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How Do You Cite Essays In Mla Format

MLA Works Cited Page: Books

Summary:

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.

Republished Book

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.

Some examples:

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.

The Bible

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.

A Pamphlet

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. 

MLA: Using Sources Correctly

There are three main ways to uses sources in your research paper. You may quote. You may paraphrase. Or you may summarize. All three require an in-text (parenthetical) citation!

In-text Citations

You CANNOT use information from any website or published book unless you give the author (or site) credit--BOTH inside your text and at the end of your paper.  In other words, it is NOT enough to simply list the sources you used on a Works Cited Page or References List. 

As your instructor reads your essay, he or she should clearly be able to see which sentences, facts, or sections of your essay came from Source A, Source B, or Source C, etc. by looking at your in-text citations.

You can give credit to your sources within your text in two different ways: by using a signal phrase or by simply using an in-text citation. 

Signal phrase:  a signal phrase lets the reader know, right at the beginning of the sentence, that the information he or she is about to read comes from another source.

Example:  Your paper might say something like....According to John Smith (2006), author of Pocahontas Is My Love, "Native American women value a deep spiritual connection to the environment."

Notice that since I took a direct quote from John Smith's book, I placed those words in quotation marks.  Notice also that I placed the date that the book was published directly after the author's name in parentheses--this is proper APA format.  Finally, notice that because I explained WHO wrote the book and WHAT book it comes from, the reader is easily able not only to find the source on his/her own to check my facts, but the reader is also more likely to believe what I have to say now that they know that my information comes from a credible source.

For Web Sources: If I was using a particular website (instead of John Smith's book), the signal phrase would look exactly the same, but I would say "According to Pocahontasrules.com..."     

In-Text Citation:  Use an in-text citation in situations where you are not quoting someone directly, but rather using information from another source such as a fact, summary, or paraphrase to support your own ideas.

Example:  She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style," but she did not offer an explanation (Jones, 1998, p. 199).

Notice that it's clear within this sentence that I'm referring to a certain person's beliefs, but since this person's name does not appear at the beginning of the sentence, I have placed her name, the year that her article was published, and the page number where I retrieved this information in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

Information on how to format an in-text citation


Summarizing Sources

Summarize an article or a larger section of an article whenever you simply want to present the author's general ideas in your essay. 

How to Write an Effective Summary:  Cover up the original article, it is key that you not quote from the original work.  Restate what you've read in your own words, and be sure to give the author credit using an in-text citation. 

Example:  Congressman Joe Smith (2009) believes that our approach to reforming the healthcare system is backwards and costly.  He discusses our rising national debt in "Healthcare: Let's Talk" and lists several statistics to prove that Obama's new plan will only make things worse.

Summaries are most often used to condense larger texts into more manageable chucks. However, as a writer you should be aware that this more manageable chunks and easily become vague and weigh your paper down with fluff.

Paraphrasing Sources

Paraphrase your sources whenever you believe that you can make the information from a source shorter and/or clearer for your audience.  A paraphrase is NOT an exact copy of the original, simply changing a few words here and there is NOT acceptable. 

Take a look at these examples:     

The original passage from The Confident Student (6th ed.):  “Whatever your age, health and well-being can affect your ability to do well in college.  If you don’t eat sensibly, stay physically fit, manage your stress, and avoid harmful substances, then your health and your grades will suffer” (Kanar 158).  

A legitimate paraphrase: No matter what condition your body is in, you can pretty much guarantee that poor health habits will lead to a lack of academic success.  Students need to take time for their physical and emotional well-being, as well as their studies, during college (Kanar 158). 

A plagiarized version:  No matter how old you are, your well-being and your health can impact your ability to do a good job at school.  If you choose not to eat well, exercise, deal with stress, and avoid getting drunk, then your grades will go down (Kanar 158).

Because the art of paraphrasing is more concise than summarizing, a true paraphrase shows that you as a researcher completely understand the source work.

Quoting your sources

If you need help incorporating your sources into your essay, the first thing you'll need to remember is that quotes cannot stand alone--they can't be placed in a sentence all by themselves.  You need to make each quote a part of your essay by introducing it beforehand and commenting on it afterward.  

Think of each quote like a sandwich—the quote is the meat on the inside, but before you taste the meat, you must also be introduced to the sandwich by the bread. After you bite down on that meat, you need the other piece of bread to round out the meal.

