Style Guide

MLA Web Style Guide


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]

Use the official version of the Music Library Association Logo, updated in 2016.

mla logo transparent background black

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, MLA
  • 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

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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.