MLA Citation Format

One of the most important parts of writing a research paper is the documenting of the resources used. Accurate documentation is necessary to avoid any question of plagiarism. The vehicles for providing this documentation are the use of in-text citations (or parenthetical references) at the point in the paper where the information is presented and the creation of a works cited page at the end of the paper listing all of the resources used in the paper.

In-Text Citations

  • Must match the author or title words of the corresponding entry in the works cited list.
  • Should identify the location of the borrowed information within the source, i.e. page or paragraph numbers, if available. If no page or paragraph numbers are provided, as in many electronic documents, do not include a parenthetical reference (see example under If the source does not have page numbers…).

Placement of parenthetical reference

  • Put the citation where a pause would naturally occur (preferably at the end of a sentence), as near as possible to the material documented.
  • If using the author‟s name in the sentence, put only the page or paragraph number in the parentheses.

In-Text Citation Examples

Citing an entire work but not quoting any particular words – include the name of the person being referenced in the text; all other info is in the works cited entry.

Gilbert and Gubar broke new ground on the subject.

But Anthony Hunt has offered another view.

Citing the work of a single author – include the author’s last name and the page number(s) in the parentheses, no punctuation between them.

Loneliness is inversely related to communication competence.

If the author’s name is used in the text – no need to repeat it in the parentheses

Brian Taves suggests some interesting conclusions regarding the philosophy and politics of the adventure film.

If the source does not have page numbers, such as an electronic resource – include paragraph number(s) with the appropriate abbreviation (par. or pars.) if the paragraphs are numbered and put a comma after the author‟s name. Do not count paragraphs yourself if your source lacks numbering; cite it as an entire work.

“The debut of Julius Caesar proclaimed Shakespeare‟s Globe a theater of courage and ideas” . [Author, numbered paragraph]

According to Sohmer, “The debut of Julius Caesar proclaimed Shakespeare‟s Globe a theater of courage and ideas”. [Author is already in sentence, only numbered paragraph in parentheses]

According to Sohmer “The debut of Julius Caesar proclaimed Shakespeare‟s Globe a theater of courage and ideas.”
[There are no parentheses if there are no page numbers or no numbered paragraphs, as in many electronic documents]

If there are 2 or 3 authors – use “and” not “&”
(Gilbert and Gubar) or (Rabkin, Greenberg, and Olander) or (Smith and Jones)

If there are more than 3 authors – You may follow the method for 3 authors if you want to list them all or you may use the first author and add et al. (No punctuation between author and et al.)

(Rabkin, Greenberg, Smith, Jones, and Olander) or (Rabkin et al.)

If there is no author – use the full title (if brief) or a shortened version of the title that corresponds with the entry in the works cited list. Use quotation marks to signify that it is a title.

A recent editorial called Ralph Ellison “a writer of universal reach” (“Death”). [Shortened title, no numbered paragraphs]

A recent editorial called Ralph Ellison “a writer of universal reach” (“Death of a Writer,”). [Full title, numbered paragraphs]

Citing a work by a corporate author – use the corporate name or a shortened form if the name is long; if there are similar entries in the works cited list use as much of the title as will make the source known to the reader.

(Public Agenda Foundation) or (Natl. Research Council) or (United Nations) or
(United Nations. Economic Commission for Africa) if there are other UN Commissions cited.

Citing a Legal Source – use the abbreviation or title in text that you use in the works cited.

Oliver Brown challenged the Topeka Board of Education on this (Brown v. Board of Educ.).

If quoting a phrase – put the citation after the quotation marks.

Winters‟s mumbling performs a “labor of disarticulation” (Litvak ).

In the late Renaissance, Machiavelli contended that human beings were by nature “ungrateful” and “mutable”, and Montaigne thought them “miserable and puny”.

If the quote constitutes fewer than 5 lines in your paper – set it off with quotation marks and incorporate it into the text of the paper, as with the shorter phrase, with the reference following.

If the quote exceeds 4 lines in your paper – omit the quotation marks and indent the quote one inch from your left-hand margin. Put the parenthetical reference immediately after the quote.

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