MLA: In-text Citations
- How to Create In-Text Citation: Standard Citation
- Variations on Standard Citation
- Block Quotations
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 sentence, 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).
- There is no comma between the author's name and the page number.
- Punctuation follows the parenthetical citation.
- Do not include the word page or the abbreviation p. or pg.
Include both authors’ names.
(Boyne and Gamache 10)
Use the first author’s name and “et al.”, which means “and others.”
(Armstrong et al. 5)
Two sources may support one point that you have summarized; include both sources in the citation. Separate the works with a semi-colon.
(Paglia 175; Miller 28)
With no pages, directing the reader to a particular section is made more difficult. If the source includes chapters, sections or numbered paragraphs, you can direct the reader to these parts of the source. Use abbreviations such as par., ch., or sec. to indicate the section number. MLA 8th edition does not recommend counting paragraphs unless the original source includes numbered paragraphs. If the source does not have chapters or sections, make reference to the author in your sentence (preferable) or in a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence.
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 it is likely that Blake engraved many of the sketches himself.
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 the word line before the number for clarity in your citation. Use Arabic numerals (unless your instructor prefers Roman numerals).
In "Still I Rise" Angelou addresses the intentional silencing, erasure, and misrepresentation of traditional historical narratives: "You may write me down in history/With your bitter, twisted lies,/You may trod me in the very dirt/But still, like dust, I'll rise" (Angelou lines 1-4).
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)
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.
In subsequent citations, you don’t need to include the author’s name again; instead just the location:
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 (Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra), 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)
(Shakespeare, Ant. 2.3.5-9)
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)
(Ant. 2.3. 5-9)
See the MLA Handbook, 9th ed. (2021), pp 295-301, for examples of short forms of major works of literature, philosophy and other disciplines.
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.
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 is the work by Kane that appears in the Works Cited list.
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 (that we may observe due order), before he had diffused them abroad. (Colet qtd. in Nohrnberg 554)