Parts of a Citation


This page is not thrilling reading, and you should view it primarily as a reference guide. If you’re using the Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.), and you have a question about how to cite a particular part of a source (title, author, publisher, etc.), then consult the relevant section below.


Inverting Names

In the final bibliography, the author’s name is inverted:

1. Bernard Standstone, Networking at Starbucks

Sandstone, Bernard. Networking at Starbucks

For multiple authors, invert only the first author’s name (and insert “and” before the last):

Homer, Donald, Guy Hicks, and Kim Stanley Philby.

Also, try list the authors in the order they appear on the title page (even though this isn’t the alphabetical order).

Et al.

For any work that has four or more authors (or editors), use the abbreviation et al. after the first name in your footnote

1. Bob Hermite et al., Growing Hasselberries

By contrast, in your bibliography et al. should be used only for works with more than ten authors. In such cases you can cite the first six or seven and then add the abbreviation.

When coauthors share the same last name (and may even be family), do still cite each name in full:

1. Jason Trilby and Emma Trilby…


If authors use only initials, don’t write out their full names:

E. B. White,
F. Scott Fitzgerald
P. G. Wodehouse


In some cases, you may want to indicate that the author’s name is a pseudonym:

1. Gadfly [pseud.], “Parliament Wrong To Raise Taxes.”

There are, however, plenty of famous authors who have used pseudonyms. Lewis Carroll, for example, was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. For such well known names you do not need to add pseud. or provide the author’s real name.

First names

Some authors are primarily known by their first names. In such cases you don’t have to invert the name in the bibliography:

Dante Alighieri.


Basic Format

Titles of longer works (e.g., books) are italicized whereas shorter works (e.g., articles) are placed in italics:

Teutonic Nights: A Romance (novel)
“How to Turn a Sneeze into a Dab” (blog post)

Note also that the capitalization is headline-style, which means that important words are capitalized, but words like articles (a, the) and prepositions (in, over, etc.) are not. There are two exceptions, however. Do capitalize any word after a colon (at the start of a subtitle) and use sentence-style capitalization for foreign language titles (e.g., Tous les cornichons du monde).


Subtitles are usually introduced by a colon (even if there is no colon in the original). Make sure you capitalize the next word:

A Brewery on the Steppes: An Introduction to the Mongolian Craft Beer Industry

If the main title ends with a question mark (?) or exclamation mark (!), don’t add the colon. The exception is if the question mark of exclamation mark is in quotation marks (the third example):

Stone the Crows! The Popular Representation of Corvidae
Why Always Me? How To Get Children Stop Whining and Love Their Chores
“Haere Ra Dear House!”: New Zealand’s Leaky Home Crisis, 1994-2004

Note also how in the first example the Latin species name is in roman font (see below) and how in the last example the dates are separated by a comma.

If a title has two subtitles, place a semi-colon between them.

Quotations within Titles

If your title is in quotation marks, and it makes mention of another title, use single quotation marks within double quotation marks:

“‘At Small Parties There Isn’t Any Privacy’: How To Host Your Own Great Gatsby Themed Party”

Terms within Titles

When we draw attention to words or terms, we normally use italics:

I can never remember how to spell the words desert and dessert.

This rule also applies for titles. However, if the title itself is already in italics, use roman font for the specific words:

From Schmuck to Kibitzer: My Life as a Yiddish Literary Critic (book)

“Why the Word Stationary Continues to Move Me” (article)

By using roman font in the first example we can distinguish the emphasized words from the rest of the title.

Long Titles

If a title is very long (as is common with older works), you can shorten it by using spaced ellipses enclosed in square brackets:

A Brief Inquiry into the Differences Between the Sexes, Expatiating on the Myth of Tiresias, and Answering the Question whether Men or Women Receive More Enjoyment from [. . .].

You can place the ellipses either in the middle or at the end.

Translated Titles

If you provide a translation of a foreign language title, place it in square brackets:

Een korte geschiedenis van Middelburg [A Short History of Middelburg]

If you provide a translation and omit the original title, let the reader know the language of the source.

A Short History of Middelburg [Dutch]

Publication information

When it comes to citing books, it’s customary to provide the city of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication:

1. Egil Viking, The Oxbridge Guide to Pillaging Monasteries (Reykjavik: All Things Press, 2005).

Viking, Egil. The Oxbridge Guide to Pillaging Monasteries. Reykjavik: All Things Press, 2005.

Let’s review each of these elements in some more detail.


When you look at the copyright page of a book, it can be difficult to know which city to cite. In general, if the publisher has offices in multiple cities, cite just the first one given.

Sleepy Hollow Road 9, Vancouver, Z8Z 9Z9, Canada
Rue de Sommeil 5, Paris, SD 300, France
Träumerei Building, Jena, 983 NDL, Germany

In addition, if the city of publication is obscure or easily confused, then you can add the state, province, or country name (usually abbreviated):

Puddletown, UK: Antediluvian Publications
Yeehaw Junction, FL: Seesaw Press
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Note, however, that if you cite Cambridge University Press, you don’t have to specify that Cambridge is in England. Similarly, if the state is clear from the publisher’s name (e.g., University of California Press), you don’t have to add an abbreviation after the city.

If you don’t know the place of publication, write n.p. or make an educated guess and add a question mark (e.g., Chicago?).

Finally, use English names for foreign cities (e.g., Brussels, not Bruxelles or Brussel), but leave publisher’s names untranslated.



For the publisher’s name, you can omit common abbreviations (e.g., Ltd., Inc., Co.):

Polyp, not Polyp Co.
Towns Brothers, not Towns Brothers Inc.
Myopic Press, not Myopic Press, Ltd.

