MLA Book Citation Guide

A MLA book citation follows a specific format that allows the reader to quickly and accurately identify key information. Here’s everything you need to know how MLA cite book works. 

Standard MLA Format Book Citation Format

Citing a book is important for several reasons. First of all, it gives the original author credit because books are intellectual properties. When you fail to cite a source, you commit plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty. On the other hand, if you added the correct citation, you display yourself as scholarly with proof of research conducted.  

Core Elements of a MLA Book Citation

So, how do you create a book citation for MLA? Actually, it depends on the book. For example, the citation looks differently if it is written by two authors rather than one author. Also, an anthology citation contains more information than a novel. 

Even though this is true, all book citations contain specific basic information that is common to all books. 

These include:

  • The name of the author listed last name first.
  • The title of book in italics.
  • The name of the publisher. 
  • The year of publication
  • The city of publication is optional unless called for by rare situations.

Properly formatted, it will look like this:

Author last name, First name. Book Title. Publisher, Year.

MLA Citation for A Book Chapter

If you are citing a chapter of a book, you will need to include more information.  Along with the name of the author of the chapter, you will have to add the name of the editor/s. The page ranges within the book for the chapter you are citing should be cited as well.

For One Author/Editor

Now would be a good time for an example. So, let’s start with something simple like a citation for a book chapter with one author/editor. 

Here is the proper MLA format for citing a chapter of a book with one author/editor:

Author(s) of Chapter. "Title of Chapter: Subtitle of Chapter." Title of Book, edited by Editor of Book, Publisher, Publication Date, page numbers.

And, here is an example:

Kang-Brown, Jason, et al. “Zero-Tolerance Policies Do Not Make Schools Safer.” School Safety, edited by Noah Berlatsky, Greenhaven Press, 2016, pp. 50-52.

For Multiple Authors/Editors

Sometimes, a book may have two or more authors. So, let’s take a look at a citation for each situation.

For a book with two authors use the following format:

1st Author's Last Name, First Name, and 2nd Author's First Name Last Name. Title of the Book. Publisher, Year published.

Example:

Hawkins, Stan, and Sarah Niblock. Prince: the Making of a Pop Music Phenomenon. Ashgate, 2011.

For 3 or more authors, this is where it changes significantly. So, again here is the format: 

1st Author's Last Name, First Name, et al. Title of the Book. Publisher, Year published.

Interestingly, et al. simply means “and all” in Latin. 

So, how does it look with real book information?

Example:

Bear, Donald R., et. al. Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction. 6th ed., Pearson Education, 2015.

For Missing Author/Editor

A book can also have no author. Well, technically, it would be called a missing author. Basically, the author hasn’t been given credit for the book. This happens with reference books like an encyclopedia. 

So, if there’s no author how do you cite the book? You start with the title.

And, it the citation looks like this:

Book Title: Subtitle. [Edition information], Publisher, Year.

Example:

Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed, Merriam-Webster, 2014.

MLA Citation for Whole Collection

So that’s how you cite a single book. But, what if you want to cite a whole collection? Don’t worry. There’s a format for that, as well.

And here it is:

Author's last name, First name. Title of Book. Year of publication for the Title cited. Title of the multi volume publication, volume number, Publisher, Year of publication for the collection.

Example:

Damrosch, David, et al. The Longman Anthology of World Literature. 2nd ed., vol. C, Pearson Education, 2009.

MLA Citation for Book Editions

What if you want to cite a book that’s a specific edition? Of course, you have to include the edition number. But how do you format the citation? Your citation will look like this:

Author last name, First name. Book Title. Edition. Publisher, Year.

Example:

Newcomb, Horace, editor. Television: The Critical View. 7th ed., Oxford UP, 2007.

MLA Book Citation for Ebooks

Of course, books aren’t only found in print anymore. You have to also consider ebooks. So, this is how you cite ebooks:

Author’s last name, First name. Title of the e-Book. E-book ed., Publisher, Year published. Name of e-reader device.

Example:

O’Brien, T. (1990). The things they carried [Kindle Fire version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

MLA Citation for Translated Books

Another special type of book is a translation. Therefore, it has a special citation:

Author’s Last name, First name. Title of the Book. Translated by First name Last name, Publisher, Year published.

Example:

Hammesfahr, Petra. The Sinner. Translated by John Brownjohn. Bitter Lemon Press, 2007.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different MLA book citations. Which one you use depends upon the information included on the book’s publication page. For your citation to be accurate, you must be sure that you have included all of the relevant information provided. 

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