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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 intergrate 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 for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition
  • The Longman Writer’s Bible, p. 122-127
{ 8 comments… add one }
  • omari February 26, 2021, 11:01 am

    i love

  • Jennifer October 15, 2018, 10:27 am

    Ashley, I believe you would put the vol number that is listed if it is a scholarly source.

  • Emily December 14, 2016, 4:46 pm


  • Tony November 4, 2016, 2:06 pm

    Thank you

  • Lala October 4, 2015, 10:58 am

    This is really helpful

  • Ashley October 29, 2014, 9:18 pm

    What if my source was from an online article and there are no page number? How do I cite that?

  • Stephen September 27, 2014, 10:29 am

    Hi Ricki! That is the page number.

  • Ricki September 24, 2014, 12:10 pm

    Although this information is very helpful, I’m still a bit confused as to what the numbers mean after you cite the authors name?
    (Bright 52) <—- Where exactly would I find this number in a research article?
    Thank you for your time,

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