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MLA Citation Style Guide: Parenthetical Citations

This guide contains examples of common citation formats in MLA (Modern Language Association) Style

Using Parenthetical (In-Text) Citations

Include a parenthetical citation when you refer to, summarize, paraphrase, or quote from another source. For every in-text citation in your paper, there must be a corresponding entry in your Works Cited list.

MLA parenthetical citation style uses the author's last name and a page number; for example: (Field 122).


How to Cite a Direct Quote (92-105)

When you incorporate a direct quotation into a sentence, you must cite the source. Fit quotations within your sentences, making sure the sentences are grammatically correct:

Gibaldi indicates, “Quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (109).
Remember that “[q]uotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (Gibaldi 109).
If the quotation will run to more than 4 lines in your paper, you must use a block format in which the quotation is indented 1 inch from the left margin, double spaced with no quotation marks.

How to Cite after Paraphrasing

Even if you put information in your own words by summarizing or paraphrasing, you must cite the original author or researcher as well as the page or paragraph number(s). For example, a paraphrase of Gibaldi’s earlier quotation might be identified as follows:

Within the research paper, quotations will have more impact when used judiciously (Gibaldi 109).


How to Cite Information When You Have Not Seen the Original Source (226)

Sometimes an author writes about research that someone else has done, but you are unable to track down the original research report. In this case, because you did not read the original report, you will include only the source you did consult in the Works Cited list. The abbreviation “qtd.” in the parenthetical reference indicates you have not read the original research.

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). [Do not include Fong (1987) in Works Cited; do include Bertram.]

How to Cite Information If No Page Numbers Are Available (220-222)

If a resource contains no page numbers, as can be the case with electronic sources, then you cannot include a page number in the parentheses. However, if the source indicates paragraph numbers, use the abbreviation “par.” or “pars.” and the relevant numbers in the parentheses.

One website describes these specific dragons (King). A solution was suggested in 1996 (Pangee, pars. 12-18).


How to Cite Two or More Works by the Same Author or Authors (225)

When citing one of two or more works by the same author(s), put a comma after the author’s last name and add the title of the work (if brief) or a shortened version of the title and the relevant page number.


How to Cite if the Author's Name is Unavailable (223-224)

Use the title of the article or book or Web source, including the appropriate capitalization and quotation marks/italics format.

example: (“Asthma Rates Increasing” 29).


How to Cite when you are Altering a Direct Quote

When you need to leave out part of a quotation to make it fit grammatically or because it contains irrelevant/unnecessary information, insert ellipses points, or three spaced periods ( . . . ). (97-101).

If you must add or slightly change words within a quotation for reasons of grammar or clarity, surround the change with square brackets (101).