How to Reference a Book in MLA Format

MLA format is a citation style created by the Modern Language Association. It is most often used in English and language arts classrooms, especially when writing papers.

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Why reference books in MLA format?

There are many different reasons why you might need to reference a book in MLA format. Perhaps you are writing an essay for class, or you are submitting a piece of writing to a literary journal. MLA style is a system for documenting sources in scholarly writing. When you use MLA style, you will typically need to include information about the author, title, publisher, and date of publication for each book that you reference.

Books are an important source of information for scholars and students alike. By learning how to reference books in MLA format, you will be able to make sure that your scholarly papers are properly documented.

How to format book references in MLA style?

Most MLA citation involves recording the author’s name, the title of the work, the date of publication, and the name and location of the publisher. Sometimes, you might also need to include other information, such as the edition of the book or the volume number in a multi-volume work.

Here are some basic guidelines on how to format book references in MLA style:

• Start with the author’s last name, followed by a comma and their first name. Then, write out the title of the book in sentence case.

• If there is more than one author, list them all in reverse order (last name, first name), separated by commas. If there are three or more authors, you can choose to list all of them or just write out the first author followed by “et al.”

• Next, write out the publication date followed by a period. Be sure to use abbreviations for months (Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.) when applicable.

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• Finally, include the name and location of the publisher. If a city is not included in the publisher’s name, add it after followed by a comma.

What information to include in a book reference?

In order to reference a book in MLA format, you will need to include the following pieces of information:

-The author’s name
-The title of the book
-The date of publication
-The publisher’s name

How to cite different types of books in MLA format?

Different types of books have different MLA citation formats. The format for each type of book is outlined below.

One author:
Last name, First name. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.

Two authors:
Last name, First name, and First name Last name. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.

Three or more authors:
First author’s last name, First author’s first name, et al. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.

Edited book:
Last name, First name, ed./eds on spine if more than one editor/. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.

How to format book references with multiple authors?

There are a few different ways to format book references with multiple authors in MLA format, depending on how many total authors there are and whether or not they’re listed together on the title page.

If there are 3 or fewer authors listed together on the title page, you can just list all of their last names in the order they appear, separated by commas. For example:

Doe, John, and Jane Smith. The MLA Handbook. 8th ed., 2016.

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If there are 4 or more authors listed together on the title page, you can list the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” (“and others”). For example:

Doe, John et al. The MLA Handbook. 8th ed., 2016.

How to format book references with corporate authors?

Most students are familiar with how to reference a book with one or two authors in MLA format. However, you may be less familiar with how to format book references when there is no author, or when the author is a corporation.

Here are a few examples of how to reference books in MLA format with corporate authors:

Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, s.v. “Wool,” accessed February 17, 2017.

The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. 3: The Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.

As you can see, when there is no author, you simply begin with the title of the book (Encyclopaedia Britannica or The Oxford History of the British Empire). When the author is a corporation, you include the corporation name in full (Encyclopaedia Britannica Online or Oxford University Press).

How to format book references with editor(s)?

If your book has an editor, you will include the editor’s name(s) after the title of the book, followed by “ed.” or “eds.”:

Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Editor’s name(s).

For example:

Doniger, Wendy. The Hindus: An Alternative History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Editied by Brooke Bloom and Vasudha Narayanan.

How to format book references with translator(s)?

Formatting a book reference with one or more translators is easy: Simply list the name(s) of the translator(s) before the publication information. Here’s an example from MLA 8th edition:

Alighieri, Dante. Inferno. Translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1867.

How to format book references with edition information?

MLA format for books with edition information is relatively simple. You will need the following pieces of information:
-Author’s last name, first name.
-Title of the book.
-The title of the book’s edition, if it is not the first edition.
-The number of the book’s edition, if it is not the first edition.
-The name(s) of any editor(s), if there are any.
-The city where the book was published.
-The name of the book’s publisher.
-The year the book was published.

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Here is an example:
Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio.Edited by John Hershey. New York: Penguin, 1998.

How to format book references with online book resources?

With more and more information being published online, you may find yourself wondering how to reference a book that you found online. When it comes to formatting your book reference, the first thing you need to do is identify the type of book it is: an e-book, an audiobook, or a print book. After that, you will format your reference according to MLA guidelines.

E-books
If the book you are referencing is an e-book, you will need to include the following information in your reference:
-The author’s name
-The title of the book
-The date of publication
-The name of the e-reader (if applicable)
-The URL

For example: Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. EBook. Gutenberg.org, www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1342. Accessed 15 April 2020.

Audiobooks
If the book you are referencing is an audiobook, you will need to include the following information in your reference:
-The author’s name
-The title of the book
-The date of publication
-The name of the narrator
-The name of the audiobook publisher
-The URL
For example: Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. 1995. Narrated by full cast. Random House Audio, www.randomhouseaudio.com/book/561492/the-golden-compass/. Accessed 15 April 2020.

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