Learn the ins and outs of creating an MLA in-text citation. Explore how to deal with multiple or no authors, multiple sources, and even anthologies through this quick and easy guide to MLA in-text citations.
How Do You Do In-Text Citations in MLA
To create an MLA in-text citation, you typically put the author and page number after your quoted or paraphrased material in parenthesis. The purpose of an in-text citation is to show your sources in high-level academic papers. When writing your essay, you use these sources to back up your opinions and thoughts. But you still need to give credit where credit is due. And this is where the MLA in-text (parenthetical) citations come in.
Author-Page MLA In-Text Citation
The type of citation you use in-text in MLA is the author-page citation. Your MLA parenthetical citation includes the first core element and the page number. If the first core element is an author (typically it is), you place the author’s last name inside parentheses along with the page number called a parenthetical citation.
Unless you mentioned the author in the text already, you just include the page number, which is known as a narrative citation.
Every in-text citation needs to have a corresponding works cited citation. The corresponding citation entry in the works cited list looks like this:
When to Include MLA In-Text Citations
You use in-text citations whenever you directly quote or paraphrase information from another source. Since you don’t want to distract your reader from the flow of information, you need to place the in-text citation after the sentence you quoted or paraphrased.
MLA In-Text Citations for a Website or Video With No Page Numbers
As you start to make website citations in MLA, you’ll notice some of them do not have page numbers but instead are divided by chapters, sections, paragraphs, etc. Film and media sources also do not have a page number but a timestamp. In these cases, you indicate the location of your source using those indicators. For these citations, you need to add a comma after the author.
Abbreviations and Structure
Sections: sec. or secs.
Paragraphs: par. or pars.
Chapters: ch. or chs.
In some instances, you won’t have any divisions at all. In these cases, you just include the name (Fox).
How to In-Text Cite With Multiple and No Authors in MLA
How you create your in-text citations can get complicated, especially if you are formatting them with multiple authors, no authors, or using authors with the same name. Therefore, it’s essential to learn how to handle all these different situations.
Sources With Multiple Authors
MLA has an easy system when it comes to multiple authors in an in-text citation. For two authors, you list the last names with “and” between them. When it comes to three or more, you add the et al.
Sources With No Known Author
When you come across a source without a known author, you need to use the title. However, some of these titles can get pretty long. Therefore, you abbreviate the title to only include the most important words of the title.
Additionally, you’ll follow the formatting found in the works cited. If the title is in italics, keep it in italics in the parenthetical citation. However, if it’s in quotes, keep it that way.
Cite Authors With Same Last Name
Another situation you might come across when creating your in-text citation in MLA is authors with the same last name. Let’s be real; there are a lot of Smiths and Johnsons in the research world. If this happens to you, don’t panic! Just add their first initial to the citation (A. Johnson 75).
In your works cited, these sources are alphabetized using the author’s first name.
Cite Multiple Works by the Same Author
Since authors don’t just stop at one book, you often find you use books or plays by the same author for your essay. In this case, you can’t just put them all as (Morrison, 23) because this would get confusing. Therefore, you need to use the abbreviated title of the work to differentiate them.
For example, if you were pulling quotes and information from books by Toni Morrison, your citations would be based on the book you are using.
If you use her name in the sentence, you don’t have to include it in the citation.
How to Cite Corporate Authors
Now let’s explore what to do for corporate authors for in-text citations in MLA. Formatting a corporate author is similar to the way you’d format your in-text citation for an author. The only difference is you use the corporation’s name. And if you need to abbreviate your citation, use the recommended MLA conventions for abbreviations.
MLA In-Text Citation for Multiple Sources
When creating MLA in-text citations, you might come across a situation where you need to cite the same author or multiple authors. Since MLA is expansive, they typically have every different situation covered. Explore a few special considerations for your in-text citations.
Citing the Same Source
Many times, you find yourself referring to the same source multiple times within a section of your essay. If this happens to you and you don’t have any sources in between, then you might choose to use a simple citation of just the page number for every additional citation in that section. Remember, this is only if another source isn’t used in this section.
