Citing books in essays is vital to properly credit authors for their work and ideas. Proper citations lend credibility and authority to your writing. When citing books in essays, it’s essential to follow the prescribed citation style guidelines accurately, ensuring proper formatting and attribution of sources, and with the assistance of UK Writings service, students can receive expert guidance on citing books effectively, enhancing the credibility and professionalism of their academic writing. There are a few key things to keep in mind when citing books in essays.

Why Citing Books is Important

Citing books serves several important purposes:

  • It gives credit to authors for their original ideas and work. Failing to cite sources amounts to plagiarism, which is unethical and can have serious consequences in an academic setting.
  • Citations allow readers to easily find and reference the original source material. This allows them to verify the information and arguments made in the essay.
  • Proper citations demonstrate the depth and breadth of research conducted. They show the writer has gone beyond their own ideas to reference established authorities and evidence on the topic.
  • Citations enable the tracing of intellectual progress over time. They allow readers to see how academic thought and discourse has developed on issues.

In short, citing books properly is crucial for upholding ethics, enabling verification, reflecting research, and tracing the evolution of ideas. Failing to do so can greatly detract from the credibility and impact of your writing.

How to Cite Print Books in Essays

Citing print books in essays can be done in either MLA or APA style. The key elements needed are the author name(s), book title, publication date, and publisher. Let’s look at how to cite books in essays for each style.

Citing Books in MLA Essays

In mastering the art of citing books in essays, it’s imperative to adhere to the specific citation style required by academic institutions, ensuring accuracy and consistency throughout the document, and with the guidance and expertise provided by a top essay writing service, students can receive valuable assistance in navigating citation rules effectively, elevating the quality and credibility of their scholarly work.

When citing books in MLA essays, you’ll need the following pieces of information:

  • Author name(s) – Provide the last and first name of the author(s). For multiple authors, list them in the same order as on the title page.
  • Book title – Include the full title and subtitle, if applicable. Titles should be italicized.
  • Publication information – This includes the city of publication, publisher name, and year published.
  • Page numbers (if relevant) – For direct quotes or references to specific passages, include the relevant page number(s).

Let’s look at two examples of how to cite books in an MLA essay:

  • Single Author:

Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Penguin, 2006, pp. 99-100.

  • Multiple Authors:

Ward, Geoffrey C., and Ken Burns. The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945. Knopf, 2007, pp. 52-55.

As you can see, the general format is: Author(s). Title. Publisher, Year, Pages.

For multiple authors, list in the same order as the title page. The book title is italicized. And page numbers are included where relevant. This gives the reader key details on the source and where to find the information.

Citing Books in APA Essays

Here are the key elements needed when citing books in APA essays:

  • Author name(s) – List the last name and initials of each author. Use an ampersand (&) before the final author.
  • Publication year – Enclose the year the book was published in parentheses.
  • Book title – The full title is listed in italics. Just the initial letter of the first word should be capitalized..
  • Publication information – After the title, include the city and state of the publisher, followed by a colon and the publisher name.
  • Page numbers (if relevant) – As the last element, provide specific page numbers referenced after p. or pp.

Let’s look at two book citation examples in APA:

  • Single Author:

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

  • Multiple Authors:

Schwartz, B., & Robbins, T. (1995). Psychology of learning and behavior. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, pp. 87-90.

This gives the reader the author name(s), publication year, italicized book title, publication details, and page numbers if applicable.

So those are the basic elements needed for citing books in APA essays. Always lead with the author(s) and year, with the rest of the details following in proper order.

How to Cite eBooks and Audiobooks

With the rise of eBooks and audiobooks, you may need to cite these formats, as well. The elements typically stay the same, but there are a couple variations:


  • Add the publisher name and URL at the end, with the words “Retrieved from” before the URL:

Lipton, B. H. (2015). The biology of belief: Unleashing the power of consciousness, matter and miracles. Hay House, Inc. Retrieved from


  • Indicate the format “[Audio book]” after the title:

Obama, M. (2018). Becoming [Audio book]. Random House Audio.

This clearly denotes the work cited was an audiobook for the reader.

Tips for Citing Books

Here are some helpful tips when citing books in essays to properly format your references:

  • Double check you have all the essential information – author, title, publisher, year, pages. Missing elements undermine the credibility.
  • Correctly manage many writers. In MLA, list all authors in full in the order presented on the title page. In APA, use the ampersand before the final author.
  • Always include the full title, including subtitle if applicable. Titles should be italicized in both MLA and APA.
  • Use the publisher’s current name and location, which may be different than when originally published.
  • Include page numbers when citing a specific passage or quote to enable easy lookup.
  • For eBooks, list the publisher and URL at the end beginning with “Retrieved from”.
  • Denote audiobook format by adding “[Audio book]” after the title.

Following proper formatting for citing books in essays takes attention to detail. But it’s worth the effort to accurately credit authors and allow readers to engage with your sources. Taking the time to cite thoughtfully and thoroughly will make your work more authoritative.

Avoiding Pitfalls When Citing Books

It’s important to avoid some common citation errors when referencing books in essays:


If you use ideas or passages from a book without proper attribution, you are plagiarizing. This has serious ethical and legal consequences. Always cite the sources of any ideas, wording, or passages not your own.

Incorrect Information

Provide the complete, accurate information on a book source. Do not guess at details or include outdated information from previous editions. Incorrect citations frustrate lookup efforts.

Missing Elements

Avoid omitting essential citation elements like author, year, title, publisher, or page numbers. The citation should lead the reader directly to the source with all relevant information.

Inconsistent Style

Mixing formatting styles undermines your credibility. Use either MLA or APA consistently when citing books in an essay. Follow the exact prescribed formatting.

Outdated Style

MLA and APA styles are periodically updated. Use the latest style guides to ensure your formatting is current. Citing books in outdated formats suggests negligence.

By taking care to avoid these common pitfalls, you can produce accurate, ethical citations that reflect your due diligence and authority on using source material effectively.

Citing Secondary Sources

Sometimes you may need to cite a source that is referenced within another source. This is called a secondary source citation. Here are some recommendations for dealing with these:

  • In your in-text citation, mention the original source and cite the secondary source where you found it. For example: (Smith, 1990, as cited in Jones, 2020).
  • In the full reference list entry, provide details only for the secondary source. For example: Jones, A. (2020). Title. Publisher. Do not include full details on Smith’s work, since you did not view it directly.
  • Try to locate and read the original source, if possible. Citing secondary sources should be avoided in academic writing, if able to access the primary source material.
  • If unable to view the original work, make it clear in your text that your citation is based on a secondary source. For example, “Smith’s work, referenced in Jones (2020), states…”
  • Never cite a source you have not directly consulted. Find and read the original source whenever possible for the most accurate citations.

Proper handling of secondary source citations provides transparency. By making clear you are relying on another writer’s reference of the work, you allow the reader to evaluate the credibility and finite details of the information cited.


Citing books properly may require upfront effort, but doing so has great benefits for your credibility and enables the reader to evaluate your work. Including the essential details on sources according to the standards of MLA or APA style establishes you as an ethical, thorough researcher. With some diligence to detail, you can master the nuances of citing books effectively in your essays. Consistently providing air-tight citations builds trust with readers and lends authority to your writing.