers, you can omit the abbreviation and only give these pages.
  • Editor and editions: Abbreviate editor as ed. Or eds and use edn to denote editions.
  • Full point. Use a full-point (full stop or period) at the end of your reference in a footnote. Do not use it after every item in the bibliography. Use a full stop after the abbreviated form of words unless the last letter and the last letter of the full word are the same (including s).
  • The fundamental components for all references usually include the authors/editors, title, and the publications details. In instances where you cannot ascertain the book details, you should point it out in these ways;
  • Write For no publisher
  • Use n.p. to denote no place of publication
  • Write n.d. to show no date.
  • Preparing your Footnotes

    • Use sequential superscript numbers in the text of your paper to signify a footnote.1
    • Use a corresponding superscript number when beginning a note.
    • Always reference in full when citing a particular source for the initial time
    • Include the last name of the author of the same source (if it is possible), the volume number if it is relevant and page number(s) when you use it in subsequent footnotes.
    • Include the shortened version of your source title, volume number (only if appropriate) and page number(s) for following notes without an author.
    • When citing several sources by one or several authors with same last name, include the last name of the author, abbreviation of source title, relative volume number, and page numbers.
    • Only write a source in the short title format when you reference more than just one work by the same author or when you cite several authors who share the last name.

    MHRA Footnotes Format

    • End all the footnotes with a period except for sentences that end in square bracket.
    • Shorten the second and other notes references to your source. In most instances, they only require you to include the author's surname and page number(s).
    • Place a note reference number at the end of a sentence that follows most punctuation except the case of a dash that it should appear before.
    • Use italics for titles of individually published works, websites, collections and the names of parties in a legal case.
    • Use plain type and quotation marks for the titles of book chapters, web pages, exhibitions, work within a collection, etc
    • Write titles of manuscripts collections in plain type but without quotation marks.
    • Write names of authors in full without inverting them
    • Enclose the publication details in brackets
    • Use abbreviation p., before you list one-page number and pp. Before listing a range of several pages


    Bibliography in MHRA is a separate entry for the sources in the same volume or collection appearing at the end of your work. You will list all the sources you referenced and read about you the subject of your paper.

    Formatting the bibliography

    • Arrange references alphabetically by first author's surname
    • For more than one source by the same author, arrange the referenced sources by the last name of the author then alphabetically for titles. Disregard words such as the, or an.
    • Avoid a period at the end of every reference
    • Invert the first listed author's name for the surname to appear first. For a source with multiple authors, invert only the name of first listed author.
    • Arrange sources without an author in alphabetical order by title
    • List multiple works by the same author in date order
    • If you use various works by the same author, list her/her name only in the first entry and replace it with a long dash( 2-em dash) for subsequent entries, e.g., Leeves, Frank R, Common(London: Oxford, 1990) ____D.W Val:The Novelist(London:Oxford,2000)


    You may include short quotes in the body of your text and use single quotation marks like in the example below:

    When alone with Beatrice, he says in his declaration, ‘Ask anything from me,' which Beatrice challenges sharply with a reply, 'Kill Claudio.'1

    Indent and single-space quotations that exceed one and a half lines without enclosing them in quotation marks as shown below:

    In brisk concise words, Benedict utters his parting words:

    Enough, I will challenge him. I will kiss your hand and leave you. By this hand, Claudio renders me a dear account. Think of me. Go … and so, farewell.2

    Indicate anything that you leave out of the long quotation with an ellipsis like the one appearing in the last sentence of the quote above. You use three dots but if it is at a point where you cannot omit a full stop, add a fourth.

    Citing Specific Type of Sources in Footnotes


    Use a book title as it is on the title page. Include the book's edition if it is not the first one in abbreviation form such as rev, 2nd edn etc. lead with a comma. Remember to include page numbers.

    Format: First name Last name, Book's title, edn if there are several editions (Place of publication: The Publisher, Year)p. Or pp.

    Book with an author and editor: First name Last name, Book Title, ed by First name, Last name, edn(Publication place: Publisher, year).page.

    Book with an editor but no author: Book Title, ed by First name Lat name edn(Publication place: Publisher, year), page.

    Book chapter, essay or short story in a collection Use the title of the book appearing on its title page. Put the title of the chapter in single quotation marks and that of the book in italics. Italicize the titles of literature works within chapter titles. Alternatively, you may differentiate them with double quotation marks.

    Format: First name Last name, Chapter Title, in Book Title, ed. First name Last name (Publication Place: Publisher, Publication Year) p. or pp.

