Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New MLA Rules... (Sigh)

A few weeks ago the UVU Writing Center sent a little note to me (via one of my students) alerting me that there have been some changes to the MLA documentation system and that I had been instructing my students incorrectly. I'm using the 6th edition of the MLA Handbook (which I bought last summer) but it's apparently already obsolete. (To be read in a snooty voice: "You're using the 6th edition? Oh, that was just sooooo 2008.")

The Writing Center gave me a print-out of a link from the Owl at Purdue regarding the MLA Update for 2009. I'll let you read it for yourselves, but the basic gist is that there will be no more underlining (italics only, please), there will be no more full URLs, continuous pagination no longer matters, all publications must indicate what publication medium is used (e.g. print, web or DVD), and there are new guidelines for indicating missing information.

I can't help but roll my eyes a little at this. I understand the need to revise the style guide for increased clarity (especially in the ever-changing digital age), but it's frustrating to try and stay on top of all the little updates in order to remain consistent in my grading. Since we are all at the mercy of the Modern Language Association's whims, I wanted to find out if anyone has any good suggestions for making sure that you always stay up to date with the latest changes in MLA or other documentation systems. I would personally prefer not to have to buy a new style guide every year, but if that's what it takes--so be it. Any suggestions?

As a side note, this is probably a better question for John, but why do we ask students to buy a writer's handbook (such as the one that comes with the Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing) as opposed to requiring them to get the original handbooks, such as the ones published by MLA? It would seem to me that the MLA Handbook would be more authoritative. But I do see how it would be nice to have an all-in-one handbook, I suppose.

No comments: