A quick guide to MHRA referencing
MHRA style is a set of guidelines for referencing, commonly used in humanities subjects.
In MHRA, sources are cited in footnotes, marked by superscript numbers in the text. Subsequent citations of the same source are shortened, usually to just the author’s last name and the page number.
The protagonist of Silas Marner, and others of his profession, are described as resembling ‘the remnants of a disinherited race’.1 Though Marner’s appearance is not outwardly strange, we are told that for his neighbours, ‘it had mysterious peculiarities which corresponded with the exceptional nature of his occupation’.2
|1. George Eliot, Silas Marner, ed. by Juliette Atkinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), p. 3.
|2. Eliot, p. 5.
The bibliography at the end of your text contains all your sources, alphabetically ordered by authors’ last names:
MHRA footnote references
Footnote numbers appear in your text wherever you quote or paraphrase from a source. These numbers are usually placed at the end of a sentence, after any punctuation, and always after the quote or paraphrase they relate to:
The footnote itself then provides full information on the source, including the page number on which the relevant material appears:
A footnote always ends with a full stop.
Different types of source require different information in a footnote reference. Formats and examples for the most commonly cited types are given below.
|Format||x. Author name, Book Title, ed./trans. by Editor/Translator name, edition (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page number(s).|
|Example||1. George Eliot, Silas Marner, ed. by Juliette Atkinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), p. 3.|
|Format||x. Author name, ‘Chapter Title’, in Book Title, ed. by Editor name, edition (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page range (page number(s)).|
|Example||2. Joseph W. Childers, ‘Social Class and the Victorian Novel’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel, ed. by Deirdre David, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 148–169 (p. 156).|
|Format||x. Author name, ‘Article Title’, Journal Name, volume number (Year), page range (page number).|
|Example||3. George Levine, ‘The Dickensian George Eliot’, Dickens Studies Annual, 50 (2019), 48–65 (63).|
|Format||x. Author name, Page Title (Year), Website Name <URL> [access date].|
|Example||4. Shona McCombes, How to Write a Methodology (2019), Scribbr <https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/methodology/> [accessed 6 February 2020].|
If you cite the same source multiple times, in every subsequent footnote after the first citation, the information is shortened to save space:
12. Dickens, p. 312.
MHRA recommends using the shortest intelligible form of the citation – usually just the author’s last name and a page number if relevant. Sometimes, you might still need more information to avoid confusion.
For example, a book in multiple volumes would still include a volume number along with a page number. If you’ve cited multiple books by the same author, include the title (shortened if it’s longer than four words) along with the author’s name:
18. Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, p. 32.
Creating an MHRA bibliography
At the end of your text, you include a bibliography with information on every source you cited. The bibliography lists all your sources in alphabetical order by authors’ last names.
The information here is presented similarly to that in the footnotes, with the following differences:
- For alphabetisation purposes, author names are inverted so that the last name comes first (e.g. ‘Dickens, Charles’).
- Specific page numbers are not required, because you’re now referencing the whole source rather than citing a specific passage.
- There is no full stop at the end of a bibliography entry.
|MHRA footnote||1. George Eliot, Silas Marner, ed. by Juliette Atkinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), p. 3.|
|MHRA bibliography entry||Eliot, George, Silas Marner, ed. by Juliette Atkinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)|
Presentation of the bibliography
Bibliographies should have a hanging indent – this means that the second and subsequent lines of each entry are indented to make it clear at a glance where it ends and the next entry begins. In Word, you can find this option in the ‘paragraph’ settings.
Note that when a source lacks an author and is therefore listed by title, it is alphabetised according to the first word of the title, as with Napoleonic Wars.
Multiple works by the same author
When more than one of an author’s works are listed, the author’s name can be replaced with a double em dash (——) for the second and subsequent works:
——, Great Expectations, ed. by Charlotte Mitchell (London: Penguin, 2004)
Citing multiple chapters of a book
If you cite multiple chapters from the same edited book, or multiple articles from the same issue of a journal, they should always be listed separately in your bibliography, not combined into one entry:
Levine, Caroline, ‘Victorian Realism’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel, ed. by Deirdre David, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2012), pp. 84–106
Missing information in MHRA references
You may encounter sources which do not contain all the information you need for a reference. This section covers how to deal with various missing elements of your source information.
When a source, such as a website or an older anonymous text, doesn’t list an author, MHRA recommends starting your footnotes and bibliography entry with the title. In these cases, the source is also alphabetised by title in your bibliography:
When a source does not list a publication date, the term ‘[n.d.]’ (no date) is used in place of the year. With web sources, an access date is still included at the end:
No page numbers
Websites, and some other source types such as ebooks, usually don’t have reliable page numbers.
With short texts, page numbers can usually just be omitted from a citation, but if you feel it’s necessary to refer to a particular passage, an alternative location marker like a paragraph number or heading can be used:
2. Napoleonic Wars (2017), Encyclopædia Britannica <https://www.britannica.com/event/Napoleonic-Wars> [accessed 13 February 2020], under ‘The Danube campaign and Hohenlinden’.