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[MLA] How do I cite an e-book on a device like a Kindle, Nook, or iPad?

A file downloaded to an e-book reader (MLA 5.7.18)

  1. Select Book as the citation type
  2. Choose the eBook File tab.

MLA 5.7.18 defines digital files as neither on the web or a published CD-ROM. MLA recommends citing a book on a digital device using the guidelines for citing a book but replacing the format type (Print) with the name of the digital file format, followed by the word "file.”  For the “Digital file type” field on the form, enter a file format such as "EPUB file" (a non-proprietary file format used by Kobo, Nook, Sony and others).  If an e-Book reader uses a proprietary format (e.g., Kindle), you may use the name of the file type ("AZW file") or, if this is not visible to you, the name of the device ("Kindle file").


Slawenski, Kenneth. J.D. Salinger: A Life. New York: Random, 2011. N. pag. EPUB file.

If you are only citing a section or chapter:

  • To cite a chapter or section written by the author of the book, cite the book and use an in-text reference to identify the specific section you're quoting or paraphrasing.
  • If the introduction or preface is written by another contributor, fill in the section of the form called Chapter or Section to cite the author, section title and page numbers.


Parenthetical Reference:

If page numbers do not remain constant when you enlarge the text or if page numbers are device-specific, do not use them.

  • For example, some Kindle books will include page numbers that match print.  They are displayed next to locations when you push the Menu button.  Other Kindle "location numbers" are device specific and should not be used.
  • If page numbers are not available or are device-specific, check the box on the form that says "Book pages are not numbered" in Advanced only.
  • Applying advice for common literature (MLA 6.4.8), you can provide alternative location information as in the examples below:
    • Novels and commonly studied prose works - use (in order) book, chapter and section numbers as available (bk 1, ch. 3, sec. 8)
    • Plays - use act and scene numbers (III, ii OR 3.2)
    • Poems - use line numbers (line 12)

What if I'm reading the e-book online (as a PDF, HTML file, etc.)?

Some Web sites and databases provide versions of e-books that you can open directly within the browser, without downloading them to your computer or device. If you are reading the e-book online (and your reader could do the same), select the Web Site or Database tab (rather than the eBook File tab) to cite it as an e-book available online.

This article last revised: 01/05/2016

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