If you quote, paraphrase or summarize a source in your paper, it needs to be cited in the text. An in-text citation contains just enough information to help the reader find the source on the Works Cited page. A typical in-text citation will include what comes first on the Works Cited page such as author or title, followed by exact page number (if available) of the information used. Often, with electronic sources, you may not know the page number your information came from, in these cases, skip the page number and just the author or title.
There are also some special circumstances to keep in mind such as Block Quotes, multiple works with the same title, multiple words with the same author, two different authors with the same last name, videos or recordings, and mentioning the author's name or title in the sentence.
For help with in-text citations, check out our MLA In-text Handout, our sample paper, or the online MLA Handbook chapter on in-text citations.
Place the author’s last name and page number in parenthesis. If the in-text citation is at the end of a sentence, place the period outside the parenthesis.
Example 1: (Hennessy 81).
Example 2: (Hennessy 81-82).
If a source has no page numbers, omit the page number. Keep in mind, most electronic sources do not include pages.
Example 1: (“Everyday Victims”).
Example 2: (Jones).
If the source has no author, your in-text citation will use the title of the source that starts your works cited entry. The title may appear in the sentence itself or, abbreviated, before the page number in parenthesis. Follow the same format as the Works Cited entry; i.e. if the title is in quotes or italics in the Works Cited entry, then it should match – quotes or italics – in the in-text entry. Exclude any initial article in the title such as a, an, the. Titles can be abbreviated/shortened as long as it’s clear which title on the Works Cited page you’re referring to.
Example 1: (“Noon” 508).
Example 2: (Faulkner’s Novels 25).
Example 3: (“Climate Model Simulations").
If the entry on the Works Cited page begins with the names of two authors, include both last names in the in-text citation, connected by and.
Example: (Dorris and Erdrich 23).
If the source has three or more authors, include the first author’s last name followed by et al.
Example: (Burdick et al. 42).
If author is mentioned in the sentence, include only the page number(s) in parenthesis. Do not repeat the author’s name. If you do not have page numbers for your source (most electronic sources are like this), skip the page numbers.
Example 1: Hennessy tells how Auden’s writing was popular with contemporary readers and critics (81).
Example 2: Galt says, "an increasing number of companies have a dedicated social media position" (122).
Example 3 (no author): In the article, "Beginners Guide to Yoga," the standing forward bend is highlighted as a great position for people with back pain (130).
Example 4 (no page numbers): Smith reports that there are many options for paid social meeting monitoring services and the cost varies considerably.
Example 5 (no page numbers): Groves says that "regular yoga practice can be good for building strength."
A note for in-text citations: If you have multiple articles on your Works Cited page with no authors that also have the same titles, use the next part of the citation to differentiate the sources in-text. This could be the database name or the name of the book or encyclopedia (or journal or website) that your article came from. You can shorten longer titles as long as it's clear which citation on your works cited page the in-text is referring to. See the examples below:
Works Cited 1: "China." CultureGrams, ProQuest, 2021.
Works Cited 2: "China." Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, edited by M.S. Hill, 14th ed., vol. 4, Gale, 2017, pp. 143-180. Global Issues in Context, link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX3652100183/GIC?u=spartechcl&sid=bookmark-GIC&xid=8b353e62.
In-Text 1: ("China," CultureGrams).
In-Text 2: ("China," Worldmark Encyclopedia).
Sometimes you may discuss multiple works that are written by the same author. In this case, add the title of the work to your in-text citation, so your reader knows which work you are citing.
Example: (Morrison, Beloved 35).
If you use the author's name or the title of the work in the sentence, you can exclude that information from your in-text citation.
Example: Morrison writes, "Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it's gone, but the place--the picture of it--stays" (Beloved 35).
Example: As Morrison writes in Beloved, "Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it's gone, but the place--the picture of it--stays" (35).
While uncommon, it is possible that two different authors may have the same last name. For in-text citations, include the first initial of the author's first name to differentiate between authors.
Example: (N. Baron 194).
When citing a recording (video, film, audio, etc.), provide a time stamp for the relevant section. Give the numbers in hours, minutes, and seconds displayed on your media player. Separate each number with a colon, without space on either side.
Example: ("Buffy" 00:03:16-17).
Example: (The Tempest 00:45:15-00:46:23).
For quotes that are longer than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, use a block quotation.
On a new line, indent the quote 1/2 inch from the margin and maintain double spacing. You do not need to include quotation marks around the quote, since your indentation shows your reader this is a longer quote.
Your in-text citation will come after you close the quote with punctuation (which is different than a normal in-text citation).
If you are quoting verse (poetry, etc.) use the line breaks found in the original text.
Example: In The Great Gatsby, Nick often describes the feeling of being watched by the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg:
But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic--their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose. (Fitzgerald 23)