For university presses you can abbreviate the word university (e.g., Weissnichtwo Univ. Press)


If the publisher’s name contains an and or &, you can you either form in your citations:

Proudfoot and Humble
Haddock & Codpiece
Takit and Leavitt.


Often the copyright page will list multiple publishers. In such cases one parent company may be publishing under multiple names (called imprints). Usually it is sufficient to cite just the imprint.

For example, let’s say the title page and copyright page list both “Macmillan” (the parent company), and “Picador” (the imprint), in that case you would cite just Picador.

If you do want to spell out the relationship between the imprint and the parent company, you can do that:

On Point Press, an imprint of UBC Press

Books prior to 1900

For books published before 1900, you can omit the publisher’s name.


For books you need provide only the year of publication. For other works (e.g., articles), you may also want to provide the exact date, month, or season.

Wright, Ian, and Lukas Obviüs, The Art of Mansplaining. Calgary: Red Neck Press, 2018. (book)

Saddleback, Robert. “Ponying Up: The Rising Costs of Miniature Horses.” Grand Spoons Tribune, August 5, 2017. (newspaper)

Often a copyright page will contain multiple dates. Try find the most recent date, but ignore any references to copyright renewal or to specific impressions.

If a source has gone through multiple editions, you will want to cite the latest one:

Blandish, Kate. Mortified or Petrified? The Psychology of Shame and Fear. 2nd ed. Edited by Jude Wooden. Athens: Lightning Press, 2008.

No Date

If a printed text lacks a date, use the abbreviation n.d. On the other hand, when a text has been accepted for publication but has not yet been published, you can write forthcoming in place of the date.

More Information

For more information about the parts of an entry discussed here, please see sections 14.72-14.84 (authors), 14.85-14.99 (titles), and 14.127-14.146 (publication information) of the Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.).



Title Example Faded

The second section of a works cited entry is the title. The hardest part of working with titles is knowing how to format them.

Basic Formatting

Let’s say you want to cite the following book:

Title Example

The first task is to know where the title begins and ends. In this case, the blurb under the picture is merely a bit of advertising. Our entry would therefore start as follows:

Higginsbottom, Bernard. Write out of the Box.

We removed most of the capital letters and capitalized only key words. Because this is a book title, we also added italics. In other words, with any title we want to remove the original formatting and apply our own.

In the following sections we will take a closer look at specific formatting conventions.


If a title has a subtitle, be sure to include it in your entry. Say you have read Hillary Chuckle’s fascinating article in the journal ROFL:

Title Example 2

You would start your citation as follows:

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.”

If there is no colon yet between the title and subtitle, you can add one.


You do not need to capitalize the following parts of speech unless they are the first word in your title or come right after the colon:

  • Articles (a, an, the)
  • Prepositions (e.g., with, in, of, beside)
  • Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet)
  • The to in infinitives (e.g., to love, to be)

If we take our previous example, we can now see why “An” is capitalized (it comes right after the colon), whereas “the” is not:

Chuckle, Hillary. “Ventriloquizing the Belly Laugh: An Ethnographic Perspective.”

For more examples, check out the other sections on this page.

Italics and Quotation Marks

You may have noticed that some titles are in italics and others are in quotation marks. Italics are used for longer works and quotation marks for shorter ones. Here is a handy chart to show the difference:

Italics Quotation Marks
book article or essay
novella (published by itself) novella (published in a collection)
play short story
longer musical composition poem or song
television show or series webpage or post
CD or DVD title

If you use quotation marks, place your final period before the last quotation mark:

Jolly, Brian. “Winnie the Pooh and Eating Disorders.”

Titles within Titles

Sometimes one title becomes part of another. Here is a rundown of how you should format such entries.

1. A title in italics inside a title in quotation marks:

“What Optometrists Can Learn from The Great Gatsby.” (an article about a novel)

2. A title in quotation marks inside another title in quotation marks:

“The Symbolism of Monocles in ‘Le Monocle de Mon Oncle’ and ‘Colonel Fazackerly Butterworth-Toast.’” (an article about two poems)

Notice the use of single quotation marks around the poem titles.

3. A title in quotation marks inside a title in italics:

From the Bizarre to the Bazaar: Modernism, Orientalism, and James Joyce’s “Araby.(a book about a short story)

Notice that the entire title is italicized.

4. A title in italics inside another title in italics:

An Introduction to Butlering, with Examples from Downton Abbey and The Remains of the Day (a book title that references a television series and a novel)

The titles inside the overall titles are in regular font.

Missing Titles

If a source has no title, you can make one up! Well, to be exact, you can provide a general description:

Clay, Paul. Red painting with a blue stripe. Museum of Modern Art, Manchester.

In such cases, capitalize the first word and any proper nouns. Use regular font.

Adding a description is also appropriate for things like prefaces, afterwords, and the like:

Smart, Oscar. Preface. Prenuptials for Dummies, by Miriam Willows, Harmony Press, 2019, pp. v-xii.

Your description may make reference to another title. This is useful for untitled reviews:

Moss, Stephanie. Review of The Brotherhood of the Stay-at-Home Dads, by Harold Humber. Filch’s Review of Books, 8 Aug. 2017,

For tweets, provide the entire message as the title:

Prudhomme, Jacques [@synderesis93]. “Just bought a BMW!! #ChristmasinJuly, #Notfeelingguilty.” Twitter, 25 July 2020,

Notice that you can keep the original formatting of the text.

For private communication, use a description as the title, naming yourself as the recipient–either by name or as “author”:

Lacy, Sandra. E-mail to the author. 8 Nov. 2015.

Lacy, Sandra. E-mail to Manina Sprocket. 8 Nov. 2015.

For more information on titles, see chapters 2 and 5 of the MLA Handbook (9th ed.).