As a student or researcher, you are likely to come across various sources in your academic work, including books, articles, and online sources. When using these references, it is essential to acknowledge the work of original authors through proper in-text citations.
In MLA style, in-text citations usually include the author's last name and the page number(s) where the information or quote was found. However, most difficulties occur when you need to cite sources with missing information or have to mention multiple authors in the text.
In this article, we will discuss all nuances of MLA in-text citation, mainly — how to format the references according to the 9th edition.
The article provides examples to enhance your understanding of the concept stated herein. We will also explore specific cases, such as sources with multiple authors, repeated sources, or different authors having the same last name, and discuss ways to make a proper reference for each of them. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how to do MLA in-text citations in 9th edition.
So, let's dive in and explore the details together.
MLA Format In-Text Citation Basics
An in-text citation is a brief reference to a source of information made within a body of written work, such as an essay, research paper, or academic article. It is used to give credit to the original source of information and to provide readers with a way to find it (even when it is written only in a foreign language) if they wish to learn more about the topic. In-text references are important because they demonstrate the author's credibility and give readers confidence in the accuracy of presented information.
Unlike APA citation in text, an MLA in-text citation does not use author-date format. Instead, the general rule when preparing in-text citations in MLA is to include the author's last name and page number in parentheses after the quoted or paraphrased block of text.
˃˃ Read more: APA vs MLA Format
It is important to place the parenthetical citation as close as possible to the text being cited. The citation should come before the period or other punctuation mark, except in the case of block quotes MLA.
An example of MLA in text citation is:
Corruption reduces economic development since it leads to misappropriation of funds (Austen 5).
In case your instructor requires you to use MLA citation footnote, check our guide to format them properly.
Types of MLA In Text Citations: Parenthetical & Narrative
There are two ways to present MLA citations in text, which are parenthetical and narrative. Both types of citations serve the same purpose of providing the most basic data about the source of information being referenced within a text. However, they suppose different formatting. In this section, we will explore the distinction between these two reference styles in more detail.
MLA Parenthetical Citation Format
Parenthetical citations are the most common type of referencing used within text. MLA format parenthetical citations are used when you want to reference a source within the body of your text in a brief and concise manner. They are short citations that appear within parentheses at the end of a sentence or clause in which a source is referenced.
Here's an example of how to use the MLA parenthetical format.
MLA Parenthetical In-Text Citation Example
Sea turtles have been facing a catastrophic decline in population due to rising temperatures and habitat destruction (Attenborough 58).
In this example, "Attenborough" is the author's last name, and "58" is a page number where information can be found.
MLA Narrative In-Text Citation
You should use MLA narrative in-text citations when you want to incorporate the source information into the sentence itself, instead of enclosing it in parentheses. This format is often used when the author's name is already mentioned within the sentence or when a source is well-known and needs to be identified only by page number(s).
An example of such referencing is indicated below.
Narrative MLA In-Text Citation Example
Attenborough argues that sea turtles have been facing a catastrophic decline in population due to rising temperatures and habitat destruction (58).
It is important to remember that every MLA text citation should have a corresponding citation inside the Works Cited list. This ensures that readers can easily locate the source if they wish to seek further clarification. Works Cited page reference includes the author's name, title of work, publisher, and year of publication. This information will allow readers to have the entirety of the necessary data about a source.
Here's an example of how to create such a reference.
Attenborough, David. Life in Cold Blood. British Broadcasting Corporation, 2008.
Remember to avoid providing the author's name or title of a work in both your text and parentheses, as this can lead to redundancy and confuse readers. Here's an example of an incorrect in-text reference in MLA.
❌ Incorrect In-Text Citation: MLA
According to John Smith's article, "The Benefits of Yoga," practicing yoga can lead to improved flexibility, strength, and mental focus (Smith 14).
Correct in-text citation should contain the author's name only within the text itself, and parenthetical reference for it should include only page number(s). This approach reduces redundancy and makes writing more concise and clearer for readers.
A correct example is provided below.
According to Smith, practicing yoga can lead to improved flexibility, strength, and mental focus (14).
Next part will enlighten you on how to cite in text in MLA style for sources with different number of authors.
MLA In-Text Citations for Sources by One Author
To cite a source by one author in text in MLA, you can use either parenthetical or narrative referencing, depending on your writing style and preference. When using both formats, remember to include the author's last name and page number.
MLA In-Text Citation Example: One Author
(Last name Page number)
Last name ... (Page number)
Attenborough … (33)
Citing Multiple Sources by One Author
When you want to refer to multiple sources by the same author in MLA, indicate author's last name followed by a comma, title of work, and finally, page number(s). This ensures that every single citation within the text is distinct and clear.
