How to Reference Books and Articles in Text

Before computers, we used typewriters to underline book titles, and we placed quotation marks around article titles. However, many current style manuals recommend italicizing book titles and magazine names (impossible to do on a typewriter) and using quotation marks around articles.

Example: I read Lord of the Flies in high school.

Example: I enjoyed reading “Become Your Own Best Friend” in Newsweek.


Pop Quiz
Choose the correct sentence.

1A. My brother thought the “New York Times” article Homeless Team Roots for a New Life Through Soccer was fascinating.
1B. My brother thought the New York Times article “Homeless Team Roots for a New Life Through Soccer” was fascinating.

2A. “Light Meals for Nibblers” is a chapter in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks.
2B. Light Meals for Nibblers is a chapter in “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest,” one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks.

3A. I remember reading “The Catcher in the Rye” when I was a teenager.
3B. I remember reading The Catcher in the Rye when I was a teenager.


Pop Quiz Answers
1B. My brother thought the New York Times article “Homeless Team Roots for a New Life Through Soccer” was fascinating.
2A. “Light Meals for Nibblers” is a chapter in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks.
3B. I remember reading The Catcher in the Rye when I was a teenager.

Posted on Sunday, May 3, 2009, at 11:41 pm

37 Comments on How to Reference Books and Articles in Text

37 responses to “How to Reference Books and Articles in Text”

  1. Charlie Sellens says:

    I appreciate having this resource available for quick reference.

  2. Bran says:

    Helpful resource. What’s the appropriate method to referencing a letter?

    • The Chicago Manual of Style recommends the following for unpublished materials:

      “Give the information that you have and indicate where information is not available. Model your citation on the usual form: author, title, kind of document (manuscript, letter, etc.), place, date, and where you found it. “N.p.” can stand in for “no place,” “no publisher,” and “no page number”; “n.d.” for “no date.” For example, Deborah Dorman, “Psychoanalyzing the Penguin,” manuscript, Misc. Papers File, Chicago College Library, n.d.”

      Using this as a guide, a letter might be referenced as, “Mary Jones, letter to Arthur Wingate, September 23, 2009, personal files of Arthur Wingate.”

  3. gollilox says:

    This is so helpful!!!! Thank you so much.

  4. Persephone says:

    I’m so grateful to have found this site! I wonder if you can help me out; I have searched all over the internet and can’t find the answer to my question. It’s probably out there (it is the internet, after all), but in any case, if I want to reference, in a single sentence, both the title of a book series as well as one of the books in the series, what are the rules? Do I italicize the series title and put the book title (which I know is normally italicized) in quotes?

    • The Chicago Manual of Style advises that titles of book series are capitalized but not italicized or quoted, and that book titles be in italics. The Associated Press Stylebook places book titles in quotation marks.

  5. Dee says:

    Can I still underline a book title? Even though it is not currently used?
    I still prefer the underlining – as that is how I learned many years ago.

    Is it “wrong”?

    Please respond.

  6. Angela says:

    I have an author who is providing a list of titles in a series of books. I can’t find in CMS where it gives the order for citations like this. He’s currently giving
    title. author. date. pg count.

    It’s a weird construct and just doesn’t feel right. Suggestions?

    • We need more information to help you. You do not state the purpose of the list. Is the list part of a bibliography? What kind of books is the author citing? CMOS has different recommendations for different kinds of books.

  7. Barb says:

    When referencing a Bible verse after a quote, should the reference be inside the period or after it?

    Example: Paul said “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man . . .” (1 Cor. 10:13a)

    Another question: In the above reference should there be a period after the ellipsis?

    • You have a few options. The Chicago Manual of Style’s rule 15.25 says, “When the source of a block quotation is given in parentheses at the end of the quotation, the opening parenthesis appears after the final punctuation mark of the quoted material. No period either precedes or follows the closing parenthesis.” AP Stylebook says, “Citation listing the number of chapter and verse(s) use this form: Matthew 3:16, Luke 21:1-13, 1 Peter 2:1.”

