MHRA Referencing

Remember when you used to get ‘Too Hot for TV’ videos of your favourite TV shows? Remember how exciting they were? Well, prepare to feel that kind of excitement again in this introduction to MHRA [PDF] referencing: a system considered Too Hot for the Proofreading Academy Course. Actually, it wasn’t so much ‘too hot’ as ‘too specific to the humanities in the UK’. But Please bear with us. It’s hard to make referencing sexy.

And regardless of whether MHRA is widely used outside the UK, it is a useful system to know. So if you’re an academic proofreader, make sure you learn the basics.

What Is MHRA Referencing?

The Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) style is frequently used in the arts and humanities, particularly in the UK. Rather than in-text citations and a reference list, it uses footnotes with full publication details (on first reference) and a bibliography.

Footnotes: Books

Footnotes should be indicated by superscript numbers in the text. For a book reference, it would be set out in the following way:

n Author Name(s), Title, Edition if given (Place of Publication: Publisher, Year), Page(s).

In practice, this would look like this:

1 Arthur Atkinson, How Referencing Could Save Your Marriage, 2nd edn (London: Washboard Press, 1946), pp. 12–13.

Footnotes: Journal Articles

A footnote reference for a printed journal article would be set out as follows:

n Author Name(s), ‘Article Title’, Journal Title, Volume #. (Year), Page range of article (Pages).

So an example reference would look like this:

2 Clive Tucker and Jed Thomas, ‘A Fine Line: When Citation Turns to Obsession’, Bibliographilia, 16 (1997), 89–92 (p. 90).

In the case of an online journal article, you would also add a URL and date of access or a DOI (no date of access is required with a DOI):

3 Poula Fisch, ‘A Note on Footnotes: The Peculiar Allure of MHRA’, The Journal of Referencing Aesthetics, 24 (2012), 130–40 <http://www.referencingaesthetics.com/content/pdf/14642-8-9.pdf> [accessed 6th June 2018] (p. 1).

Footnotes: Websites

To cite a website in a footnote, the following format should be used:

n Author Name(s), Title (Year) [date accessed].

4 David Angel, 10 Celebrities Who Overcame Referencing Addiction (2010), <http://www.mhracentral.co.uk/blog/celebs/> [accessed 10th June 2018].

Footnotes: Repeat Citations

When citing a source more than once, all citations after the first should use the shortest intelligible form. This would typically include just the author’s surname and a page reference:

1 Arthur Atkinson, How Referencing Could Save Your Marriage, 2nd edn (London: Washboard Press, 1946), pp. 12–13.

2 Clive Tucker and Jed Thomas, ‘A Fine Line: When Citation Turns to Obsession’, Bibliographilia, 16 (1997), 89–92 (p. 90).

3 Atkinson, p. 9.

Here, for example, the third citation is the same source as the first. If using just the name would be ambiguous, you can also include a shortened source title.

Bibliography: The Basics

All sources cited in footnotes should be included in a bibliography. This should be in alphabetical order by author surname, which should appear first, like so:

Atkinson, Arthur, How Referencing Could Save Your Marriage, 2nd edn (London: Washboard Press, 1946)

Note that, unlike footnotes, bibliography references do not end with a full stop. In addition, if more than one author is listed, only the first author’s names should be reversed. Anonymous works should be listed alphabetically by title, ignoring any initial definite or indefinite articles.

If multiple works by the same author are listed, you should replace the author name with two em dashes for all entries after the first, with all works by the same author listed together in alphabetical order by title (ignoring initial articles).

A Sample Bibliography

Angel, David, 10 Celebrities Who Overcame Referencing Addiction (2010), <http://www.mhracentral.co.uk/blog/celebs/> [accessed 10th June 2018]

Atkinson, Arthur, How Referencing Could Save Your Marriage, 2nd edn (London: Washboard Press, 1946)

——, A Life Well Referenced (London: Washboard Press, 1960)

Fisch, Poula, ‘A Note on Footnotes: The Peculiar Allure of MHRA’, The Journal of Referencing Aesthetics, 24 (2012), 130–40 <http://www.referencingaesthetics.com/content/pdf/14642-8-9.pdf> [accessed 6th June 2018]

The Monkey on My Back Page: Confessions of a Reference Junkie (Manchester: Sanctuary)

Tucker, Clive and Jed Thomas, ‘A Fine Line: When Citation Turns to Obsession’, Bibliographilia 16 (1997), 89–92