Example below illustrates how to make such references.
Example: Multiple Sources, One Author
(Attenborough, Life on Earth 21)
(Attenborough, Life in Cold Blood 42)
MLA In-Text Citation for Sources With Two Authors
When you use parenthetical format to cite sources with two authors in MLA in text, you need to include last names of both authors in an in-text citation, separated by the word "and". However, when using a narrative style, you should mention the names of two authors in the sentence itself.
MLA In-Text Citation: Two Authors
(Last name and Last name Page number)
(Smith and Jones 23)
Last name and Last name ... (Page number)
Smith and Jones … (23)
MLA In-Text Citation for Sources With Multiple Authors
It is most common for scholarly publications to have 3 authors or more. Therefore, you should know how to cite multiple authors in text in MLA. In such cases, only the first author's last name is listed, followed by "et al." which is a shortened notation for "and others".
Number of page(s) where information was found is included as always. In case of a narrative type with three or more authors, the first author's last name is followed by "et al." inside the sentence, and page number is included in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
The example below illustrates an in-text citation for multiple authors in MLA.
MLA In-Text Citation: Multiple Authors
(Last name et al. Page number)
(Barry et al. 78)
Last name et al. ... (Page number)
Barry et al. … (78)
MLA In-Text Citation for Sources With No Author
When providing in-text citation for no author in MLA, you can use a shortened version of the title in place of author's name within the in-text reference. Pay attention to Works Cited list when citing sources with no author. If a title is written within quotation marks, use them in your in-text citation too. It refers to a source such as a book chapter or a website page. If a title is written in italics, do the same in your in-text citation. This way we cite a whole website or book.
It's important to note that if a source has a group or organization listed as the author, you should use the group or organization's name in place of the author's name.
MLA In-Text Citation: No Author
(Title or Organization Page number)
Example (in italics)
(Global Warming 15)
Example (in quotation marks)
In case an organization’s name or source title is longer than four words, you should not use it as it is when making an in-text citation. Instead, shorten it to the first phrase or word. When doing so, any article (“a”, “an”, “the”) should be ignored since they are not considered full-fledged words.
Also, it is utterly important for the abridged organization name or article title to begin with the exact word the initial source is alphabetized by on the Works Cited page.
Below we have provided a few examples of how you can shorten titles or organization names.
Abridging Titles in MLA In-Text Citations: Examples
MLA in-text citation example
Homily against Disobedience and Willful Rebellion
International Society for Human Rights
(International Society 24)
A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing Style
Role of Social Media in Modern Marketing
(Role of Social Media 7)
Citing Sources With No Author and No Page Number
Have you been wondering how to do in text citations in MLA if both author and page number are missing? Under such circumstances, you can use the title of articles in quotation marks or italics. If you are using a narrative style, you can also include a title inside the sentence.
If the source you are citing in MLA format has no author and no page numbers, but you are still required to include a page number in your in-text citation, you should use other hints, such as a section or paragraph number, to indicate where the information you are citing appears in the source. In such cases, add a comma after the shortened title and mention a chapter, section, or paragraph number with a relevant abbreviation. For example, (“Quick Guide,” par. 2).
Below is an illustration of two ways you can format your in-text references.
MLA In-Text Citation: No Author, No Page
(Title or Organization Name)
Example (in italics)
Example (in quotation marks)
("Benefits of Yoga")
In-Text MLA Citation for Sources by Corporate Authors
In MLA in-text citation format, corporate authors are organizations or groups that create content, such as reports, brochures, or websites, as a whole entity rather than by individual authors. Examples of corporate authors include government agencies, non-profit organizations, and companies.
The name of the corporate author should be listed in place of an author's name when you reference such sources in MLA. Some full names can be quite lengthy. So, it is often necessary to abbreviate them inside the paper.
Here is a list of commonly abbreviated words for corporate author names:
- dept. = department
- ed. = edition or editor
- assoc. = association
- inst. = institute
- soc. = society
In the parenthetical style of MLA in-text citation format, you should indicate an abbreviated version of the corporate author name in parentheses. Narrative version uses the full name of the organization within a sentence’s body.
In-Text Citation MLA Example: Corporate Author
(Abbrev. Name Page number)
Full Organization Name ... (Page number)
American Heart Association … (34)
MLA In-Text Citation for Sources With No Page Numbers
When looking for research material online, you may quickly find that some sources, such as websites or electronic documents, may not have a fixed numbering system. To make a proper MLA in-text citation for sources without page numbers, only the author's name should be mentioned inside the text.
