MLA style for in-text, parenthetical citation
MLA style uses two methods for citing borrowed material within the text:
(1) The author and page number of the source are identified immediately following the borrowed material. (2) The author is identified in the text
and the page reference is given immediately following the borrowed material. In-text citations guide readers to the appropriate source in the Works Cited list where readers can get the bibliographic information they need to locate the material within a particular source.
Use the following guidelines when writing with parenthetical citations.
- Keep the citations concise, but provide all necessary information.
- Use an author’s last name in the first and subsequent in-text citations. Use an author’s first initial and last name if two authors in the Works Cited list share the same last name.
- Punctuate and format the parenthetical citations in the following manner.
- Place the parenthetical citation either at the end of the sentence or at a natural pause within the sentence. In either case, the citation should follow, as closely as possible, the material it refers to.
- If the citation is placed immediately following a quotation, place the citation after the closing quotation marks.
- Place any punctuation marks in the text immediately following the closing parenthesis of the citation.
- In block quotation, place the parenthetical citation two spaces following the final punctuation mark of the quotation.
- Include a page reference for the borrowed material.
Author not named in the text
When the author is not named in the text, place that author’s last name and the page reference in parentheses, at a point where the citation does not interrupt the flow of your writing. Do not use a comma or the abbreviations p.or pp. within the parentheses.
Hawthorne’s son Julian recalled that his father read novels for relaxation, but that he seriously studied popular newspapers and magazines.
An author named in the text
If the author is identified in the text, cite the page number in parentheses.
Herzog notes that there are more protests against experiments on domestic animals like dogs and cats than against research involving animals like snakes.
When citing an entire work such as a complete article or book rather than a particular passage within the work, do not refer to the work within a parenthetical citation. The source must be cited in the Works Cited list.
Bennett and Ames survey the use and abuse of alcohol in various cultures.
Work with two or three authors
Include the last name of each author in the text or in a citation. Lichtenstein and Danker have noted that beginning in 1974; the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) has produced successful performers such as Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr.
Work with more than three authors
When citing a work with four or more authors, either list name of each author or list the author whose name appears first on the page, followed by et al. (meaning “and others”)
A pregnant adolescent “experiences restricted social relationships and less positive interaction with both friends and family “and so are subject to severe emotional stress.
Cite the author, volume number, and page reference (Hamilton 26: 293). Separate the volume number and the page reference by a colon followed by one space. Do not use the words volume or pages or the abbreviations vol. or p. when referring to passages within a volume. An Arabic number to the left of the colon identifies the volume and a number to the right of the colon indicates the page number(s).
Cite an anonymous work by its title, which may be shortened to a Key defining word or phrase (as is the article “Democracy and Mega-Scandal” in the following example).
It is best to cite the name of a corporate, or collective, author in the text rather than in a long parenthetical reference.
A 1990 report by the state board of education of New York urges revisions that emphasize multiculturalism.
When quoting from an indirect or secondary source ( such as an author’s report of someone else’s statement), use the abbreviation qtd. In (meaning “quoted in”) and then cite the source. Always identify the original writer or speaker in the text or citation.
Give the page number(s) from the edition of the work that is being cited. Because some literary works exist in many different editions, it is helpful to follow the page numbers with a semicolon and appropriate abbreviations for major divisions of the work (210; ch.15) or (5; act 1). For a poem, cite line number(s) and in your first reference use the word line(S).
Author of two or more cited works
To distinguish among multiple works by an author, include the title or a shorthand title in an in-text phrase or in a parenthetical citation.
Authors with the same last name
When two or more authors cited in a paper have the same last name, include the author’s first name in a brief in-text phrase or in a parenthetical citation. To distinguish Larry L. King from Martin Luther King, jr., for example, do the following.
Do the same for parenthetical citations.
Two or more source in a single citation
In referring to more than one source in parentheses, include information for both sources, separated by semicolons.
Provide enough information for readers to locate the source in the Works Cited list.