    E-books: Cite them as print books but add URL or DOI of your source (in angle brackets) and access date in square brackets at the end with the format below.

    First name Last name, eBook Title(place of publication: the publisher, year), page [access day month year].


    From a collection

    • Put the poem’s title in single quotation marks and italicize the title of the collection on italics.
    • If it is not the first, include the edition as 2nd , 3rd, or rev. edn.
    • Include page numbers and line numbers if available. Use ‘l.’ for fist line, ll for second and so forth.

    First name Last name, ‘Poem’s Title’, in Collection Title, ed. by First name Last name (Publication place: Publisher, Year), p. or pp., line ll. x-xxx.


    • Place the poem's title in quotation marks (single) and italicize the anthology title.
    • Include edition, page and line numbers.
    • Format: First name Last name, ‘Title of the Poem’, in Anthology Title, ed. First name Last name, edn (Place of publication: The Publisher, Year), p. pp. (p. x), line ll. x-xx.


      Single plays

      • Specify the act and scene number if they are available. Separate them by full stops.
      • Use page numbers for play without scenes or when you citing an introduction.

      Format: First name Last name, The Play's Title, ed. by First name Last name (Publication place: Publisher, Year), The Act.Scene.Line number. Or p..

      Play in a collection

      • Indicate the act and scene number if you find them. Separate by full stops.
      • Use page numbers when you cite an introduction or play without scenes.


      First name Last name, Play Title, in this Collection Title (Place of publication: The Publishers, Year), Act.the Scene.Line or P. no.

      Journal Articles (print)

      • Place the article’s title in single quotation marks and italicize journal title. Also, italicize all titles of works of literature within your article or write them in double quotation marks.
      • Include a page range for an article but avoid pp. When citing page range of the journal articles
      • Specify the cited page only in the footnote references

      Format: First name Last name, ‘Title of the Article ’, Journal Title, Volume. Issue No (Year), Page

      Online Journal Articles

      Your citation is the same as print articles but includes the web address: URL of your source or DOI in angle brackets and access date in square brackets. First name Last name, ‘Title of the Article ’, Journal Title, Volume. Issue No (Year), Page [day month year accessed].

      Print Newspaper Articles

      • Start your citation with the author’s First name or article title if there is no writer's byline.
      • Put the title of the article in single quotation and title of the newspaper in italics.
      • Place the titles of literature works that occur within article titles in double quotation marks or italics
      • Denote page numbers by p. for a single page or pp. for several pages.


      First name Last name, ‘Article’s Title’, Newspaper Title, day month year, p.

      Online Newspaper articles

      The citation is the same as print newspaper article but you will add URL or DOI if available and the time that you accessed the work in angle and square brackets respectively.

      Format: First name Last name, ‘Title of the Article’, Title of the Newspaper, day month year, pp. x-xy [access day month year].

      Web pages

      • Credit the individual author for the web page or the responsible organization if it does not have an author name. If both are missing, start your citation with the Web page title.
      • Put the web page in quotation marks (single) and title of the resource in italics if it is part of other work or larger resource.
      • if you only find one title, put it in italics.
      • Report the last time of updating this website if available


      First name Last name, Web page Title, Resource Title (year) [accessed day month year].

      Radio or TV Program

      • Place the episode’s titles in single quotation marks and series or program title in italics.
      • If there is only a single title, put it in italics.


      Footnote format: ‘Episode Title’, Program/Series Title, Name of the Transmitting Channel, day month year, time of the broadcast.

      Film/material on DVD

      • The format in a footnote is the same as a bibliography except that you will omit a full stop at the end bibliographical reference.

      Format: Title of the film, dir. By First name Last name (Distributor, Year) [on DVD].

      Bibliography referencing format

      Bibliography referencing format is the same as that of the footnote for all the written work print and electronic except the way you write the name of the author. For a bibliography entry, the last name of an author appears first followed by a comma. In footnotes, you begin with the author’s first followed by last name but without any punctuation between.

      For example write William Shakespeare when citing work by the famous play right in a footnote but refer to him as Shakespeare, William in the bibliographical reference.

      TV, film and radio programs

      The difference in the entry format is that footnote citation has a full stop at the end, but there is none for bibliographical entry.

      For example


      Episode Title’, Program/Series Title, Name of the Transmitting Channel, day month year,time of the broadcast. Bibliography

      Episode Title’, Program/Series Title, Name of the Transmitting Channel, day month year, time of the broadcast

      For guidance on any challenging areas in referencing, consult your course instructors of supervisors.

      For extensive help, see our Academic Paper Writing Services page.