How to Document Chapters in Books Using an MLA Format

Updated April 17, 2017
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The Modern Language Association (MLA) specifies distinct ways to document all types of print sources: journals, magazines, newspapers and books, to name a few. When documenting books, there are specific formats to keep in mind for each component of the book. When you document chapters in books, for example, it is important to be familiar with the proper MLA format for doing so.

Including Book Chapters in the Body of Your Writing

Titles of book chapters are always enclosed in quotation marks. This is true for any work that is part of a larger work, and chapters are part of the larger work of a book. The chapter title is put in quotation marks, while the title of the book is italicized. For example:

“Stuart Hall and the Politics of Education” is a chapter within Henry Giroux’s book Stealing Innocence (in italics).

Including Book Chapters in Parenthetical Citations

According to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition), you should include book chapters in parenthetical citations when citing a “commonly studied prose work" available in multiple editions. Include the chapter number within the parenthetical citation, along with the specific page number. For example:

In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (in italics), Mary Wollstonecraft recollects many “women who, not led by degrees to proper studies, and not permitted to choose for themselves, have indeed been overgrown children” (185; ch. 13, sec. 2).

In this example, the quote appears on page 185 in chapter 13, section 2. If there is not a section in the book you are citing, leave that information out.

Including Book Chapters in the Works Cited List

To include a book chapter in your Works Cited list, first identify the author of the chapter. Depending on the book, this author might be the same as or different from the author/editor of the book as a whole. Then, follow one of the following formats.

To cite a book chapter from an author who did not author the entire book:

More, Hannah. “The Black Slave Trade: A Poem.” British Women Poets of the Romantic Era (in italics). Ed. Paula R. Feldman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. 472-82. Print.

In the above example, Hannah More is the author of the chapter called “The Black Slave Trade: A Poem.” The chapter appears in the book called British Women Poets of the Romantic Era (which is in italics), and the book is edited by Paula Feldman. The chapter appears on pages 472-482.

To cite a book chapter from an author who authored the entire book:

Giroux, Henry. “Stuart Hall and the Politics of Education.” Stealing Innocence (in italics). New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. 157-72. Print.

In the above example, Henry Giroux authored both the chapter and the book. The chapter appears on pages 157-172 of the book Stealing Innocence (which is italicized).

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About the Author

Christine Maddox Martorana has been writing professionally since 2003. Martorana has been teaching college-level composition and journalism classes since 2007. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English at Florida State University.