How to Cite a Textbook

Penlighten Staff Oct 30, 2018
Research papers are incomplete without including citations for textbooks. Let us look at some mandatory formats for citing a textbook.
To make your research paper or essay legitimate, the resources used to write the paper need to be cited. Without the necessary citation, paper may be considered inaccurate or plagiarized. The contents of your research may not carry the same weight as they would with an appropriate citation.
A variety of styles are used when drafting such a citation. Two commonly used and preferred styles of citation are Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA). However, most educational institutions prefer and use the MLA style.

Modern Language Association Style (MLA)

The final step towards completion of your research paper is inclusion of an appropriate citation. Its format is likely to change based on the number of authors included in the citation list. Here is how you can go about it.

... for Single Author

If the textbook you have used was written by one author, here are the steps that you need to follow.

1. Start with listing the name of the author in last name, first name format.
2. After this, cite the title of the textbook used and underline it.
3. Put a period and specify the place of publication. Follow it with a colon (:).
4. Now mention the publishing company's name.
5. Add a comma and cite the publication date given on the textbook.
6. Make sure that there are correct indentations at every line break in the textbook citation. This helps the reader to understand the citation better.

Example:
Banks, Annie, Name of Textbook. Washington: XYZ Publisher, 06 Oct 2009.

... for Multiple Authors

When drafting a citation for a textbook with two or more authors, the following method has to be followed.

1. When citing two authors, mention primary author's name in last name, first name format. Other authors should be listed using the first name last name format only.
2. Where three or more authors are concerned, mention primary author's name in last name, first name format. Follow it up with 'et al'.
3. Alternately, you may also choose to list names of all the authors in the order maintained on the title page of the textbook.
4. After the names of authors, place one period. This indicates that the list of author names is over.
5. Now cite the title of the textbook and underline the title. Follow this with a period.
6. Mention the place of publication and a colon (:).
7. Now mention the publishing company's name.
8. Follow this with a comma and specify the publication date of the textbook.
9. Be careful to use the correct indentations when you are giving any citation to avoid readers' confusion.
Example (for 2 authors):
Carlton, Brenda, and Antje Krull, Name of Textbook. King's Cross: XYZ Publisher, 06 Oct 2009.

Example (for 3 or more authors):
Crawford, Anya, et al. Name of Textbook. Bletchley: XYZ Publisher, 06 Oct 2009.

American Psychological Association Style (APA)

Unlike the MLA style, the title of the book is never underlined in APA style. While MLA style uses a 'works cited' page, the APA style uses 'referenced pages'. Lastly, the year of publication follows the name of the author in APA style, while in MLA style the publication date is at the end. Let us now understand how the APA style is used.

... for Single Author

1. Please remember that in APA style the first line is always flushed with the left-hand margin, while the secondary and tertiary lines are always indented.
2. Begin the citation by giving name of the author in last name, first name format. Follow this with a period.
3. After the author's name comes the year of publication. The year is usually written in a bracket and followed by a period.
4. After the year comes the title of the textbook. Remember to capitalize only the first letter of the textbook's title. This should again be followed by a period.
5. Now mention the place of publication. Give a colon (:) right after this.
6. Now mention the name of the publishing company.
7. In case you are citing a book which has multiple editions, you will also have to mention the edition of the textbook which you have referred to. The edition will be mentioned after the title of textbook.
8. There is a possibility that the book has an editor instead of an author. Depending upon the number of editors mentioned on the textbook, you will have to cite their names followed by 'Ed' or 'Eds' in brackets.

Example:
Burns, Adam. (2002). Name of Textbook. Chicago: ABC Publishing Co.

... for Multiple Authors

1. Ideally, the first line of the citation needs to be flushed with the left-hand, while the secondary and tertiary lines must be indented.
2. A two author citation begins by listing of names in last name, initials format. The names should be listed in alphabetical order and separated with an 'ampersand' symbol only.
3. For multiple authors, the names should be written in last name, initials format and should be separated with a comma. Again, the list of names should be in alphabetical order.
4. Follow the list of names with year of publication written in a bracket. Place a period right after the bracket closes.
5. Mention the name of the textbook being cited. You must capitalize only the first letter of the textbook's title. After that, put a period.
6. After this, you may mention the name of the publishing company or the page numbers from which you have taken reference for your research paper. Page numbers are to be preceded with a 'p'.
Example (for 2 authors):
Walsh, J. T., & Perks, R. E. (1990). Name of Textbook. New York: ABC Publishing Co.

Example (for 3 or more authors):

Mills, F. S., Boons, M. K., Fish, S. S., Garlan, A. U., Bilde, G. J., Thomson, J. T., . . . Robin, B. H. (2000). Web site usability for blind students. Technical Communication, p.333.
Example (for citing an institution):
Helpers Group. (2008).
Using the right research paper format is always necessary. This lends more authenticity to the research paper. With these tips, you will never again be stuck while giving reference to a textbook you referred to for your research paper or doctoral thesis. All the best!