MLA Works Cited Page: Books
MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.
Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2018-01-09 11:20:41
When you are gathering book sources, be sure to make note of the following bibliographic items: the author name(s), other contributors such as translators or editors, the book’s title, editions of the book, the publication date, the publisher, and the pagination.
The 8th edition of the MLA handbook highlights principles over prescriptive practices. Essentially, a writer will need to take note of primary elements in every source, such as author, title, etc. and then assort them in a general format. Thus, in using this methodology, a writer will be able to source a specific item that may not be included in this list.
Remember these changes from previous editions:
- Commas are used instead of periods between Publisher, Publication Date, and Pagination.
- Medium is no longer necessary.
- Containers are now a part of the MLA process, in light of technology. Periods should be used between Containers.
- DOIs should be used instead of URLS when available.
- Use the phrase, “Accessed” instead of listing the date or the abbreviation, “n.d.”
Below is the general format for any citation:
Author. Title. Title of container (self contained if book), Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs URL or DOI). 2nd container’s title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable).
Basic Book Format
The author’s name or a book with a single author's name appears in last name, first name format. The basic form for a book citation is:
Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.
Book with One Author
Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. Penguin, 1987.
Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. MacMurray, 1999.
Book with More Than One Author
When a book has multiple authors, order the authors in the same way they are presented in the book. The first given name appears in last name, first name format; subsequent author names appear in first name last name format.
Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Allyn and Bacon, 2000.
If there are three or more authors, list only the first author followed by the phrase et al. (Latin for "and others") in place of the subsequent authors' names. (Note that there is a period after “al” in “et al.” Also note that there is never a period after the “et” in “et al.”).
Wysocki, Anne Frances, et al. Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition. Utah State UP, 2004.
Two or More Books by the Same Author
List works alphabetically by title. (Remember to ignore articles like A, An, and The.) Provide the author’s name in last name, first name format for the first entry only. For each subsequent entry by the same author, use three hyphens and a period.
Palmer, William J. Dickens and New Historicism. St. Martin's, 1997.
---. The Films of the Eighties: A Social History. Southern Illinois UP, 1993.
Book by a Corporate Author or Organization
A corporate author may include a commission, a committee, a government agency, or a group that does not identify individual members on the title page.
List the names of corporate authors in the place where an author’s name typically appears at the beginning of the entry.
American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. Random House, 1998.
When the author and publisher are the same, skip the author, and list the title first. Then, list the corporate author only as the publisher.
Fair Housing—Fair Lending. Aspen Law & Business, 1985.
Book with No Author
List by title of the book. Incorporate these entries alphabetically just as you would with works that include an author name. For example, the following entry might appear between entries of works written by Dean, Shaun and Forsythe, Jonathan.
Encyclopedia of Indiana. Somerset, 1993.
Remember that for an in-text (parenthetical) citation of a book with no author, provide the name of the work in the signal phrase and the page number in parentheses. You may also use a shortened version of the title of the book accompanied by the page number. For more information see the In-text Citations for Print Sources with No Known Author section of In-text Citations: The Basics.
A Translated Book
If you want to emphasize the work rather than the translator, cite as you would any other book. Add “translated by” and follow with the name(s) of the translator(s).
Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard, Vintage-Random House, 1988.
If you want to focus on the translation, list the translator as the author. In place of the author’s name, the translator’s name appears. His or her name is followed by the label, “translator.” If the author of the book does not appear in the title of the book, include the name, with a “By” after the title of the book and before the publisher. Note that this type of citation is less common and should only be used for papers or writing in which translation plays a central role.
Howard, Richard, translator. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. By Michel Foucault, Vintage-Random House, 1988.
Books may be republished due to popularity without becoming a new edition. New editions are typically revisions of the original work. For books that originally appeared at an earlier date and that have been republished at a later one, insert the original publication date before the publication information.
For books that are new editions (i.e. different from the first or other editions of the book), see An Edition of a Book below.
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. 1990. Routledge, 1999.
Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine. 1984. Perennial-Harper, 1993.
An Edition of a Book
There are two types of editions in book publishing: a book that has been published more than once in different editions and a book that is prepared by someone other than the author (typically an editor).
A Subsequent Edition
Cite the book as you normally would, but add the number of the edition after the title.
Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 3rd ed., Pearson, 2004.
A Work Prepared by an Editor
Cite the book as you normally would, but add the editor after the title with the label, "Edited by"
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Edited by Margaret Smith, Oxford UP, 1998.
