There seems to be a general consensus that questions (like this one) which ask about how to fit your text within MLA (or other stylebooks) are off-topic, since both 'what MLA mandates' and 'the way your professor prefers papers set out' are valuable advice to the student, but cannot be classified as 'English Language & Usage'. Often the questions are welcome on Writers.SE, or occasionally on Academia.

However Chris, the OP on this question, points out that the distinction is unlikely to be clear to a newcomer to the site, particularly if he has discovered that ELU has a specific mla tag.

I don't dispute that the tag has been valuable in some cases; but is it still valauable enough to be worth the confusion? Or is it time to retire the mla tag,and possibly add a sentence to the help along the lines of "specific formats are off-topic here"?

1 Answer 1


The advice I gave Chris, and that I think ought to be adopted, is that if the style question involves (for instance) punctuation or grammatical preferences espoused by specific style guides, we ought to take them here. For things like citation formats, send them to Writers.

I haven't had the opportunity to talk this over with the Writers mods yet though. I'll keep you updated.

  • 3
    Given that all style guides are contradictory, and that there is no concensus, why should we add to the chaos by proffering our own opinions, too? Send all punctuation questions to Writers. Punctuation and writing are not language, and certainly not grammar. Dec 12, 2013 at 18:55
  • 3
    @John I appreciate your position, but I don't mean that we should answer such questions by referencing our favorite style guide, but rather answer questions about how to apply particular parts of an OP's chosen style guide. There is certainly precedent for answering punctuation preferences, and some style guides include grammar preferences as well.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Dec 12, 2013 at 19:00
  • 4
    Punctuation preferences are all we can offer, since there is no standard. And our preferences as a group are wildly varied. If you think voting on punctuation is the way to help people, go for it; but it sounds crazy to me. Dec 12, 2013 at 20:34
  • Would MLA questions in regards to a paper for school not belong in academia?
    – LameCoder
    May 8, 2014 at 12:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .