Basic Format

In-text citations

The purpose of the in-text citation is to provide enough information to lead your reader directly to the source you used while disrupting the flow of your text as little as possible. In MLA style, referring to the works of others in your text is done by using what is known as parenthetical citation. This method involves placing relevant source information in parentheses after a quote or a paraphrase. 

A typical in-text citation is composed of the element that comes first in the entry in the works-cited list--usually the author's last name--plus a page number  where the citation is located.  These elements are put  in parentheses ( ) and are placed, when possible where there is a natural pause in the text, like at the end of the sentence or paragraph in which the citation occurs.

You can cite the author within the sentence or at the end of the sentence in the parenthetical citation.

Examples 
Note that the boldface type is added for emphasis and is not an MLA style requirement.

One author:

Research shows that there is a correlation between the two variables (Smith 92).

or

Smith shows that there is a correlation between the two variables (92).
 

Two authors:

The interdependence of candidates only seems to strengthen the candidates' incentives to attack one another (Ansolabehere and Iyengar 15).

or

Ansolabehere and Iyengar found that the interdependence of candidates only seems to strengthen the candidates' incentives to attack one another (15).

More than 2 authors:

If there are more than two authors use the Latin abbreviation et al. following the first author's name  Insert a comma after the first author's name and a period after et al.)

When plantation slaves were not toiling in the fields from sunup to sundown, they enjoyed some free time to indulge their pleasures or engage in sporting activities that provided sustenance. (Gems, et al. 23).

or

Gems, et al.,  discovered that when plantation slaves were not toiling in the fields from sunup to sundown, they enjoyed some free time to indulge their pleasures or engage in sporting activities that provided sustenance (23).

Two authors in works-cited with the same last name:

If two authors in your works-cited list have the same last name, use the first initial of each to distinguish between them. 

Reading is "just half of literacy.  The other half is writing" (N. Baron 194).

or

According to N. Baron, reading is "just half of literacy.  The other half is writing" (194).

Two authors in works-cited with the same last name and first initial:

If two authors in your works-cited list have the same first initial, use the full first and last name of the author,

Latest accounts for his company You're Not Famous report a huge £17.8million profit for him in the last year (Sebastian Shakespeare, 18).

According to Sebastian Shakespeare,the latest accounts for his company You're Not Famous report a huge £17.8million profit for him in the last year. (18).

More than one work by the same author:

If you have several works by the same author in your works cited, use the author's last name, the first word of the title in quotations and the page.  NOTE: if the first word of the title is insignificant, such as an, the, for, by, etc. use the next word in the title.

Most male defenders of farm life perceived domestic labors to be health-promoting for farm women (Borish, "Another", 83).

According to Borish, most male defenders of farm life perceived domestic labors to be health-promoting for farm women ("Another", 83).

Corporate Author or Sponsoring Organization

If an author name is not listed, look for a sponsoring organization's name.

Examples:

The population of the country increased by more than fifteen percent in 2014 (Center for Geographic Data 15).

According to the Center for Geographic Data, the population of the country increased by more than fifteen percent in 2014 (15).

 

No Personal or Corporate Author

Use the title of the work when no author is indicated. Long titles may be abbreviated or integrated into the sentence.

Examples:
 

International espionage was prevelent as ever in the 1990s ("Decade of the Spy" 27).

A 1994 article titled "Decade of the Spy" indicates that international espionage was prevelent as ever in the 1990s (27).

No Page Numbers

When page number are not available, use the author name only.

Examples;

 
Chan considers the same topic in the context of Hong Kong cinema.

A recent review has considered the same topic in the context of Hong Kong cinema (Chan).