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MLA Book Citation


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How to cite a book in a bibliography using MLA

The most basic entry for a book consists of the author’s name, the book title, the publisher’s name, and the year of publication.

Last Name, First Name. Book Title. Publisher Name, Year Published.

Smith, John. The Sample Book. BibMe, 2008.

Reverse the first author’s name, placing a comma after the last name and a period after the first name (or any middle name). The name should not be abbreviated and should be written exactly as it appears on the title page. Titles and affiliations associated with the author should generally be omitted. A suffix, such as a roman numeral or Jr./Sr. should appear after the author’s given name, preceded by a comma.

For a book written by two authors, list their names in the order they appear on the title page. Reverse only the first author’s name and write the second name in normal order (first name last name). Separate author names with a comma and place the word “and” before the last author’s name.

Smith, John, and Jane Doe. The Sample Book. BibMe, 2008.

For books with three or more authors, include only the first author’s name in the citation, followed by a comma and the abbreviation “et al.”

Smith, John, et al. The Sample Book. BibMe, 2008.

Italicize the full title of the book, including any subtitles,  and follow it with a period. If the book has a subtitle, follow the main title with a colon (unless the main title ends with a question mark or exclamation point).

Generally, you will find the publication information on the title page of the book. If it is not available there, it may be on the copyright page.

Next state the publisher’s name, which should be abbreviated where appropriate: omit articles (e.g., A, An), business titles (e.g., Co., Corp., Inc., Ltd.), and descriptive words (e.g., Books, House, Press, Publishers).

If the publisher is an academic or university press, though, you should include the abbreviation “U” for “university” and “P” for “press” in the publisher’s name to distinguish the publisher from the university, which may publish independently of the publisher in question (e.g., Oxford UP). A publisher name consisting of the name(s) of person(s) should be abbreviated to only include the last name of the first person listed. Standard abbreviations should be used for other words (e.g., Acad., Assn., Soc., UP). Follow the publisher’s name with a comma, the year of publication, and a period.

Smith, John. The Sample Book. Iowa State UP, 2008.

If you are citing a specific contribution to a book, such as an afterword, foreword, introduction, or preface, include either the generic label (e.g., Afterword) followed by a period or the unique title in quotation marks (e.g., “Novel Moves”) followed by a period. Also include the page or page range after the publication year, separated with a comma, and follow the page(s) with a final period.

Smith, John. Introduction. The Sample Book. BibMe, 2008, pp. 12-20.

Smith, John. “Unique Introduction Title.” The Sample Book. BibMe, 2008, pp. 12-20.

When a book has no edition number or name, it is generally a first edition. If you must cite a specific edition of a book later than its first, you should indicate the new edition in your citation.

If the book is a revised edition or an edition that includes substantial new content, include the number, name, or year of the edition and the abbreviation “ed.” (e.g., 9th ed.) after the book title and the period that follows that title. Abbreviate “Revised edition” as “Rev. ed.” and “Abridged edition” as “Abr. ed.” You will usually find edition details, including the date, on the title page or the copyright page.

Smith, John. The Sample Book. Rev. ed., BibMe, 2008.

Smith, John. The Sample Book. 2nd ed., BibMe, 2008.

Write ordinal numbers (e.g., 2nd) without a superscript.

You don’t need to include a source’s printing details, such as reprint details, in the source’s works-cited list entry. You may include an edition number as discussed above.


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mla book gustave flaubert

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
— Gustave Flaubert

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