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How to Cite an Excerpt From a Textbook


When writing a paper, document or other similar publication, it is important to give credit to the sources of the information you use. Citing an excerpt from a textbook can be done using one of the two most common style guides, the Modern Language Association (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA). When citing a textbook, follow the same rules you would for an anthology or reference collection. Although MLA and APA formats are similar, there are some differences in the citations.

MLA Style

Make note of information about the textbook, which can often be found on the title page. Write down the names of the author and editor, the title of the book, chapter or section name, the publisher and publisher’s location, the year of publication, and what pages you referenced.

List the textbook in your Works Citied page by first writing the author’s last name, followed by a comma, his first name and a period. In quotes, write the title of the book, followed by the chapter or section name in italics. If there is an editor, included the abbreviation “Ed.,” followed by the editor’s first and last name, and a period. Next, include the publication’s location, a colon, the publisher’s name, a comma and the year of publication. Lastly, add the page range of the entry you referred to. For example:

Smith, Frank. “American History.” The Civil War. Ed. Jane Doe. Boston, MA: ABC Press, 2009. 80-83.

For more than one author, include the second and third authors after the first person, with the first name and then the last name. Separate the names with a comma. For more than three authors, include only the first person and then “et al.” A similar format applies for more than one editor and instead of writing “Ed.,” use “Eds.”

Create an in-text citation when you refer to the information from the textbook. Write the last name of the first author and the page number in parenthesis. Place this information at the end of the sentence, but inside the period.

APA Style

Make note of information about the textbook, which can often be found on the title page. Write down the name of the author and editor, the title and edition of the book, chapter or section name, the publisher and publisher’s location, the year of publication, and what pages you referenced.

List the textbook on your References page. Write the author’s last name, followed by a comma, the initial of the first name and a period. The date of publication should be written next in parenthesis and then a period. The chapter or section title comes next, along with a period. Write “In” followed by the editor’s first initial and last name, and “Ed.” in parenthesis. Write the title of the textbook next and underline it, followed by the edition number and pages referenced in parenthesis. Lastly, include the location of the publisher and the publisher’s name. For example:

Smith, F. (2009). The Civil War. In J. Doe (Ed.). American History (5th ed.). (pp. 80-83). Boston, MA: ABC Press.

For more than one author, include additional authors in the same format of last name and first initial, and separate the names with commas. For more than one editor, write additional names using the first initial and last name, and separate the names with commas. Instead of “Ed.,” write “Eds.”

Create an in-text citation when referring to the textbook. Write the last name of the first author, a comma and the page number in parenthesis. Place this information at the end of the sentence, but inside the period.

About the Author

Stacey Tarini has spent more than a decade as a communications specialist, with a strong focus on writing and editing. She has written on a wide variety of topics for daily and weekly newspapers, as well as promotional content for a national nonprofit's marketing materials. Tarini holds a Bachelor of Science in business communication from Bentley University.

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