Answered By: Darcy Gervasio
Last Updated: Jun 29, 2022     Views: 419501

The answer differs depending on which citation style you are using (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc). Below are instructions on citing e-books without page numbers in APA and MLA style. For other citation styles and more information about citing your sources correctly, visit the Purdue Owl or see Purchase College's general Citation Guide.

In-Text Citations:

APA, 7th Edition

The APA Citation Guide from Purdue University (Purdue Owl) suggests the following for citing electronic books without page numbers:

"When an electronic source lacks page numbers, you should try to include information that will help readers find the passage being cited. Use the heading or section name, an abbreviated heading or section name, a paragraph number (para. 1), or a combination of these."

Note: if paragraphs are not numbered and the document includes headings, provide the appropriate heading and specify the paragraph under that heading. Note that in some electronic sources, like Web pages, people can use the Find function in their browser to locate any passages you cite.  

Reminder from Purdue Owl: "Never use the page numbers of webpages you print out; different computers print webpages with different pagination. Do not use Kindle location numbers; instead, use the page number (available in many Kindle books) or the method above."

Example 1: According to Smith (1997), psychosomatic symptoms can be alleviated with cognitive behavioral therapy (Mind over Matter section, para. 6).

Example 2: The author claims psychosomatic symptoms can be alleviated with cognitive behavioral therapy (Smith, 1997, Mind over Matter section, para. 6).


MLA, 8th Edition

The MLA Handbook suggests using chapter or paragraph numbers when no page numbers are available, but only if the chapter or paragraphs are explicitly included in the original text. If there are no page, chapter, paragraph, or section numbers in the original text, then no numbers should be included in the citation. Never count pages or paragraphs yourself or invent your own numbers. 
The following explanation is taken from the MLA Handbook, Eighth Edition (2016):
"An e-book (a work formatted for reading on an electronic device) may include a numbering system that tells users their location in the work. Because such numbering may vary from one device to another, do not cite it unless you know that it appears consistently to other users. If the work is divided into stable numbered sections like chapters, the numbers of those sections may be cited, with a label identifying the type of part that is numbered."  (MLA Handbook 123)
Example 1: According to Hazel Rowley, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt began their honeymoon with a week's stay at Hyde Park (ch. 2).
Example 2: Austen begins the final chapter of Mansfield Park with a dismissing "Let other pens dwell," thereby announcing her decision to avoid dwelling on the professions of love made by Fanny and Edmund (vol. 3, ch. 17).
"If your source uses explicit paragraph numbers rather than page numbers...give the relevant number or numbers, preceded by the label par. or pars." (MLA Handbook 56)
Example: There is little evidence for the claim that "Eagleton has belittled the gains of postmodernism" (Chan, par. 41).
"When a source has no page numbers or any other kind of part number, no number should be given in a parenthetical citation. Do not count unnumbered paragraphs or other parts." (MLA Handbook 56)
Example: "As we read we...construct the terrain of a book" (Hollmichel).

Citations in your Bibliography:


When creating a full citation for an e-book for the bibliography at the end of your paper, you may choose to cite the entire e-book, in which case, no page, paragraph, chapter, line, or section numbers are required. 

However, if you only consulted one chapter or section of an e-book, you may want to cite just that specific part. This is especially helpful if your e-book is an anthology, collected works, or collection of essays with many different authors and you plan to cite two different authors/chapters from the same e-book within your paper.  

References List in APA:

Again, if you're citing an entire e-book, you would use the same format for citing a print book, but just add a URL at the end. See section on Electronic or Kindle books from Purdue OWL.

Here's how to cite a chapter/paragraph/section from an e-book without page numbers in your Reference List in APA style:

Format:  Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article, essay, or chapter. In A.A. Editor (Ed.), Title of book or larger document (chapter or section number). Retrieved from Name of E-book Database or Platform.


Example 1Gates, R. (2013). Keepin' it reality television. In B.E. Smith-Shomade (Ed.), Watching while black : centering the television of black audiences (Ch. 9) Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.


*URL is required if e-book is retrieved from the Internet/web. URL is optional if e-book is retrieved from a library database or online e-book platform, but it is still highly encouraged.

Works Cited in MLA:

Here's how to cite a chapter/paragraph/section of an e-book without page numbers in your Works Cited List in MLA style. In MLA, you use the same format for citing a work within an anthology or collection in print-- just make sure to add the e-book source and URL. Remember: only use paragraph, chapter, or section numbers if they are explicitly provided by the original text. Do no invent your own numbers.
Format:  Author, Name. "Chapter, Essay, or Section Title," Title of E-Book, edited by Name Q. Editor, Publisher, Year, chapter/section/paragraph number. E-book Database or Source Name,

Example 1: Gates, Raquel. "Keepin' It Reality Television." Watching While Black: Centering the Television of Black Audiences, edited by Beretta E. Smith-Shomade, Rutgers UP, 2013, ch. 9. ProQuest Ebook Central,
*MLA accepts common abbreviations such as "ch." for "chapter," par. for "paragraph," and "UP" for "University Press."
More examples of citing entire e-books and chapters within e-books (with or without page numbers) can be found from Purdue OWL. You can also find more information about citing a work in an anthology, reference, or collection.  

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