Anthology or Collection (e.g. Collection of Essays)
To cite the entire anthology or collection, list by editor(s) followed by a comma and "editor" or, for multiple editors, "editors." This sort of entry is somewhat rare. If you are citing a particular piece within an anthology or collection (more common), see A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection below.
Hill, Charles A., and Marguerite Helmers, editors. Defining Visual Rhetorics. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004.
Peterson, Nancy J., editor. Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches. Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.
A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection
Works may include an essay in an edited collection or anthology, or a chapter of a book. The basic form is for this sort of citation is as follows:
Last name, First name. "Title of Essay." Title of Collection, edited by Editor's Name(s), Publisher, Year, Page range of entry.
Harris, Muriel. "Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers." A Tutor's Guide: Helping Writers One to One, edited by Ben Rafoth, Heinemann, 2000, pp. 24-34.
Swanson, Gunnar. "Graphic Design Education as a Liberal Art: Design and Knowledge in the University and The 'Real World.'" The Education of a Graphic Designer, edited by Steven Heller, Allworth Press, 1998, pp. 13-24.
Note on Cross-referencing Several Items from One Anthology: If you cite more than one essay from the same edited collection, MLA indicates you may cross-reference within your works cited list in order to avoid writing out the publishing information for each separate essay. You should consider this option if you have several references from a single text. To do so, include a separate entry for the entire collection listed by the editor's name as below:
Rose, Shirley K., and Irwin Weiser, editors. The Writing Program Administrator as Researcher. Heinemann, 1999.
Then, for each individual essay from the collection, list the author's name in last name, first name format, the title of the essay, the editor's last name, and the page range:
L'Eplattenier, Barbara. "Finding Ourselves in the Past: An Argument for Historical Work on WPAs." Rose and Weiser, pp. 131-40.
Peeples, Tim. "'Seeing' the WPA With/Through Postmodern Mapping." Rose and Weiser, pp. 153-67.
Please note: When cross-referencing items in the works cited list, alphabetical order should be maintained for the entire list.
Poem or Short Story Examples:
Burns, Robert. "Red, Red Rose." 100 Best-Loved Poems, edited by Philip Smith, Dover, 1995, p. 26.
Kincaid, Jamaica. "Girl." The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 306-07.
If the specific literary work is part of the author's own collection (all of the works have the same author), then there will be no editor to reference:
Whitman, Walt. "I Sing the Body Electric." Selected Poems. Dover, 1991, pp. 12-19.
Carter, Angela. "The Tiger's Bride." Burning Your Boats: The Collected Stories. Penguin, 1995, pp. 154-69.
Article in a Reference Book (e.g. Encyclopedias, Dictionaries)
For entries in encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference works, cite the piece as you would any other work in a collection but do not include the publisher information. Also, if the reference book is organized alphabetically, as most are, do not list the volume or the page number of the article or item.
"Ideology." The American Heritage Dictionary. 3rd ed., 1997.
A Multivolume Work
When citing only one volume of a multivolume work, include the volume number after the work's title, or after the work's editor or translator.
Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Translated by H. E. Butler, vol. 2, Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980.
When citing more than one volume of a multivolume work, cite the total number of volumes in the work. Also, be sure in your in-text citation to provide both the volume number and page number(s). (See Citing Multivolume Works on the In-Text Citations – The Basics page, which you can access by following the appropriate link at the bottom of this page.)
Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Translated by H. E. Butler, Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980. 4 vols.
If the volume you are using has its own title, cite the book without referring to the other volumes as if it were an independent publication.
Churchill, Winston S. The Age of Revolution. Dodd, 1957.
An Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword
When citing an introduction, a preface, a foreword, or an afterword, write the name of the author(s) of the piece you are citing. Then give the name of the part being cited, which should not be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks; in italics, provide the name of the work and the name of the author of the introduction/preface/foreword/afterword. Finish the citation with the details of publication and page range.
Farrell, Thomas B. Introduction. Norms of Rhetorical Culture, by Farrell, Yale UP, 1993, pp. 1-13.
If the writer of the piece is different from the author of the complete work, then write the full name of the principal work's author after the word "By." For example, if you were to cite Hugh Dalziel Duncan’s introduction of Kenneth Burke’s book Permanence and Change, you would write the entry as follows:
Duncan, Hugh Dalziel. Introduction. Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose, by Kenneth Burke, 1935, 3rd ed., U of California P, 1984, pp. xiii-xliv.
Other Print/Book Sources
Certain book sources are handled in a special way by MLA style.
