MLA In-text Citations
MLA Citations are divided into two groups: in-text citations and entries on the works cited page. The purpose of MLA citations is to document where information used in the essay
was found and to provide credit to the authors for using their works. The in-text
citations provide basic information and, essentially, refer readers to the Works Cited
page where more information can be found.
Information Needed in MLA In-text Citations:
There are two main elements that must be included in all MLA in-text citations:
1. Author Name.
Note: If there is no individual author named, there will often be a corporate author, which
refers to the name of the group/agency/company that published the original information.
This is often the case with governmental sources, which are published under the name
of the government agency rather than with an individual(s) name.
2. Page number, if provided. Any print source (newspaper, magazine, journal, book,etc.) will have a page number.
When using these, provide the page number where the actual information (be it a quote,
statistic, etc.) appears in the original source.
Note: Internet sources might not have page numbers. If not, a page number cannot, obviously,
be provided, so only the author name needs to be. The exception is a pdf of an article
that also appears in print, which will have page number and, thus, should be included.
Placement and Punctuation Rules:
Put all MLA in-text citations close to the quotation, information, paragraphs or summary
that should be documented. There are several ways to do this, depending on how the
information is located.
- At the end of a sentence before the final punctuation: Wayland Hand reports on a folk belief that going to sleep on a rug made of bearskin
can relieve backache (183). Note: notice the period is placed after the parenthesis that ends the citation, not in
- After the part of the sentence to which the citation applies: The folk belief that “sleeping on a bear rug will cure backache” (Hand 183) illustrates
the magic of external objects producing results inside the body.
- At the end of a long quotation set off as a block, after the end punctuation with
a space before the parentheses: Many baseball players are superstitious, especially pitchers. Some pitchers refuse
to walk anywhere on the day of the game in the belief that every little exertion subtracts
from their playing strength. One pitcher would never put on his cap until the game
started and would not wear it at all on the days he did not pitch. (Gmelch 280)
Note: If a long, block quotation such as this is used, the period is placed in front of
the parenthesis that begins the citation, not after.
MLA In-text Citation Examples:
Note: All examples below appear in italics to differentiate from instructions. As such,
titles of books and larger works are underlined to help differentiate. However, current
MLA format requires italicizing book and other source titles rather than underlining.
In other words, anything underlined below should be italicized in an actual citation.
- Author’s Name in Parentheses:
When people marry now “there is an important sense in which they don’t know what they
are doing” (Giddens 46).
- Author’s Name in the Text:
Giddens claims that when people marry now, “there is an important sense in which they
do not know what they are doing” (46).
- General Reference: A general reference refers to a source as a whole, to its main ideas, or to information
throughout; it needs no page number.
- In parentheses: Many species of animals have complex systems of communication (Bright).
- In text: As Michael Bright observes, many species of animals have complex systems of communication.
- Specific Reference: A specific reference documents words, ideas or facts from a particular place in a
source, such as the page for a quotation or paraphrase.
- Quotation: Dolphins can perceive clicking sounds “made up of 700 units of sound per
second” (Bright 52).
- Paraphrase + Facts: Bright reports that dolphins recognize patterns consisting of 700 clicks each second
- One Author: Provide the author’s last name in parentheses, or integrate either the full name or
last name alone into the discussion:
According to Maureen Honey, government posters during World War II often portrayed
homemakers “as vital defenders of the nation’s homes” (135).
- Two or Three Authors:
The item is noted in a partial list of Francis Bacon’s debts from 1603 on (Jardine
and Stewart 275).
- For three authors: (Norman, Fraser, and Jenko 209).
- More Than Three Authors:
- Within parentheses, name the first author and add the phrase et al (a Latin term that means “and others”).
- Within discussion and text, use a phrase like “Chen and his colleagues point out…”
or something similar. If you name all the authors in the works cited list rather than
using et al., do the same in the text citation.
More funding would encourage creative research on complementary medicine (Chen et
- Corporate or Group Author: When an organization is the author, name it in the text or the citation, but shorten
or abbreviate a cumbersome name.
The consortium gathers journalists at “a critical moment” (Comm. of Concerned Journalists
- No Author Given: Use the title instead. Shorten a long title as in this version of Baedeker’s Czech/Slovak
In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic (Baedeker 67).
- More Than One Work by the Same Author: When the list of works cited includes more than one work by an author, add a shortened
form of the title to your citation.
One writer claims that “quaintness glorifies the unassuming industriousness” in these
social classes (Harris, Cute 46).
- Authors with the Same Name: When authors have the same last name, identify each by first initial (or entire first
name, if necessary for clarify).
Despite improved health information systems (J. Adams 308), medical errors continue
to increase (D. Adams 1).
- Indirect Source: Use qtd. in (“quoted in”) to indicate when your source provides you with a quotation
(or paraphrase) taken from yet another source. Here, Feuch is the source of the quotation
For Vitz, “art, especially great art, must engage all or almost all of the major capacities
of the nervous system”(qtd. in Feuch 65).
- Multivolume Work: To cite a whole volume, add a comma after the author’s name and vol. before the number
(Cao, Vol. 4). To specify one of several volumes that you cite, add volume and page
numbers (Cao 4:177).
In 1888, Lewis Carroll let two students call their school paper Jabberwock, a made-up word from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Cohen 2:695).
- Literary Work: After the page number in your edition, add the chapter (ch.), part (pt.), or section
(sec.) number to help readers find the passage in any edition.
In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain ridicules an actor who “would squeeze his hand on his forehead and stagger
back and kind of moan” (178; ch. 21).
- Identify a part as in (386; pt. 3, ch. 2) or, for a play, the act, scene and line
numbers, as in (Ham. 1.2.76).
- For poems, give line numbers (lines 55-57) or (55-57) after the first case; if needed,
give both part and line numbers (4.220-23).
- Bible: Place a period between the chapter and verse numbers (Mark 2.3-4). In parenthetical citations, abbreviate names with five or more letters, as in the
case of Deuteronomy (Deut. 16.21-22).
- Two or More Sources in a Citation: Separate sources within a citation with a semicolon.
Differences in the ways men and women use language can often be traced to who has
power (Tanner 83-86; Tavris 97-301).
- Selection in Anthology: For a story, poem, or other work in an anthology, cite the work’s author (not the
anthology’s editor), but give page numbers in the anthology.
According to Corry, the battle for Internet censorship has crossed party lines (112).
- Electronic or Other Nonprint Source: After identifying the author or title, add numbers for the page, paragraph (par.,
pars.), section (sec.), or screen (screen) if given. Otherwise, no number is needed.
Offspringmag summarizes current research on adolescent behavior (Boynton 2).
The heroine’s mother in the film Clueless died as the result of an accident during liposuction.
- Informative Footnote or Endnote: Use a note when you wish to comment on a source, provide background details, or supply
lengthy information of use to only a few readers. Place a superscript number (raised
slightly above the line of text) at a suitable point in your paper.
- Label the note itself with a corresponding number, and provide it as a footnote at
the bottom of the page or as an endnote at the end of the paper, before the list of
works cited, on a page titled “Notes.”
1 Before changing your eating habits or beginning an exercise program, check with