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MLA Style for Writing: In-Text Citation

This guide will cover MLA format for papers.

About In-Text Citation

In MLA, in-text citations are inserted in the body of your research paper to briefly document the source of your information. Brief in-text citations point the reader to more complete information in the works cited list at the end of the paper.

  • In-text citations include the last name of the author followed by a page number enclosed in parentheses. "Here's a direct quote" (Smith 8).

  • If the author's name is not given, then use the first word or words of the title. Follow the same formatting that was used in the works cited list, such as quotation marks. This is a paraphrase ("Trouble" 22).

 Note: The period goes outside the parenthesis, at the end of your in-text citation.

In-Text Citation For Two or More Authors/Editors

Number of Authors/Editors In-Text Citation Example

One

 (Author's Last Name Page Number)

 Example: (Case 57)

Two

 (Author's Last Name and Author's Last Name Page Number)

 Example: (Case and Daristotle 57)

Three or more

 (Author's Last Name et al. Page Number)

 Example: (Case et al. 57)

In-Text Citation For More Than One Source

If you would like to cite more than one source within the same in-text citation, simply record the in-text citations as normal and separate them with a semi-colon.

Examples:

(Smith 42; Bennett 71). 

(It Takes Two; Brock 43).

 Note: The sources within the in-text citation do not need to be in alphabetical order for MLA style.

Signal Phrases

If you refer to the author's name in a sentence you do not have to include the name again as part of your in-text citation, instead include the page number (if there is one) at the end of the quotation or paraphrased section. For example:

Hunt explains that mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (358).

Missing Information

If no date is provided, skip that information. It's recommended that you add the date you accessed the work at the end of the citation. Access date is given by putting the word "Accessed" followed by the Day Month (Shortened) Year the work was accessed/viewed. For example Accessed 20 Aug 2016.

Where you'd normally put the author's last name, instead use the first one, two, or three words from the title. Don't count initial articles like "A", "An" or "The". You should provide enough words to make it clear which work you're referring to from your Works Cited list.

If the title in the Works Cited list is in italics, italicize the words from the title in the in-text citation.

If the title in the Works Cited list is in quotation marks, put quotation marks around the words from the title in the in-text citation.

Examples:

(Cell Biology 12)

("Nursing" 12)

No Page Numbers

When you quote from electronic sources that do not provide page numbers (like Web pages), cite the author name only.

"Three phases of the separation response: protest, despair, and detachment" (Garelli).

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Works Quoted in Another Source

Sometimes an author of a book, article or website will mention another person’s work by using a quotation or paraphrased idea from that source. (This may be called a secondary source.) For example, the Kirkey article you are reading includes a quotation by Smith that you would like to include in your essay.

The basic rule is that in both your References list and in-text citation you will still cite Kirkey. Kirkey will appear in your Works Cited list – NOT Smith.

You will add the words “qtd. in” to your in-text citation.  

Examples of in-text citations:

According to a study by Smith (qtd. in Kirkey) 42% of doctors would refuse to perform legal euthanasia.

Smith (qtd. in Kirkey) states that “even if euthanasia was legal, 42% of doctors would be against this method of assisted dying” (A.10).

Example of Reference list citation:

Kirkey, Susan. "Euthanasia." The Montreal Gazette, 9 Feb. 2013, p. A.10. Canadian Newsstand Major Dailies.

Quoting Directly

When you quote directly from a source, enclose the quoted section in quotation marks. Add an in-text citation at the end of the quote with the author name and page number:

Mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (Hunt 358).

No Page Numbers

When you quote from electronic sources that do not provide page numbers (like Web pages), cite the author name only.

"Three phases of the separation response: protest, despair, and detachment" (Garelli).

Long Quotations

What Is a Long Quotation?

If your quotation extends to more than four lines as you're typing your essay, it is a long quotation.

Rules for Long Quotations

There are 4 rules that apply to long quotations that are different from regular quotations:

  1. The line before your long quotation, when you're introducing the quote, usually ends with a colon.
  2. The long quotation is indented half an inch from the rest of the text, so it looks like a block of text.
  3. There are no quotation marks around the quotation.
  4. The period at the end of the quotation comes before your in-text citation as opposed to after, as it does with regular quotations.

Example of a Long Quotation

At the end of Lord of the Flies the boys are struck with the realization of their behaviour:

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (Golding 186)

Paraphrasing

When you write information or ideas from a source in your own words, cite the source by adding an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased portion.

Paraphrasing from One Page

Include a full in-text citation with the author name and page number (if there is one). For example:

Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 65).

Paraphrasing from Multiple Pages

If the paraphrased information/idea is from several pages, include them. For example:

Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 50, 55, 65-71).

Repeated Use of Sources

If you're using information from a single source more than once in succession (i.e., no other sources referred to in between), you can use a simplified in-text citation.

Example:

Cell biology is an area of science that focuses on the structure and function of cells (Smith 15). It revolves around the idea that the cell is a "fundamental unit of life" (17). Many important scientists have contributed to the evolution of cell biology. Mattias Jakob Schleiden and Theodor Schwann, for example, were scientists who formulated cell theory in 1838 (20). 

 Note: If using this simplified in-text citation creates ambiguity regarding the source being referred to, use the full in-text citation format.

 

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