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MLA Citations

MLA Citations: sometimes called parenthetical citations or in-text citations. The purpose of MLA citation is to document where you found your information and give credit to the authors for using their works. The citations refer your readers to your Works Cited page at the end of your research paper.

Placement and Punctuation Rules:

Put your MLA citations close to the quotation, information, paraphrase, or summary you are documenting.

  • At the end of a sentence before the final punctuation:
    Wayland Hand reports on a folk belief that going to sleep on a rug made of bearskin can relieve backache (183).
  •  After the part of the sentence to which the citation applies:
    The folk belief that “sleeping on a bear rug will cure backache” (Hand 183) illustrates the magic of external objects producing results inside the body.
  •  At the end of a long quotation set off as a block, after the end punctuation with a space before the parentheses:
    Many baseball players are superstitious, especially pitchers. Some pitchers refuse to walk anywhere on the day of the game in the belief that every little exertion subtracts from their playing strength. One pitcher would never put on his cap until the game started and would not wear it at all on the days he did not pitch. (Gmelch 280)

MLA Citations Examples:

  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 Discussion:
    Giddens claims that when people marry now “there is an important sense in which they don’t 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 discussion: 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.
    Quotation: Dolphins can perceive clicking sounds “made up of 700 units of sound per second” (Bright 52).
    Paraphrase + Facts: Bright reports that dolphins recognize patterns consisting of seven hundred clicks each second (52).
  5. One Author: Provide the author’s lastname in parentheses, or integrate either the full name or lastname 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 et al. (“and others”).
    Within your discussion, 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’s 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 fromVitz.
    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, Lweis 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 an easy, 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.”
    1 Before changing your eating habits or beginning an exercise program, check with your doctor.


  • MLA Handbook, 8th Edition
  • The Longman Writer’s Bible, p. 122-127
{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Meral Plosch August 31, 2020, 7:12 pm

    How do I cite a video lecture by a professor?

  • Grace May 14, 2019, 9:53 pm

    I’m looking for ways to review mla format for my finals, any ideas?

  • Stephani Dudrak December 9, 2018, 9:55 pm

    I’m quoting a section that has italics in it for emphasis. When citing, should I put the page number before or after “emphasis in original”?
    “While she seems quite capable and willing to participate in the rebellion, at no point is she eager to lead it. Nor, it seems, is Katniss willing to be its poster child” (Montz, emphasis in original, 144) or (Montz,144, emphasis in original)?

  • Katina Rouse January 30, 2018, 2:42 pm

    This article was very informative.

  • Paul Rowe May 18, 2017, 3:20 pm

    Very helpful information.
    Many thanks for the exacting details.

  • Jack and Jill December 4, 2014, 12:34 pm

    Hello Everyone!!!

  • Dale Walker November 27, 2014, 3:16 pm

    When you have one author with more than one reference source, how do you properly distinguish between the different sources in the citations?

  • Serena August 26, 2013, 5:40 pm

    When writing a paper about a single book and referencing a single author/book, do I have to include the author’s name every time I make a citation? Or can I put the author’s name the first few times and then just put the page number?

  • Jenn Burge May 24, 2013, 10:00 pm

    How should I cite a dictionary? In-line and on the works cited page. There are like 60 authors to it, do I cite the last name of the first author alphabetically with et al?

  • Hanna June 14, 2012, 2:16 am

    How should I write work cited if I use the same as above online website source more than once?
    Is it also Ibid?
    Also, if the same website source is not right above, but written somewhere before the source I am going to wirite then is it op. cit.? like in paper source?

  • Miranda May 30, 2012, 10:42 am

    Can you cite the website in the text or do we put that in the bibliography?

  • Sarah James April 28, 2012, 1:40 pm

    I’m not sure if I’m understanding how your really suppose to cite your work. This is what I’m understanding, your suppose to cite who and the page number right after your quote? Then cite it again at the end of the research paper?

    • Stephen April 28, 2012, 2:01 pm

      Right, and you cite again at the end of your paper, in your Works Cited list, this would give your readers information on where to look for the sources you used.

  • Michele April 16, 2012, 5:30 pm

    If I’m citing a broadcast, and my text reads: “Lutheran Pastor Charles Lehmann, on a broadcast that can be heard on, makes the bold claim that Professor Snape is a sort of Christ figure because he allows himself to be seen as evil when he really isn’t,” what sort of citation do I use? I’ve already named the website and the speaker. Is anything else necessary?

    • Stephen April 16, 2012, 6:09 pm

      Hi Michele, looks like you already have your citation in place!

  • UnicodeJoe April 3, 2012, 9:45 am

    How would I cite a box of transaction records?

  • Amy April 1, 2012, 8:00 pm

    Hi. I’m looking for the correct way to cite a government website. It is the National Service of GACACA Jurisdictions. The web address is: www:/

    I am using statistical information off this site. Thanks for your help.

    • Stephen April 2, 2012, 8:23 am

      Hi Amy!

      In-text citation: electronic sources do not have page numbers so you just use the author’s last name in your citations.

      Works cited: visit here => see under Government Publication.

  • Nipper March 31, 2012, 3:36 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    Just a quick tip:

    If you are using Word 2010 there is a tab for References that will allow you to enter citation information, insert the citation into the paper and add pages, AND it will create a Works Cited page in either MLA Sixth or Seventh Edition (which ever you choose)for you without having individually type it all out! The citations are added to a master list that allows you to use them again on any other paper without having to retype all of the source information.

    By the way, which MLA edition is currently in use? I have not been able to find any reference on this website as to which edition I should be using.

    • Stephen March 31, 2012, 4:43 pm

      Hi Nipper, the most current one is: MLA Handbook 7th Edition

  • Bob March 12, 2012, 11:14 am

    I am having trouble citing this source:

    article titled: “Forward with Environmental Justice”
    authuor: Nicholas Targ
    journal: Human Rights: Journal of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities
    Published: Fall 2003
    Vol and issue: Volume 30, issue 4

    This is an article from the online database MasterFile Premier, from the subscription service of Ebscohost.

    Is this correct? It will not let me show itilacs in this box.

    Targ, Nicholas. “Forward with Environmental Justice.” Human Rights: Journal of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities 30.4 (2003): MasterFile Premier. Ebschost

    Also with no page numbers how would show this in in text citations

    • Stephen March 12, 2012, 11:57 am

      Hi Bob,

      That looks right and make sure to put the period (.) at the end. When there are no page numbers (also happend to online sources), simply use the last name in your citations.

  • Jenny February 28, 2012, 8:23 am

    I am having trouble with names. I don’t know which one is first name and last name. Example: Jeffrey Hoffe

    Am I right that last name is Hoffe so I would do in-text citation like (Hoffe 65)?

    • Stephen February 28, 2012, 8:28 am

      Hi Jenny, you are correct!

      Jeffrey Hoffe: First: Jeffrey, Last: Hoffe
      Hoffe, Jeffrey: Last: Hoffe, First: Jeffrey

      and your in-text citation is correct.

  • Christal February 2, 2012, 4:05 pm

    What if its a online encyclopedia? How would I cite that. Im asking because Im working on a philosophy paper in which im using both the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. but i dont know how to do it with these

    • Stephen February 2, 2012, 4:43 pm

      Online Encyclopedia Works Cited and In-text Citation examples:

      Works Cited:

      Chanda, Jacqueline. “African Art and Architecture,” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 2004. Microsoft Corporation. 7 Jan. 2004 <http: //>.

      In-text: (Chanda)

      Visit here for more guidelines on how to cite Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

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