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Citing books: MLA (8th ed.) citation guide


This guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed. and provides selected citation examples for common types of sources. For more detailed information please consult the print version of the handbook available at the SFU Library.

The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook does not list specific rules on how to cite a DVD, a book, a journal article, etc., but instead outlines a universal set of general guidelines of citation and documentation that can be applied to any source type, including books, anthologies, and book chapters. These are the guidelines we followed to develop the following examples for you.

Single author

Parenthetical (in-text)

Caughie examines the confusion surrounding definitions of modernism in the humanities and social sciences (1).

(Danto 31)

Works Cited

Caughie, Pamela L., editor. Disciplining Modernism. Palgrave, 2009.

Danto, Arthur C. Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective. Farrar, 1992.


When providing a publisher's name, omit business words such as Company ("Co."), Corporation ("Corp."), Limited ("Ltd."), etc. In the case of academic presses, replace "University press" with "UP"; if with the words are separated, replace them with "U" and/or "P". In all other instances, publishers' names should be provided in their entirety (p. 97, 1.6.4):

e.g. U of Chicago P, MIT P, Oxford UP.

If you are citing a work without page numbers, it is preferable to include the author's name and work in your essay instead of in a parenthetical reference. You can also cite simply the author information in the parenthetical reference:

e.g. Their determination exceeds that of most participants (Libtim)

Multiple authors

Parenthetical (in-text)

(Messenger and de Bruyn 305-09) [Two authors]

(Unsworth et al. 107) [More than three authors]

Works Cited

Messenger, William E., and Jan de Bruyn. The Canadian Writer's Handbook. 2nd ed. Prentice-Hall, 1986. 

Unsworth, Len, et al. Children's Literature and Computer-Based Teaching. Open UP, 2005. 


List the author's/editor's names in the order in which they are given on the book's title page (pp. 21 - 22).

The first author's name should be written in the inverse (e.g. Unsworth, Len) (pp. 21 - 22).

The names of the other authors can be written in natural language (e.g. Angela Thomas) (pp. 21 - 22).

If there are three authors or more, give the name of the first author in the inverse followed by "et al." (pp. 21 - 22).

A book may be produced by an individual or group whose role is not that of author (for example, editor or translator). In this case, follow the name of the individual(s) with a label that describes their role(s) (pp. 22-23):

e.g. Sullivan, Alan, and Timothy Murphy, translators. Beowulf. Edited by Sarah Anderson, Pearson 2004.

If citing multiple works by the same author, refer to p. 113 (section 2.7.2) of the MLA Handbook 8th Ed.

Corporate author

Parenthetical (in-text)

(CBC 228)

A study prepared by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation analyzed [...] (228).

Works Cited

The CBC: A Perspective. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1978[Work published by organisation that is also the author]


A corporate author is an agency, body or organization that commissions a publication in its name.  The names of individual authors are not included on the publication's title page.

If the corporate author is also the publisher, then the corporate name should only be included in the citation as publisher, and the citation should begin with the title of the work (p. 25; p. 104, 2.1.3). In parenthetical citations, the title of the work may be shortened (e.g. "The CBC : A Perspective" is shortened to "CBC" in the above example).

If the corporate author's name begins with an article such as The, A, or An, omit the article in the citation.

If the author's name is long, it is better to include the name in the text, so that the flow of the writing is not interrupted (see the second example above).

If citing works by government agencies, refer to p. 104 (section 2.1.3 ) of the MLA handbook 8th Ed.

No author or editor

Parenthetical (in-text)

(Book of Boy's Stories 20)

Works Cited

A Book of Boy's Stories. Blackie, 1937.


When referring to the work in the body of your essay, use the title of the work in the in-text citation (pp. 55-56). Omit articles (e.g. The, A, An) in in-text citations (pp. 117-118, 3.2.1)

In the list of works cited, alphabetize anonymous works by title (p. 24). Disregard articles (for example: The, A, And) when organizing your works cited list (p. 115, 2.7.4).

Book chapters and works in anthologies (works by different authors)

Parenthetical (in-text)

(Irwin and Cressey 141-46)

Works Cited

Irwin, John, and Donald R. Cressey. "Thieves, Convicts and the Inmate Culture." The Inmate Prison Experience, Edited by Mary K. Stohr and Craig Hemmens, Pearson, 2004, pp. 135-82.


If the book has a compiler instead of an editor, write "Compiled by" instead of "Edited by".

Online book (entire / chapter)

Parenthetical (in-text)

(Hartley 85)

(Cook 135)

Works Cited

Hartley, C. Gasquoine. Women's Wild Oats: Essays on the Re-Fixing of Moral Standards. Stokes, 1920. Archive, Accessed 31 Mar. 2016.

Cook, David. "Global Radical Islam and Martyrdom Operation." Understanding Jihad. U of California P, 2005. 128-61. NetLibrary. ebscohost/com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk. Accessed 14 June 2016. 


When citing an online book, include the same publication details as when citing a print book.  In addition, include in italics the title of the database or the website where the book was retrieved and the URL (p. 34).

You may also choose to include the date of access ("Accessed day/month/year") (p. 53).

When citing a particular chapter, place the chapter title in quotation marks and between the author's name and the title of the book (see second example above).