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MLA 8th ed. Style Guide: Parenthetical (in-text) Citations

This MLA Style Guide has basic examples for citations. For more complex examples, please see the MLA Handbook, 8th edition.


In-text citations are brief and point your reader to the sources used from your works-cited list. Author (defined broadly) 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. 

Citations should be placed within the text as close as possible to the end of the quote or idea. If the author's name or title of the work is mentioned in the text, put only the page number in parentheses.  

Single author (MLA Handbook 54-55)

Example 1:
It is thought that "Courtier had a profound influence on Elizabethan England and its cultural development" (Vitale iv).

Example 2:
According to Vitale, it is thought that "Courtier had a profound influence on Elizabethan England and its cultural development" (iv). 

 When more than one work by the same author is included in the list of works cited, include a short form of the source's title:
Example 3:"Courtier had a profound influence on Elizabethan England and its cultural development" (Vitale, A Courtier's Legacy  iv).

 If the same last name is shared by more than one author, include the author's first initial (or, first name if the initial does not distinguish the author's name). 
Example 4:"Courtier had a profound influence on Elizabethan England and its cultural development" (M. Vitale iv).

Two authors (MLA Handbook 116)

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

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

Three or more authors (MLA Handbook 116)

If the work has three or more authors, use the first author’s last name followed by et al

Example: (Watstein et al. 483)

Corporate author (MLA Handbook 117)

If a works-cited citation begins with the names of administrative units, give all the names in the in-text citation. 

Example: (United States, Congress, House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence 7)

Title of the work begins the entry in the works-cited list (MLA Handbook 55-56)

If the author of the work is anonymous or if the work is written by the same organization that published it, the in-text citation will contain the title or a shortened form of the title used. 


Natalia Makarova is known as one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century  ("Here's Looking" 40).

"Research is complete only when the results are shared with the scientific community" (Publication 9). 

Works cited:

"Here's Looking at You, Natasha." Dance Magazine, vol. 84, no. 5, May 2010, pp. 40-44.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed., American Psychological Association,  2010.

Film (MLA Handbook 57)

For time-based media such as film, video recordings, and audio recordings, include the related time or time range, separating the hours, minutes, and seconds with colons.

Example: ("Self Help" 00:34:30-34)

Indirect source (What if my author quotes another author?) (MLA Handbook 124)

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. 

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. Oxford UP, 1968. 

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