How to cite a book in MLA

An MLA book citation always includes the author(s), title (italicized), publisher, and publication year in the list of Works Cited. If relevant, include the names of any editors or translators, the edition, and the volume.

The in-text citation gives the author’s last name and a page number in parentheses.

To create your book citations automatically, enter a book title, ISBN, or DOI, and the MLA Citation Generator will retrieve all the necessary information.

Scribbr MLA Citation Generator

Editions of books

If the book cover or title page specifies an edition, add the edition number or name (together with the abbreviation “ed.”) before the publisher details.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. 2nd ed., Routledge, 1999.
McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature: Humanity, Climate Change and the Natural World. Revised ed., Bloomsbury, 2003.

Classic books are often published and republished many times. If the original publication date is relevant or necessary to put the source in context, you can also include this directly after the title.

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. 1847. Revised ed., Penguin Classics, 2002.

Multi-volume books

Some books are published in multiple volumes, where each volume has the same title but a different number to identify it.

Citing a single volume

When citing a single volume of a multivolume work, include the volume number in the Works Cited entry.

Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2nd ed., vol. 2, Oxford University Press, 2002.

Citing multiple volumes

If you cite more than one volume of the book, in the Works Cited list, include one entry that identifies the total number of volumes in the work.

Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, 2002. 2 vols.

In this case, the in-text citations must include the specific volume number as well as the page number, separated by a colon and a space.

(Rampersad 1: 25).

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Translated and edited books

If the book specifies a translator, editor, or other relevant contributor, include their name (with a label specifying their role) directly after the title.

Camus, Albert. The Plague. Translated by Robin Buss, Penguin Books, 2013.

E-books and online books

The citation format for an e-book depends on how you accessed it.

Books accessed online

If you accessed the book via a website or database, use the standard MLA book citation format, followed by the name of the website or database and the URL. Look for a stable URL or permalink on the page where you accessed the book.

Brown, Wendy. States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity. Princeton University Press, 1995. ACLS Humanities E-Book, hdl.handle.net/2027/heb.32981.

Downloaded e-books

If you downloaded the book onto an e-reader device or app, you only have to add the word “e-book” or the type of e-book (e.g. Kindle ed.) after the title.

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. e-book, Verso, 2006.

If the e-book does not have page numbers, in your in-text citation you can use an alternate locator, such as a chapter or section heading.

(Anderson, ch. 5)

Do not use locators that are specific to the device (e.g. Kindle locations).

Citing a book chapter

If the book’s chapters are written by different authors, or if the book is a collection of self-contained works (such as stories, essays, poems or plays), cite the author of the specific chapter or work.

Start the Works Cited entry with the author and title of the chapter, followed by the book’s title, editor, publisher, and date, and end with the page range on which the chapter appears.

Smith, Ali. “The Universal Story.” The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story, edited by Philip Hensher, Penguin Books, 2018, pp. 99-107.

If you cite several different chapters or works from the same book, include a separate Works Cited entry for each one.

Multiple editors

If there are two editors, give the full names of both. If there are more than two editors, follow the same rules as for citing multiple authors: name only the first editor followed by et al.

Le Guin, Ursula K. “Deep in Admiration.” Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene, edited by Anna Tsing et al., University of Minnesota Press, 2017, pp. 15-21.

No editor

If you are citing a work from a book with no named editor (e.g. a collection of a single author’s poems or plays), use the same format, but leave out the editor element.

Beckett, Samuel. “Catastrophe.” The Collected Shorter Plays, Grove Press, 2010, pp. 293-300.

Citing a whole collection or anthology

If you refer to a whole collection without citing a specific work within it, follow the standard book citation format. Include the editor(s) where the author would usually go, with a label to identify their role.

Tsing, Anna, et al., editors. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

Where to find information for a book citation

The title, author, publisher, and publication year are usually found on the book’s title page. You might have to check the copyright page for the publisher and publication year.

Note that the copyright date is not always the same as the publication date. If several different years appear on the copyright page, use the most recent one.

If the book has any editors or translators named on the cover page, include them in the citation after the book’s title.


mla-book-citation

Latour, Bruno. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. Translated by Catherine Porter, Harvard University Press, 2004.

Frequently asked questions about MLA style

When do I need to include an MLA in-text citation?

You must include an in-text citation every time you quote or paraphrase from a source (e.g. a book, movie, website, or article).

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, short story or poem in a collection – is not italicized, but instead placed in quotation marks.

Are titles capitalized in MLA?

Yes. MLA Style uses title case, which means that all principal words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some conjunctions) are capitalized.

This applies to titles of sources as well as the title in the heading of your paper. Use MLA capitalization style even when the original source title uses different capitalization.

When should I cite a chapter instead of the whole book?

In APA, MLA and Chicago Style, when the book’s chapters are written by different authors, you should cite the specific chapter you are referring to.

Single-author books should be cited as a whole, even if you only quote or paraphrase from one chapter.

How do I cite a source with multiple authors in MLA?

In MLA Style, if a source has two authors, name both authors in your in-text citation and Works Cited entry. If there are three or more authors, name only the first author, followed by et al.

Number of authorsIn-text citationWorks Cited entry
1 author(Moore 37)Moore, Jason W.
2 authors(Moore and Patel 37)Moore, Jason W., and Raj Patel.
3+ authors(Moore et al. 37)Moore, Jason W., et al.
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Shona McCombes

Shona has a bachelor's and two master's degrees, so she's an expert at writing a great thesis. She has also worked as an editor and teacher, working with students at all different levels to improve their academic writing.

2 comments

Velanathan
November 20, 2019 at 3:32 PM

Is it not needed to add print at the last of the citation of books?

Reply

Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr-team)
November 21, 2019 at 12:03 PM

Hi,

You're right that previous editions of MLA required a "print" or "web" label at the end of citations, but the 8th edition (the most recent, published in 2016) states that this is no longer part of MLA style.

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