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MLA Style Guide: Bible

Guide for using the Modern Language Association (MLA) style manual.

How to cite the Bible

With MLA style, you need to cite the Bible two ways in your paper:

  • In the text (body) of your paper
  • On your Works Cited page.


In Text

In Text (parenthetical references)

The first time you borrow from the Bible, include the version, editor, or author, abbreviated name of the book, and then the chapter and verse. In subsequent citations, if you are using the same version, you can just cite the book, chapter, and verse. However, if you use a different version of the Bible in subsequent quotes, you must include it in the parenthetical references.


In this example, the New International Version is referenced for the first time and then another quote from the NIV is later used.

Paul urges Christians to "not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will" (New International Version, Rom. 12.2). Again, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul says that, "evidently some people are throwing you into confusion" (Gal. 1.7).

Formatting note: A period separates the chapter and verse (rather than the typical colon).

Work Cited

Works Cited

On your Works Cited page, your citation should include 1) the version used*; 2) the editor, if given; and 3) the publication information. See examples of both print and online Bible sources below.

Examples from printed Bibles

The Holy Bible: New International Version. Zondervan, 1984.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Edited by Michael D. Coogan, Oxford University Press, 2007.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. NavPress, 2002.

Examples from online Bibles

New International Version. Bible Gateway, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message. Bible Gateway, Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.

Formatting note: Use a hanging indent and double space your Works Cited page.

*Note that The Message is slightly different because it has an author, not an editor.