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Referencing and assignment writing guide: works cited - publisher & publication date.

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Author. Title of source .  Title of container , Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date , Location.

The publisher is the organisation responsible for producing the work. If multiple organisations were responsible for producing the work, for example, as is the case for most films, cite the organisation  which had the primary responsibility. If more than one organisation had the primary responsibility, list each of them, separated by a space and a forward slash ( / ).

Business words such as Company / Co, Corporation / Corp, Ltd, etc should be omitted. University presses are abbreviated to UP.

A publisher's name may be omitted for some types of publications such as:

  • a periodical / journal / magazine / newspaper
  • a work published by the author
  • a website, whose name is the same as the publisher
  • a website not involved in the production of the work, such as YouTube

The Arabian Nights. Bloomsbury , 1994. Children's Classics.

Hill, John, and Pamela Church Gibson, editors. The Oxford Guide to Film Studies . Oxford UP , 1998, pp. 35-36.

Who Wrote the Movie and What Else Did He Write? : An Index of Screen Writers and Their Film Works, 1936-1969.   Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences , 1970, p. 78.

Publication date

The format for the date of publication will often depend on the type of publication. For a book, the date (usually just the year of publication) will be listed on the title page or at the copyright statement on the reverse of the title page. For a journal, in addition to the year there may also be the month, or a season (e.g. Spring, Summer, etc) related to a specific issue within the year. Web documents or TV series will often have a complete date associated with them. When a source has more than one date, cite the one which is the most meaningful to the actual work you have used.

Some examples:

Light, Alison. "'Returning to Manderley': Romance Fiction, Female Sexuality and Class." Feminist Review, no. 16, Summer 1984 , pp. 7-25, doi:10.2307/1394954.

University of Kansas. "Study Dispels Notion Social Media Displaces Human Contact: Face-to-Face Contact with Friends, Family Unaffected."  ScienceDaily ,  February 15 , 2018 ,

Utell , Janine.  Engagements with Narrative.   Routledge ,  2016 .  Routledge  Engagements with Literature.

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If you cannot find an example for what you are looking for here, consult the MLA website , or the MLA Handbook (below)  

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book publishing date

What is a publication date?

The week that I started at the Press a new book arrived from the printer.  It was placed on my desk with the expectation that I would assign it a “publication date.” I seemed pretty new to the game to be handed this awesome responsibility but I consulted my colleagues and calendar before declaring, “November 14!” 

Since then I have received numerous inquiries from authors, customers, and co-workers about what exactly the publication date signifies. The best explanation that I have produced is, “It is the date by which all of the books that have been pre-ordered will make it through the distribution stream to the end retailer.” OK, and then I add a week for good measure. 

The hang up is that Amazon lists the availability date as the date that we project (months in advance) the book will arrive at our distributor’s warehouse.  This Amazon date is typically 4-6 weeks before our official publication date.  I’ve had multiple magazine book editors contact me to reconcile that difference in trying to time publication of a book review.

Earlier today I was pointed to this Linda Carlson piece about metadata on the Independent Book Publishers Association website.  She has provided a definition of the Publication Date:

There is no single definition of “Publication Date” in the U.S. book trade, so publishers can choose whatever pub dates they like. BISG Best Practices advises: “Publication Date is defined by many key accounts in our market as the date on which a retail consumer may purchase and take possession of a given product,” typically the date on which a book is on sale in bricks-and-mortar bookshops. “Where a book is sold via online or mail order prior to its appearance in physical stores, the publication date is defined by many key accounts as the date the consumer will receive the book.

So, there you go curious minds.

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Q. When referencing a book, do I use the date published or the date reprinted?

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Last Updated: 06 Jul, 2023     Views: 10766

Finding the dates of books can be difficult. You have the original publication date, reprint dates and dates for new editions.

Use the publication date for the edition you have seen and are referring to .

Reprints vs New Editions

If a book has been reprinted by the publisher of the original book, this might simply mean a new copy has been produced - the information in the book probably has not changed (although the formatting may have changed slightly and some spelling errors might have been corrected). For example, you see a list of dates giving the copyright as 2010, but also giving a "third reprinting" date of 2012. The date of publication for that book is still 2010.