Book Published Before 1900
Original copies of books published before 1900 are usually defined by their place of publication rather than the publisher. Unless you are using a newer edition, cite the city of publication where you would normally cite the publisher.
Thoreau, Henry David. Excursions. Boston, 1863.
Italicize “The Bible” and follow it with the version you are using. Remember that your in-text (parenthetical citation) should include the name of the specific edition of the Bible, followed by an abbreviation of the book, the chapter and verse(s). (See Citing the Bible at In-Text Citations: The Basics.)
The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998.
The Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Version, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2001.
The New Jerusalem Bible. Edited by Susan Jones, Doubleday, 1985.
A Government Publication
Cite the author of the publication if the author is identified. Otherwise, start with the name of the national government, followed by the agency (including any subdivisions or agencies) that serves as the organizational author. For congressional documents, be sure to include the number of the Congress and the session when the hearing was held or resolution passed as well as the report number. US government documents are typically published by the Government Printing Office.
United States, Congress, Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Hearing on the Geopolitics of Oil. Government Printing Office, 2007. 110th Congress, 1st session, Senate Report 111-8.
United States, Government Accountability Office. Climate Change: EPA and DOE Should Do More to Encourage Progress Under Two Voluntary Programs. Government Printing Office, 2006.
Cite the title and publication information for the pamphlet just as you would a book without an author. Pamphlets and promotional materials commonly feature corporate authors (commissions, committees, or other groups that does not provide individual group member names). If the pamphlet you are citing has no author, cite as directed below. If your pamphlet has an author or a corporate author, put the name of the author (last name, first name format) or corporate author in the place where the author name typically appears at the beginning of the entry. (See also Books by a Corporate Author or Organization above.)
Women's Health: Problems of the Digestive System. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2006.
Your Rights Under California Welfare Programs. California Department of Social Services, 2007.
Dissertations and Master's Theses
Dissertations and master's theses may be used as sources whether published or not. Cite the work as you would a book, but include the designation Dissertation (or MA/MS thesis) followed by the degree-granting school and the year the degree was awarded.
If the dissertation is published, italicize the title and include the publication date. You may also include the University Microfilms International (UMI) order number if you choose:
Bishop, Karen Lynn. Documenting Institutional Identity: Strategic Writing in the IUPUI Comprehensive Campaign. Dissertation, Purdue University, 2002. UMI, 2004.
Bile, Jeffrey. Ecology, Feminism, and a Revised Critical Rhetoric: Toward a Dialectical Partnership. Dissertation, Ohio University, 2005. UMI, 2006. AAT 3191701.
If the work is not published, put the title in quotation marks and end with the date the degree was awarded:
Graban, Tarez Samra. "Towards a Feminine Ironic: Understanding Irony in the Oppositional Discourse of Women from the Early Modern and Modern Periods." Dissertation, Purdue University, 2006.
Stolley, Karl. "Toward a Conception of Religion as a Discursive Formation: Implications for Postmodern Composition Theory." MA thesis, Purdue University, 2002.
List the names of corporate authors in the place where an author’s name typically appears at the beginning of the entry if the author and publisher are not the same.
American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. Random House, 1998.
When the author and publisher are the same, skip the author, and list the title first. Then, list the corporate author only as the publisher.
Fair Housing—Fair Lending. Aspen Law & Business, 1985.
This depends on what type of work you are writing, how you are using the borrowed material, and the expectations of your instructor.
First, you have to think about how you want to identify your sources. If your sources are very important to your ideas, you should mention the author and work in a sentence that introduces your citation. If, however, you are only citing the source to make a minor point, you may consider using parenthetical references, footnotes, or endnotes.
There are also different forms of citation for different disciplines. For example, when you cite sources in a psychology paper you would probably use a different form of citation than you might in a paper for an English class.
Finally, you should always consult your instructor to determine the form of citation appropriate for your paper. You can save a lot of time and energy simply by asking "How should I cite my sources," or "What style of citation should I use?" before you begin writing.
In the following sections, we will take you step-by-step through some general guidelines for citing sources.
Identifying Sources in the Body of Your Paper
The first time you cite a source, it is almost always a good idea to mention its author(s), title, and genre (book, article, or web page, etc.). If the source is central to your work, you may want to introduce it in a separate sentence or two, summarizing its importance and main ideas. But often you can just tag this information onto the beginning or end of a sentence. For example, the following sentence puts information about the author and work before the quotation:
Milan Kundera, in his book The Art of the Novel, suggests that “if the novel should really disappear, it will do so not because it has exhausted its powers but because it exists in a world grown alien to it.”
