How to Properly Cite a Book in an Essay Using MLA Style

According to the Modern Language Association (MLA), failure to properly document borrowed material lessens your credibility as a writer and leads to plagiarism, which can have serious consequences. Literary analyses often include references to books, and you may cite books in other types of writing, as well. Following format guidelines for citing books helps avoid charges of plagiarism.


According to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th Edition), citations for books should use the author's last name and the page number the words or ideas came from. You may state the author in a signal phrase (According to Smith) or put both the name and page in parentheses at the end of the borrowed material. Use no punctuation between the two, just a space: (Smith 22). Place the period after the parentheses if the citation appears at the end of the sentence.

Works Cited

The entry on the Works Cited, the list of references at the end of the paper, gives the author, title and publication information. Begin with the author, last name first. After a period, type the title of the book, italicized. State the city of publication followed by a colon. After that, place the name of the publisher, a comma and the year of publication. Write "Print" (without the quotation marks) at the end of the entry followed by a period to indicate the publication medium. For e-books, write "Web" instead followed by the date you accessed the site.

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