If you are making a direct quote or paraphrasing an author's ideas into your own words you must make a parenthetical or an in-text citation.
Parenthetical citations are brief. Full details about the cited work are included in the works cited list at the end of the paper. The format of the citation and whether or not parentheses are used will depend on how you are using the author's words or ideas.
It's important to keep track of sources as you write your essay. If you need help developing a system of keeping track, talk to a librarian for assistance.
Author and page number are the two basic elements of MLA parenthetical citations. In cases where there is no named author, the title (often shortened) of the work is used. These citations are brief and are meant to allow the reader to find the full details in the works cited list.
The same format is used for ideas or quotes from books and articles (from newpapers, magazines or journals). You cite print and online sources in the same manner.
Citations should be placed within the text as close as possible to the end of the quote or idea. Remember, all parenthetical citations must be listed in your works cited list at the end of the paper.
These are some of the most common types of parenthetical citations. You may need to cite a source that is not listed here. Consult the books and websites listed on this guide for help, or talk to a librarian. The following examples are borrowed from the new seventh edition of the MLA Handbook by Joseph Gibaldi.
Single author -- Use author's surname and page of quote within the parenthetical citation:
It may be true that "in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance..." (Robertson 136).
Single author; author's name used in your tex -- cite the page number within the parenthetical citation:
It may be true, as Robertson maintains, that "in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance..." (136).
Two or more authors -- List the authors' surnames and page of the quote:
Although writings describing utopia have always seemed to take place for from the everyday world, in fact "all utopian fiction whirls contemporary actors through a costume dance no place else but here" (Rabkin, Greenberg, and Olander vii).
Four or more authors -- If the work has more than three authors, either give the first author’s last name followed by et al.,or give all the last names. Whichever format you choose, be consistent and use the same format in your works cited list.
(Lauter et al. 2601–09)
Put a comma after the author's last name and add the title of the work (if brief) or a shortened version and the page number.
Corporate author; government department or organization -- To avoid interrupting the flow of your text with an extended parenthetical reference, try to include corporate authors' names in the text of your essay For more information see section 6.4.5 in the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook:
In 1963 the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa predicted that Africa would evolve into an advanced industrial economy within fifty years (1-2, 4-6).
In Works Cited
United Nations. Economic Commission for Africa. Industrial Growth in Africia. New York: United Nations, 1963. Print.
Citing an indirect source -- Whenever you can, take material from the original source, not a secondhand one. Sometimes, however, only an indirect source is available. For more information see section 6.4.7 in the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook:
Samuel Johnson admitted that Edmund Burke was an "extraordinary Man" (qtd. in Boswell 2:450).
In Works Cited
Boswell, James. The Life of Johnson. Ed. George Birbeck Hill and L. F. Powell. 6 vols. Oxford: Claredon, 1934-50. Print.