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MLA Citation & Formatting: MLA In-Text Citations

Useful information to help you create a well-formatted document in MLA 9th edition style

MLA In-Text Citations

MLA in-text citations are brief references in the body of a paper to a full citation in the Works Cited list.

  • citations include author's last name when available or the brief title of the work when no author is listed
  • each work that is cited in the body of the paper must have a corresponding Works Cited entry
  • no work should appear in the Works Cited list if it has not been cited within the body of the paper
  • the citation can appear within the text (citation in prose) or in parentheses (parenthetical citation)
  • if a specific part of a source has been used (page number, line number, time stamp, etc.) include this information in a parenthetical citation

MLA guidelines for in-text citations are explored in detail in Chapter 6 of the MLA Guide, 9th edition.
For online help with MLA in-text citations, see In-Text Citations: An Overview, by the editors.

Author Element

Up to Two Authors

if mentioning both authors in the text, use first and last names.
ex: Fruzsina Pittner and Iain Donald compare the character of Kurtz to the character of Jackal... (2).

In a parenthetical citation, connect last names with and.
ex: Kurtz can be compared to the Jackal character in the game Far Cry 2 (Pittner and Donald 12).

Three or More authors - Prose Citation

You may list all of the names.
ex: Konrad Czernichowski, Dominik Kopiński and Andrzej Polus summarized the history of African Studies in Poland. 

Or list the first author's surname followed by and others or and colleagues.
ex: Konrad Czernichowski and colleagues summarized the history of African Studies in Poland.

Three or More authors - Parenthetical Citation

List the first author's last name followed by et al.
ex: In Conrad’s native Poland, scholarly interest in Africa grew in the early 19th century... (Czernichowski et al. 170).

Corporate Author

Abbreviate the name to the shortest noun phrase.
ex: The American Association for the Advancement of Science > American Association

Title Element

Shortened Title

if there is no author, use a shortened title for in-text citation.

if the title is longer than a noun phrase (adjective+noun) shorten the title.
When possible use the first noun and any preceding adjectives.

ex: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight > Sir Gawain

Abbreviated Title

May be used as an alternative to a shortened title.

Titles with standard abbreviations. (MLA Guide, Appendix 1)
ex: Works by Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet > Rom.
Much Ado about Nothing > Ado
Julius Caesar > JC

Referring to multiple works by the same author.
ex: Jane Austen Novels

Pride and Prejudice > Pride
Sense and Sensibility > Sense
Mansfield Park > Mansfield

How It's Done

Introduce the full title in prose first, followed by the abbreviated title in parentheses. Then continue to use the abbreviated title in parenthetical citations.

Location Element

Page Numbers
  • use the same style of numerals as the source (e.g. arabic or roman)
  • don't precede the numeral with p. or pp. in the citation
  • if a quotation spans more than one page, include the page range in the citation
  • for nonconsecutive pages, include specific page numbers
Numbered Paragraphs, Sections, Chapters, or Lines
  • if the source uses explicit paragraph numbers rather than page numbers, give those numbers preceded by the appropriate label (par. 1, line 12, etc.)
  • if an eBook is divided into standard numbered sections, include the label of the section and the number
  • place a comma after the author's last name if it precedes a location label in the citation (Taylor, par. 1)
Works Without Numbered Pages or Other Divisions
  • if no number is provided in the work, do not provide one in the citation
  • if you provide the author's name or the title in your prose you don't need a parenthetical citation
Audiovisual Media
  • for time-based media, provide a time stamp
  • provide the inclusive time span in hours, minutes, and seconds
  • separate each number in a time stamp with a colon

Examples of In-Text Citations

Book with One Author
As Kurtz lay dying, Marlow reflected on his moral descent. “The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own” (Conrad 70).

Article with Two Authors (Prose)
Fruzsina Pittner and Iain Donald compare the character of Kurtz to the character of Jackal in the game Far Cry 2 as they examine the impact on each character of the dark forces of nature and mankind (12).

Article with Two Authors (Parenthetical)
In the game Far Cry 2, “the narrative reveals the player to be, in a sense, the moral successor to the game’s Kurtz-character, the Jackal” (Pittner and Donald 12).

Article with Three Authors (Prose)
According to Konrad Czernichowski, Dominik Kopiński and Andrzej Polus, scholarly interest in Africa gained momentum in the late 1800's (170).


According to Konrad Czernichowski and colleagues, scholarly interest in Africa gained momentum in the late 1800's (170).

Article with Three Authors (Parenthetical)
In Conrad’s native Poland, scholarly interest in Africa grew in the early 19th century, although it did not generate academic activity until the late 1800’s (Czernichowski et al. 170).

Abbreviated Title (Standard Abbreviation)
In the King James Bible, Complete, the gospel of John (John) equates light with good and dark with evil (3.16-21).  From a biblical perspective, then, Kurtz represents those post-Colonial Europeans who “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3.19).

YouTube Video
“Cuz it's the eyes of civilization that keeps humanity’s darkness in check. But when we surrounded by the silent whisper of the wilderness, we straight lose ourselves to the dark” (Wisecrack 00:02:22-00:02:31).

Web Page (Citation in Prose)
University of New South Wales professor John Attridge described Heart of Darkness as “the product of dark historical energies” in his contribution to an online series on the classics.

Web Page (Parenthetical)
One English scholar has described Heart of Darkness as “the product of dark historical energies” (Attridge).
Creative Commons License
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