My teacher is making us do MLA and I don't like how intrusive to my writing it is to have to cite a long article title. For example, in my last essay, we were required to use The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a source, so when quoting it, it looked like this:

"The quick brown fox..."(The Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

I see lots of research papers online cited with just a simple one character footnote. In my current essay, I need to cite an article called "Weird Negative Effects of Social Media on Your Brain" and I would greatly prefer not to write the whole article name when citing it. Is there any more convenient way to cite sources without having such a long title (like writing the first letter of each word to make an acronym) or is this required to be proper MLA formatting?

  • 1
    Are you allowed to cite it in full on first citation and then abbreviate subsequently? like Millennials reported abandoning Twitter ("Weird Negative Effects of Social Media on Your Brain," p6) and then taking up Tumblr ("Weird Negative," p8) later on. I wouldn't use acronyms because no one will understand it. Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 23:55
  • 2
    As this is work for a teacher that you will receive a mark for, do as your teacher tells you. Ask your teacher for ways to abbreviate long titles or avoid visual clutter, and implement whatever he or she tells you. Part of academic writing is being able to blindly follow a style guide, forced on you by a publisher.
    – user5645
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 9:24
  • Also, if it has an author, the parenthetical citations only need to contain the author's last name (and a page number, if applicable). e.g. (Doe 137). That's after you introduce the author and the work, of course. Check out the OWL site - they have a lot of good stuff.
    – Cullub
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


As people said in the comments, double check with your teacher first - seeing as they're going to be the one grading you, I'd make sure whatever you do is okay with them.

Now, if you are citing an article, inline citations (for a book or multiple page-long article) only need to have the author and page number, like in (Smith 290). If it's something with an author but no page number, you can do (Smith). Now, finally, let's say your article has a really long title, like the one you mention. The purpose of inline citations is to provide a quick way to check your bibliography, find the source, and then check it for more information. In other words, I've always been able to abbreviate the source enough that it's shorter, but not so much you can't find it in the bibliography fairly easily.

For example, with your title, I might use ("Negative Effects of Social Media") for a fairly distinctive citation if there are other articles with a similar title. But if there aren't really any other articles with the phrase "Negative Effects" in the title, then you could do ("Negative Effects"). Just keep in mind the main point of these inline citations as you abbreviate: to make sure you can find the source in the bibliography fairly easily.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.