How to Cite the Bible in MLA Format: Basic Rules with Examples

While the Bible is frequently cited, it is not always easy to do so correctly.

When citing it in a paper or academic work, your job is to include the correct information based on your version. For printed ones, this information can typically be found on the title page or copyright page. For the online version, the accessed website should include the text version and used edition.

Knowing these rules, you can confidently and accurately cite the Bible when you need it. Remember to always follow the guidelines for MLA format to quote the Bible. In this post, we will share the rules you need to know on how to cite the Bible in MLA. 

Citing the Bible in MLA: In-text 

You may find the Bible somewhat similar to citing a short story in MLA, yet it has some key differences. Here is what you need to do:

  • For the first citation, provide the name of the version of the Bible you are using and always leave out ‘The’ from the beginning (e.g., New International Version, King James Version) in italics. In later references, you can shorten the Bible title and use it instead of the full version. 


(New Revised Standard Version, Gen. 1.1-5)

(NRSV, Gen. 1.6-10)

  • Include the book's name and make sure to separate chapter and verse(s) numbers by a period. You can utilize an en dash to specify a range of verses. Abbreviate the names of books according to the MLA format. You can find the list of abbreviations here.
  • Place the citation within parentheses after the quotation or paraphrase.

Here is an example of the in-text citation:

(New International Version, James 1:2-4).

Works cited entry: key guidelines 

When creating the Bible MLA citation, all the following details need to be in place. 


Make sure the title is italicized and listed first in the citation.

Edition & Version 

When we’re talking about the specific edition, it should go after the title. In this case, the version information should be capitalized, but not italicized, and separated from the title by a period. This may include the edition name or number, the publisher, and the publication year. The same applies to the version comprising the translation, publisher, and publication year.


The Holy Bible. New Revised Standard Version, Oxford UP, 1989.

Publication information

Include the publisher, city of publication, and year of publication. 

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