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MLA Citation Guide (8th Edition): In-Text Citation

This guide shows you how to cite using MLA 8th edition

Signal Phrases

If you refer to the author's name in a sentence you do not have to include the name again as part of your in-text citation, instead include the page number (if there is one) at the end of the quotation or paraphrased section. For example:

Hunt explains that mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (358).

Quoting and Paraphrasing: What's the Difference?

There are two ways to integrate others' research into your assignment: you can paraphrase or you can quote.

Paraphrasing is used to show that you understand what the author wrote. You must reword the passage, expressing the ideas in your own words, and not just change a few words here and there. Make sure to also include an in-text citation.

Quoting is copying a selection from someone else's work, phrasing it exactly it was originally written. When quoting place quotation marks (" ") around the selected passage to show where the quote begins and where it ends. Make sure to include an in-text citation.

About In-Text Citation

In MLA, in-text citations are inserted in the body of your research paper to briefly document the source of your information. Brief in-text citations point the reader to more complete information in the works cited list at the end of the paper.

  • In-text citations include the last name of the author followed by a page number enclosed in parentheses. "Here's a direct quote" (Smith 8).
  • If the author's name is not given, then use the first word or words of the title. Follow the same formatting that was used in the works cited list, such as quotation marks. This is a paraphrase ("Trouble" 22).

 Note: The period goes outside the brackets, at the end of your in-text citation.

Quoting Directly

When you quote directly from a source, enclose the quoted section in quotation marks. Add an in-text citation at the end of the quote with the author name and page number:

Mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (Hunt 358).

No Page Numbers 

When you quote from electronic sources that do not provide page numbers (like Web pages), cite the author name only.

"Three phases of the separation response: protest, despair, and detachment" (Garelli).

Paraphrasing

When you write information or ideas from a source in your own words, cite the source by adding an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased portion.

Paraphrasing from One Page

Include a full in-text citation with the author name and page number (if there is one). For example:

Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 65).

Paraphrasing from Multiple Pages

If the paraphrased information/idea is from several pages, include them. For example:

Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 50, 55, 65-71).

Indirect Sources

Sources that are paraphrased or quoted in other sources are called indirect sources. MLA recommends you take information from the original source whenever possible. 

If you must cite information from an indirect source, name the original source in the body of your text and cite the source you actually consulted in your in-text citation. Proceed the in-text citation with 'qtd. in.' 

Example:

Kumashiro notes that lesbian and bisexual women of colour are often excluded from both queer communities and communities of colour (qtd. in Dua 188).

In this case, you would also need to cite Dua in your works cited list. 

 

Unknown Author

Where you'd normally put the author's last name, instead use the first one, two, or three words from the title. Don't count initial articles like "A", "An" or "The". You should provide enough words to make it clear which work you're referring to from your Works Cited list.

If the title in the Works Cited list is in italics, italicize the words from the title in the in-text citation.

If the title in the Works Cited list is in quotation marks, put quotation marks around the words from the title in the in-text citation.

Examples:

(Cell Biology 12)

("Nursing" 12)

Repeated Use of Sources

If you're using information from a single source more than once in succession (i.e., no other sources referred to in between), you can use a simplified in-text citation.

Example:

Cell biology is an area of science that focuses on the structure and function of cells (Smith 15). It revolves around the idea that the cell is a "fundamental unit of life" (17). Many important scientists have contributed to the evolution of cell biology. Mattias Jakob Schleiden and Theodor Schwann, for example, were scientists who formulated cell theory in 1838 (20). 

 Note: If using this simplified in-text citation creates ambiguity regarding the source being referred to, use the full in-text citation format.

In-Text Citation For More Than One Source

If you would like to cite more than one source within the same in-text citation, simply record the in-text citations as normal and separate them with a semi-colon.

Examples:

(Smith 42; Bennett 71). 

(It Takes Two; Brock 43).

 Note: The sources within the in-text citation do not need to be in alphabetical order for MLA style.

In-Text Citation For Two or More Authors/Editors

Number of Authors/Editors In-Text Citation Example
Two

 (Author's Last Name and Author's Last Name Page Number)

 Example: (Case and Daristotle 57)

Three or more

 (Author's Last Name et al. Page Number)

 Example: (Case et al. 57)

Long Quotations

What Is a Long Quotation?

If your quotation extends to more than four lines as you're typing your essay, it is a long quotation.

Rules for Long Quotations

There are 4 rules that apply to long quotations that are different from regular quotations:

  1. The line before your long quotation, when you're introducing the quote, usually ends with a colon.
  2. The long quotation is indented half an inch from the rest of the text, so it looks like a block of text.
  3. There are no quotation marks around the quotation.
  4. The period at the end of the quotation comes before your in-text citation as opposed to after, as it does with regular quotations.

Example of a Long Quotation

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

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)