How to cite a book in MLA

MLA book citation

To cite a book in a reference entry in MLA style 8th edition include the following elements:

  1. Author(s) name: Give the last name and name as presented in the source (e. g. Watson, John). For two authors, reverse only the first name, followed by ‘and’ and the second name in normal order (e. g. Watson, John, and John Watson). For three or more authors, list the first name followed by et al. (e. g. Watson, John, et al.)
  2. Title of the book: Titles are italicized when independent. If part of a larger source add quotation marks and do not italize.
  3. Publisher: Always use the abbreviated version, e.g: MIT P for MIT Press or Oxford UP for Oxford University Press.
  4. Year of publication: Give the year of publication as presented in the source.

Here is the basic format for a reference list entry of a book in MLA style 8th edition:

Author(s) name. Title of the book. Publisher, Year of publication.

Take a look at our works cited examples that demonstrate the MLA style guidelines in action:


Book with one author.

Haley, Alex. Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Doubleday, 1976.

Book with two authors

King, Stephen, and Peter Straub. The Talisman. Viking Press, 1984.

Note: The format to cite two author's names is: Last, First, and First Last.

A book with three authors

Sumantran, Venkat, et al. Faster, Smarter, Greener: The Future of the Car and Urban Mobility. MIT P, 2017.

Note: From three authors on, cite only the first author given followed by et al.

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