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Posted by on Aug 1, 2017

Creating IN-TEXT citations MLA Style

MLA in-text citations (vs. the Works Cited page where you list out all the bibliographic information) are parenthetical.

So with MLA you don’t use footnotes, or endnotes, or superscripts.  You use the author’s name and a page number (if available) placed in parentheses. MLA highlights the author’s name, rather than burying it in a footnote, and so stresses credible research.

Example:

  • According to the New York Times, “Kelly Clarkson is back on top” (Sisario C5).

For help placing in-text citations properly, see our brief guide on the subject.

As you probably know, the difficulty with citations is in all the variations…here are some:

THE SOURCE IS A WEBSITE RATHER THAN A HARD COPY OR PDF:

If you retreived a PDF from a website (most often a library database or a government website) that is formatted like a print source (like hard copy rather than a web page), use the page numbers provided as part of your citation.

  • If your source is a website, then still use the author’s name. So the above example might be:
    •  According to the New York Times, “Kelly Clarkson is back on top” (Sisario).
  • If your source is a website but the material you are citing isn’t attributed to a specific person, use the name of the organization/website:
    • There are plenty of jobs available in specific fields. Employers are “looking for smart, ambitious people for a variety of public health training programs” (Center for Disease Control).
  • Notes:
    • If the website uses a fixed numbering system for pages or paragraphs, include the detail in the citation. Example: (Sisario, page 4). Other appropriate terms might be “sec.” for “section,” “par.” for “paragraph” etc.
    • The bibliographic entry in the Works Cited page is where a print source will be clearly different from an Internet source. An Internet source will include a full URL, a retrieval data and so on. See the MLA Works Cited page for details.

THE SOURCE HAS NO SPECIFIC AUTHOR’S NAME:

  • Sometimes articles don’t have an author’s name, or your source is from a government website. In these cases, use the name of the publication or website. Example:
    • There are plenty of jobs available in specific fields. Employers are “looking for smart, ambitious people for a variety of public health training programs” (Center for Disease Control).
    • The source is the Center for Disease Control, and in the Works Cited we would have a complete URL.

YOU USE THE AUTHOR’S NAME (OR THE SOURCE’S NAME) IN YOUR SENTENCE:

  • Using the source’s name can help you establish credibility. For instance,
    • According to the Center for Disease Control, “[they are] looking for smart, ambitious people for a variety of public health training programs.”
    • The sentence does not need a parenthetical citation because the source is clearly stated and there is no page number. In this case, it is worth stressing the source because it is a highly credible one.
    • If there is a page number, then a citation would appear at the end of the sentence with just the number: According to the Center for Disease Control, “[they are] looking for smart, ambitious people for a variety of public health training programs” (54).

THERE ARE MULTIPLE AUTHORS:

  • Simply list the last name in the parenthetical. Example:
    •  One Wall Street executive with reporters camped in his front yard said, “‘“It is as bad if not worse than McCarthyism'” (Barron and Buettner B5).
    • Notice that two journalist wrote the story (it’s from the New York Times) and therefore both of their names appear in the citation. Notice, also, that the quote is a quote in their article, so it appears here in single quotes surrounded by double quotes; it’s a quote within a quote.

THE AUTHOR IS A CORPORATION OR SIMILAR ENTITY:

  • Use the entity’s name in place of a specific person’s name. Example:
    • Many people living on the East coast of the United States take fresh water for granted, “although approximately three-quarters of the Earth is covered by water, only about 3% of all the water available on the planet is fresh” (Center for Disease Control).

THE SOURCE CAME FROM AN ANTHOLOGY (A COLLECTION):

  •  Students are often asked to read short stories and essays from anthologies – collections of many authors’ work. In this case, you cite the actual author in the text, but use the page number from the anthology. If the reader wants to know more, they can consult your Works Cited page and get the exact edition of the anthology that you used. Example:
    • While most parents in the United States are opposed to corporal punishment (i.e. spanking), they also believe their children are “overindulged, materialistic brats” (Pitts 415)
    • If you were to look up the author “Pitts” in the Works Cited, you would discover that the quote comes from an essay he wrote that was reprinted in The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing.

THE SOURCE IS A QUOTE YOU FOUND IN ANOTHER SOURCE:

  • As mentioned in the “multiple authors” section, if you quote words that were already quoted in your source, then you must enclose the quoted material in single quotes. Example:
    •  Even though Tiger Woods might break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins, Nicklaus has said that “‘nobody wants their records broken, but I don’t want [Tiger to] not to break my records because [he isn’t] healthy'” (Reilly).
    • Notice the single quote inside of the double quote…indicating that Reilly (the author) was quoting someone else.

Learn More…

Knowing how to cite is important, but the quotes you use must make sense logically and stylistically within your own writing. Check out this great resource for help on this important issue. If you can integrate quotations like a pro, your credibility (and grades) will go way up.

For more general help, check out Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab’s section on MLA for more help.

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