OS X Mavericks: Copying Quotes and Citations from iBooks

| TMO Quick Tip

Mavericks’ new iBooks app has a neat hidden ability that’ll be especially great for you students out there. This feature adds citations to copied iBooks text for pasting into the app of your choice. It’s really simple to take advantage of, too—all you’ve gotta do is select some text on a page within iBooks on your Mac, and then press Command-C, choose Edit> Copy, or select the "Copy" command right from the contextual menu that appears.

Then go where you want to put your quote and citation, and paste them in (Command-V or Edit> Paste).

Blammo! Not only do you paste the text you copied, but you also get the author’s name, the title, and a link to download the book itself (if available), all formatted and pretty and stuff. And you can paste this info into an email, a text file, or even into Pages or Word if you’re working on a research paper, for example.

Keep in mind, though, that there's a 200-word limit on how much text you can copy out of items you've purchased from the iBooks Store. If you go over that, your quote will get truncated with an ellipsis, as below:

In any case, this is so cool that it makes me wish I could go back to college! OK, that is a bald-faced dirty lie, and I apologize. I mean, the feature's cool, but it ain't THAT cool.

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Lee Dronick

A very handy tip that I have been using for quite a while. I have my recipes in an iBook and often copy then paste one into an email or Facebook comment when we are sharing such things.


Cool. But I want to do this on an iPad too.

And where’s the page number?


meh, if it did a proper citation with footnote or bibliography formatting I *might* be impressed. smile

or Auto BBCode!
[quote=Excerpt From: Philip K. Dick. “The Gun.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=361490800]
“The gun was huge. Stark and immense it pointed up at the sky, a mass of steel and glass, set in a huge slab of concrete. Even as they watched the gun moved on its swivel base, whirring underneath. ”


Lee Dronick

Buck it is doable on the iPad. A few versions ago Apple took the copy feature out of iBooks, but it is back in.

Felix Pope

Here’s the thing though, as a University Political Science student, I’d normally like to just grab the (normally free) version of whatever political philosopher and document we’re studying. I use the cut and paste in order to get the quotes into the document, but the citation style needs to either be MLA or AJP. So instead of being able to just leave the default citation in the paper, I have no choice but to delete it and then do the whatever style my professor requests. No big deal, I learned how to do it years ago. However, when it comes to creating my “works cited”/bibliography page, I have to hunt and search for the correct information to either plunk in to End Note, or just create manually. What would actually make for much better functionality would be the ability to tell iBooks that I’m using it for a paper or something like that and then put it in bibliography format for me. Hell, just to have the general information in the same spot for every book would be great.

Tim Holmes

How do I turn this off? It’s a pain in the arse when working with a technical book when I want to copy code examples out of a book and paste them directly into a code editor and/or terminal.

Melissa Holt

Hey Tim,

As far as I know, you can’t turn it off. :-(


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