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How to Cite a PDF Effectively: Easy Method You Should Use

If you are writing a paper or a college essay, note that academic writing or informative blogs based on facts wholly rely on sources, and you need to cite that source. If you have a source, and it is in PDF format, and you don't know how to cite a PDF, then worry not; we have your back.

A source can be any authoritative book, a page on a website, published articles, and even movies and speeches that you have used to affirm anything you are writing about. Your article or academic work isn't considered a good piece of academic work without a good source.

You need to cite a pdf in MLA8, Chicago, or APA 7 formats which are widely used whenever you cite. In this article, we are discussing how do you cite a PDF and what the rules are for citing.

Part 1: How to Cite a PDF in APA Format

So, when it comes to your question “how to cite a PDF in APA?" remember, a PDF is just an article or a book in PDF format. To cite a PDF and set up citations in your work, it is as simple as when you are city any eBook or electronic document that you will compile your references in your bibliography. Most of the time, you find the link to the PDF or book, and there is software like Mendeley or endnote that will automate the process. But to explain how you cite a PDF, you need to include the following essential elements:

  • The author's name
  • The main title of the published work
  • The date that work was published on
  • Who was the creator?
  • The link or the Digital Object Identifier, DOI
  • The medium of the publishing, but it's optional

Most new citation types, like the MLA 8th edition, now use a container system containing nine essential core elements.

Cite a PDF – Book

If you need to cite a PDF book, it requires the following things, which you can find on the copyright page that will have the details of the publication like the DOI or the associated URL with other helpful information you may need.

  • APA Format Need – Last name, Initials. (Year). The book title. Publisher, URL, or DOI.
  • Reference Entry in the Bibliography – Knight, E.K. (2005) The academic need to cite a pdf. The University of City. URL.
  • APA in the text as cited – (Knight, 2005).

Cite a PDF – Journal Article

Journals are more descriptive and include the Volume of the publications, the issue number of the article, the name of the published journal, and sometimes the page of the article you're citing in that journal.

  • APA Format Need – Last name of the main author, Initials. (Year). The article's main title. The Journal’s name, Volume with (Issue), and Pages range. DOI or URL.
  • Reference Entry in the Bibliography – Knight, E.K. (2005). The academic need to cite a pdf. Academic Writer’s Journal, 100(1), 100-120.
  • APA in the text as cited – (Knight, 2005).

Cite a PDF – Dissertation or Thesis

Most dissertations or theses that have been published already online will likely be in a PDF format, where you will find the main title page mentioning if it is a thesis or a dissertation. In this format, the document type, i.e, Thesis/Dissertation, is followed by the title. Next is the university's name, as shown below, plus the website's name, if any, or just the university website.

  • APA Format Need – Last name of the main author, Initials. (Year). Thesis/dissertation title [Type of the document, the University’s name]. Website. Available URL
  • Reference Entry in the Bibliography – Knight, E.K. (2005). The academic need to cite a pdf, A thesis/dissertation [Ph.D. dissertation, University of the City].
  • APA in the text as cited – (Knight, 2005).

Cite a PDF – Newspaper or Magazine Article

In this scenario, you want to cite an informative article in a newspaper or magazine where the page numbers are easily accessible, and you can cite in pdf APA format.

  • APA Format Need – Last name, Initials. (Year, Month Day). Title of the article. Newspaper/Magazine’s Name, pages of the article.
  • Reference Entry in the Bibliography – Knight, E.K. (2005, October 26). The academic need to cite a pdf. The City University Post, 1-4.
  • APA in the text as cited – (Knight, 2005).

Now that you know the different ways to cite a PDF, and its intricacies, use referencing software like Mendeley or Endnote to automate the cite a PDF process for you.

Part 2: The Best PDF Reader to View PDF Papers and Books

When you're researching to write a great blog piece and cite a PDF or make a report for your academic assignment, you read tons of articles. Most of the stuff you will read will surely be in PDF format, and natively on your windows PC, it opens in Edge browser or local reader on your mobile device.

