Online Writing Lab

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.

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.  

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
    1. Quotation: Dolphins can perceive clicking sounds “made up of 700 units of sound per second” (Bright 52).
    2. Paraphrase + Facts: Bright reports that dolphins recognize patterns consisting of 700 clicks each second (52).  
  5. 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).
  6. 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).
  7. 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 al. 82).
  8. 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 187).
  9. No Author Given: Use the title instead. Shorten a long title as in this version of Baedeker’s Czech/Slovak Republics.
    In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic (Baedeker 67).
  10. 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).
  11. 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).
  12. 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 from Vitz.
    For Vitz, “art, especially great art, must engage all or almost all of the major capacities of the nervous system”(qtd. in Feuch 65).
  13. 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).
  14. 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).
  15. 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).
  16. 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).
  17. 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).
  18. 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.
  19. 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.”
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