Style Guide

MLA Web Style Guide


Capitalization and other punctuation




File and media storage

Proper names

Style guidelines are important because they promote a consistent look and feel across all pages on the site.  This consistency promotes user confidence in the reliability and authority of the content.

Accessibility tools are important to users who rely on screen readers to interpret content section headings, images and links.

Capitalization and other punctuation

  • Do not end a phrase with a period if it isn’t a complete sentence.
  • Do not use an ampersand unless it is part of a proper name, or if space is a concern.
  • Avoid using ALL CAPS unless there is a specific reason to do so.
  • Use title case for headings.



  • · H1 is assigned to top level page titles.  Use H2 and H3 when delineating subsections of a page (these should always be nested--do not assign H3 unless it is a subsection of an H2).
  • Always use headings to delineate sections of text.  This will allow a screen reader to identify a new section of text. It also helps support the consistent look of the site on different browsers.
  • Use title case for headings.



  • Link to the text rather than spelling out the link. Link to enough text to give the link adequate context. Do not include exposed links in your content, including email addresses.
  • Include a short description of the link in the "title” field so that a screen reader can read it.
  • Bold all hyperlinks so they stand out in the text.



  • Include a description of the image in the title field so that a screen reader can read it. It will also appear as hover text.
  • All photos of people must be accompanied by a photo permission form.
  • [Additional guidelines on image use forthcoming]


File and media storage 

  • Use the File Library to store files.
  • Use the following conventions to name file libraries:  Subject [Roman numeral] Dates or other numbers. (ex: "Board minutes I. 2010-2013”)
  • Use the Resource Manager to host other media such as images. Images must be uploaded to the media manager before they can be added to pages.
  • To embed video hosted by YouTube (etc.), see the YM help page on embedding video.


Proper names

Listed here are all proper names to be used on the site and acceptable abbreviations and acronyms.

Note: do not use MLA or Music Library Association in page titles or headings except when necessary for clarity. 


Music Library Association, ML

International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres, IAML

Atlantic Chapter

California Chapter

Greater New York Chapter

Midwest Chapter

Mountain-Plains Chapter

New England Chapter

New York State-Ontario Chapter

Pacific Northwest Chapter

Southeast Chapter

Texas Chapter


Publications (note use of italics):

Notes: the Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association

Music Cataloging Bulletin

MLA Newsletter

Basic Manual Series

Index & Bibliography Series (use "&” consistently)


Awards, funds, grants:

A. Ralph Papakhian Special Achievement Award

Best of Chapters Competition

Carol June Bradley Award for Historical Research in Music Librarianship

Dena Epstein Award for Archival and Library Research in American Music

Eva Judd O’Meara Award

MLA Citation

Neil Ratliff IAML Outreach Award

Richard S. Hill Award

Vincent H. Duckles Award

Walter Gerboth Award

[please follow this convention when referring to specific funds: Dena Epstein Award Fund (not "Dena Epstein Fund”)]


Lenore Coral US RILM Fund

Michael Ochs Endowment Fund for Notes

MLA Fund

Vincent Duckles Fund (supports three awards)


ARL/MLA Diversity & Inclusion Initiative (DII)

Kevin Freeman Travel Grant

Lenore F. Coral IAML Travel Grant


Use in menus with character limits:

MLA Citation

Papakhian Award

Bradley Award

Epstein Award

Gerboth Award

Duckles Award

Hill Award

Judd O’Meara Award

Coral Travel Grant

Freeman Travel Grant

Best of Chapters



Music Library Association 1600 Aspen Commons Suite 100 Middleton, WI 53562

608-831-8200 FAX
About MLA

The Music Library Association is the professional association for music libraries and librarianship in the United States. Founded in 1931, it has an international membership of librarians, musicians, scholars, educators, and members of the book and music trades. Complementing the Association’s national and international activities are eleven regional chapters that carry out its programs on the local level.