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MLA Style

A guide to MLA style citations for Lincoln Christian University students.

Books come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and formats and each format requires variations in how a works cited entry is created. Guidance is provided for the variations in the boxes below.


MLA describes how to cite books in Part 1 Creating Your Documentation.  

Book citations included in the works cited list must include the following elements:

  • Author's name is listed last name first, followed by the first name and separated by a comma.  Place a period after the author.
  • Include the full title, including subtitle of the specific source being used as it appears in the item.  However, make sure all principal words are capitalized and the entire title is italicized. Place a period after the source title. 
  • Include the publisher and place a comma after the publisher.
  • List the publication date of the source used. 
  • Place a period at the end of the works cited entry. 

This is an example of a works cited entry for a single author book. 

WC: Stott, John. Guard the truth:The Message of I Timothy and Titus. InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Most parenthetical or In-Text citations, placed immediately after a quotation or paraphrase, must include the following elements.

  • Include only the author's last name without any punctuation.
  • When citing a specific quotation, idea, or figure from a specific page of the source, indicate the page number after the last name.
  • No punctuation should separate the author and page number
  • Place all elements in parentheses with the period after the closing parentheses

This is an example of a parenthetical in-text citation for a single author book.

P: (Stott 54)

Multiple Authors

MLA provides the following guidance on sources with multiple authors.. 

When citing an item written by two authors, place the names in the order given in the book.  The first author is listed last name first followed by a comma and the word and then the second author in the traditional order. An example is given below. 

WC: Parrot, Les and Parrot, Leslie. Your Time-starved Marriage: How to Stay Connected at the Speed of Life. Zondervan, 2006.

In the accompanying parenthetical, in-text citation use both last names separated by and.

P: (Parrot and Parrot 104)

When citing an item written by three or more authors, utilize only the first author's name followed by a comma and then the phrase "et al." in both the works cited entry and parenthetical, in-text citations as shown below. 

WC: Millon, Theodore, et al. Personality disorders in Modern Life. 2nd ed. Wiley, 2004.

P: (Millon et al.168)

Editors or Translators

MLA indicates two ways to include an editor, translator, or other contributors. 

When an editor or translator is listed in place of an author, treat that name as the author using the descriptor editor or translator after the name.

WC: Sweeney, Jon M., translator. Francis of Assisi in His Own Words: The Essential Writings. Paraclete Press, 2013.

P: (Sweeney 52)

One of the Core Elements of an MLA citation is Other Contributors which appears after the Title of the Source and after the Container Title if applicable. Indicate the role played by the contributor such as "translated by" or "edited by" followed by the name and ending with a comma.

WC: Augustine, Saint. Confessions. Translated by R. S. Pine-Coffin, Penguin Books, 1961.

The accompanying parenthetical, in-text citation would not mention other contributors.

P: (Augustine 34)


Some books have been published more than once incorporating changes in content.  These books are referred to as versions or editions which must be noted in the works cited entry.

Revised editions note a revised or second edition on the title page.  MLA indicates the number or description of the edition should be placed after the title and before the publisher with a comma separating.

WC: Stott, John. Understanding the Bible. 2nd ed, Baker Books, 2001.

Multi-Volume Works

How to cite a multi-volume work depends on several variables.

When citing a single volume from a multi-volume work, give the title of the entire work followed by the volume number followed by a comma as shown below. 

WC: Henry, Carl F. H. God, Revelation and Authority. Vol. 3, Word, 1979.

Section 3.3.1 indicates that the volume number does not need to be included in the in-text citation when only one volume is being used.

P: (Henry 150)

When citing a republished work, MLA recommends including the date of original publication after the source title. 

The following example is a citation for one volume of a multi-volume republished work.

WC: Spurgeon, C. H. The Treasury of David: An Expository and Devotional Commentary on the Psalms. 1882-1887, Vol. 3, Baker, 1984.

The original publication date is not needed in the parenthetical, in-text citation.

P: (Spurgeon 120)

If utilizing an entire multi-volume set, provide the total number of volumes at the end of the citation as shown below.

WC: Spurgeon, C. H. The Treasury of David: An Expository and Devotional Commentary on the Psalms. 1882-1887, Baker, 1984. 7 vols.

MLA provides additional information about numbers in section 3.3. When using utilizing more than one volume from a mult-volume set, include the volume and page number in the parenthetical, in-text citation. Do not include the words volume or page or their abbreviation.  Separate the numbers with a colon and a space. Two example in-text citations are shown below.

P: (Spurgeon 3: 120)

P: (Spurgeon 6: 34)

MLA indicates that when referring to an entire volume rather than specific page numbers, insert a comma after the author's name followed by the abbreviation vol. followed by the number as shown below.

P: (Spurgeon, vol. 3)