      Regarding the ellipsis, The Chicago Manual of Style’s rule 13.51 says, “A period is added before an ellipsis to indicate the omission of the end of a sentence, unless the sentence is deliberately incomplete.” In our Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, we recommend sticking with the simpler three-dot method. We also note that writers and editors follow various different practices when using ellipses.

  8. Mik says:

    Hi! The site is very useful, thanks! I was wondering how one is expected to reference a book that is currently being written (that is, it is not even “in press” yet).
    Many thanks in advance!

    • The Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 14.225 says, “Titles of unpublished manuscripts, like the titles of other unpublished works, appear in quotation marks. (For manuscripts under contract but not yet published, see 14.153.) Include the words unpublished manuscript and the date of the version consulted, if possible (for electronic files, a last-saved or last-modified date may be appropriate). End the citation with an indication of format(s).”

  9. Brittany says:

    Are you suppose to be the page number in parenthesis following the quote found from a book? Also do you include the author of the book?

    • We need more information to help you. What kind of work are you doing, and which format is required? For example, MLA format is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities, Associated Press style provides guidelines for news writing, and APA style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences.

  10. MItzi says:

    If I were to mention a book series but not a singular book in the series, would that still be italicized?

  11. Lukas says:


    I am using CMOS to format my thesis. I mention a lot of book/article titles in the text and many of the books/articles have very long titles, often composed of two parts, like for example:

    Aboriginal History, Minority Histories and Historical Wounds: The Postcolonial Condition, Historical Knowledge and the Public Life of History in Australia

    Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference

    Is there any rule in CMOS which determines when to use the full title and when a shortend title – when mentioning the book/article title in the text?

    By a shortened title I mean the title up to the very first colon, for instance:

    Aboriginal History, Minority Histories and Historical Wounds

    Provincializing Europe

    Thank you!

  12. Johnna says:

    How do I site an article within a letter of support?
    Thank you!

  13. Mike says:

    I am reviewing a number of past theorists work in my paper. Their work is the basis for my argument. When outlining their efforts, assumptions and results do I use past or present tense.

  14. Cherry Khine says:

    Hi Jane,
    How can I write down of APA style reference for my 2 pages. 1 page is not giving author name, isuue number and page number. 2 page is not giving of all information, except of author name and title name. So that, please help to how to write down of those pages.
    1 page:

    Guidelines for University Library Services to Undergraduate Students

    Approved by the ACRL Board of Directors at ALA Annual Conference, June 2005. Revision approved October 2013.

    2 Page:

    Challenges in Education in Southeast Asia

    Arief S Sadiman
    Director, SEAMEO Secretariat, Bangkok. Paper presented at the International Seminar on “Towards Cross Border Cooperation between South and Southeast Asia: The Importance of India’s North East Playing Bridge and Buffer Role”, Kaziranga, India, 16-19 November 2004.

    SEAMEO Library

    Thanks Indeed,

  15. Dawn says:

    I am writing a document and refer to a specific paragraph in a sentence. for example: …as set out in paragraph 10 of this contract.

    Is it necessary to include the period at the number.

  16. Caroline Capon says:

    I am writing a book and have referred to another book as an example; I am wondering if I need to do anything else to reference this book; at the moment I have written:
    An example of this is written by Richard Beard in his book ‘The Day That Went Missing’ (2017), where he writes about the death of his brother in the seventies.

    Is this enough referencing?

  17. C. Sam Johns says:

    I am writing a short book and self-publishing. How would I list Notes or References at the end and citing on pages within the book? For example:

    American psychological Association’s journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “Exploring Stereotypes About perceptions of Male Bodies,” March 13,
    2017, Washington, D.C. 2002-4242.
    For example:

    “Even if white and black men are the same heights and weights, please tend to perceive black men as taller, more muscular and heavier.”

    Should the notation on the page use a number, quotation marks, etc. for identification?

    Please help! Thanks.

  18. May Corpuz says:

    I am editing a compilation of articles to be published in a book . Such articles have already been published in local publications and I have requested the author to cite the date published and in what local paper.
    Is it OK to make this citation even if the version to be published in the book is not the edited version?

    • While we are not experts on publishing policies and procedures, perhaps you could include a note along with the citation to the effect “Edited from the original article published in the Chicago Sun-Times, June 20, 2014.”

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