MLA In-Text Citations

MLA Citations in the Body of Your Paper

MLA citations follow specific conventions that distinguish them from other styles. In-text citations are also sometimes known as “parenthetical citations” because they are enclosed in parentheses. Most often, the author’s last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

At the end of the day Wilbur made “in excess of half a million dollars” (Marx 43).

If you use the name of the author to set up your quote or paraphrase, mention the full author’s name the first time in the sentence; thereafter use only the last name. Then put the page number without p. or pp. in the parentheses at the end of the sentence.

According to Marx, Wilbur made “in excess of half a million dollars” (43).

Page numbers should appear as they do in the source. If the source is only one page, do not add a page number in the citation. Examples of how numbers could appear in citations include 422, xxvi, and D32.

If other location types are used within a citation, they are listed often using abbreviations. The table below shows some location options with the appropriate abbreviations. When using any of these location types, add a comma within the citation after the author’s name. Only use the location type if they are included in the source. For example, do not use line or paragraph numbers if they are not included in the source referenced.

Location Appropriate Abbreviation
chapter(s) ch. or chs.
line Do no abbreviate. Write out line or lines.
paragraph(s) par. or pars.
scene sc.
section(s) sec. or secs.
NOTE: If you reference the work as a whole, page numbers are not required within the citation.

If an ebook is used, use page numbers that are consistent across devices. Chapter numbers are also acceptable. However, do not use location numbers as they can vary in different devices.

If you need to cite more than one source in your in-text citation, you should use a semicolon to separate the sources.

(Jones 101; Williams 23).

It’s important to remember, in MLA style, each citation in your text must have a complete bibliographic entry in your Works Cited page, so, if readers want to go to the original source, they can!

The examples above are just a few of the most common examples of in-text citations in MLA style. The following pages provide more detailed information about in-text citing in MLA.

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