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MLA 8th

This Research Guide lists examples of how to cite sources according to the MLA Handbook, 8th edition.

In-Text Citations

The purpose of an in-text citation is to direct the reader(s) of your paper to the exact source on your "Works Cited" list from which you got your information or direct quotation, with as little interruption to your writing as possible.

An in-text citation is typically made up of the first thing that appears in your "Works Cited" citation entry, and the page number(s) of where the information appears (if your source includes page numbers).

Most in-text citations are placed in parentheses at the end of the sentence that contains the direct quote or paraphrased information, after the final quote mark (if applicable) and before the period.

"Works Cited" citation:

Kelly, John. The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time. HarperCollins Publishers, 2005.

In-text citation (with direct quote):

Arab scholar Ibn al-Wardi, who lived in Syria in the 1300s, is considered to be "the best medieval guide to the Black Death's early history in Asia" (Kelly 6).

Alternate in-text citation (with direct quote; author mentioned in your text):

Instead of using the "author date" in-text citation format, you may choose to mention the author's name in your own text, in which case you do not include the author's name in your parenthetical citation:

Kelly notes that Arab scholar Ibn al-Wardi, who lived in Syria in the 1300s, is "the best medieval guide to the Black Death's early history in Asia" (6).

Alternate in-text citation (paraphrased information):

In the 1300s, an Arab scholar named Ibn al-Wardi recorded much useful information regarding the early history of the Black Death (Kelly 6).

You may use any combination of these styles throughout your paper as appropriate. For more examples of how to format your in-text citations, click on the tab above that applies to the type of source you have.

"Works Cited" citation:

Eberstadt, Mary. “Eminem Is Right.” The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas, edited by Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, 9th ed., Pearson, 2017, pp. 181-87.

Direct quote, using the author's name in your own sentence:

As Eberstadt points out, "Eminem mines the shock value and gutter language of rage, casual sex, and violence" (183).

Direct quote, not using the author's name in your own sentence:

Eminem's lyrics typically reflect "the shock value and gutter language of rage, casual sex, and violence" (Eberstadt 183).

Paraphrase, using the author's name in your sentence:

Eberstadt describes Eminem's lyrics as being based on rage and violence, and designed to shock (183).

Paraphrase, not using the author's name in your sentence:

While Eminem's lyrics are seen by some as focused on rage and violence (Eberstadt 183), his albums have met with great success.

Place your parenthetical citation so it is clear what information you are citing. It does not always have to go at the end, but it should not unnecessarily interrupt the flow of your sentence.

"Works Cited" citation:

Pittman, Patricia, and Marla E. Salmon. “Advancing Nursing Enterprises: A Cross-Country Comparison.” Nursing Outlook, vol. 64, no. 1, Jan.-Feb. 2016, pp. 24-32.

Direct quote, using the authors' names in your own sentence:

In their case study comparison, Patricia Pittman and Marla E. Salmon suggest that one route to health care reform may be found in using "market-based strategies to advance social missions" (31).

Direct quote, not using the authors' names in your own sentence:

Following the lead of several global programs designed to promote better health care, domestic agencies could explore the possibility of using "market-based strategies to advance social missions" (Pittman and Salmon 31).

Paraphrase, using the authors' names in your sentence:

Pittman and Salmon go on to conclude that our own health care system might benefit from adopting these global methods of using market-based approaches to help effect social change (31).

Paraphrase, not using the authors' names in your sentence:

Research suggests that in a primarily market-driven health care system such as ours, adopting the global methods used to promote social change through market-based approaches (Pittman and Salmon 31), may be one of several effective strategies in the quest for health care reform.   

Three or more authors:

"Works Cited" citation:

Wahab, Norwaliza A., et al. “The Roles of Administrators in Aboriginal Schools: A Case Study in a Malaysian State.” International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, vol. 6, no. 5, May 2016, pp. 370-74. ProQuest Central, doi: 10.7763/IJSSH.2016.V6.674.

In-text citation:

In their study on Malaysian aboriginal schools, researchers found that "one of the critical roles of the school administrators is to nurture creativity and innovative pedagogy among their teachers" (Wahab et al. 372).

Alternate in-text citation:

In a study on Malaysian aboriginal schools, researcher Norwaliza A.Wahab and others found that "one of the critical roles of the school administrators is to nurture creativity and innovative pedagogy among their teachers" (372).

