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iPads, Chromebooks, Nooks, Kindles, Tabs: Citation & ereaders

Citing books on ereaders

Citing books accessed on ereaders can be difficult for several reasons. You may wonder, is it cited as a book or as a file? How do you specify where a direct quotation came from if there are no static page numbers? Where in the citation do you indicate which ereader you accessed it on?

Below are details on how to cite in the various styles. We still suggest that you check with your instructor in case they have any special instructions for citing books accessed on ereaders.

Citing books accessed on ereaders in MLA 8

Here's an example from EasyBib on how to structure and cite ebooks accessed on ereaders: 

Structure of an MLA 8 citation for a book in print:

Author’s Last name, First name. “Title of chapter or section.” Title of the work, translated by or edited by First name Last name, vol. number, City of Publication*, Publisher, Year the book was published, page number(s).

Structure of a citation for an e-book found on an e-reader in MLA 8:

Author’s last name, First name. “Title of the chapter or section.” Title of the e-book, translated by or edited by First name Last name, Name of e-reader device, vol. number, Publisher, Year of publication, page number(s).

Example of a citation for an e-book found on an e-reader in MLA 8:

Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See. Kindle ed., Scribner, 2014.

Citing books accessed on ereaders in MLA

The MLA Style Center provides general guidance on citing e-books.

The example they give is as follows:

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., e-book, Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

For your parenthetical citation, section 3.3.3 of the MLA Handbook states "If the work is divided into stable numbered sections like chapters, the numbers of those sections may be cited..." The example given is:

According to Hazel Rowley, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt began their honeymoon with a week's stay at Hyde Park (ch. 2).

It goes on to say that if no such visible, fixed part number is present, it must be cited as a whole (do not include any reference to the page, chapter, paragraph, etc.). You still need to include enough info in parenthesis for your reader to find the source in your works cited, usually the author's last name.

Citing books accessed on ereaders in APA

The American Psychological Association has a blog post about how to cite ebooks. An older APA blog post is also helpful.  Below is some information from these posts.

For the reference list, include the author, year, book title, the version of book you read, and the DOI or URL where you downloaded the book. If the full URL is very long (like the URL for O'Brien's book in the example below was),  give the homepage URL and a description of where to find the book from there, or the store name—your preference (e.g., Amazon Kindle store or The first example below is from the APA's blog post and shows how to use a DOI in the citation, if one is provided. The second example shows how to cite a book with no DOI provided:

Brill, P. (2004). The winner’s way [Adobe Digital Editions version]. doi:10.1036/007142363X

O'Brien, T. (1990). The things they carried [Kindle Fire version]. Retrieved from

See Chapter 7 of the 6th ed. of the Publication Manual (examples 19, 20, and 21) for some more help. 

In-text citations can be confusing because e-books often lack page numbers. Kindle books have “location numbers,” which are static, but are useless to others without a Kindle. Certain models of Kindles have page numbers available.  That will also depend on if the publisher has made them available for that particular e-book. If page numbers are included, these are appropriate to use in your in-text citation. To cite in text for e-books lacking page numbers it is suggested by the APA that you include any of the following to cite the quotation:

  • a paragraph number, if provided; alternatively, you can count paragraphs down from the beginning of the document; 
  • an overarching heading plus a paragraph number within that section; or 
  • an abbreviated heading (or the first few words of the heading) in quotation marks, in cases in which the heading is too unwieldy to cite in full.

If a book has numbered chapters and sections, here's an example given by the APA of how to cite a direct quotation with chapter, section, and paragraph numbers: 

One of the author’s main points is that “people don’t rise from nothing” (Gladwell, 2008, Chapter 1, Section 2, para. 5).

See Section 6.05 for more details on citing direct quotations of electronic sources without page numbers.

Citing books accessed on ereaders in Chicago style

The Chicago Manual of Style website provides examples of how to cite ebooks on its website under 'Book published electronically'.

In your citation, include the author, title, editor (if there is one), publication information, and the version of the book you consulted. If you used the book online, include the URL. Include an access date only if required by your publisher or discipline. If no fixed pagination is available, include a section title, chapter or other number.

The Manual website offers examples of how to cite ebooks in both the notes and bibliography style and the author-date style. A couple of our own examples are shown below. Consult the Manual's website to see additional examples:

Notes and Bibliography:

 1. Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried (Boston: Mariner Books, 1990), Kindle edition.

O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Mariner Books, 1990. Kindle edition.


O'Brien, Tim. 1990. The Things They Carried. Boston: Mariner Books. Kindle edition.

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