How to Create In-Text Citations

In the body of your essay, you acknowledge your summarized or quoted material, in parentheses, with the author’s last name and the page number where the information was found in the source. The parenthetical citation is inserted next to the item needing documentation, most often at the end of the sentence or at a comma.


Venus and Adonis are a “cosmological allegory” (Ellrodt 78).


If the author’s name is already mentioned in the text, only the page number is required in the parenthetical citation.


Miller concedes, in The Poem’s Two Bodies, that “human beings are…living organisms, whose apprehension of themselves and their world is mediated by the body” (215).


Variations on the Standard In-Text Citation

Source with Two Authors

Include both authors’ names.


(Boyne and Gamache 10)


Source with Three or More Authors

Use the first author’s name and “et al.”, which means “and others.”


(Armstrong et al. 5)


Two or More Works in One Citation

Separate the works with a semi-colon.


(Paglia 175 ; Miller 28)


An Internet Document That Does Not Have Numbered Pages

With no pages, directing the reader to a particular section is made more difficult. Depending on what you are working with, you can use a paragraph number or a section heading. However, if paragraphs are not numbered and there are no headings, sometimes you cannot direct the reader to a specific section in the parenthetical citation.


Denise Vultee et al. think that it is likely that Blake engraved many of the sketches himself (par. 9).

An online biography of William Blake claims that "Blake express[ed] contempt for [the] emphasis on color among painters of the Venetian school" (Vultee et al., "Artist and Engraver, 1779-1788").

Vultee et al. think that is is likely that Blake engraved many of the sketches himself.


Works of Literature

When referring to works of literature, it is often preferable to specify location by some designation other than page number – for example, act, scene, and line for drama, or stanza, canto or book, for long poems. For many short poems, line designation alone is used.

Use Arabic numerals (unless your instructor prefers Roman numerals).

In the following example, the citation indicates that the passage quoted appears in act 1, scene 1, line 79 of the play.


How am I glutted with conceit of this!

Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please,

Resolve me of all ambiguities,

Perform what desperate enterprise I will? (Marlowe 1.1.79-82)


Citing one text throughout  the essay

In some literary or philosophy essays, you may only be citing from one text throughout. In that case, for your first citation, include the author’s name.


Marlowe (1.1.79-82)


In subsequent citations, you don’t need to include the author’s name again:




Citing Two or More Works by One Author

For the first reference to each work, in the citation, include the author's name, the name of the work (a shortened form is acceptable), and location information. So, in an essay that refers to two plays by Shakespeare, the first reference to each play would be as follows. Notice that a comma separates the writer's name from the work.


(Shakespeare, JC 1.2.4-5)  refers to Julius Caesar

(Shakespeare, Ant. 2.3.5-9) refers to Antony and Cleopatra


If the essay only refers to these two plays, in subsequent references, the author's name would not be necessary.

(JC 1.2 4-5)   refers  to Julius Caesar

(Ant. 2.3. 5-9) refers to Antony and Cleopatra 

See the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Paper Seventh Edition 250-256 for examples of short forms of major works of literature, philosophy and other disciplines.

Referring to the Work as a Whole

Sometimes, the citing of page numbers is not necessary if you are referring to or summarizing a work and not particular pages or sections of it. In such cases, include the author’s name in your essay text, and you will not need a parenthetical citation at all.


As Elkin has shown in The Augustan Defence of Satire, satire and satirists were subject to much contemporary attack on their artistic practices.


Citing a Source You Found in Another Source

When possible, take material from its original source; however, at times you may need to cite a source indirectly.


The Christian tradition emphasizes the Logos, the Word of God: “the model, according to which the creature is fashioned, is in the word of God” (Augustine qtd. in Kane 91).


The quotation is of Augustine, found in a source by Kane, on page 91. It iis the work by Kane that appears in the Works Cited list.

Block or Set Off Quotations

If a quotation takes up more than four lines in your essay, it is set off from the text. Start the quotation by beginning a new line, and indent one inch (2.3 cm) from the left margin by pressing the Tab key once. No quotation marks are necessary.

Don't change your spacing; if you have been double-spacing or using 1.5, continue with it throughout the block quotation.  At the end of the quotation, put a period, one space and then the parenthetical citation.



The seminal principles derive from God:

       For these, which give birth to all the rest, have derived,

       together with their own origin, seminal principles from

       the Planter God, even as the female does after

       impregnation. God, who is greatest and best, and the

       fulness of all things, contained all in Himself. . . before

       he had diffused them abroad. (Colet qtd. in Nohrnberg



Our site provides detailed information on in-text citing for various kinds of sources.