How to cite a preface in MLA

MLA preface citation

To cite a preface 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. Preface: Give the title of the preface or simply write Preface.
  3. Title of the book: Container titles are italicized and followed by a comma.
  4. Editor(s) or Author of the book: Give the name of the author or editor of the book. Start with 'edited by' if it is an editor. If not available, omit this part.
  5. Publisher: Always use the abbreviated version, e.g: MIT P for MIT Press or Oxford UP for Oxford University Press.
  6. Year of publication: Give the year of publication as presented in the source.
  7. Page numbers: Give the full page range preceded by pp. If only one page, precede with one p.

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

Author(s) name. Preface. Title of the book, by Editor(s) or Author of the book, Publisher, Year of publication, pp. Page numbers.

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


A preface from a collection of works by one author

Felder, Deborah G. Preface. A Bookshelf of Our Own: works that changed women's lives, Citadel P, 2005, pp. xi-xv.

A preface from a collection of works by one author

Horowitz, Donald L. Preface to the Second Edition. Ethnic Groups in Conflict, U of California P, 2000, pp. xi-xiv.

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