Even though we live in an increasingly digital world, it’s still likely that the reference you’ll need to cite the most is the humble book. Whether you’re an English major quoting Shakespeare, or you’re using a textbook to research a topic, there’ll always be a place for books in every student’s stash of sources.

We know that any source used while researching and writing academic papers must be referenced—and that not doing so could amount to accidental plagiarism—but the exact format used will depend on the required style of citation.

APA, MLA and Chicago are all common citation styles, although there are many others such as Harvard Referencing (typically used within the areas of business and law). The required style is often subject-specific, but if you’re at all unsure, your instructor is the best person to ask.

Let’s look at the basics of a general book citation.

What Information Do I Need?

When conducting research, ensure that you note the following pieces of information for every book that you use. We’ve used the classic fiction book Of Mice And Men as an example:

  • Author Name (or authors, if multiple): John Steinbeck
  • Year Published: 2006
  • Book Title: Of Mice And Men
  • City Published: London
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Section of Reference (i.e. page, pages or whole book): Page 12

If you have additional information that may be relevant—for example, the edition of the book, the translator, etc.—you can also add it. Include anything that you feel will help the reader to identify your source easily and accurately.

In-Text Citations

As well as including full citations on your works cited page, you will also usually have to include in-text citations within the body of your work to mark where you have used the source. Remember that citations are not just used when quoting directly from a text. You also need to reference any paraphrased or general ideas that are not your own. How you format an in-text citation also varies, depending on the required style.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how to cite a book in MLA, APA and Chicago styles.

How To Cite A Book In APA Style

In-text Citation:

(Steinbeck, 2006, p. 12)

Full Citation:

Steinbeck, J. (2006). Of mice and men. Penguin.

How To Cite A Book In MLA Style

In-text Citation:

(Steinbeck 12)

Full Citation:

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice And Men. Penguin, 2006.

How To Cite A Book In Chicago Style (author/date style)

In-text Citation:

(Steinbeck 2006, 12)


Steinbeck, John. 2006. Of Mice And Men. London: Penguin.

How To Cite A Book In Chicago Style (footnote/bibliography style)

Footnote (with a numerical marker in the text):

John Steinbeck, Of Mice And Men (London: Penguin, 2006), 12.

Chicago Style Annotated Bibliography:

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice And Men. London: Penguin, 2006.

Don’t get the book thrown at you for incorrect citations! The online tools at Cite This For Me make creating book citations easy.