How To Site A Collection Of Essays

I. Bibliographic Information

Provide the essential information about the book using the writing style that your professor has asked you to use for the course [e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.]. Depending on how your professor wants you to organize your review, the bibliographic information represents the heading of your review. In general, it would look like this:

El Ghonemy, Mohamad Riad. Anti-Poverty Land Reform Issues Never Die: Collected Essays on Development Economics in Practice. (New York: Routledge, 2010. xx, 223 pp.)

Reviewed by [your name].


II. Scope/Purpose/Content

The first challenge in reviewing any type of collected essay work is to identify and summarize its overarching scope and purpose, with additional focus on describing how the book is organized and whether or not the arrangement of its individual parts facilitates and contributes to an understanding of the subject area. Most collected essays include a general statement of purpose in the foreword or an introductory chapter that describes the overarching themes and summarizes each essay. In some cases, the editor will discuss the scope and purpose at the beginning of each essay.

To help develop your own introductory thesis statement that covers all of the material, start by reviewing and taking notes about the aim and intent of each essay. Once completed, identify key issues and themes. For example, in a compilation of essays on environmental law, you may find the papers examine various legal approaches to environmental protection, describe alternatives to the law, and compare domestic and international issues. By identifying the overall themes, you create a framework from which you can cogently evaluate the contents.

As with any review, your introduction must be succinct, accurate, unbiased, and clearly stated. However, given that you are reviewing a number of parts within a much larger work, you may need several paragraphs to provide a comprehensive overview of the book's overall scope, purpose, and content.

If you find it difficult to discern the overall aims and objectives of the collected essay work [and, be sure to point this out in your review if you believe it to be a deficiency], you may arrive at an understanding of the purpose by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Why did the contributing authors write on this subject rather than on some other subject? Why is it important?
  • From what point of view is the overall work written? Do some essays systematically take one stance while others investigate another, or do the essays just represent a mish-mash of viewpoints?
  • Were each of the authors trying to give information, to explain something technical, or to convince the reader of a belief’s validity by dramatizing it in action?
  • What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it? Review related literature from other books and journal articles to familiarize yourself with the field, if necessary.
  • Who is the intended audience? Is it very specialized or intended for a broader audience?
  • What are each author's style? Do they clash or do they flow together? Is it formal or informal? You can evaluate the quality of the writing style by noting some of the following standards: coherence, clarity, originality, forcefulness, correct use of technical words, conciseness, fullness of development, and fluidity.
  • Scan the table of contents because it can help you understand how the book is organized and will aid in determining the main ideas covered and how they are developed [e.g., chronologically, topically, thematically, etc.]
  • How did the book affect you? Were any prior assumptions you had about the subject changed, abandoned, or reinforced due to this book? Did some essays stand out more than others? In what ways?
  • How is the book related to your own course or personal agenda? What experiences have you had that relate to the subject?
  • How well has the book achieved its goal(s)?
  • What are the main takeaways? Would you recommend the book to others? Why or why not?

III.  Critically Evaluate the Contents

Critical comments should form the bulk of your book review. A good method for reviewing a collection of essays is to follow the arrangement of contents, particularly if the essays are grouped in a particular way, and to frame the analysis in the context of the key issues and themes you identified in the introduction. State whether or not you feel the overall treatment of the subject matter is appropriate for the intended audience. Ask yourself:

  • Has the purpose of the book been achieved?
  • Have all of the essays contributed something important to the overall purpose? If not, how have some author's failed to add something meaningful?
  • What contribution does the book make to the field?
  • Is the treatment of the subject matter fair and unbiased?
  • Are there facts and evidence that have been omitted?
  • What kinds of data, if any, are used to support the author's thesis statement?
  • Can the same data be interpreted to alternate ends?
  • Is the writing style clear and effective?
  • Considered collectively, did the essays cover the topic or research problem thoroughly? If not, what issue or perspective about the topic do you believe has been omitted?
  • Does the book raise important or provocative issues or topics for discussion and further research?

Support your evaluation with evidence from the text and, when possible, in relation to other sources. Do not evaluate each essay one at a time but group the analysis around the key issues and themes you first identified. If relevant, make note of the book's format, such as, layout, binding, typography, etc. Do some or all of the essays include tables, charts, maps, illustrations, or other non-textual elements? Are they clear and do they aid in understanding the research problem?


