A complete guide to MLA in-text citations

When you quote or paraphrase someone else’s work, you have to cite the source. In MLA style (8th edition), you use a brief in-text citation to direct the reader to the correct entry in the list of Works Cited, where you give full details of the source.

A basic MLA in-text citation includes the author’s last name and the page number(s) in parentheses. For sources without an author, the title is used instead.

MLA in-text citations
TypeExampleExplanation
1 author(Ferrante 37)Include the author’s last name and page number
2 authors(Moore and Patel 48–50)Connect last names with “and
3+ authors(Gallagher et al. 59)Use first author’s last name and “et al.
No author(Amnesty International Report 187)Use the title, shortened if appropriate
No page number(Luxemburg, ch. 26) or (Rajaram)Use chapter/section numbers if available, omit if not
Multiple sources in one citation(Haraway 17; Barad 32–33)Separate with semicolons

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How to create an MLA book citation

To cite a book in MLA style (8th edition), the Works Cited list entry must always identify the author(s), title, publisher and publication date of the work. If available, include the names of any editors or translators, the edition, and the volume. If you accessed the book online, add the name of the website or database and the URL.

To cite a book chapter or a work from a collection, you start the Works Cited entry with the author and title of the specific work, followed by the details of the book, and end with the page range on which the work appears.

The in-text citation for a book looks the same as other MLA in-text citations, with the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses.

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A quick guide to proofreading

Proofreading means carefully checking for errors in a text before it is published or shared. It is the very last stage of revising a text, when you fix minor spelling and punctuation mistakes, typos, formatting issues and inconsistencies.

Proofreading is essential for any text that will be shared with an audience, whether it’s an academic paper, a job application, an online article, or a print flyer. Depending on your skills and budget, you can choose to proofread the text yourself or to hire a professional.

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The main types of research compared

When you start planning a research project, developing research questions and creating a research design, you will have to make various decisions about the type of research you want to do.

There are many ways to categorize different types of research. The words you use to describe your research depend on your discipline and field. In general, though, the form your research design takes will be shaped by:

  • The type of knowledge you aim to produce
  • The type of data you will collect and analyze
  • The sampling methods, timescale and location of the research

This article takes a look at some common distinctions made between different types of research and outlines the key differences between them.

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How to create a research design

The research design is a framework for planning your research and answering your research questions. Creating a research design means making decisions about:

  • The type of data you need
  • The location and timescale of the research
  • The participants and sources
  • The variables and hypotheses (if relevant)
  • The methods for collecting and analyzing data

The research design sets the parameters of your project: it determines exactly what will and will not be included. It also defines the criteria by which you will evaluate your results and draw your conclusions. The reliability and validity of your study depends on how you collect, measure, analyze, and interpret your data.

A strong research design is crucial to a successful research proposal, scientific paper, or dissertation.

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Active and passive sentences

The passive voice occurs when the person or thing that performs an action is not the grammatical subject of the sentence. Instead, the person or thing that receives the action is placed before the verb. Passive sentences are formed using the verb to be combined with a past participle.

Active construction

The dog bites the bone.

Passive construction

The bone is bitten by the dog.

In a passive construction, the actor does not have to be named at all.

Passive construction

The bone is bitten.

Writers are often advised to avoid the passive voice, but it is not a grammatical error. In academic writing, this type of sentence structure is sometimes useful or necessary. However, overusing it can make your writing unclear or convoluted.

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Using pronouns in academic writing

Pronouns are words that stand in for nouns. They can refer to specific people and things (e.g. I, you, ithimtheir, this) or to non-specific people and things (e.g. anybody, one, some, each).

In academic writing, there are debates around the appropriate use of first-person pronouns (I, we) and gendered pronouns (he, she). Second person pronouns (you, yours) should almost always be avoided.

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Quotation marks (“”)

Quotation marks (also known as speech marks, quotes or inverted commas) are used to set off direct speech and quotations.

In academic writing, you need to use quotation marks when you quote a source. This includes quotes from published works and primary data such as interviews. The exception is when you use a block quote, which should be set off and indented without quotation marks.

Whenever you quote someone else’s words, it is essential to introduce the quotation and integrate it into your own text – don’t rely on quotations to make your points for you.

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Descriptive research

Descriptive research aims to accurately and systematically describe a population, situation or phenomenon. It can answer what, when, where, when and how questions, but not why questions. To determine cause and effect, experimental research is required.

A descriptive research design can use a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate one or more variables. Unlike in experimental research, the researcher does not control or manipulate any of the variables, but only observes and measures them.

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How to do a case study

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods, but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing, comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem.

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