How to Cite a Book in MLA: The Ultimate Guide

Hello, fellow book lovers! If you are a student or a scholar, you may need to cite a book in your academic work. The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is one of the most common citation styles used in humanities and liberal arts disciplines, including literature, history, and philosophy. In this article, we will guide you step-by-step on how to cite a book in MLA format, with examples and tips to help you avoid common mistakes.

Basic Format for MLA Book Citation

The basic format for MLA book citation includes the following elements:1. Author(s) name(s)2. Title of book3. Publisher4. Publication date5. Medium of publication (print or e-book)The general order of these elements is as follows:Last name, First name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.For example:Smith, John. The History of Art. Penguin Books, 2010.If the book has two authors, list them in the order they appear on the title page, separated by “and”. For example:Smith, John, and Jane Doe. The History of Art. Penguin Books, 2010.If the book has more than two authors, list only the first author followed by “et al.” (which means “and others” in Latin). For example:Smith, John, et al. The History of Art. Penguin Books, 2010.If the book has an editor instead of an author, include “ed.” after the name of the editor. For example:Doe, Jane, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Tips for MLA Book Citation

1. Be consistent in your citation style throughout your work. Use the same format for all your citations, including books, articles, and other sources.2. Use italics for book titles and quotation marks for article or chapter titles.3. If the book has a subtitle, include it after the main title and separate it with a colon. For example:Smith, John. The History of Art: A Comprehensive Overview. Penguin Books, 2010.4. If the book has an edition other than the first, include it after the title. For example:Smith, John. The History of Art. 2nd ed., Penguin Books, 2010.5. If the book has a translator, include the name of the translator after the title and separate it with a comma. For example:Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Translated by Gregory Rabassa, HarperCollins, 2003.6. If the book is part of a series, include the series title after the book title and separate it with a comma. For example:Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry Potter Series, Book 1, Scholastic, 1998.7. If the book has multiple volumes, include the total number of volumes after the title. For example:Durant, Will. The Story of Civilization. Vol. 1, Simon & Schuster, 1954.

In-Text Citation for MLA Book Citation

When you use a book as a source in your work, you need to provide an in-text citation that refers to the full citation in your Works Cited page. The basic format for in-text citation includes the author’s last name and the page number(s) where the information can be found. For example:(Smith 25)If you mention the author’s name in your sentence, you can omit it from the citation. For example:According to Smith, “the history of art is a fascinating subject” (25).If the book has two authors, include both last names in your citation separated by “and”. For example:(Smith and Doe 25)If the book has more than two authors, use the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” For example:(Smith et al. 25)If you cite more than one book by the same author, include a shortened version of the title in your citation to distinguish between them. For example:(Smith, History 25)(Smith, Art 50)


Citing a book in MLA format may seem complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature. Remember to be consistent in your citation style, use the correct format for each element, and provide accurate in-text citations. By following these tips and examples, you will be able to create a Works Cited page that will impress your professors and colleagues. Happy citing!


1. Use online citation generators like EasyBib or Citation Machine to save time and avoid errors.2. Check your citations for accuracy and completeness before submitting your work.3. Ask your teacher or librarian for help if you are unsure about how to cite a certain source.