How to Write a Reference for a Book

Updated April 17, 2017

If you are writing a research paper, you will need to document your sources. There are many different style manuals that are used by schools and publishers. It is important to know which type of style manual your teacher or editor wants you to use for your documentation. Two popular styles are MLA and APA.

MLA References

Look at the inside first pages of the book you want to document. You will see the copyright, the edition, the publisher and the publisher's city. On the cover of your book, you will find the author or authors and the name of the book.

As an example, a fake book will be used: the name is Cat Lovers, written by James Hazard. It is a first edition published by Owl Publishing in 2009 in New York City.

Write the first name last and the last name first, if you are using MLA style. In our example, you would write: Hazard, James. Follow the name with a period.

Write the name of the book underlined: Cat Lovers. End with a period.

Record the location of the publisher; for example, New York City. Follow with a colon.

Write the name of the publisher, followed by a comma.

Write the year it was published, followed by a period. Cat Lovers' MLA reference will look like this: Hazard, James. Cat Lovers. New York City: Owl Publishing, 2009.

APA references

Start with the last name first and first name last. After the name, add the year it was published in parentheses. For example: Hazard, James (2009). End with a period.

Put the name of the book in italics: Cat Lovers.

Write the location of the publisher and the publisher's name: New York City: Owl Publishing. Put a colon between the city and the publisher. End with a period. The APA reference for Cat Lovers would be: Hazard, James (2009). Cat Lovers. New York City: Owl Publishing.

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Things Needed

  • Book to reference

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