MLA In-Text Citations
Modern Language Association (MLA) documentation is used primarily for English papers and uses a parenthetical format. This is a system of using parentheses within the body of the paper, instead of footnotes or endnotes. Don't forget to also include a Works Cited list at the end of the paper.
Only a few typical references are offered below. Consult the MLA Handbook, on reserve at the Boatwright Library's circulation desk, for complete information. Be certain you are using the 8th Edition, as each edition makes significant changes to formatting rules.
Books with Single Author
If you use the author to introduce the quotation, then only the page number would appear in the parentheses:
If you don't use the author to introduce the quotation, state the author's last name and the page number within parentheses:
Note: In both cases, there is no comma within the parentheses, and the period for the sentence follows the citation.
If a direct quotation is set-off from the text, skip two spaces after the concluding punctuation mark, then add the parenthetical reference.
Note carefully: the period for such quotations appears before the first parenthesis, not after, as with shorter quotations.Do not use quotation marks for these long quotations. For poetry, mimic the original line breaks if possible.
Note: In set-off quotations the quotation should be at least four lines long and should be indented one inch, or at least 10 spaces, and double-spaced.
Books with Multiple Authors
If your book has more than one author, use the authors' last names as they appear on the title page. Include each name, up to three authors:
If there are more than three authors use "et al." showing there are others:
Articles from journals
Use the name of the author and the title of the essay in the text; place the page number within the parentheses:
Note: If the journal comes from an online database and is a facsimile of the original, with pagination, cite it the same way here but note, in the Works-Cited list, other information. The Boatwright Library's page on citing sources provides the details needed for making the Works-Cited list.
Titles of film and recording titles should be underlined or put into italics. A song's title would be placed in double quotations, however
The general rules for Web sites are simple enough: cite by title of a particular page, not an entire site. There are almost never page numbers for a site.The best place to find the title of a particular page in a larger site may be in the browser's title bar, not on the text of the page itself. Using this page as an example:
This detail about a page's title is important, because any "favorites" or "bookmarks" list in a Web browser will present pages by the title in the title bar and no other way. The Boatwright Library's page on citing sources provides the details needed for constructing a Works-Cited list with electronic sources.
It is not unusual to find articles in newspapers or online that lack an author. In such cases, a shortened version of the title will suffice. Here is a paraphrase and reference to an online article, with pagination, called "All About Buying Used Cars":
Indirect Quotation within a cited work
(that quotation of a quotation)
Always try to quote from the original source. When that is not possible, and you are referring to a quotation within a work not made by the author, write "qtd. in . . ." within the parentheses following the quotation.
Note: On your Works Cited page you would use Ringer as the author of the work cited, then the title of his book, etc.
Citing two or more works by the same author
When using more than one book by the same author, provide a shortened title of the book in each citation. The "Works Cited" or "Bibliography" will have two separate entries for this author.
When the author's name does not appear in the text, it is placed first within the parentheses followed by a comma, the shortened title, and the page number.
When citing a work that has more than one volume, put the author, the volume followed by a colon and a space, and the page number within the parentheses:
MLA Bibliography: The Works-Cited List
This document should be titled "Works Cited" if it includes those works actually cited in your paper. If it includes works consulted but not actually cited, use the title "Bibliography" or "Works Consulted." Readers can find more examples from our handbook for writing in English.
In the following examples, note that Barnes' article comes from a weekly magazine, and thus uses the same form as would a newspaper article. Cook's article is from a "scholarly journal." Lannon's work is a book, while Leap's article comes from a book containing the works of several authors. Can you spot the differences between the citations?
Barnes, Fred. "Finest Hour." New Republic 11 Feb. 1991, pp.14-16.
Cook, Eleanor. "Reading Typologically, For Example, Faulkner." American Literature , vol. 63, No. 4, 1991, pp. 693-711.
Hopper, Dennis, director. Easy Rider. Columbia Pictures, 1969.
Lannon, John M. Technical Writing. Glenview: Scott- Foresman, 1988.
Leap, William L. "American Indian Languages." Languages in the USA, edited by Charles A. Ferguson and Shirley Brice Heath. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1981, pp. 116-144.
McMurtry, James. Candyland. Columbia, 1992.
Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook. 8th Ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2016.
Winkler, Anthony C. & Jo Ray McCuen. Rhetoric Made Plain. NewYork: Harcourt Brace, 1988.
Reference corrected January 2021