MLA Style Quick Guide

Citations within the text of your paper

MLA Style uses brief citations within the text of a paper immediately after a quotation, reference to a source, or paraphrase. The brief citation gives the author and page number of the source you are referring to, allowing readers to locate the full citation in your Works Cited list.

Pythagoras invented the monochord (Smith 182).
Smith believed that Pythagoras invented the monochord (182).

In both examples, the complete information about the work by Smith would appear in the Works Cited list after Smith's name. If you cite more than one work published by Smith, you would distinguish the works by including the titles (usually shortened).

No author? If you don’t have an author, use the title instead.

Its often better to refer to the title in your sentence:

The Dictionary of Newfoundland English defines faddle as "a bundle of fire-wood."

In  parenthesis, use the title, usually shortened. For instructions on shortening titles, see pp. 237-8 of the MLA Handbook. Use quotation marks around the titles of articles, chapters, short stories or poems, and web pages. Italicize the titles of books, journals, newspapers, magazines, and entire websites:

An employee said "they believed our main occupation was fishing" ("Roundtable" 42).

No page numbers?
When the original source doesn't have any page numbers, it is often better to identify the author in your sentence, and not use parenthesis at all:

Lisa Moore believes Winter's short story evokes "the sense of the island's isolation."

However, you can still put the author’s name in parenthesis if you prefer:

Winter's short story evokes "the sense of the island's isolation" (Moore).

Citing Multiple Authors in the Text‌

 2 authors - always include both last names in your text:

Kelly and Yeoman (26-27) argue...
for Newfoundlanders (Kelly and Yeoman 26).

3 or more authors

In a sentence:
According to Katona, Rough, and Richardson...
According to Katona and others...

In parenthesis:
(Katona et al. 17)

Indirect Sources: A Citation within a Citation

Refer to the person(s) you are quoting in the text. In parenthesis, use the abbreviation “qtd. in” and cite the author(s) of the source you used and the page number where the quotation occurs. In your Works Cited list, only cite the source you actually consulted, in this case Hillman.

Neill believed Anthony and Cleopatra is “a play always arguing with itself” (qtd. in Hillman 305)


You may also want to download our guide for citing Poetry, Songs and Plays. For Works Cited List examples, see Books, Articles, Websites, Social Media, or Other sections of our Quick Guide.