Instead of an individual person or persons, a "corporate" author may be a professional association, commercial company, government agency, or another kind of organization.

Whatever author you credit in your in-text citation must be what appears first in your "Works Cited" citation entry.

"Works Cited" citation:

Conference on College Composition and Communication. “CCCC Statement on Ebonics." Conference on College Composition and Communication, National Council of Teachers of English, May 2016, cccc.ncte.org/cccc/resources/positions/ebonics.

Direct quote, using the corporate author's name in your own sentence:

In its position statement on Ebonics, the Conference on College Composition and Communication notes that this commonly used language form is "systematic and rule governed, and it is not an obstacle to learning."

Direct quote, not using the author's name in your own sentence:

Contrary to what some educational institutions may believe, the language form known as Ebonics is "systematic and rule governed, and it is not an obstacle to learning" (Conference on College Composition and Communication).

Paraphrase, using the author's name in your sentence:

The Conference on College Composition and Communication notes that Ebonics employs a standard system of rules, and its use in an educational setting does not interfere with a student's ability to learn.

Paraphrase, not using the author's name in your sentence:

Although some educational institutions might disagree, Ebonics employs a standard system of rules, and its use in a school setting does not interfere with a student's ability to learn (Conference on College Composition and Communication).

Government agency as corporate author:

When a government agency is listed as your corporate author, there are often more parts to the authorship than just the agency name, such as the name of the government, and the larger governmental unit to which the agency belongs.

"Works Cited" citation:

United States, Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Childcare Workers." Occupational Outlook Handbook, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, 13 Apr. 2018, www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/childcare-workers.htm.

In-text citation:

Jobs for childcare workers are expected to grow by seven percent in the next ten years (United States, Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics).

It is permissible to use common abbreviations (such as "Dept.") in your parenthetical citation.

Alternate in-text citation:

The Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that jobs for childcare workers are expected to grow by seven percent in the next ten years (United States, Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Note that in this case, even though you have identified your source, it is not the first element of what appears in your "Works Cited" citation. You must therefore still include a parenthetical citation, as shown.

Corporate author same as publisher:

If the corporate author is also the publisher of your source, your "Works Cited" entry should start with the source title (and the publisher should be listed only as publisher). See the tab labeled "No Author" for more information on how to handle in-text citations for those sources that do not include an author's name.

When you have a source with no listed author, use the title of your source in your parenthetical in-text citation. 

Unless you are discussing a literary or creative work, such as a novel or a film (see separate tab), you will likely not include the title of your source in your own text.

"Works Cited" citation:

“Human Rights Timeline.” Leading Issues Timelines, ProQuest, 2016. SIRS Issues Researcher, sks.sirs.com/webapp/article?artno=0000292271&type=ART.

Direct quote:

The 16th century marked the beginning of slavery in America, an institution maintained by colonial leaders who used "passages from the Bible and the religious status of Africans in an attempt to justify this system of exploitation" ("Human Rights Timeline").

Paraphrase:

Using Bible passages to denounce the religious standing of Africans, 16th century colonial leaders worked to justify and maintain the institution of slavery throughout the early American colonies ("Human Rights Timeline").

Abbreviating a title in your parenthetical in-text citation:

When the first element of your "Works Cited" citation is a source title that is more than a few words long, you may shorten the title when citing it in your text. The MLA Handbook recommends abbreviating to the first noun phrase (eliminating initial articles), or, if the title does not begin with a noun phrase, to just the first word of the title. Make sure that your readers can still easily identify the "Works Cited" entry to which you are directing them.

"Works Cited" citation:

"The Best Time to Have Heart Surgery." Prevention, vol. 70, no. 4, Apr. 2018, p. 8. Academic Search Complete, libpro.pittcc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=128257263&site=ehost-live.

In-text citation:

According to a recent study, those cardiac patients whose surgery took place in the afternoon "had half the risk of heart attack or heart failure during recovery, compared with the morning patients" ("Best Time" 8).

"Works Cited" citation:

"Why Is Obamacare So Controversial?" BBC News, 13 July 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-24370967.

In-text citation:

Along with the Republican party, "a veritable industry of conservative think tanks and advocacy groups" have sought ways to fight the law since it was first proposed in 2009 ("Why").

When using sources such as website articles that do not contain page numbers, you will use the author's name alone in your parenthetical in-text reference.

See the tab labeled "No Author" for those cases in which you also do not have an author listed.