IV.  Examine the Front Matter and Back Matter

Front matter refers to anything before the first chapter of the book. Back matter refers to any information included after the final chapter of the book. Front matter is most often numbered separately from the rest of the text in lower case Roman numerals [i.e. i-xi]. Critical commentary about front or back matter is generally only necessary if you believe there is something that diminishes the overall quality of the work [e.g., the indexing is poor] or there is something that is particularly helpful in understanding the book's contents [e.g., foreword places the book in an important context].

The following front matter may be included in a book and may be considered for evaluation when reviewing its overall quality:

  • Table of contents -- is it clear? Is it detailed or general? Does it reflect the true contents of the book?
  • Author biographies -- also found as back matter, the biography of author(s) can be useful in determining the authority of the writer and whether the book builds on prior research or represents new research. In a collected work, think about the following: what is the distribution of expertise among authors? Does it represent an interdisciplinary perspective or is the scope of expertise more narrow? Are the authors from a variety of institutions or just a few? Are the author affiliations international in scope or just from one country or region?
  • Foreword -- the purpose of a foreword is to introduce the reader to the author as well as the book itself, and to help establish credibility for both. A foreword may not contribute any additional information about the book's subject matter, but it serves as a means of validating the book's existence. Later editions of a book sometimes have a new foreword prepended [appearing before an older foreword, if there was one], which may be included to explain how the latest edition differs from prior ones.
  • Preface -- generally describes the genesis, purpose, limitations, and scope of the book and may include acknowledgments of indebtedness to people who have helped the author complete the study. Consider, is the preface helpful in understanding the study? Does it provide an effective and thorough framework for understanding what's to follow?
  • Chronology -- also may be found as back matter, a chronology is generally included to highlight key events related to the subject of the book. Do the entries contribute to the overall work? Is it detailed or very general?
  • List of non-textual elements -- a book that contains a lot of charts, photographs, maps, graphs, etc. will often list these items after the table of contents in the order that they appear in the text. Is it useful?

The following back matter may be included in a book and may be considered for evaluation when reviewing the overall quality of the book:

  • Afterword -- this is a short, reflective piece written by the author that takes the form of a concluding section, final commentary, or closing statement. It is worth mentioning in a review if it contributes information about the purpose of the book, gives a call to action, or asks the reader to consider key points made in the book. This is a common feature of collected works because it's an opportunity to reflect upon the contents. If this is the case, does it help in wrapping up the book? Does it leave you thinking about the significance or implications of the contributions?
  • Appendix -- is the supplementary material in the appendix or appendices well organized? Do they relate to the contents or appear superfluous? Does it contain any essential information that would have been more appropriately integrated into the text?
  • Index -- is the index thorough and accurate? Are elements used, such as, bold or italic fonts to help identify specific places in the book? An index is particularly important in collected works because it brings together key terms, concepts, and names from a variety of essays that would otherwise be disconnected without a comprehensive index.
  • Glossary of Terms -- are the definitions clearly written? Is the glossary comprehensive or are key terms missing? Are any terms or concepts mentioned in the text not included?
  • Footnotes/Endnotes -- examine any footnotes or endnotes as you read from chapter to chapter. Do they provide important additional information? Do they clarify or extend points made in the body of the text? Some collected works arrange the citations by chapter at the end of the book. Is this helpful or would it been more effective to list the references and notes after each essay?
  • Bibliography/References/Further Readings -- review any bibliography, list of references to sources used, and/or further readings that are included. What kinds of sources appear [e.g., primary or secondary, recent or old, scholarly or popular, etc.]? How does the editor[s] of the collected work make use of them? Be sure to note important omissions of sources that you believe should have been utilized.

V.  Summarize and Comment

State your general conclusions succinctly. Pay particular attention to any capstone chapter that summarizes the work. Collected essays often have one written by the editor. List the principal topics, and briefly summarize the key themes and issues, main points, and conclusions. If appropriate and to help clarify your overall evaluation, use specific references and quotations to support your statements. If your thesis has been well argued, the conclusion should follow naturally. It can include a final assessment or simply restate your thesis. Do not introduce new information in the conclusion.

NOTE:  The length of a review of a collected work will almost always be longer than a review of a single book. Treat an assignment to review a collected work as a short research paper assignment in terms of the time needed to read and to write a thorough synopsis. Due to the factors noted above, more effort will have to devoted to describing the content of the essays and the thematic relationships among each of them.


