Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

Creating MLA In-Text Citations

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.

MLA In-Text Citation Examples

One Author: (Smith 12)

Two Authors: (Smith and Johnson 50-52)

Three Authors: (Smith et al. 50)


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.

Parenthetical MLA In-Text Citation Example

Most dogs enjoy “taking walks and eating snacks”(Lopez 12), but other researchers disagree with this statement.


Unless you mentioned the author in the text already, you just include the page number, which is known as a narrative citation.

Narrative MLA In-Text Citation Example

According to Lopez, most dogs enjoy “taking walks and eating snacks” (12), but other researchers disagree with this statement.


Every in-text citation needs to have a corresponding works cited citation. The corresponding citation entry in the works cited list looks like this:

MLA Works Cited Example

Lopez, Alberto J. Talking with Dogs. Doghouse Books, 2018.


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.

example in-text citation MLA

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.
Timestamp: hours:minutes:seconds

Parenthetical MLA In-Text Citations With No Page Numbers Examples

It’s been proven beyond any doubt that dogs do prefer treats after performing tricks for their owners (DeJon, par. 12).

Marty McFly discusses… (Back to the Future, 02:15:10 – 02:16:57)


Narrative MLA In-Text Citations With No Page Numbers Examples

According to DeJon, it’s been proven beyond any doubt that dogs do prefer treats after performing tricks for their owners (par. 12).

In the movie Back to the Future, Marty McFly discusses… (02:15:10 – 02:16:57)


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.

MLA in-text citations for Authors

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.

MLA In-Text Two Authors

(Smith and Johnson 96)


MLA In-Text Three or More Authors

(Dill et al. 96)


MLA Works Cited Examples for Two Authors and Multiple Authors

Smith, John, and Debra Johnson. Alcoholic Addiction. University of Notre Dame Press, 2010.

Dill, Elizabeth, et al. Recovery Truths. Simon & Schuster. 2012.


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.

MLA In-Text Citation Example No Known Author

Researchers found that most dogs prefer treats as a reward for performing tricks (Dogs: Survey of Tricks  10).


MLA Works Cited Example No Known Author

Dogs: A Survey of Tricks or Treats. Pew Research Center, September 2018. Canine Research Report 25.


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).

MLA In-Text Citation Example of Authors With the Same Name

When discussing medical ethics, there are two schools of thought (A. Johnson 47); however, one school is more accepted than the other (B. Johnson, 25).


In your works cited, these sources are alphabetized using the author’s first name.

MLA Works Cited Example for Authors With Same Last Name

Johnson, Annabelle. The Dive Into Medical Ethics. New York Press, 2020.

Johnson, Bertha. One School of Medical Ethics. Simon & Schuster, 2018.


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.

MLA In-Text Citation Example for Multiple Works

(Morrison, Beloved 78)

(Morrison, Bluest Eye 216)


If you use her name in the sentence, you don’t have to include it in the citation.

MLA In-Text Citation Example for Multiple Works

(Beloved 78)

(Bluest Eye 216)


MLA Works Cited Examples for Multiple Works by the Same Author

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. Vintage Books, 2004.

—. The Bluest Eye. Vintage, 2007.


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 Examples for Corporate Authors

Every corporation is accountable for its actions (U.S. Govt Accountability Office 216).

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, every corporation is accountable for its actions (216)


MLA Works Cited Example for Corporate Author

U.S. Government Accountability Office. 2020 Statistics. National Academies Press, 2020.


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.

MLA In-Text Citation Example Same Source

Though times have changed drastically, the ideas of prejudice and the plight of women (Smith 18) has not changed. These themes “transcend time and seep into modern eras” (22).


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.

MLA In-Text Citation Example Multiple Sources

(Smith 25; Johnson 30)


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.

MLA In-Text Citation Example for an Anthology

(King 798)


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.

Biblical MLA In-Text Citation Example

For Adam and Eve, “the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden” (King James Version, Gen. 2:8-14)

In the King James Version of the Bible, “the Lord God planted a garden eastward of Eden” (Gen. 2:8-14)


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.

MLA In-Text Citation Example for a Direct Quote

According to Smith, “the fall of the Roman was determined by…” (256)


Since this is a direct quote, it is set off by quotation marks to let you know these words are not their own.

Paraphrasing Defined

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.

MLA In-Text Citation Example for Paraphrasing

According to Smith, the Roman empire was powerful, but there were small instances showcasing their end was coming (256).


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”.

MLA In-Text Citation Example for an Indirect Quote

Smith points to Titus Maccius Plautus’ quote, “If you have overcome your inclination and not been overcome by it” (qtd. in Smith 256).


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.

MLA In-Text Citation Example for a Signal Phrase

Dobs and Swanson point out the different type of genes used in gene sequencing to show… (678)


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.

Citation generator

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.

Related Articles:

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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