Citing a Book in APA Style

Contributor: Melissa Kowalski. Lesson ID: 11926

Do you remember books? Not eBooks, but hold-in-the-hand books! They were the original sources of information, and set the standard for APA citations. Learn how to cite them on your reference page!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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You used a book as a cited reference in your APA-style essay. Your readers want to read that passage for themselves. Don't make them scour the entire book! Give them the exact location in your reference page!

A book is considered the basic citation on which all other types of citations in the APA style are modeled because books were one of the first types of sources to be cited.

When the APA style was developed in the 1920s, there were no online sources. There were almost no multimedia sources of any type because sound recording was a fairly new invention. Even the film industry was just releasing their first "talkies."

Therefore, if a researcher wanted to cite material, he or she was going to use a book or a periodical.

To cite a book in the APA style, you will need the author's name, the year in which the book was published, the name of the book, and the name and location of the publisher.

A book chapter citation will include all the same material, but it will also include the name of the chapter's author if it is different from the book's author or editor, the name of the chapter, and the page numbers of the chapter.

All of this information is needed to help a reader locate the original source that was cited in the writer's essay or project, which is the purpose of the reference page.

To learn how this information is formatted for an APA-style reference page, print APA Book Citations from Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

After you have studied the notes on how to cite a book, write down the answers to the following questions. Try to do it first without looking at the handout to see what you remember. Then, use the handout to check your answers:

  1. If a book author's name is unknown, what information is used to replace the unknown name in the citation?
  2. How are the names written when a book has two authors?
  3. How can you tell if a book has an author or an editor when looking at a reference page citation?
  4. What is similar about the way chapter and book titles are written on an APA-style reference page?
  5. What information is used to indicate the date if the book's publication is unknown?
  6. Where is a book editor's name placed in the reference page citation for a chapter from a book?

Remember that citing a book or any other source on an APA-style reference page follows a standardized format.

Therefore, while it helps to know the basics of formatting, you don't need to memorize every nuance. Instead, you can find a reliable formatting source and use it to help you with the formats.

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University is a reliable website for APA formatting. The website has current formatting information for both APA and MLA citation styles. You can find out the format for citing print, electronic, and other multimedia sources on their website.

To see how to cite books, check out Reference List: Books, courtesy of the Writing Lab and the OWL at Purdue.

Once you feel comfortable with the basic format for citing books and chapters from books, move on to the Got It? section to see a citation being created and get some practice of your own!

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