Bazerman, Charles. Comparing and Synthesizing Sources. The Informed Writer: Using Sources in the Disciplines. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Book Reviews. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Book Reviews. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Writing a Book Review. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Rhetorical Strategies: Comparison and Contrast. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Visvis, Vikki and Jerry Plotnick. The Comparative Essay. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing Book Reviews. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University.

MLA Works Cited Page: Books

Summary:

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo RodrĂ­guez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2018-01-09 11:20:41

When you are gathering book sources, be sure to make note of the following bibliographic items: the author name(s), other contributors such as translators or editors, the book’s title, editions of the book, the publication date, the publisher, and the pagination.

The 8th edition of the MLA handbook highlights principles over prescriptive practices. Essentially, a writer will need to take note of primary elements in every source, such as author, title, etc. and then assort them in a general format. Thus, in using this methodology, a writer will be able to source a specific item that may not be included in this list.

Remember these changes from previous editions:

  • Commas are used instead of periods between Publisher, Publication Date, and Pagination.
  • Medium is no longer necessary.
  • Containers are now a part of the MLA process, in light of technology. Periods should be used between Containers.
  • DOIs should be used instead of URLS when available.
  • Use the phrase, “Accessed” instead of listing the date or the abbreviation, “n.d.”

Below is the general format for any citation:

Author. Title. Title of container (self contained if book), Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs URL or DOI). 2nd container’s title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable).

Basic Book Format

The author’s name or a book with a single author's name appears in last name, first name format. The basic form for a book citation is:

Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.

Book with One Author

Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. Penguin, 1987.

Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. MacMurray, 1999.

Book with More Than One Author

When a book has multiple authors, order the authors in the same way they are presented in the book. The first given name appears in last name, first name format; subsequent author names appear in first name last name format.

Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Allyn and Bacon, 2000.

If there are three or more authors, list only the first author followed by the phrase et al. (Latin for "and others") in place of the subsequent authors' names. (Note that there is a period after “al” in “et al.” Also note that there is never a period after the “et” in “et al.”).

Wysocki, Anne Frances, et al. Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition. Utah State UP, 2004. 

Two or More Books by the Same Author

List works alphabetically by title. (Remember to ignore articles like A, An, and The.) Provide the author’s name in last name, first name format for the first entry only. For each subsequent entry by the same author, use three hyphens and a period.

Palmer, William J. Dickens and New Historicism. St. Martin's, 1997.

---. The Films of the Eighties: A Social History. Southern Illinois UP, 1993.

Book by a Corporate Author or Organization

A corporate author may include a commission, a committee, a government agency, or a group that does not identify individual members on the title page.

List the names of corporate authors in the place where an author’s name typically appears at the beginning of the entry.

American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. Random House, 1998.

When the author and publisher are the same, skip the author, and list the title first. Then, list the corporate author only as the publisher.

Fair Housing—Fair Lending. Aspen Law & Business, 1985.

Book with No Author

List by title of the book. Incorporate these entries alphabetically just as you would with works that include an author name. For example, the following entry might appear between entries of works written by Dean, Shaun and Forsythe, Jonathan.

Encyclopedia of Indiana. Somerset, 1993.

Remember that for an in-text (parenthetical) citation of a book with no author, provide the name of the work in the signal phrase and the page number in parentheses. You may also use a shortened version of the title of the book accompanied by the page number. For more information see the In-text Citations for Print Sources with No Known Author section of In-text Citations: The Basics.

A Translated Book

If you want to emphasize the work rather than the translator, cite as you would any other book. Add “translated by” and follow with the name(s) of the translator(s).

Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard, Vintage-Random House, 1988.

If you want to focus on the translation, list the translator as the author. In place of the author’s name, the translator’s name appears. His or her name is followed by the label, “translator.” If the author of the book does not appear in the title of the book, include the name, with a “By” after the title of the book and before the publisher. Note that this type of citation is less common and should only be used for papers or writing in which translation plays a central role.

Howard, Richard, translator. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. By Michel Foucault, Vintage-Random House, 1988.

Republished Book

Books may be republished due to popularity without becoming a new edition. New editions are typically revisions of the original work. For books that originally appeared at an earlier date and that have been republished at a later one, insert the original publication date before the publication information.

