How to Cite a Single Author of a Book in an Essay in MLA Format

MLA format is the citation format used by the Modern Language Association, and is typically expected in English classes at universities. To cite a book with a single author in MLA format, you'll need several details from the book's title page. Always check to make sure you've spelled the author's name correctly and have gathered the necessary publication specifics.

Proper Format

First, list the author's name with the following order: last name, comma, first name, period. Example: "Smith, Mark." After the period, add in the full title of the book in italics, followed by another period. Example: "Smith, Mark. Films in American Cinema." Next, list the following items: city of publication, publisher, year of publication, and medium of publication. Separate those items with proper punctuation as follows: "Smith, Mark. Films in American Cinema. Houston: Texas Publishers, 2011. Print."


When you list your citations on a works-cited page, indent the second line of any citation. List your references in alphabetical order by the authors' last names. If you cannot find certain parts of the citation, such as the publication city, skip that information but keep everything else in the proper order.

In-Text Citation

For in-text citations using a book with one author, cite the author's last name and the page number from which you gathered the facts. Place the citation at the end of the sentence, before the period but after the quoted material. The period should always be placed after the final citation parenthesis is closed. Example: According to Mark Smith, horror films are the most popular genre in American cinema (Smith, 73).

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