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MLA 8th edition: In-text Citations

Using MLA 8th edition citation style.

In-Text Citations

The MLA says that "the goals of the in-text citation are brevity and clarity, guiding the reader as unobtrusively as possible to the corresponding entry in the works-cited list " [Handbook, 8th ed. 11].

For good examples of in-text citations, see the sample papers (written by MLA staff members) in the MLA Style Center.


A typlcal in-text citation contains the first element of the entry in the works-cited list and a page number.

  • if a quotation is so long that it is set off from the text (usually more than 4 lines of prose, 3 lines of poetry), type a space after the quotation's concluding punctuation mark and insert the parenthetical citation
  • if you you cite works by more than one author with the same last name, add the author's first initial, or the full name if the initials are the same
  • if there are two coauthors include both names, connected by and
  • if there are three or more coauthors, use the first author's name followed by et al.
  • if it is a corporate author, abbreviate terms that are commonly abbreviated [see MLA Handbook 8th ed., section 1.6.2] and include all the names of administrative units
  • if a fact or paraphrased idea comes from more than one source, include all the sources in the citation - e.g. (Baron 194; Jacobs 55)
  • if a work is available in multiple editions, it helps your reader if you provide division numbers in addition to page numbers
    • see section 3.3.2 of the Handbook for more details on citing poems, verse plays, scripture, and ancient works
    • see section 1.6.4 for standard abbreviations for parts of the Bible and works by Shakespeare

Include a form of the work's title in the in-text citation when:

    • there are two or more works by the same author
    • the Works Cited entry begins with the title, either because the work is anonymous or the author is the organization that published it
  • use the full title if it is shorter than a noun phrase - e.g. Faulkner's Southern Novels
  • abbreviate the title if it is longer than a noun phrase - e.g. Faulkner's Novels of the South becomes Faulkner's Novels
    • section 3.2 of the MLA Handbook (8th ed.) gives guidance on how to abbreviate titles
  • if a work is identified in the Works Cited list by a descriptive term, rather than a unique title, cite the term in full or abbreviated form
    • capitalize it exactly as in the Works Cited entry, and do not use italics or quotation marks

Some sources do not provide a page number for you to include in the citation

  • if the parts are distinguished in some way, use the appropriate label - e.g. par., pars. for numbered paragraphs; sec., secs. for sections; ch., chs. for chapters
    • if the author's name begins the citation, place a comma after the name - e.g. (Chan, par. 41)
  • when there is no page number or other part number, nothing is given in the citation other than the name/title - e.g. (Hollmichel)
  • for works in time-based media, cite the relevant time or time range (hours, minutes, seconds) with colons between the numbers


Work Cited In-Text

Baron, Naomi S. "Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media." PMLA, vol. 128, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 193-200.

According to Naomi Baron, readining is "just half of literacy. The other half is writing" (194).


Reading is "just half of literacy. The other half is writing" (Baron 194).

Baron, Dennis. "No Students Left Behind: Why Reports on the Literacy Crisis From the Spellings Commission, the ACT, and the ETS Just Don't Read America's Literacy Right." College Composition and Communication, vol. 61. no. 1, Sept. 2009, pp. W424-W435.

Baron, Naomi S. "Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media." PMLA, vol. 128, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 193-200.

We ignore at our peril "the most basic nature of literacy: its dependence on context" (D. Baron W433).


Reading is "just half of literacy. The other half is writing" (N. Baron 194).

Dorris, Michael, and Louise Erdrich. The Crown of Columbus. HaperCollins Publishers, 1999.

Hsu, Chun-Ting, et al. "The Magical Activation of Left Amygdala When Reading Harry Potter: An fMRI Study on How Descriptions of Supra-Natural Events Entertain and Enchant." PLoS ONE, vol. 10 no. 2, Feb. 2015, pp.1-15.

The complexity of ethnic identity is proclaimed by a fictional character: "I belong to the lost tribe of mixed bloods, that hodgepodge amalgam of hue and cry that defies easy placement” (Dorris and Edrich 166).


One study reported that readers of the Harry Potter novels found passages dealing with supra-natural events more surprising and enjoyable than control passages (Hsu et al. 8-9).

White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Innovations in Compassion: The Faith-Based and Community Initiative: A Final Report to the Armies of Compassion .President of the United States, 2008.

United States, Department of Labor. Child Care: A Workforce Issue. Government Printing Office, 1988.

That year nearly a quarter of the service providers under President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief were faith-based (White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives 6).


In 1988 a federal report observed that the "current high level of attention to child care is directly attributable to the new workforce trends" (United States, Dept. of Labor 147).

Baron, Naomi S. Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World. Oxford UP, 2008.

Baron, Naomi S. "Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media." PMLA, vol. 128, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 193-200.

Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. National Endowment for the Arts, June 2004. Research Division Report 46.

Reading is "just half of literacy. The other half is writing" (Baron, "Redefining" 194).


It is alarming to note that "the steepest decline in literary reading is in the youngest age groups" (Reading xi).

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Unaired Pilot 1996." YouTube,uploaded by Brian Stowe, 28 Jan. 2012,

Buffy's promise that "there's not going to be any incidents like at my old school" is obviously not one on which she can follow through ("Buffy" 00:03:16-17).

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Modern Library, 2001.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem. Viking Press, 1949.

Austen announces in the final chapter of Mansfield Park her intention to avoid dwelling on the professions of love made by the main characters (398; vol. 3, ch. 17).


Willy Loman admits to his wife, "I have such thoughts, I have such strange thoughts" (Miller 9; act 1).