The following is an excerpt from the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, ed. Joseph Gibaldi and Walter S. Achtert (New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1977), pp. 122–133.
45 General Remarks
Common sense should guide the use of abbreviations in notes and bibliographies. Economy of space is important, but clarity more so.
In notes and bibliographies, use common abbreviations of dates (Feb., 18th century), of institutions (Acad., Assn., Coll., Dept., Inst., Soc., Univ.), of publications (Bull., Diss., Jour., Mag.), and of [provinces,] states and countries ([Ont. or ON,] Fla. or FL, Eng.). … Abbreviations that end in a small letter are followed by a period. A person’s initials are always spaced. Abbreviations with more than two letters and those omitting periods are never spaced; practice with regard to two-letter abbreviations with periods varies.
H. N. Smith
A tendency in documentation is to omit periods in abbreviations consisting of initials of well-known periodicals (TLS for Times Literary Supplement), learned societies and professional organizations (AMA, ACLS), and books (DND, not DNB., although D.N.B. or Dict. Nat. Biog. is equally correct; OED, formerly known as N.E.D.; DAB). It should be noted that some journals—among others, ELH and PMLA—have initial letter abbreviations (without periods) as actual titles and also that most journals with single-word titles (Speculum) have no widely accepted abbreviations. Generally speaking, in citing periodicals, abbreviate only those titles likely to be familiar to the reader. Professional scholars in all disciplines tend to refer to journals and reference works within their discipline by acronyms: CBEL for Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature; JEGP for Journal of English and Germanic Philology. (…) Unless your intended audience is familiar with these acronyms, do not use them. Instead, abbreviate common words in order to save space.
47 Use of Italics in Abbreviations
As noted above (§10h), accepted style has long been to [italicize] unquoted foreign words and phrases in an English text but not to [italicize] such words when familiarity and continued use have added them to the English stock. This convention has been widely applied to many common abbreviations of Latin words (A.D., p.m., P.S., cf., e.g., etc., i.e., viz., vs.) and by most instructors and scholarly writers to some of the abbreviations used in scholarship (et seq., q.v., s.v.).
48 List of Common Abbreviations and Reference Words
A.D. anno Domini ‘in the year of the Lord,’ No space between; precedes numerals (A.D. 14). Cf. “B.C.”
ALS autograph letter signed
ante ‘before.’ But “before” is preferred.
art., arts. article(s)
b. born (…)
B.C. before Christ. No space between; follows numerals (19 B.C.). Cf. “A.D.”
B.C.E. before Common Era. No space between.
bibliog.. bibliography, bibliographer, bibliographical
biog. biography, biographer, biographical
bk., bks. book(s)
B.M. British Museum, London (now British Library). No space between.
B.N. Bibliothèque Nationale. No space between.
© copyright (© 1977)
c., ca. circa ‘about.’ Used with approximate dates (c. 1796)
C.E. Common Era. No space between.
cf. confer ‘compare.’ Never use “cf.” when “see” is intended. (…)
ch., chs. chapter(s)
chor., chors. choreographed by, choreographer(s)
col., cols. column(s)
comp., comps. compiled by, compiler(s)
cond. conducted by, conductor
Cong. Rec. Congressional Record
d. died (…)
DA, DAI Dissertation Abstracts, Dissertation Abstracts International
D.A. Doctor of Arts. No space between.
DAB Dictionary of American English
dir., dirs. directed by, director(s)
DNB Dictionary of National Biography
doc., docs. document(s)
E, Eng. English
ed., eds. edited by, editor(s), edition(s). Some prefer “edn.” for “edition.”
ed. cit. cit.editio citata ‘edition cited.’ Avoid using.
e.g. exempli gratia ‘for example.’ Rarely capitalized; no space between; set off by commas. (…)
enl. enlarged (as in “rev. and enl. ed.”)
et al. et alii ‘and others’
et seq. et sequens, sequential ‘and the following.’ But see “f., ff.”
etc. et cetera ‘and so forth.’ Avoid using in text. (…)
ex., exs. example(s)
f., ff. and the following (with a space after a numeral) pages(s) or line(s). But exact references are preferable: pp. 53–58 instead of pp. 53 ff.
facsim., facs. facsimile
fig., figs. figure(s)
floruit ‘flourished, reached greatest development or influence.’ Used before dates of historical figures when birth and death dates are not known.
fn. footnote. “n.” is preferred.
fol., fols. folio(s)
GPO Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
H. Doc. [U.S.] House [of Representatives] Document
hist. history, historian, historical
HMSO Her (His) Majesty’s Stationary Office
H.R. [U.S.] House of Representative. No space between.