You may also want to describe the author(s) if they are not famous, or if you have reason to believe your reader does not know them. You should say whether they are economic analysts, artists, physicists, etc. If you do not know anything about the author, and cannot find any information, it is best to say where you found the source and why you believe it is credible and worth citing. For example,
In an essay presented at an Asian Studies conference held at Duke University, Sheldon Geron analyzes the relation of state, labor-unions, and small businesses in Japan between 1950s and 1980s.
If you have already introduced the author and work from which you are citing, and you are obviously referring to the same work, you probably don't need to mention them again. However, if you have cited other sources and then go back to one you had cited earlier, it is a good idea to mention at least the author's name again (and the work if you have referred to more than one by this author) to avoid confusion.
What is Quoting?
Taking the exact words from an original source is called quoting. You should quote material when you believe the way the original author expresses an idea is the most effective means of communicating the point you want to make. If you want to borrow an idea from an author, but do not need his or her exact words, you should try paraphrasing instead of quoting.
How Often Should I Quote?
Most of the time, paraphrasing and summarizing your sources is sufficient (but remember that you still have to cite them!). If you think it’s important to quote something, an excellent rule of thumb is that for every line you quote, you should have at least two lines analyzing it.
How Do I Incorporate Quotations in My Paper?
Most of the time, you can just identify a source and quote from it, as in the first example above. Sometimes, however, you will need to modify the words or format of the quotation in order to fit in your paper. Whenever you change the original words of your source, you must indicate that you have done so. Otherwise, you would be claiming the original author used words that he or she did not use. But be careful not to change too many words! You could accidentally change the meaning of the quotation and falsely claim the author said something they did not.
For example, let's say you want to quote from the following passage in an essay called "United Shareholders of America," by Jacob Weisberg:
The citizen-investor serves his fellow citizens badly by his inclination to withdraw from the community. He tends to serve himself badly as well. He does so by focusing his pursuit of happiness on something that very seldom makes people happy in the way they expect it to.
When you quote, you generally want to be as concise as possible. Keep only the material that is strictly relevant to your own ideas. So here you would not want to quote the middle sentence, since it is repeated again in the more informative last sentence. However, just skipping it would not work -- the final sentence would not make sense without it. So, you have to change the wording a little bit. In order to do so, you will need to use some editing symbols. Your quotation might end up looking like this:
In his essay, “United Shareholders of America,” Jacob Weisberg insists that “The citizen-investor serves his fellow citizens badly by his inclination to withdraw from the community. He tends to serve himself badly... by focusing his pursuit of happiness on something that very seldom makes people happy in the way they expect it to.”
“He tends to serve himself badly...by focusing his pursuit of happiness on [money].”
The brackets around the word [money] indicate that you have substituted that word for other words the author used. To make a substitution this important, however, you had better be sure that [money] is what the final phrase meant -- if the author intentionally left it ambiguous, you would be significantly altering his meaning. That would make you guilty of fraudulent attribution. In this case, however, the paragraph following the one quoted explains that the author is referring to money, so it is okay.
As a general rule, it is okay to make minor grammatical and stylistic changes to make the quoted material fit in your paper, but it is not okay to significantly alter the structure of the material or its content.
Quoting within Quotes
When you have "embedded quotes," or quotations within quotations, you should switch from the normal quotation marks ("") to single quotation marks ('') to show the difference. For example, if an original passage by John Archer reads:
The Mountain Coyote has been described as a “wily” and “single-minded” predator by zoologist Lma Warner.
your quotation might look like this:
As John Archer explains, “The Mountain Coyote has been described as a 'wily' and 'single-minded' predator by zoologist Lma Warner.”
How Do I Include Long Quotes in My Paper?
