Technical Communication with 2016 MLA Update (11th Edition)

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AuthorsMike Markel


Technical communication plays a vital role in conveying complex information to diverse audiences. As the field continues to evolve, it is crucial for professionals to stay up to date with the latest guidelines and standards. In this blog post, we will explore the 2016 MLA Update (11th Edition) and its implications for technical communicators. We will delve into the key changes and updates introduced in this edition, and discuss how they enhance the effectiveness and accessibility of technical communication.

1. Overview of the 2016 MLA Update (11th Edition)

The Modern Language Association (MLA) released the 11th Edition of its style guide in 2016, which brought significant updates to technical communication. The new edition aimed to address the evolving landscape of communication technologies and the need for clear, concise, and inclusive documentation.

One of the major changes in the 2016 MLA Update was the inclusion of guidelines for digital sources and online publication. Technical communicators must now consider the format, accessibility, and credibility of digital sources when citing and referencing. Additionally, the update emphasized the importance of adapting to new platforms and media, such as websites, blogs, social media, and multimedia presentations.

2. Simplified and Streamlined Guidelines

The 2016 MLA Update introduced streamlined guidelines to simplify the citation process and make technical communication more accessible. This edition focuses on core elements, enabling writers to construct citations using a universal template. These core elements include author, title of source, title of container, other contributors, version, number, publisher, publication date, location, and access date (for online sources). By standardizing these elements, the MLA Update helps technical communicators create consistent and coherent citations across different mediums.

Moreover, the 11th Edition encourages the use of brief, descriptive in-text citations to provide readers with immediate context and information. This approach facilitates readability and allows readers to quickly locate the corresponding full citation in the Works Cited section.

3. Inclusive Language and Cultural Sensitivity

Another significant aspect of the 2016 MLA Update is its emphasis on inclusive language and cultural sensitivity. Technical communicators are encouraged to use inclusive language that respects diverse perspectives, identities, and experiences. This edition provides guidance on gender-neutral language, avoiding stereotypes, and being mindful of cultural representations.

The update also highlights the importance of acknowledging and documenting indigenous knowledge, particularly in fields where traditional knowledge plays a significant role. Technical communicators must ensure proper attribution and respect for indigenous cultures and intellectual property.

4. Accessibility and Digital Communication

The 2016 MLA Update recognizes the growing importance of accessibility in digital communication. Technical communicators are urged to create content that is accessible to users with disabilities. This includes providing alternative text for images, using proper headings, utilizing descriptive link text, and ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies.

Furthermore, the update emphasizes the need for content creators to consider usability and user experience. Technical documents should be structured logically, with clear headings and subheadings, to facilitate navigation and comprehension. User-centered design principles should be applied to ensure that the information is presented in an intuitive and user-friendly manner.


Technical communication is an ever-evolving field, and the 2016 MLA Update (11th Edition) addresses the changing landscape by providing guidelines that align with contemporary communication practices. By simplifying citation guidelines, encouraging inclusive language, promoting accessibility, and recognizing the importance of digital communication, this update equips technical communicators with the tools necessary to create effective and accessible documentation.

Staying current with the latest guidelines is essential for professionals in the field of technical communication. By embracing the changes introduced in the 2016 MLA Update, technical communicators can enhance their ability to convey information clearly, concisely, and inclusively, ensuring that their work remains relevant and accessible in today’s fast-paced digital world.

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