New Handbook Launches

The eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, which debuted at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference and Bookfair, has received praise for its more streamlined approach to documentation. Created for a digital era in which publications migrate fluidly among different media, the new MLA style emphasizes the elements common to most works instead of publication format. Now, writers in all fields—from the sciences to the humanities—have the tools to intuitively document sources. As Kathleen Fitzpatrick, the MLA’s associate executive director and director of scholarly communication, told Inside Higher Ed, the new handbook “focuses on principles—not just on how to create a citation that is correct, but on the purposes of citation practice, as well as on strategies for evaluating sources.” It’s an approach that, according to Michael Greer, a lecturer in rhetoric and writing who is quoted in IHE, “is better aligned with instructors’ focus on process and critical thinking when teaching students the basics of writing with sources.” The change seeks to better support the fundamental goals of citation, as Fitzpatrick writes in the Los Angeles Review of Books: “to enable disparate pieces of scholarly writing to be connected with one another, and to communicate those connections reliably, simply, and clearly.”