The top piece of bread will tell us where the quote came from and/or how it fits in with what’s already been discussed in the essay.  The bottom piece of bread points out what was important about the quote and elaborates on what was being said.


Quoting FAQ’s

How do I use partial quotations to liven up my writing?

Be sure to introduce the author from the source work within the sentence itself  and use quotation marks. No comma is necessary to introduce the quoted phrase.

Example:

Margaret Reardon points out that today's economy cars are "better equipped" to handle accidents than the smaller cars of the past.

What are block quotations and how are they handled?

Block, or indent, quotations longer than four lines of type. When a quotation is indented, the use of quotation marks is not necessary, and the page number is included outside the ending punctuation.

Example:

Jordan stated:

Like many people who enjoy a leisurely pace of living with such attendant activities as reading, painting, or gardening, I often long for a simpler time, a time when families amused themselves by telling stories after supper, as opposed to watching Baghdad get bombed. (1)

Block quotes are indented by one inch, and should be used sparingly.

How do I punctuate shorter quotations?

For a quotation shorter than four lines, quotation marks are used and the page numbers fall inside the ending punctuation.

Example:

According to DR. Shannon Marcus:  "Many of our student's personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions," (548).

Do I use a comma or a colon to introduce a quotation?

A quotation is usually introduced by a comma or a colon. A colon precedes when a quotation is formally introduced or when the quotation itself is a complete sentence, but either no punctuation or a comma generally precedes when the quotation serves as an integral part of the sentence.

Compare:

Shelley argued thus: "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."

but

She thought poets "the unacknowledged legislators of the world."

or

"Poets," according to Shelley, "are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."

or

Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" concludes: "A sadder and a wiser man, / He rose the morrow morn."

How do I correctly change a quotation to suit my purpose, such as to identify a pronoun?

Often, a quotation you wish to use includes a pronoun instead of a name. Since you must copy the quotation verbatim, you should insert the name after the pronoun to clarify who you are talking about. Use brackets (not parenthesis).

Example: "He [Clapton] got the chills when he listened to that material recently."

What if my quotation contains a mistake?

Additionally, if your source makes a “mistak”, you copy the mistake because direct quotations are copied verbatim. However, you indicate that the mistake is not yours by using [sic], which means "thus" and tells the reader that the error appears in the original.

Example:

The professor stressed that "if your source makes a mistak [sic], you should copy the mistake because direct quotations are copied verbatim."

If quotations are verbatim, how do I leave something out of a quotation that I do not need?

Use ellipsis marks if you wish to leave something out of the middle of a quotation (perhaps it is not needed or will make your quotation too long).

Original Source:

She states that

many of our students' personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions. Virtual reality will make it possible for them to program themselves into scenarios we now merely fantasize about. As a result, imagination itself will require a new definition. (1)

Quoted with ellipses:

She states that

many of our students' personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions. . . . As a result, imagination itself will require a new definition. (1)

Note 1: There are only three ellipses marks used in this sentence. A period also appears, indicating that one sentence ended before the word "As." If you had only left out a few words in mid-sentence, then you would not need a period.

Note 2: Do not change the meaning of the quotation when you leave out part of it!

Note 3: Notice that now that information has been removed from the middle of  the quotation, it is only three lines long. It should no longer be indented.

Use ellipsis marks ( . . . ) at the beginning and end of quotations only if necessary. It is not always necessary to do so, and too many will damage the flow of your essay. Use them sparingly.

If my source quotes somebody else, how do I indicate this?

When you have a quotation within a quotation, handle it this way:

Indented original (article by David Fricke appearing in Rolling Stone):

Clapton [Eric] got the chills when he listened to that material recently. It was the first time he had done so in over fifteen years. "It got too much for me," he says. "Old memories started coming back; old issues raised their head. I think of the people in that band and what happened to them." (qtd. in Fricke 26)

Notice that this quotation is indented because it is longer than four lines. Therefore, no quotation marks are used at the beginning or the end. The quotation marks that appear at the end are the result of needing quotation marks around Clapton's remark, not because the entire paragraph is a quotation. Notice also that the first line is indented an additional five spaces. That's because it's the first sentence in the paragraph in the original. If you begin a quotation in mid-paragraph, there is no indention.

Clapton's name does not appear on your Works Cited page as he is not your source. Fricke is the source. Therefore, Fricke's name should appear. Since Clapton is speaking, however, use "qtd. in" (quoted in) for clarification.

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