Chapter 12: Documentation Styles: MLA and APA
We use in-text citations, also called parenthetical citations, to give our readers brief yet specific information about where in the original source material we found the idea or words that we are quoting or paraphrasing. In order to determine what the in-text citation should look like, we have to know what kind of source we are using.
- Is our source print or digital?
- Print sources are any source that are on paper or were originally printed on paper, even if you found a copy of it from an online research database like Academic Search Complete. These sources have page numbers. These page numbers need to appear in your in-text citations.
- Web/digital sources, in many instances, do not have page numbers. Do not make them up! Page 1 of your computer screen is not the same as an actual page one in a print source.
- Do we have a named author or not?
- Is the source paginated (i.e., does it have page numbers in its original or current format)? Or is it a digital source without page numbers?
The basics of in-text citation
A complete in-text citation in MLA format includes three components:
- a signal phrase
- the original source material (quoted or paraphrased), and
- a parenthetical citation (also called in-text citation)
For sources with page numbers, such as books and articles that were originally published in print publications, even if you access them using a research database like Academic Search Complete, place the page number in the citation. In MLA, we do not use the word “page” or the abbreviations “p.” or “pg.” before the page numbers.
Miller claims that “this, that, and the other thing are true” (34).
- Miller claims that = signal phrase
- “this, that, and the other thing” = the quoted material
- (34) = the parenthetical citation
Citations for sources with authors and pages
The first time that you mention a source in a paper, you need to introduce the source. For this introduction, you can include the author’s full name and a bit of description about the text that this author or these authors produced.
In discussing the act of reading, Donald Hall, an American writer and scholar, states “it seems to me possible to name four kinds of reading, each with a characteristic manner and purpose” (15).
- The words in bold show the author’s full name and a bit of description of who the author is
Each time you reference a source that you have already introduced (which would be called successive mentions of the source), you give only the author(s) last name(s).
If you name the authors in the signal phrase, you do not need to add the author(s)’ names in the parenthetical citation, too.
If you do not name your author(s) in a signal phrase, then you must place the last name(s) only in the citation. In doing so, do not place a comma between the author name(s) and the page number. For more information on signal phrases, visit section 11.4.
Examples of in-text citations for a variety of source types
When a work has one author, the in-text citation has to list the author’s last name and then the page number where the information is found.
Bigsby states that “the connection between the rhetoric of unveiling the truth and an overt political movement of insurrection is painfully evident” (211).
If an entry in the works cited list has a work with two authors, include both names in the in-text citations. Use the word “and” between the two names.
Morton and Bigsby explain that “Donnelly was certainly incapable of financial support” (58).
Some assert that “Donnelly was certainly incapable of financial support” (Morton and Bigsby 58).
(Morton and Bigsby 58)
Three or more authors
If a work has three or more authors, the in-text citation will include the first author’s name followed by “et al” which will match the entry in the works cited list.
Miller and others suggest that teachers’ efforts at organizing the canon of Emily Dickinson’s work for classroom instruction are revealing (305).
Some have suggested that teachers’ efforts at organizing the canon of Emily Dickinson’s work for classroom instruction are revealing (Miller et al. 305).
(Miller et al. 305)
Multiple works by the same author
If more than one work from the same author is listed in the works cited list, use a shortened form of the title to include in the in-text citation after the author’s last name. Use a comma between the author and title of work.
(Austen, Mansfiled 111)
Author with the same last name
When borrowing from works by two different authors with the same last name, indicate the difference by adding the initial of the author in the in-text citation.
(T. Norton 173)
Organization as the author (Corporate author)
When a work has an organization or corporation listed as an author, use the corporation or organization in the in-text citation; abbreviate commonly abbreviated terms such as department (dept.).
According to the Tennessee Department of Health’s assessment, . . . (35).
(Tennessee Dept. of Health 35)
Work with no author
If there is no author for the work being used, the works cited reference will begin with the title of that work. For the in-text citation, use a shortened phrase or title (often the first word of the title). Place the word in either italics or quotation marks to match the works cited.
In “Analytics of English Majors,” several key points are explored.
(“Analytics of English Majors” 31)
Here is a link to how to format your draft in MLA Style 9th Edition