Citing books: MLA (9th ed.) citation guide

This guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 9th ed. and provides selected citation examples for common types of sources.

For more detailed information, please consult the full manual: available in print and online.

See pages 107-124 (sections 5.3-5.23) in the Handbook for more information on how to cite authors and publishers.

More information on the publisher element can be found on pages 169-186 (sections 5.59-5.83). This part of the chapter covers co-publishers, non-government organizations or government agencies as publishers, common abbreviations, publication date, and much more.


Print books

A book with one author:

Parenthetical (in-text)

This work includes interconnected essays about challenging art topics (Danto).

Works cited

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

A book with two authors:

Parenthetical (in-text)

The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada is an in-depth study on the use of photographic imagery in Canada from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century, in the form of fourteen essays (Payne and Kunard).

Works cited

In your works cited entry, list the authors' names in the order they are given on the book's title page. The first author's name should be written in the inverse (e.g. Payne, Carol), and the name of the second author should be written in natural language (e.g. Andrea Kunard) (111).    

Payne, Carol, and Andrea Kunard. The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada, MQUP, 2011.

A book with three or more authors:

For three or more authors, the Latin "et al." is used in both in-text citations and works cited entries to mean "and others": 

Parenthetical (in-text)

This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the foundational elements of system administration (Limoncelli et al.).

Works cited

Limoncelli, Thomas, et al. The Practice of System and Network Administration. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2007.

Edited print books

For edited print books, follow the same rules for parenthetical (in-text) citations as books with authors rules. For your works cited entries, place the editor(s) in the author field with the same rules as books with authors, followed by a comma and the word editor(s). 

A book with one editor:

Works cited

Asante, Kariamu Welsh, editor. African Dance: An Artistic, Historical, and Philosophical Inquiry. Africa World Press, 1996.

A book with two editors:

Works cited

Lien, Sigrid, and Hilde Nielssen, editors. Adjusting the Lens: Indigenous Activism, Colonial Legacies, and Photographic Heritage. UBC Press, 2021.

A book with three or more editors ("et al." is used): 

Works cited

Nagam, et al., editors. Becoming Our Future : Global Indigenous Curatorial Practice. ARP Books, 2020.

Note: if you want to cite a specific chapter in an edited book, see Book chapters and anthologies.

Organizations and groups as authors

Here are the key notes on citing works by organizational and group authors: 

  • In many cases, an organization is both the author and the publisher of their work.
  • For your works cited, skip the Author element and begin the entry with the work’s title, and list the organization as the publisher in your works cited.
  • If the author of a work is an organization and the publisher is different, follow the MLA template as usual.
  • If citing works by government agencies, refer to page 120 (section 5.20) of the Handbook.
  • Alphabetize the name of an organization by the first word and do not reverse the name; if the organization’s name begins with an article such as The, A, or An, omit the article in the citation (119).
    • The BC Arts Council becomes BC Arts Council.

If using the title results in a lengthy parenthetical citation, the title of the work may be shortened. Generally this means shortening a title to a noun phrase.

See page 237 (section 6.10) of the Handbook for more information on shortening titles.

A work by an organization

The author and publisher are the same, so the works cited entry begins with the title. The title is shortened in the parenthetical citation

Parenthetical (in-text)

The world’s population “is projected to reach a peak of around 10.4 billion people during the 2080s” ("World Population Prospects” 1).

Works cited: 

“World Population Prospects 2022: Ten Key Messages.” United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2022. Accessed 3 Sept. 2022.

No author or editor

In this case, use the title of the work in the in-text citation; in the works cited, the title will come at the beginning of the citation where an author would normally go.

Parenthetical (in-text)

Dating back to the 1920’s, these well-known books featured themes such as bullying which are still relevant today (Book of Boys' Stories 20).

Works cited

Book of Boys' Stories. Blackie, 1937.

Book chapters and anthologies

For works such as anthologies where chapters are written by different authors and you want to cite a specific chapter, review the core elements:  

  • The author(s) of the chapter or specific work in an anthology come first, followed by the title of the source in quotation marks.
  • The name of the larger work (the container) comes next, italicized, followed by the editor or compiler in the contributor field.
  • Whenever you list a contributor, include a label describing their role (145).
    • In this case it would usually come in the form of ‘edited by’ or ‘compiled by’. The publication date refers to the date of the larger work.

Parenthetical (in-text)

The author writes that “We both had careers, both had to work a couple of days a week to earn enough to live on, so why shouldn’t we share the housework?” (Mainardi).

Works cited

Mainardi, Pat. “The Politics of Housework.” The Essential Feminist Reader, edited by Estelle B. Freedman, 2007, pp.242-245.

Online books and e-books

Works cited for online books use the same format as when citing a print book, with the addition of the container field being used to cite where the book was found online, and you may choose to include the date of access if there is a chance the work may be changed/edited/removed. Follow the same rules as the examples above regarding editors or contributors, if needed.

Online book

Parenthetical (in-text)

Kimmerer writes that “the steady winter rains keep the tree trunks lush and green with moss, while their leaves lie dormant” (35).

Works cited

Kimmerer, Robin Wall, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. Oregon State University Press, 2003. Proquest Ebook Central, Accessed 10 Oct. 2022.

Chapter from an online/electronic book

Parenthetical (in-text)

Early on, Orozco brings up the question, “What does it mean to decolonize our diet?” (184).

Works cited

Orozco, Rubi. “Native Foods and Practices Supporting Infant Brain Development.” Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Counseling, edited by Lisa Grayshield and Ramon Del Castillo, Springer International Publishing, 2020, pp. 179–97.