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MLA Citation Style: In-text citations

The purpose of this guide is to help you cite your sources using the MLA Style (8th edition). You will find some useful examples and tips for organizing your work.

In-text citations


  • as brief as possible
  • include the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses
  • don’t use comma to separate the author’s name and the page number
  • if you have mentioned the author’s name in the sentence, include only the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
  • Note: in contrast to other citation styles, in MLA you don’t need to include the date of publication in the in-text citations
Source type: Example:

One author


… (Anderson 7).

… (Patterson 183-185).


In sentence:

Anderson… (7).

Patterson… (183-185).

Two authors

Use ‘and’ to separate the surnames.

…(Hamilton and Spruill 231)

Hamilton and Spruill… (231)

Three or more authors

… (Lauter et al. 236).

Lauter et al. … (236).

Two authors in the list with the same surname

Give the author’s first name initial

(L. Patterson 230)

(A. Patterson 183-185)

Several works by the same author

Give author’s surname, title (shortened) and page number.

… (Pollack, Dickinson 32-33).

e.g. Author: Vivian R. Pollak; Title: Dickinson, the Anxiety of Gender

Two page locations

…(Lauter at al. 236, 91-92).

Two sources cited

…(Salzman 38; Sellers 198).

No author

Use the title, full or shortened, italicized.

(American Heritage 49)

Corporate author

… (Canadian Health Information Management Association 87)

Canadian Health Information Management Association… (87).

No page


Web document

Give paragraph, chapter, section number.

(Barrett ch. 9)

Website, as a whole

(Shakespeare Lives)

Audio-visual media

Give relevant time; author’s name (if available) or title (italicized).

(Grand Budapest 01:18:29-49)

(Griggs 00:02:26-27)

Reference book entry, print, no author

(“Feudalism” 463)

Direct quotes / Prose


Quote several words or phrases:

For Charles Dickens the eighteenth century was both “the best of times” and “the worst of times” (35).

Quote several sentences (up to four lines) in text:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens of the eighteenth century (35).

Quote more than four lines of text stating on a new line, ½ inch from the left margin, no quotation marks:

At the conclusion of Lord of the Files, 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 burning wreckage of the island; and infected that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (186)

Direct quotes / Poetry


Quote up to two-three lines without any special emphasis in text with quotation marks, using a slash with a space on each side to separate them ( / ).

Reflecting on the “incident” in Baltimore, Cullen concludes, “Of all the things that happened there / That’s all I remember” (11-12).

Quote more than three lines, starting on a new line, 1 inch from the left margin, double-spaced, no quotation marks.

Elizabeth Bishop’s “In the Waiting Room” is rich in evocative detail:

            It was winter. It got dark

            early. The waiting room

            was full of grown-up people,

            arctics and overcoats,

            lamps and magazines. (6-10)

Direct quotes / Drama


Begin each part of the dialogue with the character’s name indented one inch from the left margin and in capital letters. Follow the name with a full stop and start the quotation. All subsequent lines of that character’s speech indent with an additional quarter inch. No quotation marks.


A short time later Lear loses the final symbol of his former power, the soldiers who make up his train:

GONERIL. Hear me, my lord. What need you five-and-twenty, ten or five. To follow in a       house where twice so many have a command to tend you?

REGAN. What need one?

LEAR. O, reason not the need! (3.7.2-3)

Direct quotes

When you directly reproduce words from another text, you should follow the guidelines for direct quotations. Your in-text citation should include author (if not mentioned in the sentence), and page numbers.

Short quotes

  • No more than four lines.
  • Placed within the text.
  • Identified with double quotation marks.
  • Parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence (author’s surname and page number) after the closing quotations.
  • Punctuation marks that are part of your text appear after the parenthetical reference.


Remember that “quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (Gibaldi 109).

Long quotes

  • More than four lines in your text.
  • Start on a new line, 1/2 inch from the left margin.
  • Don’t use quotation marks.
  • Double-spaced.
  • Parenthetical reference at the end of the paragraph (author’s surname and page number); after the full stop at the end of the quote.
  • Indicate missing words in a sentence with three spaced ellipsis points (…)


Elizabeth Bishop’s “In the Waiting Room” is rich in evocative detail:

            It was winter. It got dark

            early. The waiting room

            was full of grown-up people,

            arctics and overcoats,

            lamps and magazines. (6-10)

Accuracy of quotations​

Direct quotations must be accurate. All the changes made require explanation.

Exceptions: change the first letter of the quotation to uppercase or lowercase; change the punctuation mark at the end of the sentence to fit the syntax; change the single quotation marks to double and vice versa. Any other changes (emphasizing, omitting, correcting) must be indicated.

Omitting words from quotation

Use the three spaces ellipsis points (…) to indicate that you have omitted material from the original quote. Do not omit words from the beginning or the end of the quotation to avoid any misinterpretation.


In surveying responses to plagues in the Middle Ages, Barbara W. Tuchman writes, "Medical thinking . . . stressed air as the communicator of disease, ignoring sanitation or visible carriers" (101-02).

In surveying responses to plagues in the Middle Ages, Barbara W. Tuchman writes, "Medical thinking, trapped in the theory of astral influences, stressed air as the communicator of disease…" (101-02).

Adding emphasis​

When you, not the author, are adding emphasis to the words in a quotation, italicize the words and follow by (emphasis added).


Lincoln specifically advocated a government “for the people” (emphasis added).

Quotes with mistakes​

Insert (sic) after the misspelled word (in brackets, italicized).


Shaw admitted, "Nothing can extinguish my interest in Shakespear" (sic).

Inserting material within the quotation

Use brackets, not parentheses, to enclose material such as an addition or explanation or comment within the quotation.


Milton's Satan speaks of his "study [pursuit] of revenge."

Direct quotes from online material without pagination​

If paragraph numbers are visible, use them in place of page numbers (para.)


A solution was suggested in 1996 (Pangee, pars. 12-18).

Direct quotes from a source with no author

Article, chapter accessible online: use the first few words from the title (in italics) and the page range.


.... on free care (Study Finds Care 4-12 ).

Translation of quotations

  • Give the translation immediately after the quotation.
  • If the translation is not yours, give the source in addition to the quotation source.
  • Use quotation marks only if the quotations and the translations are set off from the text.


At the opening of Dante’s Inferno, the poet finds himself in “una selva oscura” (“a dark wood”; 1.2; Ciardi 28).


At the opening of Dante’s Inferno, the poet finds himself in “una selva oscura” ‘a dark wood’ (1.2; Ciardi 28).

Dante’s Inferno begins literary in the middle of things:

            Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita… (1.1-6).

            Midway in our life’s journey… (Ciardi 28).

Secondary citations

A secondary citation is where you are citing information that is cited by the author of your reference and you haven’t read the cited source. Use secondary citations sparingly, for instance, when the original work is out of print, unavailable through usual sources, or not available in English. Give these citations as an in-text reference only, do not include them in the Works Cited list. Use ‘qtd. in’ author’s surname and page range.


Fong’s 1987 study found that older students’ memory can be as good as that of young people, but this depends on how memory is tested (qtd. in Bertram 124).