A new edition , however, has changed some of the contents of the book, so you need the publication date for that edition.

Republished and translated books

A republished book is one where a book that was originally published some time ago, or buy a different publisher, has been published without modification to the content (but potentially with modification to the formatting). You will need to confirm with the style you are using which dates to use in this case. You should be using the date of the work you have seen (the newer book), but your style may require you to use both dates - the original publication and the later republication.

Translated books are similar - there is the date the original work was published and the date the translation was published. If you used the translation, that is the date of publication you should use, but the referencing style might require you to use both dates.

Look for the copyright date

A good rule of thumb is to use the copyright date of the book and confirm with the date in the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data (if available).

Look at the verso page for your book (this is the "other side" of the title page. You should be able to find it in an eBook, as well as a print book, but it may be in a separate section called "front matter" - DO NOT use the information on the book preview/overview, but always consult the book itself). Find the copyright date on that page.

The copyright date is a good guide, but it's not always reliable, unless it's the only date on the page. Confirm the copyright date by checking the Library of Congress data:

  • Find the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.
  • Find the LOC number (it's usually the second last line of the Cataloging-in-Publication Data - just above the Dewey number) - the year of publication follows the LOC.

For example:

LCC LB2369.G32 2009 (the publication date is 2009)

LCC BF76.7.P83 2010 (the publication date is 2010)

LCC PE135.B34 2012 (the publication date is 2012)

This image shows the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-publication data for a book. The LOC number is towards the bottom of the image.

N.B. Some referencing styles use the word "reprinted" to refer to works that exist in two different forms at the same time - for example, APA uses "reprinted work" to talk about a journal article that has been reproduced as a chapter of a book when both versions are available. Refer to the style guide's instructions for what to do with the publication date in these cases. As with republished and translated works, you may need to include both dates.

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Comments (2)

  • Knowing to stick w the copyright date is helpful. Tnx! What about "©1964. Reprinted from corrected sheets of the first edition 1966." by Richrd Hawley Trowbridge on 30 Mar, 2023
  • Hi, Richard - that's an unusual one, and I'd probably want to see the full details for the book before giving a difinitive answer (please don't include them here - if you would like specific help send it to our contacts so we can reply directly), but if the information it gives you implies there was a change after the initial publication and the information in this copy might not be identical to information in earlier books with the same publication date, then my advice would be to still give the date that will help people find the book (usually the copyright date or the date that appears near the LoC number). Check a library record for the copy you are using and see what date they have used. If you think it's important to note the potential changes, you can also include the second date. You can do that one of two ways. The first is to use a double date. It depends on the style, but normally a double date has both the original publication and the date of the version in your hands (e.g. 1964/1966). The second is to include the extra details after the title - usually in [square brackets]. For example: Title of book [1966 revised printing]. Hope this helps by Sharon Bryan on 20 Apr, 2023

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Acknowledgement of Country

Librarian Manual: Book edit page – published date

Dec 17, 2019 • knowledge, information.

This field is for noting the date the edition associated with the listed ISBN was published. Date published can most usually be found on the copyright page of a book. That page will tell you when the work was copyrighted – and if the book is a first edition, the copyright date will be the same as the date published. If it is a later edition, the date will be different. Some books, not all, will list dates for subsequent publications somewhere on the copyright page. The last date listed is what should be used to fill in the date published. If you know the book is a reprinting/reissue published later than the copyright date, but no other dates are given you can (a) if the book already has a date published supplied by Ingram, leave it as is; (b) research the publication date for the edition you have using Worldcat , Library of Congress , the author's website or numerous other resources; or (c) use the copyright date as the date published.

Example: year: 2008 month: September day: 22

Adding the month and day are optional. They should be included if known. Year is also technically optional, but it is strongly encouraged that a year always be included. NOTE:  All publication dates must follow the Gregorian or Julian calendar.

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  • publication date

the date on which a book or periodical is or is planned to be published.

Origin of publication date

Words nearby publication date.

