MLA In-Text Citations

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. 
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General Guidelines

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).

State 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:

Include the author’s name in a signal phrase and the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. The parentheses should always follow the quotation mark ending the quotation:

As Oscar Wilde writes, “We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely” (2).

Include both authors’ names as well as the page number, either as part of the signal phrase or in parentheses at the end of the sentence:

As Adam Arico and Don Fallis argue, “Before it is concluded that the traditional definition completely captures the moral wrongness of lying, we need a greater understanding of the moral status of these other features of lies” (31).

OR

“Before it is concluded that the traditional definition completely captures the moral wrongness of lying, we need a greater understanding of the moral status of these other features of lies” (Arico and Fallis 31).

Include the first author’s name and “et al.” to represent the other authors:

When considering lying in everyday life, Bella DePaulo et al. wrote, “Pronouncements about deceit are staggeringly varied not only because of the nature of the beast, but also because the debate on deceit has in some important ways proceeded virtually unconstrained by data” (979).

If there is no author’s name given for the work, include the full title of the work in your signal phrase, or a shortened version of the title (the first two to three words) in the in-text citation along with the page reference:

“A Dangerous Standoff in Venezuela” asserts that “the latest confrontation between the government and the opposition began with regional court rulings that tossed out signatures supporting the referendum on grounds that some were gathered fraudulently” (83).

OR

“The latest confrontation between the government and the opposition began with regional court rulings that tossed out signatures supporting the referendum on grounds that some were gathered fraudulently” (“A Dangerous” 83).

If you use more than one work by the same author, include the first two or three words of the title you reference within the in-text citation:

Scott Lynch’s novels invariably open in the middle of conflict. In his first book’s first line, we meet our main character as the object of a transaction: “At the height of the long wet summer of the Seventy-seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy” (Lynch, The Lies 9). In his second, “Locke Lamora stood on the pier in Tal Verrar with the hot wind of a burning ship at his back and the cold bite of a loaded crossbow’s bolt at his neck. He grinned and concentrated on holding his own crossbow level with the left eye of his opponent; they were close enough that they would catch most of each other’s blood, should they both twitch their fingers at the same time” (Lynch, Red Seas 9).

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