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MLA Citation Guide: Citing in the body of your paper

This guides offers examples on how to cite references following MLA citation guidelines


In-Text Citations (see pages 54 - 58, 116 - 128 of the MLA Handbook, 8th Edition)

In the body of your paper, use parenthetical documentation (Chapter 5 of MLA Handbook). The purpose of your documentation is for your readers to be able to locate the sources which you cite in your text when they look at your bibliography ("Works Cited") located at the end of your paper. You give the minimum of information necessary for your readers to do this, such as just the author's last name and the page(s) to which you refer.

  • When you omit the author's name in your sentence:

This point has already been argued (Tannen 178-85).

  • When you include the author's name in your sentence:

Tannen has argued this point (178-85).

  • When you cite more than one work by the same author (shortened version of title is acceptable, using first words:

Shakespeare's King Lear has been called a "comedy of the grotesque" (Frye, Anatomy 237).

  • When the work has more than one author:

Others hold the opposite point of view (e.g., Kerrigan and Braden 210-15).

  • When the work has no author, use title (shortened form is ok) of article or book:

A New York Times editorial called Ralph Ellison "a writer of universal reach" ("Death").

  • If your source uses explicit paragraph numbers rather than page numbers -- as some publications on the web do -- give the relevant number or numbers, preceded by the label par. or pars.  Change the label appropriately if another kind of part is numbered in the source instead of pages, such as sections (sec., secs.) or chapters (ch., chs.). If the author's name begins such a citation, place a comma after the name.

There is little evidence here for the claim that "Eagleton has belittled the gains of postmodernism" (Chan, par.41).

  • When a source has no page numbers or any other kind of part number, no number should be given in a parenthetical citation.  Do not count unnumbered paragraphs or other parts.

"As we read we . . . construct the terrain of a book" (Hollmichel), something that is more difficult when the text reflows on a screen.

  • In parenthetical citations of a literary work available in multiple editions, such as commonly studied novel, play, or poem, it is often helpful to provide division numbers in addition to, or instead of, page numbers, so that readers can find references in any edition of the work.

Austen begins the final chapter of Mansfield Park with a dismissive "Let other pens dwell," thereby announcing her decision to avoid dwelling on the professions of love made by Fanny and Edmund (533; vol.3, ch.17).

  • For works in time-based media, such as audio and video recordings, cite relevant time or range of times.  Give the numbers of the hours, minutes and seconds as displayed on your media player, separating the numbers with colons.

Buffy's promise that "there's not going to be incidents like at my old school" is obviously not one on which she can follow through ("Buffy" 00:03:16-17).


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Sophie Lesinska