Modern Language Association (MLA) is the most common style used when citing sources and writing papers within the liberal arts and humanities. Therefore, the basics of this format is essential for almost any writer. Though there are many sources to consider citing, this Instructable will simply show you the basics by learning the process in which to cite a printed book.
- The book being cited
- A writing utensil and piece of paper, or a computer with Word
Estimated Completion Time:
- Less than 5 minutes
For this Instructable, the book being used is The Wedding by Julie Garwood and the citation will be on a Word document.
Step 1: Write the Author's Name
The required information can usually be found on the first few pages of the book. When writing the author's name for citation, the last name must appear before the first name, separated by a comma. Also, a period must follow the author's name in order to separate this piece of information from the next.
If the author's name is unknown, skip to Step 2.
For books with multiple authors, more information is included in Step 6.
Step 2: Write the Title of the Book (In Italics)
If Step 1 was skipped, this piece of information will begin your citation.
Italicize the title and end with a period.
Step 3: Write the City of Publication
The city of publication can be found on the first few pages of the book. If there is more than one city listed, the first city is always cited. This piece of information must be followed by a colon.
If the city is not listed in your book, skip to Step 4.
Step 4: Write the Name of the Publisher and the Year of Publication
This information can also be found on the first few pages. The name of the publisher should come before the year of publication, and the information should be separated by a comma and end with a period.
Usually, the year of publication will have the copyright symbol by it and the name of the publishing company is repeated multiple times.
Step 5: Write the Medium of Publication
The medium of publication is considered the form in which the source has been written. For instance, anything physical would be considered "print," whereas anything online would be considered "web."
This piece of information must be followed by a period.
Step 6: Adding Other Citations
If you are citing more books, make sure to place the citations in alphabetical order by last name. Also, if a citation drops down to the next line, the following lines must be indented.
If there is more than one author, the author whose last name is first alphabetically will be written first. Also, the second author's name will be written normally, with the first name followed by the last name. If the number of authors exceed three, only the first author's name is listed, followed by a comma and an "et al" with a period.
You should now have a correct citation for a printed book! One option to ensure you have all the correct information is to enter the information into an online citation machine that automatically creates a citation. However, such tools can result in errors.
Step 7: Additional Information!
Being able to cite a printed book is just a small glimpse into the MLA world. Among printed works, there are journals, newspapers, magazines, etc. The use of the web encompasses many more digital resources. Each type of resource utilizes its own MLA format.
In order to learn more about citing such sources, Purdue OWL provides a great basis for understanding MLA formatting and style guide. Moreover, the website allows readers to explore APA formatting.
If you would like to simply find a reliable, automatic citation machine, Citation Machine offers both styles of formatting in a user-friendly setup.