How to create an MLA book citation

To cite a book in MLA style (8th edition), the Works Cited list entry must always identify the author(s), title, publisher and publication date of the work. If available, include the names of any editors or translators, the edition, and the volume. If you accessed the book online, add the name of the website or database and the URL.

To cite a book chapter or a work from a collection, you start the Works Cited entry with the author and title of the specific work, followed by the details of the book, and end with the page range on which the work appears.

The in-text citation for a book looks the same as other MLA in-text citations, with the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses.

Where to find MLA book citation information

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. Follow standard MLA style for citing authors and formatting titles.


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Book citation example

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

Online books and e-books

If you consulted the book online, include all the same information as above, followed by the name of the website or database through which you accessed it (e.g. Google Books) and the URL.

Look for a stable URL or permalink on the page where you accessed the book. If there is no permalink, you can copy the URL from the address bar, but make sure it’s not a temporary link unique to your login session. It’s usually safest to use the URL of the web page before you click into the book itself.

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Online book citation examples

Andrade, Tonio. How Taiwan Became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century. Columbia University Press, 2010. ACLS Humanities E-Book, hdl.handle.net/2027/heb.99019.

If you consulted the book on 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.

E-reader citation example

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

How to cite a book chapter or a work in a collection

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), you usually reference a specific chapter or work within the book.

Start with the author of the work, followed by the title of the work in quotation marks. Next include the book’s title in italics, the editor(s) of the book, the publisher and year. At the end of the entry, write pp. followed by the first and last pages on which the work appears within the book.

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 there are multiple editors, follow the same rules as for citing multiple authors. If you cite several different chapters or works from the same book, include a separate Works Cited entry for each one. In the in-text citation, cite the author of the work (not the book’s 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

Occasionally you might want to cite a whole collection without referring to a specific work within it (for example, if you’re giving a general overview of recent publications on a topic). In this case, follow the standard book citation format and 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.

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How to cite book editions and volumes in MLA

If a book has been published in more than one edition or volume, this information is important to help your reader find the exact version you used.

Book editions

Books are often re-published in updated versions called editions. If you use an edition other than the first, add the edition number or name and the abbreviation ed. immediately before the publisher details. You can find this information on the title page or copyright page.

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, sometimes by different publishers. 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. When citing a single volume of a multivolume work, include the volume number in the Works Cited list.

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

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).

Learn more about MLA style

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Shona McCombes

Shona has an MLitt in English Literature and an MA in Gender Studies, so she's an expert at writing a great master's thesis. She has also been an editor and teacher, working with students at all different levels to improve their academic writing.

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