How to Cite a Book in APA and MLA — Citation Guide


Entire worlds — mysterious and unexplored — are hidden in books. Depending on the genre, they can tell us about incredible feelings, exciting adventures, deep scientific research, and all kinds of inventions that are hard to believe. Books can bring something new to our lives. Or recall different experiences we’ve been through. Sometimes while flipping through the pages, we can find something that has been discovered and analyzed a long time ago, however, the topic covered by an author is still relevant or, for example, requires new solutions.

That is an incredible knowledge base, and access to them makes our possibilities almost limitless. In this article, we would like to focus on discussing books and how they can be used in the world of academics. That is, not only about when a professor asks to read another novel in order to then make students prepare an assignment on an in-depth analysis of the characters. We would like to tell you more about how one can use different books. With them, you can strengthen your statements and provide greater text value.

Also, most of the college assignments require various references and evidence, and literature is always a good source for that. And, the text without a solid background has fewer chances of being important in any academic field.

You may ask how a book can help with expressing your own ideas? Quotes and citations. Their proper application not only shows your competence but also enables you to meet the requirements of certain tasks.

However, simply copying the words from the book and putting them in your writings won’t be enough. Never forget about the works cited list and references — important elements of many projects. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss how to cite a book using the common citation formats — American Psychological Association and Modern Language Association style, and also provide several examples for you to see the application of basic rules.

Why Cite a Book?

If you hesitate to deal with complicated formats and from the name of the task, you are a little bit scared, don’t be. As we have said, literature is a good resource if you don’t know where to look for supporting evidence. Different authors who studied various issues and a book written by one of them might resonate perfectly with your subject matter. Also, don’t forget the library is not the only place where you can go to find the original publication. Use Google Books or Google Scholar, study the academic works of students from previous years, or even use the existing Wikipedia article about the topic you need.

The references to such sources alone can boost your text value. You just need to arrange them following the APA or MLA book citation standards. But the question is — why cite it in the first place?

Appropriate citation and inclusion of used sources in the works cited page list are not just the requirements of academic writing. For the professors, along with the use of enough references, the competence of a student in how to cite a book may show they:

  • Studied additional materials related to the topic assigned.
  • Know about research in the field under discussion as well as the authors who contributed to its development.
  • Have a proper stance on a topic and know how to make their assignment’s main content well-grounded by using additional materials.

In the next sections, we will go through the main elements of our topic you know from the name of the task, name the types of books you can refer to, and provide a text citation example for each of them.

What Does a Good Book Citation Include?

Regardless of whether it is the APA format or MLA format you use, there are some common elements for most citations.

  • Author’s last name and (or) first name. For a competent person who will assess your paper, it will be important to see you’ve used the work of an author who is related to the chosen topic.
  • Book title. The obvious element. Sometimes the author has several works, but not all of them are written on the same topic (and therefore, aren’t relevant for your assignment). Sometimes, a specific chapter needs also to be mentioned.
  • Publication information. That includes a year published and other information about the book’s timeframes. Sometimes a work you would like to use can be outdated or reprinted, and there can be differences between its versions. So, the publication year is a must. Also, information about the publishers is also included here, since each of them might make some changes to the contents of the original work.

Apart from basic information, book citations may include other details, but that depends on what types of literature you use. Some of those are:

  • Edited books (with no, one, or several authors)
  • Translated works (includes names or initials of the translators)
  • Multivolume set of literary works (includes the volume number)
  • A chapter from the book that was edited (mentions a precise chapter or article)

Considering such minor differences, even if you know how to cite a book, it is always useful to refer to the official guide where all current rules are described in detail. Speaking about the styles we are discussing here, we are referring to the 7th (APA) and the 8th (MLA) editions.

Cite a Book — Examples

Now that we’ve gone through the basics of citing, it would be useful to provide some examples for you to see how all those rules are applied. We’ll take two types of sources and make up an example for each of them in the two styles.

APA style

General guidelines. The surname of the author with initials. (original publication date). Main Title: Subtitle. Name of publisher.

Example. Smith, H. J. (2011). The Mystery of a Conspiracy Theory: The Simpsons. Unona Publishing.

Translated work. Author’s surname and initials. (Year when published). Main title: Subtitle (Name initial(s) and surname(s) of the translators(s), Trans.). Name of publisher. (Original work published year)

Example. Louisse, O. G. (2000). The History of the French Language (A. Collins & N. Jacobs, Trans.). Penguin Historical. (Original work published 1870)

MLA style

General guidelines. Author’s last, first name.Title. Publication City, Publishing institution, Date of publishing.

Example. Broomstick, Helena. A Secret of Mental Health. London, Bridge Publishing, 1897.

Translated work. Last, First name, translator. Title: Subtitle of the Work. By Author’s Name and Surname, Publisher, Year of publishing.

Example. Gedwick, Oliver, translator. Stars and Destinies: Why You Don’t Want Your Child to Be a Sagittarius?. By Julia Schmertz, Emerald House, 2010.