How to Cite a Book in an Essay

Citing sources when you’re writing an essay seems complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! As long as you know the basic guidelines for citations and have access to the right resources, citing your sources can be a stress-free process.

Works Cited vs In-Text Citations

Before you start your essay, it’s important to remember the differences between a works cited page and in-text citations. 

Works Cited

A works cited page, also commonly referred to as a reference list or bibliography, is a page at the end of your paper containing all of the sources you referenced in their proper citation format. The format of each citation will be different depending on what type of source you are referencing. For example, citations for a book will look different than a citation for a picture.

In-Text Citations

An in-text citation provides the publication year, author, and page numbers referenced in the writing. If the publication year and author name has already been discussed in the writing, then the page number is the only piece of information that is needed in the in-text citation. For more examples of in-text citations, check out

Automatic APA Citation Generator | Automatic MLA Citation Generator

Gathering all of the information you need from the sources you used can get pretty tedious. Fortunately, there are several resources available online to help you generate citations that are properly formatted and ready to be placed in your works cited page.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has several great tools and informational materials available for users worldwide. Purdue OWL even offers free automatic citation generators for both APA Citations and MLA Citations. All you have to do is plug in the necessary information and a citation in the correct format will be automatically generated for you to use.

Works Cited Citations

When it comes time to cite your sources, there are four main pieces of information you will need to complete your citation and works cited page.

Page Number

Page number(s) are required for in-text citations in both APA and MLA format.

Publication Date

The publication date of the work you are referencing will need to be included in your citation.

Author & Publisher

The author is often the first piece of information that is included in a citation.


In most citations, you will need to also include the proper title of the work you are referencing.


The American Psychological Association (APA) citation and format style is one of the most commonly used styles, especially within the social sciences. APA style includes the name of the author, title, publisher, and  date of publication in the following format:

Author Last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). Title of work. Publisher.

Example Citation:

Lee, H. (2002). To kill a mockingbird. HarperCollins. 

For APA style in-text citations, this is the format that needs to be followed:

Last Name, Year, “Quote”, Page Number

Example Citation:

According to Jones (1998), “students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time” (p. 199).


MLA format is another extremely common citation style. MLA style includes the name of the author, title, publisher, and date of publication in the following format:

Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.

Example Citation:

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. HarperCollins, 2002.

For MLA style in-text citations, this is the information that is needed:

Author, Page Number

It is important to note that the author’s name can appear in the sentence itself or in the parentheses following the reference. However, the page number must always appear in the parentheses and not in sentence text.

Example Citation:

Romantic poetry is characterized by the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth 263).


Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (263).

Citing sources and creating a works cited page doesn’t have to be difficult. There are several citation tools that you can use to your advantage that make it a lot easier to put together your reference list.
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