H. Rept. [U.S.] House [of Representatives] Report
H. Res. [U.S.] House [of Representatives] Resolution
ibid. ibidem ‘in the same place,’ i.e., the single title cited in the note immediately preceding. Not to be introduced by “in.” May be followed by page number(s) preceded by “p.” or “pp.” Avoid using ibid. (…)
i.e. id est ‘that is.’ Rarely capitalized; no space between; set off by commas. (…)
illus. illustrated (by), illustrator, illustration(s)
infra ‘below.’ But “below” is preferred.
inst. institute, institution
introd. (author of) introduction, introduced by, introduction
ips inches per second (used in reference to recording tapes)
l., ll. line(s)
lang., langs. language(s)
L, Lat. Latin
L. C. Library of Congress. Usually a space between.
loc. cit. loco citato ‘in the place (passage) cited,’ i.e., in the same passage referred to in a recent note. Never follow “loc. cit.” with a page number. (…) Repeating the page is as easy for the writer and more convenient for the reader. Avoid using.
M.A. Master of Arts. No space between.
ME Middle English
MHG Middle High German
ms, mss manuscript(s) (the many mss of Chaucer). Capitalize MS and follow it with a period when referring to a specific manuscript (Bodleian MS. Tanner 43).
M.S. Master of Science. No space between.
n., nn. note(s) (p. 56, n. 3). Preferred to “fn.”; occasionally written without a period and closed up to the page number: p. 56n. (…)
narr., narrs. narrated by, narrator(s)
N.B. nota bene ‘take notice, mark well.’ No space between.
n.d. no date (in a book’s imprint). No space between. (…)
N.E.D. New English Dictionary. No spaces between. Cf. OED.
no., nos. number(s). Cf. “numb.”
n.p. no place (of publication) (…); no publisher. No space between.
n. pag. no pagination. Space between.
NS (or N.S.) New Series; New Style (calendar)
OE Old English
OED Oxford English Dictionary. Formerly the New English Dictionary (N.E.D.)
OF, OFr. Old French
OHG Old High German
OIr. Old Irish
op. opus (work)
op. cit. opere citato ‘in the work cited.’ The most abused of scholarly abbreviations, it is properly used in citing a passage on a different page (cf. “loc. cit.”) of a work recently noted, but in such instances the author’s name alone may suffice or the name and a short title may be clearer. Avoid using.
OS (or O.S.) Old Series, Original Series; Old Style (calendar)
p., pp. page(s). Omit if volume number precedes. (…)
par., pars. paragraph(s)
passim ‘throughout the work, here and there’ (as “pp. 78, 111, et passim”)
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy. No space between.
pl., pls. plate(s)
post ‘after.’ But “after” is preferred.
pref. preface (“by” understood in context)
prod. prods. produced by, producer(s)
pt., pts. part(s)
pub., pubs. published by, publication(s)
q.v. quod vide ‘which see.’ No space between.
r recto ‘right-hand page’ (as B4 r); or, when describing a single sheet, the front. See “v” and §32v.
rept., repts. reported by, report(s)
resp. respectively (pp. 56, 17, 89, 6, resp.)
rev. revised (by), revision; review, reviewed (by). It is better to spell out “review” if there is any possibility of ambiguity.
rpm revolutions per minute (used of recordings)
rpt. reprinted (by), reprint
sc. scene (…)
S. Doc. Senate Document
Sec., secs. section(s)
sic ‘thus, so.’ Between square brackets when used as an editorial interpolation (see §14e); otherwise within parentheses. Avoid using with an exclamation mark.
sig., sigs. signature(s)
S. Rept. Senate Report
S. Res. Senate Resolution
st., sts. stanza(s)
St., Sts. Saint(s) (…)
sup. supra ‘above.’ But “above” is preferred.
supp., supps. supplement(s)
s.v. sub verbo or voce ‘under the word or heading.’ No space between.
TLS typed letter signed
trans. (or tr.) translated by, translator, translation
v verso ‘left-hand page’ (as B4v); or, when describing a single sheet, the back. See “r” and §32v.
v. vide ‘see’
v., vs. versus ‘against.’ Cf. “v., vv.”
v., vv. verse(s). Cf. “v., vs.”
v.d. various dates. No space between. Avoid using.
viz. videlicet ‘namely.’ With or without a period; usage varies. Avoid using.
vol., vols. volume(s) (Vol. II of 3 vols.). Omit “Vol.” and “p.” when both items are supplied. (…)
50 b. Common correction symbols and abbreviations.
Ab Faulty abbreviation
Adj Improper use of adjective
Adv Improper use of adverb
Agr Faulty agreement
Awk Awkward expression or construction
Cap Faulty capitalization
D Faulty diction
Dgl Dangling construction
lc Use lower case
Num Error in use of numbers
|| Lack of parallelism
P Faulty punctuation
Ref Unclear pronoun reference
Rep Unnecessary repetition
Sp Error in spelling
SS Faulty sentence structure
T Wrong tense of verb
Tr Transpose elements
V Wrong verb form