MLA In-Text Citations

MLA in-text citations use parenthetical references. The reference comes at the end of the cited material and includes a page number or numbers (if available). The author’s name can be included in the parentheses or inserted into your text that introduces the cited material. The in-text citation gives just enough details to point your reader to the source of information found in your list of “Works Cited.”

For a sample paper in MLA style visit the Purdue University Online Writing Lab.


One author

Indicate the author’s last name and page number. The name may be mentioned in the text or within the parentheses. The closing punctuation of the sentence comes after the parentheses.


Levan explains that “violence is not condemned, and is often revered among inmates” (63).

The prison environment is organized as a heirarchy where inmates have different roles depending on where they find themselves within this structure (Levan 42-43).

Two authors

List the last names of both authors separated by “and”, followed by the page number. The closing punctuation of the sentence comes after the parentheses.


Anthropological research has provided “ecologically insightful accounts of native views of the natural world” (Knudtson and Suzuki 23).

Three or more authors

Begin with the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” (meaning “and others”).  The closing punctuation of the sentence comes after the parentheses.


This analysis of youth violence concludes that “girls commit a substantial amount of violence” (Esbensen et al. 69).

Organization as author

The name of the corporation or organization is treated in the same manner as an author. If you place the name in parentheses, abbreviate the common words.


The report put out by the Canadian Institute for Health Information confirms “that the aging of Canada’s population will likely put pressure on the health care system to adapt to meet Canadians’ needs” (128).


This report confirms “that the aging of Canada’s population will likely put pressure on the health care system to adapt to meet Canadians’ needs” (Cdn. Inst. for Health Information 128).

If the entry in the works cited page starts with the names of administrative units separated by commas include all the names in the parenthetical reference.


Canada’s National Council of Welfare report gathers ideas on how to deal with poverty.


The national report gathers ideas on how to deal with poverty (Canada, National Council of Welfare).

Two or more works by the same author

Along with the author and page number you must include the title of the work. If the title is long give a shortened version. The title will be in the same format (italics or in quotation marks) as it is in your list of works cited.


(Kitcher, Living with Darwin 104)

If you mention the author in your text include the title and page number in the parentheses at the end of the citation.

According to Kitcher these principles would be difficult to define (Living with Darwin 104).

No author

This is very common with websites. Use the full title if you are inserting it in your text. The title is shortened when it is included in the parenthetical reference, coming before the page number. Be sure to format the titles in the same way as in your works cited list. If the title is in italics you must use the italics in your in-text citation. If the title is in quotations then you must include the quotation marks.


Nature Canada has taken a stand on the pipeline project (“Enbridge”).

The city of Calgary has made large tracts of land available for development (“Regional” 1).

Sacred text

Include the edition that you are using (italicized), then the book, chapter and verse (or equivalent) separated by periods. The names of the books of the Bible can be abbreviated (ex: Gen. for Genesis).


According to the words of Solomon: “Pride comes first; disgrace soon follows; with the humble is wisdom found” (The New Jerusalem Bible, Prov. 11. 2).

If you make further references to the same edition of the bible include only the book, chapter and verse in the parentheses.

Page number unknown

If there are no page numbers, no number can be put within the parentheses. This is very common with web documents. The parenthetical reference will contain just the author’s name (or title if there is no author).


A recent study has found that sleep problems occur in 15% to 25% of youth (Cummings).

If a document has numbered sections or paragraphs, include them in the parentheses: (Smith, par. 23), (Beaulieu, secs. 2-5). Note that the author’s name is followed by a comma.

Indented quotations (block quotations)

If you are using a longer quotation it must be indented 2.5 cm from the main margin and double-spaced. At the end of the quote type a space and then insert the parenthetical reference. Note that the parentheses come after the concluding punctuation.


The researchers found that:

As long as programs target the known risk factors and

adhere to the principles of effective intervention, youths

should be affected in positive ways. Importantly, addressing

even a few risk factors can have modest effects for youths

who experience multiple risk factors in multiple domains.

(Esbensen et al. 190)

Indirect sources (source quoted in another source)

If you are using a quote that is found in a source written by someone else, begin the parenthetical reference with “qtd. in” (meaning quoted in).

Your list of works cited would include an entry for the source you consulted: in this case the book by Knudston and Susuki.


French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss refers to the world of the shaman and the scientist as “two parallel modes of acquiring knowledge about the universe” (qtd. in Knudtson and Suzuki 8).

The examples found in the MLA section are based on the manual MLA Handbook. 8th ed.
Tip: For more examples visit the OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University or ask for help at the library reference desk.