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MLA Style Guide (8th edition): In-Text Citations

Quick reference guide to MLA style: how to do in-text citations and Works Cited page

Writing in-text citations

The in-text citation is a brief note within your text that indicates the source material. It should properly attribute any ideas, paraphrases, or direct quotations, and should direct readers to the entry in the list of Works Cited.  For every different source you cite, you must include the full information about the source at the end of the paper in the Works Cited page.  Your readers may want to find your sources and read them for themselves. 

For the most part, an in-text citation is the author’s name and page number (or just the page number, if the author is named in the sentence) in parentheses:

Imperialism is “the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center ruling a distant territory.” (Said 9).


According to Edward W. Said, imperialism is defined by “the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center ruling a distant territory.” (9).

Another example:

Human beings have been described by Kenneth Burke as "symbol-using animals" (3).


Human beings have been described as "symbol-using animals" (Burke 3).

If no author is listed in your source, use an abbreviated version of the title.

International espionage was as prevalent as ever in the 1990s (“Decade”).

If there are two authors, include both:

The authors claim that surface reading looks at what is “evident, perceptible, apprehensible in texts” (Best and Marcus 9).

But if the article has three or more authors, just use the first one and then “et al.”  ("Et al." is a Latin abbreviation for "and others." "Et" does not have a period, and "al." does.)

The authors claim that one cause of obesity in the United States is government-funded farm subsidies (Franck, et al. 327).

If the author of the article is a corporation, it is OK to use the corporation's name for the citation.

When creating in-text citations for media that has a runtime, such as a movie or podcast, include the range of hours, minutes and seconds you plan to reference:  (00:02:15-00:02:35).

For more details and examples of using in-text citations, see the Purdue OWL’s webpage, “MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics.”

MLA Handbook

Find more help

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) has an excellent online style guide.  Take a look for more help!

Want to try a new, free software tool to build your bibliography?  MyBib is the best tool we've seen for building and keeping a list of citations.  It's easy to use and lets you switch between several styles.  Try it out at