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MLA Citation Style & Formatting 8th Edition: Electronic or Online Books

A comprehensive guide to creating citations in MLA style

What is an Electronic or online book?

print book

One of the biggest changes to MLA Style 7th edition (2009) with the new edition of the handbook is the distinction between material mediums. Each citation must include a note about the retrieved resource's medium type, such as "Print" for print-based sources or "Web" for materials accessed online.

This page shows how to cite books and parts of books that were accessed and read ELECTRONICALLY. A "web" book is one that you have read online. It may be a book you accessed through NetLibrary, GoogleBooks, Califa/Northern California Digital Library, or Safarai Tech Books. Even if the book exists in print, if the copy you used for your paper was read online from a computer screen or printed from the computer, then it is considered "web" and you must cite this as a web source.

If you actually held a book in your hands and turned the pages, then that is a print book. If you need to cite a print book, select Print Book from the menu above.

Electronic Books in MLA Style 7th edition (2009)

Citing electronic books and print books are basically the same, the only difference being the inclusion of the online library or retrieval service between the publication year, noting the medium designation as "Web" instead of "Print", and the date of access.

For more information about citing books with multiple authors, editors, etc. please see the Citing Print Books section of this guide. Be sure to include the online library or retrieval service as stated, the correction medium designation (Web), and the date of access.


Books (Web)

General book format:

AuthorLastName, AuthorFirstName. Title of Book. Publication Location: Publisher, Year. Online Library or Retrieval Service. Web. Day month year of access. 


Burnett, Frances Hodges. Little Lord Fauntleroy. New York: Scribner & Sons, 1866. Google Book Search. Web. 29 Sept. 2009.

Book with an editor instead of an author: 

EditorLastName, FirstName, ed. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Date of Publication. Online Library or Retrieval Service. Web. Day month year of access.   


Perkins, Kathy E., ed. Black Female Playwrights: An Anthology of Plays before 1950. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1990. NetLibrary. Web. 5 Jan. 2009.

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