How to Cite a Textbook in MLA

How to Cite a Textbook in MLA
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  • 0:04 Citing a Textbook
  • 0:46 MLA Citation
  • 1:15 Works Cited Page Citation
  • 2:26 Textbook Variations
  • 5:30 In-Text Citations
  • 6:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tara Turzi
When writing a research paper, you will have many sources to cite, one of which may be the textbook for your course. This lesson will show you how to cite a textbook in MLA format.

Citing a Textbook

Let's imagine that you have been asked to write a paper based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Two of his works, The Raven and The Cask of Amontillado, are included in the textbook that you purchased for your course. While you may mostly use sources from the web, you will still need to use and cite your textbook in your paper. You might also find textbooks from other courses are useful in your writing. For example, let's now say that you are asked to write an argument paper in your English course about your field of study. In this argument paper, you might pull information from the textbooks you use in those courses. This is why knowing how to cite textbooks will be a useful skill in many writing situations, which is what we're going to cover here.

MLA Citation

There are two main parts to MLA citation that you'll need to know to cite a textbook. First, there is the works cited page citation. It's good to create this citation first, because it will include all of the information for the source and help you to create the second part, which is the in-text citation. The in-text citation is really just an abbreviated version of the works cited page citation, and it will be used in the text of your paper to indicate that you are using material from that source.

Works Cited Page Citation

The first step in creating a works cited page citation for a textbook is to gather all of the source information you need to create the citation such as the author, editor, title of the book, publisher, city and date of publication, and edition (if applicable). You can usually find most of this information on the front cover and in the first few pages of the book, including the copyright page. Look for the little stamp that has a c with a circle around it. That's the copyright page.

Let's look at the format of MLA citation. The basic citation format for a textbook looks like this:

  • Author. Book Title. City of publication: Publisher, Date. Medium.

Here's a real example:

  • Hacker, Diana. Rules for Writers. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2011. Print.

Note that the author's name is in last name, first name format. Also, the name of the textbook is in italics. The medium in this case is print because it is a print version of the textbook.

Textbook Variations

In some cases, the textbook may be compiled by an editor, such as in the case of a literature anthology. The source may have more than one author, which would also require different formatting. You might also be using a specific edition of a textbook, and that will need to be indicated. Let's take a look at some of these citation variations:

If you used an essay in an anthology or collection, you should cite as follows:

  • Author. Book Title. Editor. City of Publication: Publisher, Date. Page numbers of selection. Medium.

Here's an example:

  • Tan, Amy. Making Literature Matter. Ed. John Schilb. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012. 305-313. Print.

Note that page numbers are included because the citation refers to a single work by Amy Tan in the anthology.

But what if there are multiple authors? If the textbook has two or three authors, the first listed author is cited first, as follows:

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