Right Cite: Citation Issues with E-Books

You may love e-books for their convenience. A single hand-held device can carry hundreds of books, magazines and newspapers, immediately accessible at the touch of a button. But what do you do when you want to cite an e-book?

electronic book

How Are E-Books Citations Unique?

If you've ever read an e-book, you know that they have a few major differences with printed books beyond switching out a paper page for a digital screen. While a printed edition of a book will have the same text on the same page from one copy to another, this isn't the case with e-books. Therefore, when you want to cite an e-book, the biggest problem you'll encounter is the lack of fixed pages.

E-books offer you a variety of ways to look at the text on the virtual page. You can change the font size and style to what is easiest for you to read. This is a feature, but it means that the text you're citing won't appear in the same place from one reader to another; it may even be in a different place when you return to look for it.

This citation problem is further complicated when devices come in different sizes. The possible location of cited text will inherently vary from device to device, even before users start manipulating text size. While some e-book readers include page numbers as a point of reference, others don't bother. The Amazon's Kindle is the most prominent example of an e-book reader that doesn't have any page numbers.

e-book

What Do the Experts Suggest?

When you cite a source for an academic paper or other purpose, you want your readers to be able to find the cited text. This enables your readers to better understand your sources and to verify the accuracy of your paper. To combat the confusion of citing e-books, the major players in writing style have begun setting some rules. While the main goal with these rules is to make finding sources easy, a secondary goal is to keep citations from growing unwieldy.

The Modern Language Association (MLA) recommends noting the type of source from which the citation is taken while adding section and paragraph numbers, where available. The Chicago Manual of Style, which is put out by the University of Chicago Press, agrees with the MLA; additionally, the Chicago manual suggests listing the chapter name or section heading as an alternative. Though it can easily grow cumbersome, you could also cite a string of text that is then searchable, taking advantage of a feature printed books lack.

As the technology continues to gain traction, more fixed rules may evolve. However, while the technology is still young, some issues will remain. It's most useful to be aware of the most current recommendations for citations and to keep your reader in mind.

Read more about the e-book debate in our article on the pros and cons of digital textbooks.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Loyola University New Orleans

    Loyola University New Orleans responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Loyola University New Orleans:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Regis University

    Regis University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regis University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Georgetown University

    Georgetown University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Georgetown University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Kaplan University

    Kaplan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Kaplan University:

    Online Programs Available

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • George Mason University

    George Mason University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at George Mason University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Winthrop University

    Winthrop University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Winthrop University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Johns Hopkins University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. Next »