How to reference a book

  • Key things to remember when referencing books in MHRA

    • The bibliography needs to be arranged alphabetically by author surname, so always reverse the name of the first author in the bibliography reference. If a book does not have an author, it should be Iisted in the bibliography by title, ignoring initial definite or indefinite articles.
    • Use book title as it appears on the title page.
    • Include edition if not the first, in the form ‘2nd edn’, ‘rev. edn’ etc, preceded by a comma.
    • If any publication details are not given in the source, use: ‘[n.p.]’ (= no place), ‘[n. pub.]’ (= no publisher), ‘[n.d.]’ (= no date).
    • Include page number(s) in footnote references only as you are citing a specific section of the book, in the form ‘p.’ for ‘page’ or ‘pp.’ for ‘pages’. In the bibliography you are citing the whole book, so no page numbers are needed.
    • The name of an editor or translator follows the title. For editors, use the format 'ed. by' as in the examples below. For translators, use the format 'trans. by'. 
    • Put a full stop at the end of footnote references, but not at the end of bibliography references.

    For further guidance, check the MHRA Style Guide on referencing books (11.2.2) and ebooks (11.2.13)


    Referencing a book with 1 or more authors

    Footnote format: Firstname Lastname, Book Title (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), p. x. 

    For example:

    Janette Dillon, The Cambridge Introduction to Early English Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 34.

    Mick Wallis and Simon Shepherd, Studying Plays, 3rd edn (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2010), p. 78.


    Bibliography format: Lastname, Firstname, Book Title (Place of publication: Publisher, Year) 

    For example:

    Dillon, Janette, The Cambridge Introduction to Early English Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)

    Wallis, Mick and Simon Shepherd, Studying Plays, 3rd edn (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2010)


    Referencing a book with an author and editor

    The bibliography needs to be arranged alphabetically by author surname, so always reverse the name of the first author in the bibliography reference. The editor's name follows the title, as in the examples below.

    Footnote format: Firstname Lastname, Book Title, ed. by Firstname Lastname (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), p. x. 

    For example:

    Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, ed. by Maurice Hindle, rev. edn (London: Penguin, 2003), pp. 62-63. 


    Bibliography format: Lastname, Firstname, Book Title, ed. by Firstname Lastname (Place of publication: Publisher, Year) 

    For example: 

    Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, ed. by Maurice Hindle, rev. edn (London: Penguin, 2003) 


    Referencing a book with editor(s) but no author

    The bibliography needs to be arranged alphabetically by author surname, so always reverse the name of the first editor in the bibliography reference. 

    Footnote format: Book Title, ed. by Firstname Lastname (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), p. x. 

    For example:

    Romanticism: An Anthology, ed. by Duncan Wu, 3rd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), p. 88.

    The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. B, 1820-1865, ed. by Nina Baym, Arnold Krupat and Robert S. Levine, 7th edn (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007), p.60.


    Bibliography format: Lastname, Firstname, ed., Book Title (Place of publication: Publisher, Year) 

    For example:

    Wu, Duncan, ed., Romanticism: An Anthology, 3rd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)

    Baym, Nina, Arnold Krupat and Robert S. Levine, eds., The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. B, 1820-1865, 7th edn (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007)


    Referencing a library e-book

    If you have used an e-book provided by the Library, treat this in the same way as a print book but add the URL of the resource in angle brackets < > and the date accessed in square brackets [ ] at the end of the reference 

    Footnote format: Firstname Lastname, Book Title (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), p. x <URL> [accessed day month year].

    For example:

    Paul Giles, The Global Remapping of American Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), p. 7 <  http://www.dawsonera.com> [accessed 13 July 2013].

    The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. by Margaret Drabble, Jenny Stringer and Daniel Hahn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 23 <  http://www.oxfordreference.com> [accessed 14 September 2014].


    Bibliography format: Lastname, Firstname, Book Title (Place of publication: Publisher, Year) <URL> [accessed day month year]

    For example:

    Giles, Paul, The Global Remapping of American Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011) <  http://www.dawsonera.com> [accessed 13 July 2013]

    Drabble, Margaret, Jenny Stringer and Daniel Hahn, eds, The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)  <  http://www.oxfordreference.com> [accessed 14 September 2014] 

    Referencing a Kindle (or equivalent) e-book

    The MHRA Style Guide recommends giving page numbers or section details only if these are fixed and stable. 

    Footnote format: Firstname Lastname, Book Title (Place of publication if available: Publisher, Year), type of ebook, p. x.

    For example:

    Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis and Other Stories, trans. by Michael Hofmann (London: Penguin, 2007), Kindle ebook, p. 33.  


    Bibliography format: Lastname, Firstname, Book Title (Place of publication if available: Publisher, Year), type of ebook

    For example:

    Kafka, Franz, Metamorphosis and Other Storiestrans. by Michael Hofmann (London: Penguin, 2007), Kindle ebook 


    Referencing The Bible and other sacred texts

    Although book titles should normally be placed in italics, one exception to this is sacred texts such as The Bible, The Koran and The Talmud. The titles of these sources - and of books within them - should not be placed in italics or quotation marks. This is how to cite books of The Bible:

    Footnote format: 

    The Bible. New International Version (Isaiah 22. 17).


    Bibliography format:

    If you've only cited one book from The Bible: The Bible. New International Version (Isaiah 22. 17)

    To cite the whole source: The Bible. New International Version