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MLA 7th ed. Style Guide: Parenthetical (in-text) Citations

Selected guide from the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh Edition.

MLA Quick Guide

Quick access to works cited and in-text examples for some of the more commonly used resources.

This quick guide is easy to print and have readily accessible when you are researching and writing your assignments and essays. 


If you are making a direct quote or paraphrasing an author's idea, you must add a parenthetical (in-text) citation. 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.

Citations should be placed within the text as close as possible to the end of the quote or idea. Remember, all parenthetical citations must connect to entries in your works cited list at the end of the paper.

These are some of the most common types of parenthetical citations. If you need to cite a source that is not listed here,  please consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh edition

Single author (See sec. 6.3 MLA Handbook)

Cite author's last name and page number of quote.

Example: It is thought that "Courtier had a profound influence on Elizabethan England and its cultural development" (Vitale


Single author; author's name used in your text (See sec. 6.3 MLA Handbook)

Just cite page number.

Example: Vitale states that "Courtier had a profound influence on Elizabethan England and its cultural development" (iv).

Two or three authors (See sec. 6.3 MLA Handbook)

List the authors' last names and page number of the quote.

Example: College health providers should work to "dispel the myth of the 'Freshman 15'" (Vella-Zarb and Elgar 165).

Four or more authors (See sec. 6.2 MLA Handbook)

If the work has four or more 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.

Example: (Scanlon et al. 243-52)

Two or more works by the same author used in the paper (See sec. 6.4.6 MLA Handbook)

Put a comma after the author's last name and add the title of the work (shortened if necessary) and the page number.

Example: Monet's painting "disrupts our usual univocal relationship with the world by opening up the possibility of ambiguity

and fluidity" (Bernier, "Subject and Painting," 318).

Anonymous author (See sec. 6.4.4 MLA Handbook)

Sometimes works do not list an author.  Use the title of article. Titles may be shortened.

Example: Natalia Makarova is known as one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century  ("Here's Looking").

Works cited:

"Here's Looking at You, Natasha." Dance Magazine May 2010: 40-44. Print.

Corporate author, such as a government department or organization (See sec. 6.4.5 MLA Handbook)

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.

Example: According to the American Psychiatric Association, 3-7% of school-aged children suffer from ADHD (12).

Works cited:

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR.

Washington: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. Print.

Indirect source (What if my author quotes another author?) (See sec. 6.4.7 MLA Handbook)

Whenever you can, take material from the original source, not a secondhand one. Sometimes, however, only an indirect source is available. In this case, identify the quoted author in your text and say “qtd. in” in your citation. For more information see section 6.4.7 in the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook.

Example: Chrysostom spoke of the original apostles by saying, "They did not stop there, but went even further,

and not satisfied with the world known to us they went out as far as the Ocean itself and enclosed in their own nets

the countries of the barbarians and the British Isles" (qtd. in Hanson 29).

Works Cited:

Hanson, R.P.C. Saint Patrick: His Origins and Career. New York: Oxford UP, 1968. Print.

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