"Works Cited" citation:

Jones, Rachel Elizabeth. “Looking for ‘The Lottery’ Author Shirley Jackson.” Seven Days, Da Capo Publishing, 8 June 2016, www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/looking-for-the-lottery-author-shirley-jackson/Content?oid=3404873.

Direct quote, using the author's name in your own sentence:

Jones notes that Jackson "did not write exclusively, or even mostly, horror stories."

Direct quote, not using the author's name in your own sentence:

Despite the reputation she gained in later years, Jackson "did not write exclusively, or even mostly, horror stories" (Jones).

Paraphrase, using the author's name in your sentence:

Although Jackson had the reputation of being an author of dark tales, Jones notes that most of Jackson's work was not of the horror genre.

Paraphrase, not using the author's name in your sentence:

Although Jackson's reputation was that of an author of dark tales, the majority of her work was not of the horror genre (Jones).

When there are no page numbers for your source, no parenthetical citation is needed when you use the author's name in your own text.

 If you are quoting someone who is not the author of the source you actually have, you are using an "indirect quote."

When possible, it is best to track down and cite the original source of the quote, but when you cannot find the original source, cite the source in which the quote appears.

"Works Cited" citation:

Maney, Kevin. “Aye, Robot.” Newsweek, 9 Dec. 2016, vol. 167, no. 21, pp. 30-37.

Direct quote from someone quoted by the author:

AI scientist Surya Ganguli claims that machines can collaborate with humans by supplying "knowledge of the outside world that the humans might not be aware of" (qtd. in Maney 37).

Paraphrase of what someone quoted by the author says:

Some AI scientists, such as Surya Ganguli, say that machines designed to be artificially intelligent can search for and supply information that humans might not otherwise find (Maney 37).

The "qtd. in" format is used only for direct quotes, not paraphrasing. In no case should you use the name of the person being quoted by the author as the name you put in your parenthetical citation.

When discussing a creative/literary work, the work itself is likely the focus of your paper, and you will include the author's name and/or work's title in your own text.

Remember that you must direct your readers to whatever appears first in your "Works Cited" entry.

Discussion of novel:

"Works Cited" citation:

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. 1897. Bantam Books, 1981.

Direct quote (in the context of your discussion):

In his epistolary novel Dracula, Bram Stoker unfolds the story through a series of letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings and the like, beginning with an entry from Jonathan Harker's journal in which Jonathan describes his travels to Transylvania. This literary device allows for an immediate connection to the various narrators appearing throughout the work, inviting readers to view a private collection of highly personal writings, in which even a general observation may be significant to the larger picture. When Jonathan notes that he had some chicken that was "done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty" (1), it helps set the stage for what is soon to come.

Unless you are discussing multiple works and there is likely to be confusion on which work you are citing, it is not necessary to include the author's name in your parenthetical citation along with your page number once you have established the identity of the author, even if the author is not specifically mentioned in the sentence containing the quote.

Note that the page numbers you list for those literary works that have been published multiple times in various editions will only apply to the particular edition you are citing.

Discussion of film:

"Works Cited" citation:

The Bad Seed. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, performances by Nancy Kelly and Patty McCormack, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1956.

Direct quote:

The 1956 film The Bad Seed explores the concept of "nature versus nurture" through the story of a wayward child. At one point the child's mother, Christine Penmark, asks neighbor Reggie Tasker if the upbringing of remorselessly violence-prone children might make a difference in the way they turn out. He replies in the negative. "It's just that they are bad seeds," he explains. "Plain bad from the beginning. And nothing can change them."

In this case no parenthetical citation is needed; film citations usually begin with the film title and do not contain page numbers.

These general tips are found throughout the "In-Text Citations" example pages; see individual tabs for more information.

  • Most in-text citations are placed in parentheses at the end of the sentence that contains the direct quote or paraphrased information, after the final quote mark (if applicable) and before the period.
  • Place your parenthetical citation so it is clear what information you are citing. It does not always have to go at the end, but it should not unnecessarily interrupt the flow of your sentence.
  • Whatever author you credit in your in-text citation must be what appears first in your "Works Cited" citation entry.
  • It is permissible to use common abbreviations (such as "Dept.") in your parenthetical citation.
  • When there are no page numbers for your source, no parenthetical citation is needed when you use the author's name in your own text.
  • The "qtd. in" format is used only for direct quotes, not paraphrasing. In no case should you use the name of the person being quoted by the author as the name you put in your parenthetical citation.