Citing Multiple Sources in MLA
In research papers, you might find your ideas form from multiple sources rather than just one. Therefore, you need to account for both these authors in your citations. You’ll do this with a semicolon.
How to Create In-Text Citations for Anthologies and Collections
Collections and anthologies can get a little confusing when it comes to in-text citations because these works cover multiple authors. Rather than using the over encompassing editor of the collection or anthology, you use the person that said the quote or material. Therefore, in an anthology covering quotes from Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill, if you use the Martin Luther King quote, you include his last name and the page number.
In-Text Citations for Religious Works and Scripture Citations
Biblical or scripture MLA in-text citations can get interesting because there are a few ways these can be done depending on how you introduce or don’t introduce the source. If you are talking about a specific bible like King James Bible, it is italicized. However, if you talk about the Bible in general, it’s not. Additionally, in your in-text citation, rather than the page number, include the chapter and verse.
Quoting vs. Paraphrasing
In the MLA style guide, you include in-text citations for any direct quotes and paraphrasing you use. However, these two terms are not the same, and how you format them is different.
Understanding Direct Quotes
When you use direct quotes in your work, they will be inside of quotation marks and include the text exactly as it is found in the work.
Since this is a direct quote, it is set off by quotation marks to let you know these words are not their own.
Paraphrasing is also using the author’s words within your writing, but they are not exact. In a paraphrased section, you’ll provide a brief summary of the author’s thoughts and opinions using your own words.
Paraphrasing does not include direct quotes. But you still attribute the author’s thoughts with an in-text citation at the end.
Using In-Direct Quotes
MLA doesn’t recommend the use of indirect quotes. If possible, you want to get the information directly from the source itself. However, there are times you need to include an indirect quote. To create an indirect quote in MLA in-text, you add “quoted in” before the citation as “qtd. in”.
Signal Phrases for Quoting and Paraphrasing
When quoting and paraphrasing an author, it’s essential to provide some kind of lead-in for your reader, especially when paraphrasing. Otherwise, it might be hard for the reader to see they are moving from your own words to the words of someone else. Therefore, you should include some signal words to show you are moving away from your own thoughts. Many times, you’ll find that you use the author’s name in the sentence as a signal phrase.
How to Format Long Quotes in an MLA In-Text Citation
Long quotes or block quotes are their own specific type of beast in an MLA in-text citation. Block quotes are used for more than five lines of prose and three lines of poetry or dialogue. They work to set off the long quote for the reader.
Easy In-Text Citations for Your MLA Paper
MLA format provides an easy way to create in-text citations. When writing a school paper, always keep your reader in mind. Provide a clear pathway from your in-text citations to your final entry in your works cited list so your sources can be found quickly and easily by your instructor and your reader.
FAQ Creating MLA 8 In-Text Citations
When do I need to include an MLA in-text citation?
MLA in-text citations are included after a section is quoted or paraphrased in a paper. They show the reader the words are not your own by including the author's last name and the page number where the information can be found.
How do I cite a source with multiple authors in MLA?
To cite a source with multiple authors in MLA, you include both author's last names with "and" between for two authors (Smith and Johnson). For three or more authors, you include the first author's last name and et al. (Johnson et al.)
How do I cite a source with no author or page numbers in MLA?
When it comes to a source with no author, you use the title of the work in place of the author (Dogs Life 40). If there are no page numbers, you can use paragraph numbers, lines, etc. However, if nothing is available to use in place of a page number, you can just include the title or author's last name (Fox).
Who uses the MLA citation style?
MLA citation is used by students and professionals for the writing of language arts and humanities papers. MLA writing style was created by the Modern Language Association to make citing language arts papers easier.
How do you do parenthetical citations in MLA
To create a parenthetical citation in MLA, you need to include the author's last name and page number in parenthesis (Johnson 3). A narrative in-text citation will include the author's last name in the text and the page number in parentheses.
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