I got the following info from the Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide website in relation to citing Kindle books or ebooks.

If no fixed page numbers are available, you can include a section title or a chapter or other number.

I am wondering is there a preferred method of citing in this case?

I am history Mlitt student and have only recently started to use a kindle for research purposes. At the moment I use the loc (location) reference that is produced by the kindle in the notes text file you can download from it, that shows all your highlights/bookmarks, but I am confused as to the proper citation method as my supervisor queried if this was the standard way of citing a kindle. I have a copy of my history department style-sheet but it makes no reference to kindle editions.

  • 4
    In general, chapter is a more stable entity than page number (the later can, and most likely - will, change with every edition; a few times I was searching in a wrong place). Mar 12, 2014 at 19:33

5 Answers 5


According to the APA blog, the location number is actually a bad idea because it has limited retrievability. The blog also mentions that since Kindle's third generation, e-books have started to have real page numbers, you may try looking into that.

Another post on apastyle.org suggests that for materials that are not paginated, consider citing chapter number or chapter heading plus paragraph numbers.

  • Thanks and yes, some of my newer e-books do indeed have page numbers. Older e-books are not so good at having page numbers.
    – gman
    Mar 6, 2014 at 15:23
  • 1
    So... the page numbers now even depend on the specific hardware I use to access an ebook. Wonderful, just wonderful. Jun 4, 2014 at 16:01
  • 1
    @StephanKolassa Not only on the hardware. If you change the font size, the pages will be renumbered accordingly. Nov 19, 2014 at 15:15
  • 1
    @RobertoBonvallet The Kindle page numbers don't depend on hardware or on font. They're done by mapping spots in the ebook to pages in a particular physical edition of the book; for books from Amazon, you can even see the ISBN number of the particular physical edition (so you know what edition of the printed book your page number corresponds to).
    – cpast
    Jan 5, 2015 at 7:42

The reason for citing a page number is so the exact quote can be found in context. In an electronic book, one can just do a search and find the exact location faster than just looking for the page number in a traditional book, so I would say it is not necessary.

To provide a better idea of the context, you can cite the chapter and section.

  • 2
    As a reviewer, I would demand a specification of the precise place which you cite, some "search method" is simply not enough, no matter what.
    – yo'
    Mar 8, 2014 at 23:49
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    If the paragraph is quoted, search in the electronic book is trivial. I would consider it enough. Note that citing the page number may vary between editions, so if you don't have the same one, the "exact place" may be mostly useless.
    – Davidmh
    Mar 9, 2014 at 12:05
  • 1
    However, if you cite Remark 2 in §3.5.1, or just §3.5.1, it's fairly precise. Numbering of blocks should be consistent amongst all versions, xindle, print or a 105th version of print.
    – yo'
    Mar 9, 2014 at 20:11
  • 1
    Yes, if the book provides that granularity, absolutely yes. I have only seen this in some mathematical books; but on the other hand I have never used technical history books.
    – Davidmh
    Mar 9, 2014 at 20:24

I got a look at a copy of the Chicago manual at my college and the guidance in that is a lot clearer than it is on the web site where the whole manual is not available without a subscription.

The reason given for citing a electronic edition of a book is quite clear.

The majority of electronically published books offered for download from a library or bookseller will have a printed counterpart. Because of the potential for differences, however, authors must indicate that they have consulted a format other than print. This indication should be the last part of a full citation that follows the recommendations for citing printed books [...].

The manual further goes on to state that;

[...] electronic formats do not always carry stable page numbers (e.g., pagination may depend on text size), a factor that potentially limits their suitability as sources. In lieu of a page number, include an indication of chapter or section or other locator.

Further in the section it deals with unpaginated electronic sources in more detail.

For such unpaginated works, it may be appropriate in a note to include a chapter or paragraph number (if available), a section heading, or a descriptive phrase that follows the organizational divisions of the work. In citations of shorter electronic works presented as a single, searchable document, such locators may be unnecessary.

It seems form reading the manual that the following are the preferred methods of referencing;

  1. Page number (where stable ones exist/some new kindle books match the print edition)
  2. Chapter or paragraph number
  3. Section heading
  4. descriptive phrase that follows the organizational divisions

If you want to cite in MLA; this blog recommends the following.

MLA 5.7.18 defines digital files as neither on the web or a published CD-ROM. MLA recommends citing a book on a digital device using the guidelines for citing a book but replacing the format type (Print) with the name of the digital file format, followed by the word "file.” For the “Digital file type” field on the form, enter a file format such as "EPUB file" (a non-proprietary file format used by Kobo, Nook, Sony and others). If an e-Book reader uses a proprietary format (e.g., Kindle), you may use the name of the file type ("AZW file") or, if this is not visible to you, the name of the device ("Kindle file").


Slawenski, Kenneth. J.D. Salinger: A Life. New York: Random, 2011. N. pag. EPUB file.

If you are only citing a section or chapter:

  • To cite a chapter or section written by the author of the book, cite the book and use an in-text reference to identify the specific section you're quoting or paraphrasing.

  • If the introduction or preface is written by another contributor, fill in the section of the form called Chapter or Section to cite the author, section title and page numbers.


As far as I understand, Chicago frowns on Kindle. Depending on how rigorous the context (class paper, proposed article), I would look at the print book.

  • 3
    In what way is a Kindle book less valid than a paper book?
    – earthling
    Mar 7, 2014 at 23:44
  • 3
    It's lack of page numbers.
    – rougon
    Mar 7, 2014 at 23:56
  • 1
    As stated above newer kindle books do have page numbers plus as per link in my question the Chicago style sheet makes specific reference to Kindle editions of books. Have you any reference as to why kindle editions are frowned upon? There didn't seem to be an issue with my history department.
    – gman
    Mar 8, 2014 at 11:15
  • Do the page #s correspond to the print version? By "frowned upon," I mean "not preferred," but if your dept. is ok with it, then, as i mentioned, it doesn't matter.
    – rougon
    Mar 8, 2014 at 12:45
  • @user2569 The page numbers do indeed correspond to a particular print edition of the book; for books from Amazon at least, you can actually get the ISBN number of the edition in question.
    – cpast
    Jan 5, 2015 at 7:44

I have a new Kindle and I purchased two books from Amazon. One I am able to see real page numbers, the other only location.

I was told for APA:

In text citation For Paraphrase: (Atkins, 2014).
For Quotation: (Atkins, 2014, Location No. xxx)

For Reference listing to use: Daley, D. Ph.D., & Moss, H. Ph.D. (2002). Dual Disorders: Counseling Clients with Chemical Dependency and Mental Illness (3rd ed.) [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

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