  • public administrator
  • public affairs
  • public assistance
  • publication
  • public bill
  • Public Broadcasting Service
  • public charge
  • public company Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use publication date in a sentence

Holmes then circulated an intricate time line prepared by Chan of the publication dates and past connections between the authors.

The information in this article is as of the publication date , and the data and facts presented in the article may change.

ProPublica delayed its publication date to give Lee the opportunity to be heard.

The publication date for the second volume has not yet been determined.

Removing the outdated content from your site may be a better option than leaving it up, or you can update that article with new predictions and change the publication date if you’ve made substantial changes to the copy.

They claimed they backed him but had put his newest book on hold for an undisclosed future publication date .

Once slated to be released this fall, The Problem with Christianity now has no publication date scheduled.

Matt Bissonette had asked you when your publication date was.

Another potential problem for Gawker: posting the portions before, but very close to the publication date .

The publication date of Bush's Decision Points is set for early November, one week after the congressional elections.

Note that the publication date of Physica Subterranea is 1669.

References to L'Estrange's flight to escape a sham plot against him in October, 1680, imply a late autumn publication date .

One day in advance of publication date he received a copy of the issue of the magazine containing the interview with him.

We believe this is again the dedication instead of the publication date .

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Being sure of date of publication of a book

I am practicing making citations of quotes and I am currently stuck on publication dates.

To illustrate my issue, let’s use this this book :

The front pages state the copyright date as three separate years, which I have no idea how to interpret (see image below).

I checked on Google, and I found this on Amazon stating the publication date of Aug 10, 2010.

Checking the official site of publisher , I see "© 2011".

Do I need to make assumptions when taking the date, e.g., taking the first date from copyright without being certain that it is the correct publication date? I know I can contact the publisher and ask, but that seems like (a) a lot of work and (b) it’s pretty unlikely I’ll get a reply. I want to know if there are any tips on making sure that the publication date of the book is correct.

the page with all the relevant info.

4 Answers 4

The three dates you see are the years the copyright was renewed. You probably just want the most recent of those dates, as that's the edition of the book you're working with.

Note that it can get more complex than that—edition and copyright date are not always the same—but its definitely good enough for citations.

eykanal's user avatar

  • So in this case, I can't be completely sure? Feels so wrong to just assume publication date and most recent copyright renewal date are the same... –  Dmytro Dec 3, 2015 at 18:41
  • Or perhaps would it more fair to just write n.d. for no date, as the book does not provide a publication date, but only copyright date, and the two are different. –  Dmytro Dec 3, 2015 at 23:06
  • 1 @Dmitry n.d. is useless. When I look at a reference, I want the year to get an idea of how recent it is, and how it relates to other similar research I may be aware of. The copyright is usually close enough to the real date. –  Davidmh Dec 4, 2015 at 6:14

Your best bet is probably to look the book up in WorldCat , which (because it contains records from thousands of libraries) is quite likely to have separate records for each edition of the book. (Why? It's a long story. Seymour Lubetzky was a nitpicker.) Looking at the earliest available records indicates a 1990 copyright date for the first edition of the book, which is probably close enough to the publication date to satisfy an editor or instructor.

The real question is which edition you should be citing. It's probably the one you're actually using, the fourth! WorldCat's consensus (though not unanimous; bad records do sometimes sneak in) answer to the date of the fourth edition is 2011.

D.Salo's user avatar

Publishers often fudge on the copyright dates by putting one year later than the real publication year. See for instance this answer , or google for "publication date vs copyright date".

So it is very likely that the book was published in 2010.

Community's user avatar

Cite 2011. The other two years, 1995 and 2004, correspond to the first two editions of the book. If you're citing this (third) edition you should naturally use 2011.

As for the fact that you can find the book on Amazon in 2010, as the marketing department explained to me when I was in academic publishing, it's because when the book is "printed" (read: arrives at the warehouse) it's already late 2010. From the warehouse the book still needs to be shipped around the world, so that when it's actually available for purchase in Amazon, it's 2011. In the meantime, it's available for pre-order, because once the printing process starts it's usually clear when the book will be complete. The time required to produce a book can be very uncertain, but the biggest uncertainties are earlier in the production process.

