How to cite the Bible in MLA

MLA in-text citations of the Bible differ from other book citations in that they list the book, chapter, and verse rather than the page number.

In the Works Cited entry, it’s important to list the version of the Bible you used, not just “The Bible.” Include a URL if you accessed an online version of the Bible.

Format Bible Title. Edited by Editor first name Last name, Publisher, Year, URL.
Works Cited entry ESV Bible. Crossway, 2001, www.esv.org/.
In-text citation (ESV Bible, Matt. 1.2)

MLA in-text citations of the Bible

In your in-text citations, MLA recommends abbreviating the names of the different books of the Bible. A list of standard abbreviations can be found here.

Additionally, chapter and verse numbers are separated by a period in MLA style, not a colon—unlike in some other styles.

  • (Ezek. 1:5)
  • (Ezek. 1.5)

The first Bible citation in your text should include the Bible’s title, abbreviated if necessary.

In-text citation
(ESV Bible, Gen. 5.2)

You can omit this part in subsequent citations. However, if you are citing multiple different versions of the Bible, include the title each time to clarify which you’re referring to, and include a separate entry for each version in your Works Cited list.

Version information in the Works Cited entry

The format of the Works Cited entry varies depending on whether the version is already clear from the title or needs to be clarified afterwards. Use the following format if the version is already clear from the title.

Format Bible Title. Edited by Editor first name Last name, Publisher, Year.
Works Cited entry The Bible: Authorized King James Version. Edited by Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett, Oxford UP, 2008.
In-text citation (Bible, Gen. 5.2)

If the version needs to be clarified, do so after the title. This version information is capitalized but not italicized, and it is separated from the title with a period.

Format Bible Title. Version Name, edited by Editor first name Last name, Publisher, Year.
Works Cited entry Holy Bible. American Standard Version, Bible Domain Publishing, 2013.
In-text citation (Holy Bible, John 1.1)

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Frequently asked questions about MLA citations

How do I cite a source with no author or page numbers in MLA?

If a source has no author, start the MLA Works Cited entry with the source title. Use a shortened version of the title in your in-text citation.

If a source has no page numbers, you can use an alternative locator (e.g. a chapter number, or a timestamp for a video or audio source) to identify the relevant passage in your in-text citation. If the source has no numbered divisions, cite only the author’s name (or the title).

If you already named the author or title in your sentence, and there is no locator available, you don’t need a parenthetical citation:

  • Rajaram argues that representations of migration are shaped by “cultural, political, and ideological interests.”
  • The homepage of The Correspondent describes it as “a movement for radically different news.”
How do you write a book title in MLA?

In MLA style, book titles appear in italics, with all major words capitalized. If there is a subtitle, separate it from the main title with a colon and a space. For example:

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

The format is the same in the Works Cited list and in the text itself. However, when you mention the book title in the text, you don’t have to include the subtitle.

The title of a part of a book—such as a chapter, or a short story or poem in a collection—is not italicized, but instead placed in quotation marks.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

1 comment

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
January 21, 2021 at 5:13 PM

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