These native readers are very bland, plus they are not offering any substantial options, and you need to download an app to do it. In this case, the best PDF software to read PDF is undoubtedly UPDF because of its many fantastic PDF tools. UPDF has a slew of unique features that set it apart from others, such as:

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  • A professionally streamlined app that is available on PC, Mac, Android, and iOS, so you can read on any of them, and your documents will sink.
  • Easily annotate the essential information and add comments to come back to later.
  • With innovative and intelligent tagging, you can effortlessly search among your documents when you need a quick reference.
  • Group different documents according to the subject so you can easily cite a PDF later.
  • The OCR function lets you extract information from image files in PDF, which you can copy and paste.
  • Effective conversion of PDF documents into Word for editing data, Excel to copy and compare tables, PowerPoint to present to your teachers, etc.
  • Powerful features like edit, annotate, convert, merge, combine, protect, flatten PDF and etc.
  • If images are too small to read or too big, covering the whole page, you can edit each aspect to suit your needs.
  • If you want to share a PDF in a link, UPDF can help you generate a link for your PDF file.
  • Work and read all your documents on the go on mobile versions syncing over the cloud keeping all your edits intact.
  • Different pricing options give you complete freedom to choose according to your budget.
  • Natural and Intuitive reading software experience with excellent tools that will enhance your reading experience.

Part 3: Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Do You MLA Cite a PDF?

If you want to MLA cite a PDF, it is mainly used for citing sources in humanities or liberal arts fields such as mathematics, biology, social sciences, astronomy, etc. When you cite a PDF in the MLA format, you ignore the description requirement or the date accessed like you read above when explaining APA format. For example, the citation in the bibliography will look something like this:

  • Knight, E.K. The academic need to cite a PDF. University of City, 2005. URL.

2. How Do You Cite an Online PDF?

Citing a PDF that you read online is no different than writing in any other style; you will need to find the pertinent information from the PDF file and then cite a PDF, as we have mentioned above. You can find the required information on the PDF's title page or at the end. If you can't find what you need there, you can go to the publisher's website, which is available. The rest of the process is the same as writing any citation.

3. How Do You Cite a PDF with No Author?

If you want to know how to cite a PDF file if you don't have the name of the author, you can follow this protocol as an example of a book:

  • Reference Entry in the Bibliography –The academic need to cite a pdf. The University of City. URL.
  • APA in the text as cited – (The academic need to cite a pdf, 2005).

As you can see, the rest of the information remains the same. You can even use "Anonymous" in the author's place if the writer wants to remain Anonymous.

4. How Do You Cite a PDF with Multiple Authors in MLA?

How do you cite a PDF when there is more than one author in MLA is the same as done in Chicago style but different than APA. Following are some rules that you need to follow:

  • When there are two authors, you add 'and' between them both
  • If there are three or more authors, you add et al. at the end without adding any 'and' in there
  • Reference Entry in the Bibliography – Knight, E.K. and Barry, M. (2005). The academic need to cite a pdf. Academic Writer’s Journal, 100(1), 100-120.
  • APA in the text as cited – (Knight and Barry, 2005).

5. How Do You Find the Author of a PDF?

  • Look for the author's name from the main title page in the PDF document when cite PDF APA
  • If you can't find it on the first two pages, go to the credits part
  • If you still can't find it, you will need to extract the data from the metadata of the PDF file
  • You can find this metadata in the properties>description menu of your pdf tool
  • Finally, you can always ask the publisher for the author's name

6. How Do I Cite an eBook?

It is the same as citing a PDF with all your relevant information. An ebook is not commonly used for anything other than a book or a novel, so you may not have a DOI in some cases or the publisher’s name. Follow the typical method of citing as mentioned above.

7. How DO I Cite an eBook in APA with Page Numbers?

Most of the conventions followed for citing a PDF in APA are followed when citing in eBook and when doing it with page numbers, you can do the following example:

  • Reference Entry in the Bibliography – Knight, E.K. (2005) The academic need to cite a pdf. City University Press. URL/DOI.
  • APA in the text as cited – (Knight, 2005, page #).


Now you know many different ways to cite a PDF in this article and will be satisfied with the answers provided here, especially how to cite a PDF in APA. Citing a PDF for the first time is complex as there are many small things you must consider, but every other time it is a piece of cake. Finally, when you need to read a lot of PDF papers, UPDF is a great choice for you to view and process PDF files wherever you go.

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