"The Modern Language Association Handbook," the official publication manual of the Modern Language Association (MLA), gives guidelines concerning style, formatting and citation to writers working in the areas of literature and the humanities. Since prefaces are often cited in literature and humanities work, you should use MLA style to cite from a preface. Since authors themselves write the prefaces for their books, even if you have a citation for the book itself, you should create a separate citation for the preface. A Modern Language Association citation consists of two parts: an in-text citation and a works cited entry.
Give the author of the preface's last name and the page number you are citing to complete your in-text citation. You can place the last name either in the body of your sentence or in parentheses following the sentence. The page number must go in parentheses. Page numbers in prefaces are often in Roman numerals. For example: "Updike published a great deal after the fall of 2002 (Pritchard ix)." Or, "Pritchard comments that Updike published a great deal after the fall of 2002 (ix)."
Give the preface author's last name separated by a period from his first name and middle initial (if one is given) to begin your works cited entry.
Pritchard, William H.
Place the title of the preface in quotation marks and write Preface after it.
Pritchard, William H. "Preface to the Paperback Edition." Preface.
Cite the book's title, in title case and italics, and its author.
Pritchard, William H. "Preface to the Paperback Edition." Preface. Updike: America's Man of Letters. William H. Pritchard.
Give the place of publication. Separate this from the publisher's name by a colon. Follow this with a comma, the year of publication and the word "Print" to specify that you are citing a print source.
Pritchard, William H. "Preface to the Paperback Edition." Preface. Updike: America's Man of Letters. William H. Pritchard. Amherst, MA: U of Massachusetts P, 2005.
Tips & Warnings
- You can modify these steps to cite the introduction or forward to a book. Simply replace the word Preface with the word Introduction or Forward.
- "The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers"; Modern Language Association; 2009
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