Rules for MLA In-Text Citation

The use of MLA in-text citation is common in liberal arts and humanities. MLA in-text citation follows a precise and concise way to provide the source. The purpose of any in-text citation is to identify the source while interrupting the flow of the text as little as possible. All you need to provide is the authors last name and the page number. This seems easy but the complexities arrive when you have different types of print and publications. There is subtle changes in citing a book, a journal, or a periodical etc. These differences help in understanding what type of source is used.

The author’s name can be provided in the signal phrase and page number in parentheses. Some researchers prefer providing author’s name along with the page number in the parentheses. You can write author’s name in the parentheses or in the signal phrase make sure it does not interrupt the flow of the text. The purpose of in-text citation is to provide identification of source and to make sure that the reader can find detailed reference at the end of the research paper.

A work by one author

In MLA in-text citation a work by one author can be cited inside the text using the author’s last name and the page number where it appears. Author’s last name can be placed with the page number in parentheses or separately. When the author’s name is in parentheses with the page  number there is no need to put a comma in between, like, (Jones 204).

A work by two authors

A work by two authors can be cited using the last name of each of the author. The last names can be separated by using and. For example, you can write (Jones and Moore 206) or you can write the last names in the signal phrase and the page number in parentheses.

A work by three or more authors

A work by three or more authors can be cited by including the last name of the first author and followed by et al. There is not any need to include the names of all the authors. A detailed reference is provided at the work cited page of the research paper.

A work by an unknown author

When the author name is unknown and there is no editor you can use the work title in the in-text citation. The title of the books should be italicized. You can shorten long titles and use full titles in the work cited page. While shortening the title do not remove articles like “A”, “An”, or “The” from the beginning of the title.

Two or more works by the same author

When there are two or more works from the same author referred in one reference then the name of the work should also be mentioned in the in-text citation. For example, (John, Guide to Writing, 213) (John, Manual of MLA Style 24) if the name of the author is mentioned in the signal phrase you can omit it from the parentheses.

Two or more works in one reference

If you wish to use two or more sources in one reference you can mention the in-text citation together. All you have to do is separate them by semicolon. For example, (Hannah 208; Stephanie 12) in this way you can tell the reader that there are two sources used in the same reference.

A work in an electronic source

For electronic source you can provide the author’s last name and the name of the work in italics. In case the author name is not present you can still provide the name of the work, for example, the title of the article etc. You can also include the URL of the website do not include the whole URL in the in-text citation. In the work cited page you have to provide full URL so the reader can easily access it.

For detailed knowledge about MLA in-text citation read the MLA citation manual and you can find its link here in the references.




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