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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.

Basic Format

The basic format for MLA in-text citation is as follows:

If the author’s last name appears in the citation, then only a page number is required:

Multiple Authors

Multiple authors are cited in a similar way, although both names are included, and joined by the word "and":

For more than three authors, use the first author’s last name, followed by the abbreviation "et al.":

Different Authors with the Same Last Name

When citing different authors with the same last name, include enough information so as to be able to differentiate them:

More Than One Work by the Same Author

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:

Group Authors

When identifying corporate authors, use the same format, but substitute the group name:

The MLA Handbook also recommends that long group names be placed in the text itself, so as to avoid unwieldy in-text citations:

No Author Available

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:

If you were working with a book with no author called Belief in the Supernatural, you might use:

Source within a Source

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:

For additional information, please see the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th edition) and the MLA style website.