Style Guide for essays and projects

Guidelines for Style and Presentation

 The following Style Guidelines  may also be downloaded in PDF format 


Use a simple, easily-read type-face such as Times New Roman font size 12, and double-space your work, using only one side of the page. Pages should be numbered at the bottom in the centre.


The writing conventions adopted by the department are based on:

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Mod. Lang. Assn., 2009.


Copies are available in the library on Q+3, # 808 GIBA but make sure you only refer to the 2009 edition. An online version may be accessed at, then choose the MLA Style option.


Listed below are just some of the main points to note. Please consult the MLA Handbook for further guidance or examples.


1. Titles

Italicise the titles of books, journals, plays, newspapers, films, and television or radio programmes - in short, anything that is a complete publication on its own. For example:

Don Quixote  (book)

La vida es sueño (play)

Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto (film)

Residencia en la tierra (collection of poems)

El país (newspaper)


Titles of articles, essays, short stories, poems and chapters in a book, in other words all works that appear in larger works, should be enclosed in quotation marks. For example:

“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (article)

“El Sur” (short story)

“Tierra” (poem)

“Tres de mariachi y una mariachada” (chapter in book)


2. Quotations

If you quote up to three lines of poetry or four lines of prose, you should incorporate the material into the body of your text. Use quotation marks to indicate that they come from a different source. Never use a quotation as a sentence on its own, or separate a short quotation from your own text.

For example:

While discussing Tupra’s character with Wheeler later in the novel, Jaime says of Tupra, “Es un hombre simpatico” (Tu rostro mañana 116).   

It is important that all quotations are absolutely accurate. If you want to make any alteration to quoted material you must use square brackets to alert your reader to the change. For example:

Rich makes some peace with her father when she says, “[a]t the last, [his] hand feels steady” (30).


4. Bibliography

Please Note: The MLA referencing style usually requires a works cited section at the end of your essay, rather than a bibliography. However, in the Department of Hispanic Studies, in place of the list of cited works, we ask students to include a bibliography of all relevant texts that shaped your understanding of the subject. The bibliography must include not only print, but also non-print sources such as films and the internet. Creating this listing means ordering your primary and secondary texts in alphabetical order on the basis of the authors' surnames. The form is simple. Give it the title: Bibliography. Each significant piece of information gets its own full stup:

Author’s name. Title. Place: publisher, date. Medium.

For example:

Marías, Javier. Pasiones pasadas. Barcelona: Delbolsillo 2007. Print.

Note that the author’s name is reversed because this makes it easy to find in an alphabetical list. All other authors’ names in the citation appear in the usual way.

Books and articles


Castellanos, Rosario. Cartas a Ricardo. Prólogo Elena Poniatowska. México D.F.:

Consejo Nacional Para la Cultura Y Las Artes (CONACULTA). 1994. Print.


Murray, Christopher. “Irish Drama in Transition, 1966-1978.” ?tudes Irlandaises 4 (1979): 278-289. Print.

Electronic entries

Most works on the Web have an author, a title, and publication information, and are thus analogous to print publications. Electronic texts, however, can be updated easily and at regular intervals and may also be distributed in multiple databases and accessed through a variety of interfaces. You therefore need to record the date of access as well as the publication data when citing sources from the Web as the information may be different on different days. It is not necessary to include the URL:

Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. S. H. Butcher. The Internet Classics Archive. Web Atomic and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 13 Sept. 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2008.

This is a book by Aristotle, translated by S. H. Butcher, found on the website, The Internet Classics Archive (website italicised), published by Web Atomic and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (name of publisher not italicised) on 13 September 2007, and accessed on 4 November 2008. Note punctuation and spacing.


At its simplest the entry for a film begins with the title (italicised) and includes the director, the distributor and the year of release:

Amores perros. Dir. Alejandro González Iñarritu. Altavista and Z Films, 2000. Film.


This citation is similar to a film: begin with the title, follow with the director, musical director or choreographer, the place performed, the date witnessed and the medium.

An example is:

The Habit of Art. Dir. Nicholas Hytner. Littleton Theatre, London. 22 April 2010. Performance.

Visual art

For visual art works cite the artist, name, date (if known), medium (sculpture, painting, photograph etc), institution that houses the work (although this may be a private collection – in which case state “Private collection”, minus the quotation marks).

An example is:

Evans, Walker. Penny Picture Display. 1936. Photograph. Museum of Modern Art, New York.


You have probably noticed that the medium is put last in all citations except the web, where it comes before the date accessed, and visual art where it comes before the housing institution. The following are the usual media used in scholarly citations: Print, Web, Film, DVD, Performance, Radio, Television, Lecture, as well as visual art forms. 

Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies

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