Remember, it's always important to include a full reference for the source in your separate Works Cited page, even if you don't possess all the information needed for an in-text citation.
An example of such a reference is provided below.
MLA In-Text Citation: No Page Number
MLA In-Text Citations for Sources With a Numbering System
Different types of sources may use different types of numbering systems for reference purposes. Here are some examples of how to create in-text citations when working with specific numbering systems.
In-Text Citations MLA: Specific Numbering System
When citing specific chapters, section, or verse of a book or journal, include author's name and chapter title, along with the relevant page or range of pages.
(Smith, "Chapter 3," 24-25)
You may need to cite some scenes in MLA. In such cases include act, scene, and line numbers in your citation.
Poetry references include the author's name and the line or range of lines being cited.
(Frost, lines 5-9)
Play With Numbered Lines
A play with numbered lines should be cited by indicating author's name and line numbers within text.
When citing a source from website, write author's name and paragraphs from which information was obtained. If there is no author, use website title instead.
(Smith, par. 4)
An audiovisual source is cited by indicating timestamp of relevant material within work.
These are just a few examples of how to create in-text citations for sources with unique numbering systems in MLA style. It's important to consult the MLA Handbook or other authoritative sources for guidance on how to cite specific types of sources properly.
MLA Format In-Text Citations for Repeated Sources
In some cases, you may need to cite the same source multiple times in consecutive sentences. To avoid repeating an entire reference for each instance, you can use a shortened citation for the second and all subsequent references. The first time you cite the source in the text, you should include a complete citation with author's last name and page number(s). For all subsequent references of the same source, you can use a shortened citation with just page number(s) in parentheses.
The table below indicates how to do such references.
How to Cite Consecutive Sources in MLA in Text
1st use: (Last name Page number). 2nd use: (Page number).
There are societal expectations placed upon women in Regency England (Austen 50). An individual can defy these expectations by refusing to marry for financial gain (100).
Citing Multiple Sources in One MLA In-Text Citation
There may be instances when you need to cite multiple sources within the same sentence or paragraph. Such incidences occur when different authors contribute to information discussed in your sentence. In such cases, you can use one parenthetical citation to refer to all sources at once. To do this, separate sources with a semicolon (;) and list them in the order they appear on your Works Cited page (which is alphabetical). Each source should have its own corresponding entry inside the Works Cited.
Multiple Sources in 1 In-Text Citation: MLA Format
(Author Location; Author Location)
(Anderson 72; Barry 40; Cioran 25)
Citing Different Authors Having the Same Last Name
When you are citing different authors who share the same last name in MLA, you need to include initials of their first name when referencing within your text to avoid confusion. For example, if you are citing works by two different authors named Hurley, you will have in-text citations that look like the ones illustrated in the table below.
MLA In-Text Citation: Different Authors, Same Last Name
(J. Hurley 45)
(D. Hurley 62)
Indirect citation in MLA format is also known as secondary referencing or citing a source within a source. It is used when you are not able to access an original document and find a quote or an idea in a secondary one. In this case, you need to cite the secondary reference within your text, and include author and page number of an original document in your Works Cited list.
To format an indirect citation in MLA, you can use the phrase "qtd. in" (which stands for “quoted in”) to indicate that the source you are citing is a secondary one.
An example of such referencing is provided below.
Indirect MLA Format in Text Citation Example
According to Hurley's colleague, "The findings were inconclusive" (qtd. in Barry 45).
If you're struggling with formatting your references in MLA style, look no further than our platform. Here you will find all information you need from how to cite journal articles MLA to how to cite a newspaper article MLA to create accurate and well-crafted academic work.
Bottom Line on MLA In Text Citations
Proper in-text citation is an important element of writing academic papers that cannot be ignored. You should ensure all your references that appear on the Work Cited page are correctly cited. Also, remember to paraphrase your words even when providing citations, or else it will be considered plagiarism.
This article has discussed various aspects of how to make an MLA citation in text, including the basics of formatting, types of in-text citations, citing sources with one or more authors, and the use of shortened titles. We have also touched on how to in text cite multiple sources in MLA, how to cite sources without authors, corporate authors, those without page numbers, and how to handle repeated sources.
In MLA in-text citation, the author's last name and the page number of the source being cited should be included to help readers easily locate the corresponding reading in the works cited page.
We hope that this guide has been helpful in understanding the different aspects of MLA in-text referencing and that it will make the process of citing sources in academic writing easier and the results more accurate. We have also provided examples to illustrate the concepts better.
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