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I'm from the UK, and currently writing my dissertation. I'm citing several sources from publishers in the USA, and am unsure what the best practice is for writing the place of publication. The publisher is based in Hoboken, New Jersey. I could write it in any number of ways:

Duanmu, S. (2011) ‘Chinese Syllable Structure’, In: van Oostendorp, M. and others (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Phonology. Hoboken, New Jersey, United States of America: 1-24

Duanmu, S. (2011) ‘Chinese Syllable Structure’, In: van Oostendorp, M. and others (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Phonology. Hoboken, New Jersey, United States: 1-24

Duanmu, S. (2011) ‘Chinese Syllable Structure’, In: van Oostendorp, M. and others (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Phonology. Hoboken, New Jersey: 1-24

Duanmu, S. (2011) ‘Chinese Syllable Structure’, In: van Oostendorp, M. and others (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Phonology. Hoboken, NJ, USA: 1-24

I don't think I can simply write New Jersey or NJ, as I've cited another publisher from Norwood NJ. I'm not sure whether it's necessary to write "United States of America" in any form, as to me, New Jersey is unambiguously a US state (just as I wouldn't need to clarify that London or Oxford was in England). But given that I'm not in the US, is it better to do so? And if so, which form is it best to write it in?

I can't refer to my reference guide for help, as we use the unhelpfully inconsistent MHRA Author-Date system, which varies between just about every resource.

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  • Are all the choices provided valid according to the style guide of your university? – Khalid Hussain May 11 '18 at 19:12
  • Our style guide is the web equivalent of a powerpoint presentation, with a single slide per referencing style... it has next to no useful information beyond the basic format. And there are contradictory guides... on the same website. (I don't like MHRA author date :'(...) – Lou May 11 '18 at 22:48
  • So the style guide is MHRA? – Khalid Hussain May 13 '18 at 1:24
  • MHRA Author-Date, yeah – Lou May 13 '18 at 2:44
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It's a good idea to take a step back here, and think about what the purpose of the bibliography is. Ultimately, it is supposed to allow a reader to unambiguously determine what publication is being cited, and further to help them get a copy of the publication.

In order to achieve this goal, I'd argue that specifying the location of a publisher is in most cases an anachronism. Given there is only a single 'Blackwell Companion to Phonology', which I can find in seconds with a web search, I don't really need to know that the publisher is located in New Jersey. We only still do it out of tradition. Incidentally, a far better way of unambiguously referencing a book is to state its ISBN.

However, bibliography styles may require that we include a location. In your case, you are unable to find a single 'correct' way of stating location for your bibliography style. So I would say, do whatever you want. Frankly, even if one of these is 'correct' under your bibliography style, I doubt anyone would notice, and if they did notice, I doubt that they would care. My personal preference would be towards brevity (e.g. Hoboken, NJ, USA).

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    To counter the single argument: Just because there are no other "Blackwell Companion to Phonology" today, there is no way that anyone can guarantee that there will not be others in 10, 20 or 30 years time, and while historically digging possibly will give an unambiguous result, it is much better to just be explicit. – hlovdal May 11 '18 at 23:32
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    @hlovdal Surely the date is sufficient for distinguishing in that case? – MJeffryes May 11 '18 at 23:45
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    @hlovdal Perhaps there will be another "Blackwell Companion to Phonology", and perhaps this publisher will move out of New Jersey. I'm not sure which is more likely, so I'm not sure whether the location information will help or hinder a search in the future. (I've stopped putting locations in the bibliographies of my papers, and I've heard no complaints from editors.) – Andreas Blass May 11 '18 at 23:52
  • @hlovdal – I always have a fun time when thinking of Cleveland – there is so many of them. This makes me think about being more explicit. – miroxlav May 12 '18 at 0:12
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Author-date MHRA is a somewhat unique style in that the style guide says

The form recommended for use in MHRA publications is as in the following examples

It seems that author-date MHRA style is only a recommendation and not a strict style. That said looking at the style guide, the author-date recommendations for publisher location do not deviate from the regular section devoted to their unique handling of names of towns and cities and countries as well as giving the place of publication in book citations:

The two-letter abbreviated forms of names of American states (see 4.5) should be included if there is danger of confusion (e.g. Cambridge, MA; Athens, GA). These are not required if the name of the state appears in the name of the publisher (e.g. Athens: University of Georgia Press).

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  • Interesting, so in other words you can just omit the country when it's obviously a US state? – Lou May 14 '18 at 20:46

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