I need some help determining the proper publication date to cite a book (a textbook). It is the 8th edition of the textbook, Print 01, Print year 2016, the Copyright year is 2017. Should the print year or the copyright year be cited as the proper publication date? Does it matter if the copyright date is in the future (for reference, this question is being asked in 2016). I understand that the copyright date is pushed as far forward as the publisher can get away with to maximize the copyrighted period.

I realize this is similar to a couple other questions, such as What determines the copyright year for a publication? but I think it is a bit different in that those questions deal with multiple copyright dates or a print date that is after the copyright date.

The textbook is:

Evans, J.R. (2016 or 2017?). Quality and Performance Excellence, 8th edition, Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

ISBN is 1-305-66222-9

2 Answers 2


Whenever you have tricky issues like this, go back to the basics of why we reference works at all.

The aim of a reference is to help the reader locate a copy of the work, so that they can replicate or investigate your results or argument.

So ignore the publisher's gaming of the copyright year — which suggests to the reader that book is an advance copy, and thus not available from the publisher, but only from the paper's author and other 'insider' sources — and use the date the work was actually available to the reader from the publisher.


Others will use the copyright date. So, if you want to communicate with others, why not use it, too?

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