For books that are new editions (i.e. different from the first or other editions of the book), see An Edition of a Book below.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. 1990. Routledge, 1999.

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine. 1984. Perennial-Harper, 1993.

An Edition of a Book

There are two types of editions in book publishing: a book that has been published more than once in different editions and a book that is prepared by someone other than the author (typically an editor).

A Subsequent Edition

Cite the book as you normally would, but add the number of the edition after the title.

Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 3rd ed., Pearson, 2004.

A Work Prepared by an Editor

Cite the book as you normally would, but add the editor after the title with the label, "Edited by"

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Edited by Margaret Smith, Oxford UP, 1998.

Anthology or Collection (e.g. Collection of Essays)

To cite the entire anthology or collection, list by editor(s) followed by a comma and "editor" or, for multiple editors, "editors." This sort of entry is somewhat rare. If you are citing a particular piece within an anthology or collection (more common), see A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection below.

Hill, Charles A., and Marguerite Helmers, editors. Defining Visual Rhetorics. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004.

Peterson, Nancy J., editor. Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches. Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.

A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection

Works may include an essay in an edited collection or anthology, or a chapter of a book. The basic form is for this sort of citation is as follows:

Last name, First name. "Title of Essay." Title of Collection, edited by Editor's Name(s), Publisher, Year, Page range of entry.

Some examples:

Harris, Muriel. "Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers." A Tutor's Guide: Helping Writers One to One, edited by Ben Rafoth, Heinemann, 2000, pp. 24-34.

Swanson, Gunnar. "Graphic Design Education as a Liberal Art: Design and Knowledge in the University and The 'Real World.'" The Education of a Graphic Designer, edited by Steven Heller, Allworth Press, 1998, pp. 13-24.

Note on Cross-referencing Several Items from One Anthology: If you cite more than one essay from the same edited collection, MLA indicates you may cross-reference within your works cited list in order to avoid writing out the publishing information for each separate essay. You should consider this option if you have several references from a single text. To do so, include a separate entry for the entire collection listed by the editor's name as below:

Rose, Shirley K., and Irwin Weiser, editors. The Writing Program Administrator as Researcher. Heinemann, 1999.

Then, for each individual essay from the collection, list the author's name in last name, first name format, the title of the essay, the editor's last name, and the page range:

L'Eplattenier, Barbara. "Finding Ourselves in the Past: An Argument for Historical Work on WPAs." Rose and Weiser, pp. 131-40.

Peeples, Tim. "'Seeing' the WPA With/Through Postmodern Mapping." Rose and Weiser, pp. 153-67.

Please note: When cross-referencing items in the works cited list, alphabetical order should be maintained for the entire list. 

Poem or Short Story Examples:

Burns, Robert. "Red, Red Rose." 100 Best-Loved Poems, edited by Philip Smith, Dover, 1995, p. 26.

Kincaid, Jamaica. "Girl." The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 306-07.

If the specific literary work is part of the author's own collection (all of the works have the same author), then there will be no editor to reference:

Whitman, Walt. "I Sing the Body Electric." Selected Poems. Dover, 1991, pp. 12-19. 

Carter, Angela. "The Tiger's Bride." Burning Your Boats: The Collected Stories. Penguin, 1995, pp. 154-69.

Article in a Reference Book (e.g. Encyclopedias, Dictionaries)

For entries in encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference works, cite the piece as you would any other work in a collection but do not include the publisher information. Also, if the reference book is organized alphabetically, as most are, do not list the volume or the page number of the article or item.

"Ideology." The American Heritage Dictionary. 3rd ed., 1997.

A Multivolume Work

When citing only one volume of a multivolume work, include the volume number after the work's title, or after the work's editor or translator.

Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Translated by H. E. Butler, vol. 2, Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980. 

When citing more than one volume of a multivolume work, cite the total number of volumes in the work. Also, be sure in your in-text citation to provide both the volume number and page number(s). (See Citing Multivolume Works on the In-Text Citations – The Basics page, which you can access by following the appropriate link at the bottom of this page.)

Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria. Translated by H. E. Butler, Loeb-Harvard UP, 1980. 4 vols. 

If the volume you are using has its own title, cite the book without referring to the other volumes as if it were an independent publication.

Churchill, Winston S. The Age of Revolution. Dodd, 1957.

An Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword

When citing an introduction, a preface, a foreword, or an afterword, write the name of the author(s) of the piece you are citing. Then give the name of the part being cited, which should not be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks; in italics, provide the name of the work and the name of the author of the introduction/preface/foreword/afterword. Finish the citation with the details of publication and page range.

Farrell, Thomas B. Introduction. Norms of Rhetorical Culture, by Farrell, Yale UP, 1993, pp. 1-13.

If the writer of the piece is different from the author of the complete work, then write the full name of the principal work's author after the word "By." For example, if you were to cite Hugh Dalziel Duncan’s introduction of Kenneth Burke’s book Permanence and Change, you would write the entry as follows:

Duncan, Hugh Dalziel. Introduction. Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose, by Kenneth Burke, 1935, 3rd ed., U of California P, 1984, pp. xiii-xliv.

Other Print/Book Sources

Certain book sources are handled in a special way by MLA style.

Book Published Before 1900

Original copies of books published before 1900 are usually defined by their place of publication rather than the publisher. Unless you are using a newer edition, cite the city of publication where you would normally cite the publisher. 

Thoreau, Henry David. Excursions. Boston, 1863.

The Bible

Italicize “The Bible” and follow it with the version you are using. Remember that your in-text (parenthetical citation) should include the name of the specific edition of the Bible, followed by an abbreviation of the book, the chapter and verse(s). (See Citing the Bible at In-Text Citations: The Basics.)

The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998.

 

The Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Version, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2001.

 

The New Jerusalem Bible. Edited by Susan Jones, Doubleday, 1985. 

A Government Publication

Cite the author of the publication if the author is identified. Otherwise, start with the name of the national government, followed by the agency (including any subdivisions or agencies) that serves as the organizational author. For congressional documents, be sure to include the number of the Congress and the session when the hearing was held or resolution passed as well as the report number. US government documents are typically published by the Government Printing Office.

United States, Congress, Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Hearing on the Geopolitics of Oil. Government Printing Office, 2007. 110th Congress, 1st session, Senate Report 111-8.

 

United States, Government Accountability Office. Climate Change: EPA and DOE Should Do More to Encourage Progress Under Two Voluntary Programs. Government Printing Office, 2006.

A Pamphlet

Cite the title and publication information for the pamphlet just as you would a book without an author. Pamphlets and promotional materials commonly feature corporate authors (commissions, committees, or other groups that does not provide individual group member names). If the pamphlet you are citing has no author, cite as directed below. If your pamphlet has an author or a corporate author, put the name of the author (last name, first name format) or corporate author in the place where the author name typically appears at the beginning of the entry. (See also Books by a Corporate Author or Organization above.)

Women's Health: Problems of the Digestive System. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2006.

Your Rights Under California Welfare Programs. California Department of Social Services, 2007.

Dissertations and Master's Theses

Dissertations and master's theses may be used as sources whether published or not. Cite the work as you would a book, but include the designation Dissertation (or MA/MS thesis) followed by the degree-granting school and the year the degree was awarded.

If the dissertation is published, italicize the title and include the publication date. You may also include the University Microfilms International (UMI) order number if you choose:

Bishop, Karen Lynn. Documenting Institutional Identity: Strategic Writing in the IUPUI Comprehensive Campaign. Dissertation, Purdue University, 2002. UMI, 2004.

Bile, Jeffrey. Ecology, Feminism, and a Revised Critical Rhetoric: Toward a Dialectical Partnership. Dissertation, Ohio University, 2005. UMI, 2006. AAT 3191701.

If the work is not published, put the title in quotation marks and end with the date the degree was awarded:

Graban, Tarez Samra. "Towards a Feminine Ironic: Understanding Irony in the Oppositional Discourse of Women from the Early Modern and Modern Periods." Dissertation, Purdue University, 2006.

Stolley, Karl. "Toward a Conception of Religion as a Discursive Formation: Implications for Postmodern Composition Theory." MA thesis, Purdue University, 2002.

List the names of corporate authors in the place where an author’s name typically appears at the beginning of the entry if the author and publisher are not the same.

    American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. Random House, 1998.

When the author and publisher are the same, skip the author, and list the title first. Then, list the corporate author only as the publisher.

Fair Housing—Fair Lending. Aspen Law & Business, 1985. 

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