MLA: in-text citations

In MLA style, an in-text citation generally consists of the author's last name and the page number of the reference. When multiple elements are used in a parenthetical citation, they are separated by a space. In all cases except for block quotations, parenthetical citations are placed immediately before the final punctuation of the sentence that cites the work.

For Exact Quotes:

Rule: When a quotation runs no more than four lines, put it in quotes, incorporate the author into the text, and provide the page number in a parenthetical citation.

Example:

"He was obeyed," writes Joseph Conrad of the company manager in Heart of Darkness, "yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect" (87).

Rule: When the author's name does not appear in the signal phrase, place the author's name and the page number(s) in the parenthetical citation.

Example:

"If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists" (Davis 26).

Rule: When a quotation runs more than four lines, do not use quotation marks, but indent it one inch from the main body of your text. Double space the block quote. Incorporate the author's name or the title of the piece into a signal phrase preceding the quote. Finally, provide the page number(s) of the excerpt, in parentheses, immediately following the final punctuation of the quotation.

Example:

At the conclusion of Lord of the Flies, Ralph and the other boys realize the horror of their actions:

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (186)

For Paraphrased Ideas:

Rule: When paraphrasing where the author(s) is clearly identified in your text, provide only the page number in the parenthetical citation.

Example:

Others, like Jakobson and Smith, hold the opinion that children who attend pre-school are better socially adjusted than those who do not (156).

Rule: When paraphrasing where author(s) is not clearly identified in your text, provide author(s) and page number in the citation.

Example:

Between 1968 and 1988, television coverage of presidential elections changed dramatically (Hallin 5).

Citing from Indirect Sources:

Rule: When quoting a reference that is not originally from the source you have, after the reference use the phrase "qtd. in" (quoted in) and the author(s) of the source you have, the volume of the source (if more than one), and the page number. An indirect source may be documented in the Works Cited page.

Example:

Samuel Johnson admitted that Edmund Burke was an "extraordinary man" (qtd. in Boswell 2: 450).