How to Cite a Book or eBook in MLA Format

Writer’s beware: Artificial Intelligence wants to take your job

Well, maybe not yet

That statement might be a stretch, but as a writer, in the age of writing tools such as Grammarly, it certainly feels that writing as a skill is becoming less coveted as digital algorithms become better at detecting grammar mistakes and formulating content out of thin air. 

With the tools available to the average joe writing a class paper or a business memo, standing out as a writer is tough in any capacity, but one surefire way to stay ahead of the curve is to cement any argument or notion with MLA citation from books or academic sources. 

An argument in a paper without proper material to back up what is being argued is like your home being built on faulty ground. It may look nice at first glance, but dig any deeper than what’s on the surface and the entire structure falls through. 

The only way to ensure that your house or argument stays standing against criticism and the elements is to reinforce it with outside sources using proper citation that allows the reader to dig deeper. 

Many are quick to assume that proper citation is only a requirement of book reports or college papers, but this is hardly the case.

Who is to say that what you are writing hasn’t already been published by an academic source in a dark, unvisited part of the internet that could desperately use some sunlight. 

Modern Language Association Formatting, or MLA Format for short, is a simple and easy way to ensure that the material you are citing is being used properly and will protect you from plagiarism. 

We all know how seriously teachers and professors take plagiarism. In college we are reminded of it at the beginning of every term. An automatic zero at the very least, or worse, being kicked out of the class and potentially school. 

In the real world plagiarism holds even more dire consequences, like losing your job. Regardless of your view on politics, the Trump administration may or may not inadvertently portray the notion that plagiarism isn’t a big deal, but this portrayal is far from reality.  

It won’t just land you an automatic firing, but it will prevent future employment as prospective employers probe into your employment history. 

Needless to say, proper citation is a task that doesn’t take much time to complete, but over the years information comes and goes with the changing of classes and jobs, and this can understandably cause difficulty in remembering the correct method of writing citation.

In order to cite a book in MLA Format, gather the following information

  1. All author’s first and last names 
  2. Title of book 
  3. Chapter of book used, or volume number if applicable 
  4. The year that book was published
  5. Publisher of book
  6. Page Numbers being cited

It is impeccable to list all citations used at the end of your paper like an index in which readers may correlate what they read with the source material. Arrange the information above as follows for each cited source: 

 

Author Last, Author First. “Title of Chapter.” Title of Book. Publisher. Year Published. Page numbers.

 

Given that it is 2020 and reading traditional books is not a habit this writer personally thinks will make a significant comeback to gain full control of the book market, we have also compiled simple instructions on how to cite an ebook. 

When citing an ebook gather the following information: 

  1. All author’s first and last names 
  2. Title of book 
  3. Chapters used if applicable 
  4. Name of Editors 
  5. Website Name
  6. Publisher (if different than the website that posted the source material)
  7. Year Posted/Published 
  8. Website URL

Arrange the information above as follows for each cited source: 

 

Author Last, Author First. “Title of Chapter.” Title of ebook. Publisher. Year Published. Page numbers. Title of website. URL 

 

Within the paper itself, after a quote is used, write the author’s last name followed by the page number(s) used in parentheses. See below for a quick example

“To be or not to be, that is the question” (Shakespeare XX). 

Citation is indispensable when referencing facts and opinions, no matter the source. eBook readership has steadily increased over the past ten years thanks to their ease of use and the mass production of the Amazon Kindle, however physical books still outsell their digital cousins ten times over, bringing in roughly $22 billion of revenue compared to $2 billion respectively. 

Despite the statistics, the revenue amounts may be misleading. eBooks still moved over 250 million digital units in 2017 at the peak thus far, meaning that nearly two out of three Americans purchased an ebook that year, hypothetically speaking of course. 

Given that both the technology and lifestyle of ebook readership is still in its infancy, it’s tough to predict how much ebooks concerning consumer trends

With this being said, it can still be safe to assume that if more companies begin producing low-cost tablets similar to the Kindle, then the purchasing of ebooks will likely increase and referencing citations from such platforms will follow.   

The reasoning behind having an association’s guidelines behind citation is very much similar to the reason we cite in the first place: for consistency, and to trace information back to a primary source. MLA format is universally known not only throughout North America, but in developed countries such as Brazil, India, Japan, and China.

While MLA Format Citation is the most widely used form of citation, there are also other forms of citation such as Chicago Style and APA (American Psychological Association) format. 

When writing academic papers and journals it is important to distinguish which one is needed to ensure that all applicable information is gathered. 

Generally speaking, Chicago Format is used when writing about history-related topics and MLA Format is used in topics not relating to history or science. Typical English papers often used MLA Format, and this is generally viewed as the standard. 

Well, there you have it. Now stop wasting time on the internet and get back to bolstering that paper with bulletproof citation

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