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Overview of using MLA to format citations.

Guidelines for In-Text Citation

Use a brief parenthetical reference in your paper wherever you are incorporating someone else's words, thoughts, or ideas in your paper.

In-text citations typically include the first element from the Works Cited entry (usually the first author's last name, but occasionally an abbreviated title) and a location (usually the page number).

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

Identify the location of the information that you are citing as specifically as possible (page number, DVD disc number, video time, etc.).

How to Cite References in your Text:

In-text references provide a means for you to give credit when using others' words, facts, or ideas. MLA style uses parenthetical notations to identify the source (author's surname) and the specific location (page reference) from which you borrowed material.  

Place the parenthetical reference where a natural pause would occur, as near as possible to the material documented. In-text citations are typically placed at the end of a quote, sentence, or paragraph.

You can provide the author's last name and page number at the end of the sentence enclosed in parenthesis, or the author's last name can appear as part of the sentence with the page number at the end of the sentence enclosed in parenthesis. If the author's last name was used in the sentence, do not repeat the author's name in the in-text citation.


According to B.F. Skinner, behavior analysis is necessary for society because "almost all major problems involve human behavior" (24).  


Behavior analysis is necessary for society because "almost all major problems involve human behavior" (Skinner 24).

Work Cited

Skinner, B.F. Beyond Freedom and Dignity. Alfred A. Knopf, 1971, p. 24.

In-text Citation Examples

One author

You may cite a single author’s name in the text.

            Alexander notes that race was a critical topic in the 1968 presidential race (22-9).

Or, you can use a parenthetical reference with the author’s name and page number.

            Race was a critical topic in the 1968 presidential race (Alexander 22-9).

Two authors

Use ‘and’ (not ‘&’) between the two author names.

(Wilson and Schlosser 43).

Three or more authors

If the work has three or more authors, list the first author’s name followed by et al.

James et al. claim that social customs prevalent in the southern United States have . . . (157-65).


Social customs in the southern United States have become . . . (James et al. 157-65).

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.

(Dickens, David Copperfield 347)

Work Cited

Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield. Bradbury & Evans, 1850. 

Multiple works by different authors in one citation

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

(Smith 93; Fayett 131-2)

Authors with same surname

If the works cited list contains two or more authors with the same surname, include the author’s first initial in the in-text citation. (E. Poe 19)

Organizations as authors

When the author is a corporation or organization that is also the publisher, the Works Cited entry begins with the title. Use an abbreviated version of the title in the in-text citation followed by the page number. (Publication 3).

Work Cited

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed., American Psychological Association, 2009.

If the author is a government or government body, include the administrative layers listed in the Works Cited entry separated by commas. Use abbreviations for common words like Department (as "Dept.").

(United States, Congress, House, Committee on the Judiciary 17).

Work Cited

United States, Congress House, Committee of the Judiciary. Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, December 1, 2015. Government Printing Office, 2015.

No author

If the Works Cited entry begins with a title because there is no author, use a shortened version of the title in the in-text citation. (Beowulf 42).

Work Cited

Beowulf. Translated by Burton Raffel, Signet, 2008.

Multivolume works

If your works cited entry indicates only one volume of a multivolume work, include the page reference in the text of your documentThe volume is specified in the works cited entry. 

(Norat 27).

Work Cited

Norat, Gisela. "Isabel Allende: Chilean and American Novelist." Notable Latino Writers, vol. 1, Salem Press, 2006, pp. 27-34.

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. 

(Notable, 1: 27).

Work Cited

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

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.]

(Notable, vol. 3). 

Work Cited

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

Entire works

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.

To Kill a Mockingbird was originally published over fifty years ago and yet is read by many students today.

Work Cited

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

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