Writers Workshop: Writer Resources
Modern Language Association (MLA): In-Text Citation
As Joseph Gibaldi suggests in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers: 4th Edition, the key to in-text citation is to "clearly point to specific sources in the list of works cited" (184, author’s boldface).
Examples of the most basic kinds of in-text citation styles are given in the following list. For specific cases or other examples, consult the MLA Handbook.
The basic format for MLA in-text citation is as follows:
- (Author’s Last Name_Page Number)
- e.g.,. One author claims that "no one is concerned with this issue" (Jones 45).
If the author’s last name appears in the citation, then only a page number is required:
- e.g., "Howard Jones argues that ‘no one is concerned with this issue’" (45).
Multiple authors are cited in a similar way, although both names are included, and joined by the word "and":
- e.g., (Cortez and Jones 56)
For more than three authors, use the first author’s last name, followed by the abbreviation "et al.":
- e.g., (Cortez et al. 378)
When citing different authors with the same last name, include enough information so as to be able to differentiate them:
- e.g., (H. Jones 48); (R. Jones 36)
If you are citing more than one work by the same author, a combination of several of these methods is needed. For instance, if you have used two sources by the author Howard Jones, a book called The Man with the Horns, and a magazine article called "The Destruction of the American Mind," you might use the following:
- (Jones, Man 475); (Jones, "Destruction" 34)
When identifying corporate authors, use the same format, but substitute the group name:
- e.g., (Modern Language Association 68)
The MLA Handbook also recommends that long group names be placed in the text itself, so as to avoid unwieldy in-text citations:
- e.g., "The Society for the Greater Advancement of the Common Good insists that ‘all people have a right to free health care’" (47).
If no author is available, use a short form of the title (the shortest form that will allow you to recognize the work properly). For instance, if you were working with an article called "Thirty Reasons to Spay Your Pet," you might use the following:
- ("Thirty Reasons" 26)
If you were working with a book with no author called Belief in the Supernatural, you might use:
- (Belief 567)
If you are citing a source that is found within another source, use the abbreviation "qtd. in." For instance if you want to cite musician Miles Davis as he appears in a Nat Hentoff article, you would use the following format:
- (Davis, qtd. in Hentoff 34)
For additional information, please see the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th edition) and the MLA style website.