Twitter flies into the ivory tower

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Just when you thought Twitter couldn’t get any more pedantic, here comes the Modern Language Association! The academic organization’s MLA Style Guide is the self-proclaimed “standard guide for graduate students, scholars, and teachers in the humanities.” And six years after the first tweet was sent, it has finally made a ruling on how to cite […]

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Just when you thought Twitter couldn’t get any more pedantic, here comes the Modern Language Association!

The academic organization’s MLA Style Guide is the self-proclaimed “standard guide for graduate students, scholars, and teachers in the humanities.” And six years after the first tweet was sent, it has finally made a ruling on how to cite that most modern form of information.

The announcement came, appropriately, via MLA’s Twitter account. “By popular demand, the #MLA has responded to your question, HOW DO I CITE A TWEET?” @MLAnews tweeted, along with a link to instructions. The format is:

Last name, First name (Username). “Complete tweet, with punctuation left as-is.” Day, Month Year, time. Tweet.

Of note: No URL is given, and that authors must write “Tweet” at the end.

An editor at the MLA confirmed to the Daily Dot on Monday that the organization only recently ruled on exactly how to cite tweets.

Style books are only lately addressing Twitter as a new and worthwhile medium. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends users quote tweets mid-sentence if they include date, user’s full name, user’s Twitter handle, and shortened URL. It also allows writers to cite with footnotes if they use the format:

Full name, Tweet, Month Day, Year, Time, http://twitter.com/Username.

A representative for the Associated Press, which issues its own stylebook, told the Daily Dot that current guidelines have writers simply enclosing tweets in quotes, and referring to a Twitter name in a relatively casual manner: @Username. However, the AP will include plans to include expanded social media guidelines in their 2012 edition when it’s released this May.

One hopes those guidelines have improved since the AP first tackled the subject of Twitter—to widespread derision—last fall.

Photo by Siena College

Kevin Collier

Kevin Collier

A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.