MLA Overview MLA In-Text Citations MLA Quoting and Paraphrasing MLA End Citation Models
The purpose of in-text citations is to provide your audience with a clear and accurate indication of which ideas come from other sources, so that they can distinguish between your ideas and those you are sharing from research. This not only demonstrates integrity and respect for the ideas and work of others, it also demonstrates the way your ideas fit into a larger conversation on the topic you are discussing.
It is important to remember that your in-text citations work like a “road map” to your end citations (Works Cited). In other words, the information (author names, titles of works) you provide your reader with your in-text citations should match exactly
with the full citations in your Works Cited list. All sources that appear in the body of your essay or presentation should be listed in your end citation list, and vice versa.
Source titles and author names mentioned in your writing should also be formatted according to MLA guidelines to help your audience identify the source type. See the MLA Overview page
for more info on basic document format guidelines.
Finally, keep in mind that one of the main ways novice writers commit plagiarism in their work is by not citing (or incorrectly/incompletely citing) their sources. For this reason, it is always better to use the rule of thumb, “when in doubt, cite.”
For more information on plagiarism and how to avoid it, see the Academic Integrity page.
Note: This page reflects the latest version of the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), published in 2016.
For the drop-down menus below, click on the plus (+) sign to open the example; click on the arrow to obtain a link for each specific item that you can copy or email to yourself.
There are two ways to cite material in the body of your writing:
1. Include the author’s name in a signal phrase. At the end of the cited material, include the page number (if available) in parentheses:
Max Sexton argued that all magicians are keenly alive to the effects of mise-en-scène as spectacle during a necromantic exhibition (24).
2. At the end of the cited material, include the author’s name and page number in parentheses:
It has been argued that all magicians are keenly alive to the effects of mise-en-scène as spectacle during a necromantic exhibition (Sexton 24).
tate an author’s name in full the first time you use it. Thereafter, refer to the author only by last name. The only exception is if there are two authors with the same last name; in this case, always use the authors’ first and last names.
In certain instances, you do not need to cite information. This is called the “common knowledge rule.” If a fact is widely and generally known (e.g., the sun rises in the east and sets in the west), you do not need to cite. Similarly, familiar sayings or oft-repeated quotations (e.g., “a penny saved is a penny earned”) do not need citations.
Common knowledge can in some cases be audience-specific; research scientists writing to their peers can assume a different level of common knowledge on their subject than when writing to a younger, less educated audience, for example. If you are ever in doubt as to whether you should cite a piece of information, ask your professor or a Writing Center consultant.
Common Variations on In-Text Citations: