In academic writing, proper citation and referencing are essential elements that uphold integrity, credibility, and respect for intellectual property. Among the various citation styles, the MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) referencing style stands out as a widely used format, especially in the fields of humanities and arts. 

MHRA referencing offers a structured method for acknowledging sources and providing readers with the necessary information to locate them. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the intricacies of MHRA referencing, exploring its principles, formatting guidelines, and practical applications.

Understanding MHRA Referencing

MHRA referencing follows a set of principles aimed at maintaining consistency and clarity in academic writing. At its core, MHRA referencing emphasises the following key principles:

Acknowledgement of Sources: MHRA referencing requires writers to acknowledge all sources used in their work, including books, journal articles, websites, and other forms of media.

Consistency and Accuracy: Consistency and accuracy are paramount in MHRA referencing. Writers must adhere to the prescribed formatting guidelines meticulously to ensure uniformity throughout their documents.

Accessibility of Information: MHRA referencing aims to provide readers with easily accessible information about the sources cited, enabling them to verify and explore the referenced materials independently.

Formatting Guidelines

MHRA referencing employs a footnote/endnote system for in-text citations and a bibliography for listing all sources consulted. Let's explore the formatting guidelines for both components:

In-text Citations

In MHRA referencing, citations are typically provided in the form of superscript numbers within the text. These numbers correspond to footnotes or endnotes that contain bibliographic details about the cited sources.

For instance, if you were referencing a book in your text, it would appear as follows:

According to Smith, the concept of identity is fluid and multifaceted. 1

The superscript number ( 1 ) indicates that the information is supported by a citation.


At the bottom of each page (footnotes) or at the end of the document (endnotes), detailed information about each source cited in the text is provided. The footnote/endnote format typically includes the following elements:

Author's name (last name, first name)
Title of the work (in italics)
Publication information (place of publication, publisher, year)
Page numbers (if applicable)

Here's an example of a footnote citation for a book:

1 Essaka Joshua, Physical Disability in British Romantic Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2020), p. 123.

Shortened Notes

If you reference the same source multiple times, subsequent footnotes abbreviate the information to conserve space. In general, the MHRA style guide suggests using the briefest comprehensible form of the citation, typically the author's last name and the relevant page number. For example, if you cite the source above a second time throughout your essay or dissertation, the footnote text should look like this:

1 Joshua, p. 129.

Occasionally, additional details may be necessary to prevent ambiguity. For instance, a multi-volume book would still require a volume number along with the page number. If you've cited several books by the same author, you should include the title in addition to the author's name:

1 Joshua, The Romantics and May Day Tradition, p. 56.
2 Joshua, Physical Disability in British Romantic Literature, p. 123.


In MHRA referencing, the bibliography is a comprehensive list of all sources consulted and cited in the document. The bibliography is arranged alphabetically by the author's last name or by the title if the author's name is unavailable. The bibliographic entry format resembles that of footnotes/endnotes but is presented with full publication details.

Here's how a book entry would appear in the bibliography:

Joshua, Essaka, Physical Disability in British Romantic Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Practical Applications

MHRA referencing is widely used in disciplines such as literature, history, philosophy, and art history, among others. Its structured format facilitates effective communication of scholarly ideas and ensures proper attribution of intellectual contributions. Whether you're writing an essay, research paper, your dissertation or thesis, mastering MHRA referencing is essential for academic success.

Tips for Effective MHRA Referencing:

  • Start Early: Familiarise yourself with MHRA referencing guidelines at the outset of your research process. This will save you time and effort when compiling your bibliography.
  • Keep Detailed Records: Maintain accurate records of all sources consulted during your research, including publication details and page numbers. This will streamline the referencing process and help you avoid last-minute scrambling.
  • Use Citation Management Tools: Consider utilising citation management software such as Zotero, Mendeley, or EndNote to organise your references and generate citations automatically.
  • Proofread Carefully: Before submitting your work, carefully proofread your citations and bibliography to ensure accuracy and consistency.


Adherence to proper referencing standards is indispensable throughout your academic experience. MHRA referencing offers a structured and systematic approach to citing sources, enabling scholars to engage in meaningful discourse while upholding academic integrity. If your academic course requires you to use the MHRA Style Guide, make sure you understand its principles and apply them effectively in your writing.

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