How to Cite the Dictionary in a Bibliography

When assembling a bibliography, you must include a citation for every source that informed your paper. Even a definition from a dictionary may warrant a bibliographic entry. Because dictionaries rarely have credited authors, you must adapt the familiar citation formats, which usually begin with an author's name. If you are citing a whole dictionary, start the citation with the book's title. Alternatively, if you are citing a single definition, start the citation with the word you referenced.

MLA Format: Citing a Whole Dictionary

To cite the entire dictionary in MLA format, type the name of the dictionary in title case: capitalize the first letter of every word except for articles. Italicize the title and add a period to the end. Enter the city of publication followed by a colon and a space. Type the publisher's name succeeded by a comma and a space. Note the year of publication. Add a period. Conclude the entry by noting the medium with “Print.”

For example:

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (italicized). New York: Merriam-Webster, 2008. Print.

MLA Format: Citing a Dictionary Definition

To cite a dictionary definition in MLA format, enter an open quotation mark to begin the citation. Type the word that you are citing and capitalize the first letter. Insert a period and then a close quotation mark. Type the title of the dictionary in italicized title case. Add a period to the end. Enter the edition number, using an Arabic numeral immediately succeeded by an ordinal abbreviation. Leave a space and add “ed.” Enter the year of publication followed by a period. Note the medium by typing “Print.”

For example:

“Wiggle.” Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (italicized). 11th ed. 2008. Print.

APA Format: Citing a Whole Dictionary

To cite the entire dictionary in APA format, type the name of the dictionary in sentence case: only capitalize the first letter of the first word, the first word after a colon (if any) and proper nouns. Italicize the title. Leave a space and add an open parenthesis. Enter the edition number, using an Arabic numeral immediately succeeded by an ordinal abbreviation. Leave a space and add “ed.” Enter a close parenthesis and a period. Insert another open parenthesis. Enter the year of publication followed by a close parenthesis and a period. Type the city of publication. Add a period and leave a space. Enter the two-letter abbreviation for the state of publication. Place a colon immediately after the state and leave a space. Type the publisher’s name followed by a period.

For example:

Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (italicized) (11th ed.). (2008). New York, NY: Merriam-Webster.

APA Format: Citing a Dictionary Definition

To cite a dictionary definition in APA format, type the word that you are citing and capitalize the first letter. Add a period. Insert an open parenthesis. Enter the publication year, a close parenthesis and a period. Type “In” followed by the title of the dictionary in italicized sentence case. Leave a space and make an open parenthesis.

Enter the edition number, using an Arabic numeral immediately succeeded by an ordinal abbreviation. Leave a space and add “ed.” Enter a close parenthesis and a period. Make an open parenthesis. Type the abbreviation “p.” followed by a space and the page number. Add a close parenthesis and a period. Type the city of publication followed by a comma and a space. Enter the two-letter abbreviation for the state of publication. Place a colon immediately after the state and leave a space. Type the publisher's name followed by a period.

For example:

Wiggle. (2008). In Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary (italicized) (11th ed.). (p. 1050). New York, NY: Merriam-Webster.