• 2-minute read
  • 20th March 2015

Citing a Book Using MLA Style References

When you are citing sources in your work, you need to make sure that you reference them properly. If you don’t know which referencing style you are using, go and check!

If you are using MLA referencing to cite a book, this is how to do it.

In-Text Citations

The basic format for MLA citations is to provide the author surname and relevant page number of the section you’re citing in parentheses. For example:

The haddock is the most beautiful of all marine animals (Smith 72).

Note that MLA referencing doesn’t require use of a comma between the author name and page number.

Reference List

MLA requires all sources to be listed on a ‘Works Cited’ page at the end of your document. For books, the information required here is:

Surname, First name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year of Publication.

For example, the Smith book cited above would appear as:

Smith, James. Fish I Have Loved. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Make sure to include the format after the reference, as many alternative systems do not use this.

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Books by More than One Author

If your source has more than one author, you need to make this clear in your citations. For works with two authors, simply name both in the text or the citation:

Smith and Hunter say that fish are water-loving animals (87).

However, in the ‘Works Cited’ list, only the first listed author has their names reversed:

Smith, James, and Katherine Hunter. All About Fish. Oxford University Press, 2012.

If your source has three or more authors, MLA suggests simply naming the first author and using ‘et al.’ (which means ‘and others’):

Fish do not typically own bicycles (Smith et al. 87).

‘Et al.’ is also used in the list of works cited for sources with three or more authors.

Smith, James, et al. All About Fish. Oxford University Press, 2012.

It is best to check with your university on this issue, however, since the rules in the MLA Handbook changed in the eighth edition (it used to only be for sources with more than three authors). Your university may thus require you to name all authors to ensure clarity.

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