A complete guide to MLA in-text citations
In MLA style, brief parenthetical citations are inserted in the text to direct the reader to your sources. An MLA in-text citation includes the author’s last name and a page number.
If a source has two authors, name both. If a source has more than two authors, name only the first author, followed by “et al.” If the text or information you’re citing spans multiple pages, include the full page range.
|Number of authors||Example|
|1 author||(Moore 37)|
|2 authors||(Moore and Patel 48–50)|
|3+ authors||(Moore et al. 59)|
Each in-text citation must correspond to a full reference in the list of Works Cited. You can create and save your citations with the free Scribbr Citation Generator.
Where to include an MLA in-text citation
Place the parenthetical citation directly after the relevant quote or paraphrase, and before the period or other punctuation mark (except with block quotes, where the citation comes after the period).
If you have already named the author in the sentence, add only the page number in parentheses.
If a sentence is supported by more than one source, you can combine the citations in a single set of parentheses. Separate the two sources with a semicolon.
Livestock farming is one of the biggest global contributors to climate change (Garcia 64; Davies 14).
Citing sources with no author
For sources with no named author, the in-text citation must match the first element of the Works Cited entry. This may be the name of an organization, or a shortened version of the title.
If the source title is longer than four words, shorten it to the first word or phrase in the in-text citation, excluding any articles (a, an, and the). The shortened title should begin with the word by which the source is alphabetized in the Works Cited.
Follow the general MLA rules for formatting titles: If the source is a self-contained work (e.g. a whole website or an entire book), put the title in italics; if the source is contained within a larger whole (e.g. a page on a website or a chapter of a book), put the title in quotation marks.
|Full source title||In-text citation|
|Amnesty International Report 2017/2018: The State of the World’s Human Rights||(Amnesty International Report 187)|
|“Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions”||(“Sources”)|
|“A Quick Guide to Proofreading”||(“Quick Guide”)|
Citing sources with no page numbers
If a source does not have page numbers, but is divided into numbered parts (e.g. chapters, sections, scenes, Bible books and verses, Articles of the Constitution, or times), use these numbers to locate the relevant passage.
If the source does not use any numbering system, include only the author’s name in the in-text citation. Don’t include paragraph numbers unless they are explicitly numbered in the source.
|Source type||What to do||Example|
|Source divided into numbered parts||Add a comma after the author and give a paragraph, section, or chapter number with a relevant abbreviation.||(Luxemburg, ch. 26)|
|Play with numbered lines||Include the act, scene and line numbers, divided by periods, instead of a page number.||(Shakespeare 1.2.95)|
|Audiovisual source||Include the time range as displayed in the media player.||(Wynn 10:23–45)|
|Source with no numbered divisions||Include only the author’s name (or, if there is no author, the shortened title).||(Rajaram)|
Note that if there are no numbered divisions and you have already named the author in your sentence, then no parenthetical citation is necessary.
Citing different sources with the same author name
If your Works Cited page includes more than one entry under the same last name, you need to distinguish between these sources in your in-text citations.
Multiple sources by the same author
If you cite more than one work by the same author, add a shortened title to signal which source you are referring to:
In this example, the first source is a whole book, so the title appears in italics; the second is an article published in a journal, so the title appears in quotation marks.
Different authors with the same last name
To distinguish between different authors with the same last name, use the authors’ initials (or, if the initials are the same, full first names) in your in-text citations:
Citing sources indirectly
Sometimes you might want to cite something that you found quoted in a secondary source. If possible, always try to seek out the original source and cite it directly.
If you can’t access the original source, make sure to name both the original author and the author of the source that you accessed. Use the abbreviation “qtd. in” (short for “quoted in”) to indicate where you found the quotation.
Frequently asked questions about MLA in-text citations
- When do I need to include an MLA in-text citation?
- Are titles capitalized in MLA?