The exact formatting requirements for long quotations differ depending on the citation style. In general, however, if you are quoting more than 3 lines of material, you should do the following:
- change the font to one noticeably smaller (in a document that is mostly 12 point font, you should use a 10 point font, for example)
- double indent the quotation -- that means adjusting the left and right margins so that they are about one inch smaller than the main body of your paper
- if you have this option in your word-processor, "left-justify" the text. That means make it so that each line begins in the same place, creating a straight line on the left side of the quotation, while the right side is jagged
- do NOT use quotation marks for the entire quotation -- the graphic changes you have made already (changing the font, double indenting, etc.) are enough to indicate that the material is quoted. For quotations within that quotation, use normal quotation marks, not single ones
- you might want to skip 1.5 times the line-spacing you are using in the document before you begin the quotation and after it. This is optional and depends on the style preferred by your instructor
For example, a properly-formatted long quotation in a document might look like this:
Akutagawa complicates the picture of picture of himself as mere “reader on the verge of writing his own text,” by having his narrated persona actually finish authoring the work in wich he appears. In the forty-ninth segment of the text, entitled “A Stuffed Swan,” he writes:Using all of his remaining strength, he tried to write his autobiography. Yet it was not an easy task for him. This was due to his still lingering sense of pride and skepticism... After finishing “A Fool's Life,” he accidentally discovered a suffered swan in a used goods store. Although it stood with its head raised, even its yellowed wings had been eaten by insects. He thought of his entire life and felt tears and cruel laughter welling up inside. All that remained for him was madness or suicide.With this gesture Akutagawa ironizes the impossibility of truly writing the self by emphasizing the inevitable split that must occur between writing and written “self,” the Akutagawa still writing “A Fool's Life” cannot possibly be identical with the narrated persona which has finished the work.
What's a Bibliography?
A bibliography is a list of all of the sources you have used in the process of researching your work. In general, a bibliography should include:
- the authors' names
- the titles of the works
- the names and locations of the companies that published your copies of the sources
- the dates your copies were published
- the page numbers of your sources (if they are part of multi-source volumes)
OK, So What's an Annotated Bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is the same as a bibliography with one important difference: in an annotated bibliography, the bibliographic information is followed by a brief description of the content, quality, and usefulness of the source.
What Are Footnotes?
Footnotes are notes placed at the bottom of a page. They cite references or comment on a designated part of the text above it. For example, say you want to add an interesting comment to a sentence you have written, but the comment is not directly related to the argument of your paragraph. In this case, you could add the symbol for a footnote. Then, at the bottom of the page you could reprint the symbol and insert your comment. Here is an example:
This is an illustration of a footnote.1 The number “1” at the end of the previous sentence corresponds with the note below. See how it fits in the body of the text?
1 At the bottom of the page you can insert your comments about the sentence preceding the footnote.
When your reader comes across the footnote in the main text of your paper, he or she could look down at your comments right away, or else continue reading the paragraph and read your comments at the end. Because this makes it convenient for your reader, most citation styles require that you use either footnotes or endnotes in your paper. Some, however, allow you to make parenthetical references (author, date) in the body of your work. See our section on citation styles for more information.
Footnotes are not just for interesting comments, however. Sometimes they simply refer to relevant sources -- they let your reader know where certain material came from or where they can look for other sources on the subject. To decide whether you should cite your sources in footnotes or in the body of your paper, you should ask your instructor or see our section on citation styles.
Where Does the Little Footnote Mark Go?
Whenever possible, put the footnote at the end of a sentence, immediately following the period or whatever punctuation mark completes that sentence. Skip two spaces after the footnote before you begin the next sentence. If you must include the footnote in the middle of a sentence for the sake of clarity, or because the sentence has more than one footnote (try to avoid this!), try to put it at the end of the most relevant phrase, after a comma or other punctuation mark. Otherwise, put it right at the end of the most relevant word. If the footnote is not at the end of a sentence, skip only one space after it.
What's the Difference between Footnotes and Endnotes?
The only real difference is placement -- footnotes appear at the bottom of the relevant page, while endnotes all appear at the end of your document. If you want your reader to read your notes right away, footnotes are more likely to get your reader's attention. Endnotes, on the other hand, are less intrusive and will not interrupt the flow of your paper.
If I Cite Sources in the Footnotes (or Endnotes), How's that Different from a Bibliography?
Sometimes you may be asked to include these -- especially if you have used a parenthetical style of citation. A "works cited" page is a list of all the works from which you have borrowed material. Your reader may find this more convenient than footnotes or endnotes because he or she will not have to wade through all of the comments and other information in order to see the sources from which you drew your material. A "works consulted" page is a complement to a "works cited" page, listing all of the works you used, whether they were useful or not.
Isn't a "Works Consulted" Page the Same as a "Bibliography," Then?
Well, yes. The title is different because "works consulted" pages are meant to complement "works cited" pages, and bibliographies may list other relevant sources in addition to those mentioned in footnotes or endnotes. Choosing to title your bibliography "Works Consulted" or "Selected Bibliography" may help specify the relevance of the sources listed.
For more information on documenting sources, see Purdue University's Online Writing Lab.