Wondering how to cite a book in MLA format? Here’s the general rule.

General book format

Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.


In our citation examples we use the following color coding:

  • Red – Author
  • Blue – Title of book/article/charter/webpage
  • Pink – Date
  • Orange – Website/Publisher
  • Violet – Editor/Translator
  • Black – Volume/Issue
  • Sienna – Pages
  • Peach – Additional information about the source (i.e. its type, specific features etc.)
  • Light Magenta – Dictionary entry

Single author

Sepetys, Ruta. Salt to the Sea. Philomel Books, 2016.

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Two authors

The second author should appear as he or she is mentioned in the book.

Grey, Ann, and Erin Bell. History on Television. Routledge, 2013.

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Three and more authors

If there are three and more authors, the first name must be followed by et al.

White, Karen, et al. The Forgotten Room. Berkley, 2016.

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Corporate/Organization author

The corporation’s name should start the line and appear in text instead of the author.

World Trade Organization. From GATT to the WTO: The Multilateral Trading System in the New Millennium. Kluwer Law International, 2000.

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Unknown author

Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather. Oxford University Press, 2011.

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Two or more works by the same author

The dashes at the beginning of the following line stand for the same author’s name.

Borroff, Marie. Language and the Poet: Verbal Artistry in Frost, Stevens, and Moore. University of Chicago Press, 1979.

—. Pearl: A New Verse Translation. W. W. Norton, 1977.

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Two or more works by the same author, same year.

Jones, Caleb. Assessing Hypotheses. University of Western Sydney, 1999.

—. Forming Hypotheses. University of Western Sydney, 1999.

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Author with an editor

The editor’s name should appear as it is presented in a book.

Howells, William Dean. Their Wedding Journey. Edited by John K. Reeves, Indiana University Press, 1968.

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Author with a translator

Eco, Umberto. The Prague Cemetery. Translated by Richard Dixon, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2010.

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Editor with no Author

Baker, Russell, editor. The Norton Book of Light Verse. W. W. Norton, 1986.

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Work in an anthology

Arnold, Matthew. “Sweetness and Light.” Cultural Theory: An Anthology, edited by Imre Szeman and Timothy Kaposy, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, pp. 12-17.

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Edition other than first

Tortora, Gerald J., and Bryan H. Derrickson. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. 14th ed., Wiley Global Education, 2013.

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Multivolume work

Some book series may consist out of several volumes. In this instance, when citing it, it is necessary to state the volume of the book where the information was taken from. However, if the volume has its own name, it is formatted as a book.

Priestley, Joseph. Experiments and Observations on Different Types of Air. Vol. 2, Johnson, 1775.

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Encyclopedia/Dictionary

This entry should not include information about the publisher or page number.

“Activist Media.” A Dictionary of Journalism. 2nd ed., 2016.

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Foreword, Introduction, Preface or Afterword

Priestley, Joseph. Preface. Experiments and Observations on Different Types of Air, by Priestley, vol. 2, Johnson, 1775, pp. v-xxviii.

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Further study