Allure's user avatar

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How to Determine When a Book Was Printed

When you see an old book at a yard sale or flea market, you might find yourself wondering when the book was published. Older books are generally worth more money, but before you can determine the book’s value you first need to determine when it was published. Books go through multiple printings over the years, and a first edition is going to bring you more money than a newer printing. To determine when a book was printed, you need to look inside the book and do some research.

Open up the book and look through the first few pages, paying special attention to the left-hand side of the book. Publishers usually list the printing date on the inside cover.

Look at the title page to see if you can find a date. On some books, usually newer ones, you can find a printing date right underneath the title.

Flip through the book to see if you can find a date listed anywhere inside the book, especially printed on the bottom of the pages. In older editions of books, the publishers sometimes listed a date on the bottom of the book page.

Read the inside of the dust jacket if the book has one on its cover. The dust jacket sometimes includes the printing date.

Search online for pictures of the book. You may find it helpful to look for books by that particular author. There are websites devoted to specific authors where the owners include images of all the copies of the book, along with their printing date.

  • If you can’t find a date, consider taking the book to a professional appraiser. An appraiser can accurately determine when the book was printed.
  • Don’t automatically think a book is old based on its appearance. There are some publishers who reprint books and make the newer ones look old.

Things You'll Need

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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Resources are available for more information on the marketing of your book , translations , royalties , and author reuse .

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  1. Publication Date

    book publishing date

  2. Publication Date

    book publishing date

  3. Publication Date.pdf

    book publishing date

  4. Publication Dates

    book publishing date

  5. Which Publication Date is the Best?

    book publishing date

  6. How do I find a publication date that is not clearly displayed on a web

    book publishing date


  1. Book Publishing Guide Coming Soon #homeschool


  3. I tried publishing low content books and it went wrong

  4. Use Your Books as Journals!

  5. Fantasy LitRPG Author / Week 30

  6. How to Publish Your Book Through Collaboration Part 4


  1. Get Your Book Published: An Expert’s Guide to Publishing Online

    Are you an aspiring author looking to get your book published? With the rise of self-publishing, it has never been easier to get your work out into the world. However, it can still be a daunting process.

  2. How to Publish Your Book Online

    Are you an aspiring author looking to get your book out into the world? Publishing your book online is a great way to reach a wider audience and make your work available to readers around the world. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to pub...

  3. How to Self-Publish a Book

    When opting to self-publish, choose to do the entire process using an application or use the services of a self-publishing company. E-book Self-Publishing Applications Self-publishing a book gives an author complete control from start to fi...

  4. Works Cited

    For a book, the date (usually just the year of publication) will be listed on the title page or at the copyright statement on the reverse of the title page. For

  5. What is a publication date?

    BISG Best Practices advises: “Publication Date is defined by many key accounts in our market as the date on which a retail consumer may purchase

  6. How To Find The Publication Date Of A Book

    A publication date is the day a book or periodical is planned to be released. The title, publisher, and publishing address of the book are all

  7. When referencing a book, do I use the date published ...

    A good rule of thumb is to use the copyright date of the book and confirm with the date in the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication

  8. Librarian Manual: Book edit page

    Date published can most usually be found on the copyright page of a book. That page will tell you when the work was copyrighted – and if the

  9. Publication date Definition & Meaning

    the date on which a book or periodical is or is planned to be published.

  10. Which is correct, 'publish date' or 'publication date'?

    Both "publish date" and "publication date" are correct and commonly used to refer to the date on which a book or other written work was released to the

  11. Being sure of date of publication of a book

    The three dates you see are the years the copyright was renewed. You probably just want the most recent of those dates, as that's the

  12. How to Determine When a Book Was Printed

    On some books, usually newer ones, you can find a printing date right underneath the title. Flip through the book to see if you can find a date listed anywhere

  13. Publication and release

    Once your book has been printed, bound, and sent to our warehouse, there are two important dates: the stock release date and the publication date.

  14. New and Upcoming Books, Seasonal Book Listings

    PUBLISHERS WEEKLY and the PW Logo are registered trademarks of