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MLA (Modern Language Association) Style: In-text citations



In-text Ciitations

Give the author's last name either in the text or in the parenthetical. Put the page number in the parenthetical.

(Berger 82) OR (82)

Give both author's last names in the text or parenthetical. Put the page number in the parenthetical.

(Smith and Jones 16) OR (16)

List the first author's name follwed by et al. in either the text or the parenthetical. Follow with the page number.

(Smith et al. 116) OR (116)

Use an abbreviated version of the title in the parenthetical or the entire title in the text. Follow with the page number.

(Stepping Stones 62) OR (62)

("English Grammar" 25) OR (25)

Give the author's last name and first initial either in the text or in the parenthetical. Put the page number in the parenthetical.

entry 1: (B. Smith 26)   entry 2: (S. Smith 45)

If you use the author's names in the text, include the individual author's first initial.

Give the author's last name either in the text or in the parenthetical. Add a shortened title. Put the page number in the parenthetical.

Examples from OWL:

Citing two articles by the same author:

Visual studies, because it is such a new discipline, may be "too easy" (Elkins, "Visual Studies" 63).


Lightenor has argued that computers are not useful tools for small children ("Too Soon" 38), though he has acknowledged elsewhere that early exposure to computer games does lead to better small motor skill development in a child's second and third year ("Hand-Eye Development" 17).

These are "quoted in" citations -- you have not looked at the original source but a source that quotes the original.

You will use qtd in before the author and page number.

(qtd. in Smith 26)

  • You will use the first item in the works cited entry. Sometimes that is the name of the album, music, video, or website.
  • If the title is long, abbreviate it.
  • If there aren't page numbers, don't put page numbers in the parenthetical. Unless there is a PDF, websites and other digital items won't have page numbers.


In-text citations are also called parenthetical references -- you can remember because the parenthetical reference is in parenthesis.

MLA uses author-page style. In your paper, you will use the author's last name and the page number of your quote. You will use the last name in either the sentence or in the parenthesis.

You can see both in use below:

"Our personalities are masks we wear to sell ourselves to others" (Berger 87).

In Ads, Fads, and Consumer Culture, Berger states "Our personalities are masks we wear to sell ourselves to others (87).

The first word in the bibliography entry will usually be the word (name) that goes in the parenthesis.

For prose quotes of four lines or less, include the quote in the text in quotation marks, followed by (author's last name page number).

For prose quotes of more than four lines, use a block quotation.

  1. Place a colon at the end of the line that you write to introduce your long quotation.
  2. Indent the long quotation 0.5 inches from the rest of the text, so it looks like a block of text.
  3. Do not put quotation marks around the quotation.
  4. Follow the quotation with (author's last name, page number)
  5. Place the period at the end of the quotation before your in-text citation instead of after, as with regular quotations.

Example: At the end of Lord of the Flies the boys are struck with the realization of their behavior:

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (Golding 186)

For poetry quotes of less than four lines, use forward slashes (/) between each line of the poem. For line breaks between stanzas use //. Follow the quote with (author's last name, lines [line number]).

example: (Donne, lines 26-28)

Poetry quotes of more than four lines are quoted like prose quotes of more than four lines.

example: In the poem "Boy Breaking Glass," the author writes:

Whose broken window is a cry of art   
(success, that winks aware
as elegance, as a treasonable faith)
is raw: is sonic: is old-eyed première.
Our beautiful flaw and terrible ornament.   
Our barbarous and metal little man. (Brooks, lines 1-6)


How to cite in multimodal projects

From MLA Handbook, Eighth Edition, 2016, p. 128.

In a slide-based presentation using software such as PowerPoint  or Keynote, we suggest including brief citations on each slide that uses borrowed material (quotations, paraphrases, images, videos, and whatever else you copy or adapt) and adding a works-cited list on a slide at the end.

. . .

In a video, you might overlay text at the bottom of the screen to provide your viewers with brief information about what they're seeing (the producer and title of a borrowed video clip, for instance, or the name of a person being interviewed) and include full documentation in your closing credits.

In a project on the Web, you might link from you citations to the online materials you cite, allowing a reader to follow references of interest. A works-cited list remains desirable as an appendix to the project, since it gives the reader an organized account of the full range of your sources.

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