How to cite a book in MLA
An MLA book citation always includes the author(s), title (italicized), publisher, and publication year in the Works Cited entry. If relevant, also include the names of any editors or translators, the edition, and the volume. “University Press” should be abbreviated to “UP” in a Works Cited entry.
The in-text citation gives the author’s last name and a page number in parentheses.
Citing a book chapter
Use this format 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). A similar format can be used to cite images from books or dictionary entries. If you cite several chapters from the same book, include a separate Works Cited entry for each one.
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.
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.
|Format||Author last name, First name. “Title of Chapter or Work.” Book Title, edited by Editor name, Publisher, Year, pp. Page range.|
|Works Cited entry||Smith, Ali. “The Universal Story.” The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story, edited by Philip Hensher, Penguin Books, 2018, pp. 99–107.|
|In-text citation||(Smith 101)|
|Format||Author last name, First name. “Title of Chapter or Work.” Book Title, edited by Editor names, Publisher, Year, pp. Page range.|
|Works Cited entry||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., U of Minnesota P, 2017, pp. 15–21.|
|In-text citation||(Le Guin 17)|
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.
|Format||Editor last name, First name, editor. Book Title. Publisher, Year.|
|Works Cited entry||Tsing, Anna, et al., editors. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. U of Minnesota P, 2017.|
|In-text citation||(Tsing et al. 3)|
Editions of books
If the book cover or title page specifies an edition, add the edition number or name, followed by the abbreviation “ed.”, after the title. Note that versions of the Bible are treated slightly differently.
|Format||Author last name, First name. Book Title. Edition ed., Publisher, Year.|
|Works Cited entry||Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. 2nd ed., Routledge, 1999.|
|In-text citation||(Butler 23)|
Including the original publication date
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.
|Format||Author last name, First name. Book Title. Original publication year. Edition ed., Publisher, Edition publication year.|
|Works Cited entry||Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. 1847. Revised ed., Penguin Classics, 2002.|
|In-text citation||(Brontë 31)|
If you cite only one volume of a multi-volume work, include the volume number in the Works Cited entry.
If you cite more than one volume of the book, cite them as a single work and specify the total number of volumes in your Works Cited entry. In this case, the in-text citations must include the volume number as well as the page number.
|Format||Author last name, First name. Book Title. Edition ed., vol. Volume number, Publisher, Year.|
|Works Cited entry||Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2nd ed., vol. 2, Oxford UP, 2002.|
|In-text citation||(Rampersad 64)|
If the book is translated, include the translator’s name after the title.
|Format||Author last name, First name. Book Title. Translated by Translator name, Publisher, Year.|
|Works Cited entry||Camus, Albert. The Plague. Translated by Robin Buss, Penguin Books, 2013.|
|In-text citation||(Camus 62)|
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 a link to the book. Look for a DOI, stable URL or permalink. If the book was accessed as a PDF, you may note this in your reference.
|Format||Author last name, First name. Book Title. Publisher, Year. Website or Database Name, DOI/URL.|
|Works Cited entry||Brown, Wendy. States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity. Princeton UP, 1995. ACLS Humanities E-Book, hdl.handle.net/2027/heb.32981.|
|In-text citation||(Brown 12)|
If you downloaded the book onto an e-reader device or app, you only have to add “E-book ed.” after the title.
If the e-book does not have page numbers, use an alternate locator, such as a chapter or section heading, in your in-text citation. Do not use locators that are specific to the device (e.g. Kindle locations).
|Format||Author last name, First name. Book Title. Format, Publisher, Year.|
|Works Cited entry||Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. E-book ed., Verso, 2006.|
|In-text citation||(Anderson, ch. 5)|
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.
Frequently asked questions about MLA style
- 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 (even if no colon appears in the source). 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.
- When should I cite a book chapter in MLA?
- When each of the book’s chapters is written by a different author.
- When the book is a collection of self-contained works (such as poems, plays, or short stories), even if they are all written by the same author.
If you cite multiple chapters or works from the same book, include a separate Works Cited entry for each chapter.
- How do I cite information from a footnote in MLA style?
Some source types, such as books and journal articles, may contain footnotes (or endnotes) with additional information. MLA style provides guidelines for referring to information from a note in an in-text citation:
- To cite information from a single numbered note, write “n” after the page number, and then write the note number, e.g. (Smith 105n2)
- To cite information from multiple numbered notes, write “nn” and include a range, e.g. (Smith 77nn1–2)
- To cite information from an unnumbered note, write “un” after the page number, with a space in between, e.g. (Jones 250 un)