MLA style In-Text Citations, a vidcast lecture, brought to you by Eliza Gellis, in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab. What is an in-text citation? In MLA, when you reference others’ work in your writing, you use a parenthetical, or an in-text, citation. This involves placing that source information in parentheses at the end of the sentence. So, when do you need an in-text citation? You use in-text citations in two situations
One, when you directly quote someone, like here for example, where we use Wordsworth’s own words. Or two, when you reference or paraphrase their work, like we do here when we summarize Wordsworth’s ideas in our own words So, how do you cite in-text? First, there is author-page style. Just use the author’s last name, followed by the page number. If there is no page number, just the name is fine. For example, here we show Wordsworth’s name and the page where we got the quote.
For a corporate author, just use the name of the organization, followed by the page number, if there is one. As we can see here, we summarize information from an EPA report, listing both the EPA and the page we’re paraphrasing. For two authors, list both last names in the order they appear in the source, like we do here with Best and Marcus. For three or more authors, list the first author’s last name and replace the other authors’ last names with “et al.,” just like the example. Only the first author’s name is shown.
If you’re using more than one work by an author, use a shortened version of the title in your citation to specify which work you’re citing. Looking to the example below, here we use “Visual Studies” as a shortened title to let our readers know specifically which of Elkins’ pieces we’re quoting. And if there is no author, just use a shortened version of the title. Again, here we use “Impact of Global Warming” to help our readers identify which piece we are quoting, since this article has no author.
With online sources, you’re unlikely to have a page number, so just the author’s name or the title is fine. For example, since the Purdue OWL webpage doesn’t have numbered pages, we just list the authors who worked on the specific piece we’re quoting. Still confused or unsure?
When in doubt, just remember that your in-text citation should match up with the first thing listed for that source in your works cited. Lastly, there’s signaling in-text. That’s when you incorporate all or part of your parenthetical citation into the sentence itself.
Thinking through this, we can see from the example below that we’ve included the author’s name, part of our citation, into the sentence itself. This is often the most elegant way to incorporate a quote and use an in-text citation. Thanks for watching, and don’t forget to check out Purdue OWL’s other resources on our website. This vidcast uses MLA 8th edition. For more information, visit our page on MLA 8.