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MLA Citation Style 8th Edition: About In-text Citation

In-text documentation

In-text citations are the citations you provide within the text (body) of your paper  to give credit to authors whose words, facts, or ideas you are using in your paper. MLA Style uses parenthetical reference to help reader:

  • know who said the words you quoted or paraphrased, and
  • locate the full information about that source on your Works Cited page at the end of the paper.

In-text citations typically include the first element from the Works Cited entry; usually the author(s)'  last name or an abbreviated title if there is no author, and a location (usually the page number, DVD disc number, or video time, etc.).


In-Text Citations: How to Cite References in Your Text

Author-Page Style 

MLA format follows the author-page method for in-text citation. The author's name may appear either in the sentence itself or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence. 

There is no punctuation after the author's name or before the page number. Do not use commas, p., pgs., or any other such notation in the citation.

When the title of a periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper) begins with an article (A, An, The), the article is now treated as part of the title: the article is italicized and its first letter capitalized. For example, the handbook previously specified “the Georgia Review” in text and “Georgia Review” in the works-cited list but now specifies “The Georgia Review” in all contexts (

Each in-text or parenthetical citation should clearly correspond to a citation in the Works Cited list at the end of the paper.
For example:

In-text citation Work Cited

Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263).


Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).

Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. Oxford UP, 1967.

When a source has no page number, just include the author's name in parentheses.
For example:

In-text citation Work Cited

"The single-reaction multiplex ZCD assay detected and differentiated Zika virus, CHIKV, and DENV" (Waggoner et al.).

Waggoner, Jesse J., et al. "Single-reaction multiplex reverse transcription PCR for detection of Zika, Chikungunya, and dengue viruses." Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 22, no. 7, 2016. Accessed 5 Oct. 2016.

If a source does not have an author, provide an abbreviated title (MLA 117).
For example:

In-text citation Work Cited
"The in-text citation should direct the reader unambiguously to the entry in your works-cited list for the source." (MLA 54)

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

If a source numbers its paragraphs or has section divisions, headings or numbers, you can use this information in place of page numbers.
For example:

In-text citation Work Cited
"If they be two, they are two so /
 As stiff twin compasses are two" (Donne lines 25-26).

Donne, John. "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning." The Poems of John Donne,, 2012, Accessed 4 Oct. 2016.

Citing authors with same last name

If the works cited list contains two or more authors with the same last name, include the author’s first initial in the in-text citation.
For example:

In-text citation  Works Cited
(M. Smith 1061-4)

Smith, Douglas G. "The Second Amendment And The Supreme Court." Georgetown Journal Of Law & Public Policy, vol. 6, no. 2, 2008, pp. 591+. LexisNexis Academic, Accessed 6 Oct. 2016.

Smith, Michael L. "Second Amendment Challenges To Student Housing Firearms Bans: The Strength Of The Home Analogy." UCLA Law Review, vol. 60, no.4, 2013, pp. 1047+. 

Citing multiple works by the same author

In the in-text citation, put a comma after the author’s name, then a shortened version of the title, followed by the page reference.

In-text citation  Works Cited
(Shakespeare, Much ado 75)

Shakespeare, William, Macbeth. Dover Publications, 1993.

---. Much ado about nothing. Edited by Sheldon P. Zitner, Oxford UP, 1998.



Citing multiple works by different authors in one citation

Include the authors' last names and page references separated by a semicolon.

In-text citation Works Cited
(Frost 315-36; Kessler-Harris 280-89)

Frost, Elizabeth and Kathryn Cullen-DuPont. Women's suffrage in America : an eyewitness history. Facts on File, 1992.

Kessler-Harris, Alice. In pursuit of equity : women, men, and the quest for economic citizenship in 20th century America. Oxford UP, 2001.

Citing quotations: citing a writer's or a speaker's quoted words appear in a source written by someone else

Begin the parenthetical citation with the abbreviation "qtd. in".
For example:

According to Richard Retting, "As the comforts of home and the efficiency of the office creep into the automobile, it is becoming increasingly attractive as a work space" (qtd. in Johnson 23)

Citing more than one volume of a multivolume set

If your works cited entry indicates more than one volume of a multivolume set, you will need to include both the volume and page of the information you are citing to distinguish which volume is being referenced.

In-text citation Works Cited
(Notable, 1: 27).

Notable Latino Writers, Salem Press, 2006, 3 vols.


Citing an entire volume in the text of the document

If you are citing an entire volume in the text of the document, place a comma after the author's name (in the example below there are multiple authors in each volume and no general editor, so the abbreviated title is used) and the abbreviation [vol.]

In-text citation Works Cited
(Notable, vol. 3).

Notable Latino Writers, Salem Press, 2006, 3 vols.


Citing an entire work

If you are referring to an entire work, you may identify the work in your text using the author or title name from your works cited list, rather than a parenthetical citation.

In-text citation Works Cited
To Kill a Mockingbird was originally published over fifty years ago and yet is read by many students today.

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. HarperCollins Publishers, 1960.


More examples