In MLA, in-text citations are inserted in the body of your research paper to briefly document the source of your information. Brief in-text citations point the reader to more complete information in the Works Cited list at the end of the paper.
Note: The period goes outside the brackets, at the end of your in-text citation.
Readers should be able to move from your own words to the words you quote without feeling an abrupt shift. Signal phrases provide clear signals to prepare the readers for the quotation. If you refer to the author's name in a sentence you do not have to include the name again as part of your in-text citation, instead include the page number (if there is one) at the end of the quotation or paraphrased section. For example:
Hunt explains that mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (358).
When you quote directly from a source, enclose the quoted section in quotation marks. Add an in-text citation at the end of the quote with the author name and page number:
Mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (Hunt 358).
No Page Numbers
When you quote from electronic sources that do not provide page numbers (like Web pages), cite the author name only.
"Three phases of the separation response: protest, despair, and detachment" (Garelli).
What Is a Long Quotation?
If your quotation extends to more than four lines as you're typing your essay, it is a long quotation.
Rules for Long Quotations
There are 4 rules that apply to long quotations that are different from regular quotations:
Example of a Long Quotation
At the end of Lord of the Flies the boys are struck with the realization of their behavior:
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. (Golding 186)
|Number of Authors/Editors||In-Text Citation Example|
(Author's Last Name and Author's Last Name Page Number)
Example: (Case and Daristotle 57)
|Three or more||
(Author's Last Name et al. Page Number)
Example: (Case et al. 57)
Where you'd normally put the author's last name, instead use the first one, two, or three words from the title. Don't count initial articles like "A", "An" or "The". You should provide enough words to make it clear which work you're referring to from your Works Cited list.
If the title in the Works Cited list is in italics, italicize the words from the title in the in-text citation.
If the title in the Works Cited list is in quotation marks, put quotation marks around the words from the title in the in-text citation.
(Cell Biology 12)
If you would like to cite more than one source within the same in-text citation, simply record the in-text citations as normal and separate them with a semi-colon.
(Smith 42; Bennett 71).
(It Takes Two; Brock 43).
Note: The sources within the in-text citation do not need to be in alphabetical order for MLA style.
When you write information or ideas from a source in your own words, cite the source by adding an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased portion.
Paraphrasing from One Page
Include a full in-text citation with the author name and page number (if there is one). For example:
Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 65).
Paraphrasing from Multiple Pages
If the paraphrased information/idea is from several pages, include them. For example:
Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 50, 55, 65-71).
If you're using information from a single source more than once in succession (i.e., no other sources referred to in between), you can use a simplified in-text citation.
Cell biology is an area of science that focuses on the structure and function of cells (Smith 15). It revolves around the idea that the cell is a "fundamental unit of life" (17). Many important scientists have contributed to the evolution of cell biology. Mattias Jakob Schleiden and Theodor Schwann, for example, were scientists who formulated cell theory in 1838 (20).
Note: If using this simplified in-text citation creates ambiguity regarding the source being referred to, use the full in-text citation format.