Principles and process: What guides the MLA Handbook?

Many books sitting on a desk with shelves full of books in the background

Only half the pages of previous editions, the new MLA Handbook has been completely revamped. Centered on principles, the eighth edition brings a simplified approach to documentation and citations. With the renewed emphasis on critical thinking in education, and the proliferation of different sources of content, the handbook revision is more focused on using reason and a three-step process for creating citations. As a result, the streamlined approach has extensive, but good implications for educators, students, and textbooks.

To discuss these implications I talked with Michael Greer, a lecturer in rhetoric and writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is also a content developer for higher education publishers. Michael received an advanced copy of the MLA Handbook about six weeks before it was published. As a contractor for Pearson, he was asked to review the book to understand the changes and help textbook authors know how to respond to them in their books.

Listen in as we explore in more depth the changes, why the changes, the impact on textbooks, potential impact on other citation standards, and how it could change the way teachers teach research and citations.




  1. What’s new in the latest edition of the MLA Handbook? [00:47]

  2. Can you provide some context around the state of changes in citation standards? [2:38]

  3. Why the change by MLA in the handbook? [4:08]

  4. How does this impact current textbooks? [5:15]

  5. Do you think this will impact APA and other citation standards? [6:32]

  6. How does this change the way you teach about research and with resources? [8:00]


About Michael Greer
Michael Greer

Michael Greer

Michael Greer is an educator and editor who has been working in higher education for over 20 years. He has conducted a number of usability studies on college textbooks, published on textbook design and usability, and studied the ways in which students read and use textbooks. He worked as a development editor at Pearson for 15 years before starting his own editorial and media studio, Development by Design. Michael teaches online courses in the department of rhetoric and writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.