MLA Basics (Download the Printer Friendly PDF)
Why we use parenthetical / in-text citations
Researchers place brief parenthetical descriptions to acknowledge which parts of their paper reference particular sources. Generally, you want to provide the last name of the author and the specific page numbers of the source. If such information is already given in the body of the sentence, then exclude it from the parenthetical citation.
Place the parenthetical citation where there is a pause in the sentence – normally before the end of a sentence or a comma. The in-text citation will differ depending on how much information you provide within the sentence.
This point had already been argued (Johnson 12-13).
Citing sources with more than one author
If you use sources with the same author surnames, then include a first name initial. If the two sources have authors with the same initials, then include their full names:
If there are two or three authors of the source, include their last names in the order they appear on the source:
If there are more than three authors, you can cite all the authors with their last name, or you can cite the first author followed by “et al.” Follow what is shown the works cited list.
Citing sources without an author
Some sources do not have authors or contributors – for instance, when you cite some websites. Instead, refer to the name of the source in your parenthetical citation in place of the author. Shorten / abbreviate the name of the source but ensure that your reader can easily identify it in your bibliography (abbreviate the title starting with the same word in which it is alphabetized). Punctuate with quotations or italicize as you would in its bibliographic form (a book is italicized; and article is in quotes).
With prices of energy at new highs, bikes have been increasingly used (“Alternative Transportation” 89).
Citing part of a work
When citing a specific part of a work, provide the relevant page or section identifier. This can include specific pages, sections, paragraphs or volumes. When the identifier is preceded by an abbreviation or word, place a comma between the identifier and the source reference.
Part of a multivolume work:
Chapter within a book (if no specific numbers can be referenced):
Article in a periodical:
When citing a specific page(s) of a multivolume work, precede the page number by the volume number and a colon. Do not separate by a comma.
Use “par.” or “pars.” when referring to specific paragraphs.
Citing group or corporate authors
In your parenthetical citation, cite a corporate author like you would a normal author. Preferably, incorporate the corporate author in your text instead of the parenthetical citation.
As noted by the American Medical Association, facial transplants pose significant risk to the autoimmune system (12-43).
Citing an entire source
When citing an entire work, there are no specific page numbers to refer to. Therefore it is preferable to refer to the source within the text itself with either the author or the title of the source.
Citing multiple works by the same author
If you reference more than one source by the same author, distinguish the parenthetical citations by including the name of the source. Use a comma to separate the author from the source
Industrialized nations are better equipped to rebound from recessions (Friedman, “High Tides” 56).
Citing indirect sources
When an original source is unavailable, then cite the secondhand source – for instance, a lecture in a conference proceedings. When quoting or paraphrasing a quote, write “qtd. in” before the author and pages.
Citing literary / classic and religious works
For works such as novels, plays and other classic works, it’s helpful to provide further identifying information along with the page information. Do this by adding a semicolon and then the identifying information following the page number.
When citing classic poems and plays, replace page numbers with division numbers (part, book, scene, act). The below refers to book 10 line 5. Bear in mind the divisions and the way they are written can vary by source.
The title of books in the Bible and other famous literary works should be abbreviated.
Placing parenthetical citations in direct quotations
When directly quoting a source, place the parenthetical citation after the quote.
Place the parenthetical citation at the end of an indented quotation. There should be no period after the parenthetical citation. The last sentence of the indented quote should look like:
Citing online sources
Generally, follow the same principals of parenthetical citations to cite online sources. Refer to the author, and if possible, a permanent identifier that would be the same for any reader.
Solar power will become the primary source of energy (Williams 2).
Citing online sources with no author
If there is no author, use the title that begins the citation, either the article or website title. Be sure it also takes the same formatting, i.e. articles are in quotes and website titles are italicized. Shorten / abbreviate the name of the source but ensure that your reader can easily identify it in your bibliography (abbreviate the title starting with the same word in which it is alphabetized).
Nineteen men and women were convicted (Salem Witchcraft Trials).