Citing books and other publications

Image: An open book whose pages form a heart
Duration: 4 minutes

Learn how to cite books or journals. What’s the difference between monographs, anthologies or journals when it comes to citation?

What’s most important:
  • Always provide as detailed information about your sources as possible.
  • Bibliographic information can be found in the imprint of a publication.
  • Libraries and online catalogs also provide helpful information about publications.

What types of publications are there?

A text can be published in several ways. For example, we can distinguish between a book and an article written by an author. Articles can be published in an anthology or a journal.

If you want to cite a text passage from a monograph, you only need to give information about the whole book. But if you want to quote from an article, you also must include information about the publication, i.e. where this article can be found.

Quote a monographQuote an article
Information about the publication, no indication of chapters neededInformation about the article AND the publication needed

What information do you need and where can you find it?

In order to correctly cite a text passage from a book or journal, you must provide its original source. This means that you must give information about the publication in which you found the quoted text. The type and detail of the information you need for this depends on the citation style (see step 6 “Applying citation styles”). In the following list, you’ll find common information which often is necessary for citing references:

  • Author: The author’s full name is usually printed on the title page of a monograph or at the top of an article.
  • Title: The title can be found on the title page or at the top of the article.
  • Publication year: The year can be found in the imprint of the monograph or anthology (at the beginning or at the end of the book). Journals often give the publication year of an issue on the title page. If you cite a journal article, you often also need the number of the issue which you find on the title page or in its imprint.
  • Publishing house and/or place: This information is often needed when citing from a book (monograph or anthology). You will find it in the imprint at the beginning or at the end of the book.
  • Additional information: Some citation styles also include information about the edition which you used. If you quote from an anthology, you will often need the editors’ name as well.
  • Page number: Always give the actual page number where you found the passage you need to cite. If you cite an article, also give the article pages in the anthology or journal.

If you cannot find all the information you need, the catalog of your university library may help. Most libraries carefully catalog all publications, so that you will find further information there. Websites like WorldCat may also provide helpful information.

Four special cases you should know

  1. Poems, song lyrics etc. are often very short which is why they can be printed on a single page. In order to indicate the precise word or sentence which you refer to, you should give its line number instead of the page number.
  2. Religious texts like the Bible are subdivided into books, chapters and verses. You should use this information instead of giving page numbers when citing such a source.
  3. Most encyclopedias have two columns of texts on each page. Count these columns instead of pages. If you cite an encyclopedia, you should give the column number.
  4. Sometimes there isn’t any page number or the like at all. In such cases, you can write “without pagination” instead of giving a specific page number.
⚠ Don’ts
  • Don’t omit important information about your sources.
  • Don’t cite monographs and articles in the same way.
  • Don’t give up if you cannot find an information right away.

Test yourself: Do you know everything about citing books and other publications?

Where do you find the publication year of a monograph?

  1. In its imprint which can be found at the front or back of the book
  2. Always on the first page
  3. At the bottom of the table of contents

   A – In its imprint which can be found at the front or back of the book

Is it sufficient to give the author and title of an article?

  1. Yes
  2. It depends on its publication year
  3. No

   C – No, an article should always be cited along with the source in which it appeared.

What type of information about the publishing house might be required?

  1. The year of foundation
  2. The name of the publishing company and its location
  3. The name of its editor in chief

   B – The name of the publishing company and its location

What do you do when there isn’t any page number on the page which you would like to cite?

  1. I can’t cite this page at all
  2. I make up a page number which might be suitable
  3. I write “without pagination” in the reference

   C – I write “without pagination” in the reference.

Where – except for in a book or journal itself – do you find helpful information about a publication?

  1. On the website of my university library or in online catalogs
  2. On the author’s website
  3. I have to ask my lecturer

   A – On the website of my university library or in online catalogs

Did you enjoy?
So check out these modules:

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