How to Cite a Textbook Source in MLA Format

There is a specific way to site textbook sources when writing a paper in MLA (Modern Language Association) format. It is common for textbooks to have multiple authors. Sometimes, textbooks are a collected compilation. MLA format has specific instruction on how to cite textbooks. While citations do go at the end of a report, there are places where you will have to cite textbooks in the actual body of your work. Here’s how.


Step 1

Locate all the pertinent information on the book. You will need the author or authors names, book title and publishing information. You can find this information on the title page. If the information is not there, you can find the information on the first pages inside the book cover.

Step 2

There is a specific way you should format your works cited page. Start your citation with the author’s last name, then first name. The title of the work should come next. Underling the title. Name the city where the work was originally published. The year should be cited next. Here is an example of what a citation should appear as: Smith, Tom. The Textbook’s Title. Chicago:  University Press, 2010.

Step 3

You will need to use parenthetical citation when siting in the body of your work. The author’s last name followed by the page number or numbers should go in parentheses after the cited wording. For example: (Smith 20-45). You can use this as many times as is necessary throughout your report.

Step 4

If the textbook being cited has more than one author then there is a format to follow. First, write the first listed author’s name using the last name, first name format. Then, the names of the other authors should be listed in the same format. Separate the names by commas. They do not necessarily have to be in alphabetical order. Always list the names as they appear in the publication. Do not switch or change the order. For example: Smith John, Berry Abrams, Davis James.

Step 5

If the cited publication has more than three authors you have two options. You may list all the names as they appear. Also, you may list the first author’s last and first name followed by et al. For example: Smith, John, et al.

Step 6

Make sure to include the edition number of the publication you’re citing if it is a later edition. You must include this information in your works cited page. However, do not underline the information of your works cited page. For example: The Brown Bears, 3rd ed.

Step 7

If the textbook has editors instead of authors document ‘ed’ or ‘eds’ beside the editor or editors’ names. For example: Davis, James, ed. Or Davis, James and Davis, Stacy, eds.

Step 8

to correctly cite a collection of works there is a format. List the authors last name first followed by first name. The title page is mentioned next. The title of the book or wok gets underlined and mentioned. ‘Ed’ is added to indicate the editor’s name. The city of where the work was publishes, the publishing house and the year is cited in this order. For example:

Davis, James. “Written there.” Change Will Come. Ed. Davis, Stacy. Charlotte: Charlotte University Press: 2010.

Filed Under: Education & Training


About the Author: Darlene Aronson holds a degree in English literature and is a college teacher in Texas, USA. She likes to help others by sharing her experiences in education and training field. She has written for many blogs as well as local magazines.

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