General Formatting Tips

In-text citations are short notations that appear in the body of your paper. They show where outside information has been used, and they lead your reader to the works cited list for more information about the source of outside information. These notations generally appear in parentheses at the end of a sentence.  

Parenthetical citations 

In-text citations include the first element of the full citation in the works cited list. This is usually the author’s last name. If a page number is available, use that as well. These can appear in parentheses like this:

(Author last name Page#) or

(Author last name) if no page# is available.

For example:

(Smith 92) or

(Smith)

You can also include important information in the body of your sentences, as in the examples below.

 

 

Examples

NOTE: boldface type is added to examples for emphasis; this 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).
 

One author, no page number available

Younger Americans who are Millennials or part of Generation Z are more likely to be actively working to address climate change (Tyson).

or

According to Tyson, younger Americans who are Millennials or part of Generation Z are more likely to be actively working to address climate change.

 

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 two authors

Use the Latin abbreviation et al. following the first author's name. 

The authors argue that the truth values of statements is one factor that impacts how people are persuaded by arguments (Nickerson et al. 23).

or

Nickerson and others 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).

 

Depictions of smoking in film have declined over the last three decades, but they are still common (Barker et al. 1106).

or

Barker and others found that depictions of smoking in film have declined over the last three decades, but they are still common (1106).

Two authors in a works cited with the same last name

In a parenthetical citation use each author's first initial. Otherwise use the first name of each author. 

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

or

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

More than one work by the same author

If you use several works by the same author, use the author's last name, the first word of the source title, and the page number. Skip insignificant words (e.g. an, the, for, by).

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

or

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

Organization as author/Corporate Authors

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

or

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

Author-Page Citation for Classic and Literary Works with Multiple Editions

Page numbers are always required, but additional citation information can help literary scholars, who may have a different edition of a classic work, like Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women. In such cases, give the page number of your edition (making sure the edition is listed in your Works Cited page, see the Works Cited list section) followed by a semicolon, and then the appropriate abbreviations for volume (vol.), book (bk.), part (pt.), chapter (ch.), section (sec.), or paragraph (par.).

Wollstonecraft recollects many "women who, not led by degrees to proper studies, and not permitted to choose for themselves, have indeed been overgrown children" (185; ch.13).

Title of the work when no author

Use the title. Long titles may be abbreviated. or integrated into the sentence. Skip insignificant words (e.g. an, the, for, by).

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

or

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

No page number available

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

or

In a recent review, Chan considered the same topic in the context of Hong Kong cinema.

For more information and examples of in-text citations see Chapter 6 of the Handbook.