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MLA In-text Citations and Sample Essay 8th Edition

Listing your sources at the end of your essay in the Works Cited is only the first step in complete and effective documentation. Proper citation of sources is a two-part process. You must also cite, in the body of your essay, the source your paraphrased information or where directly quoted material came from. These citations within the essay are called in-text citations. You must cite all quoted, paraphrased, or summarized words, ideas, and facts from sources. Without in-text citations, you are in danger of plagiarism, even if you have listed your sources at the end of the essay.

In-text citations point the reader to the sources’ information in the works cited page, so the in-text citation should be the first item listed in the source’s citation on the works cited page, which is usually the author’s last name (or the title if there is no author) and the page number, if provided.

Two Ways to Cite Your Sources In-text

Parenthetical Citation

Cite your source in parentheses at the end of quoted or paraphrased material.

Example with a page number: In regards to paraphrasing, "It is important to remember to use in-text citations for your paraphrased information, as well as your directly quoted material" (Habib 7).

Example without a page number: Paraphrasing is "often the best choice because direct quotes should be reserved for source material that is especially well-written in style and/or clarity" (Ruiz).

Signal Phrase

Within the sentence, through the use of a "signal phrase" which signals to the reader the specific source the idea or quote came from. Include the page number(s) in parentheses at the end of the sentence, if provided.

Example with a page number: According to Habib, "It is important to remember to use in-text citations for your paraphrased information, as well as your directly quoted material" (7).

Example without a page number: According to Ruiz, paraphrasing is "often the best choice because direct quotes should be reserved for source material that is especially well-written in style and/or clarity."

*See our handout "Signal Phrases" for more examples and information on effective ways to use signal phrases for in-text citations.

Do you need to include a page number in your in-text citation?

Printed materials such as books, magazines, journals, or internet and digital sources with PDF files that show an actual printed page number need to have a page number in the citation.

Internet and digital sources with a continuously scrolling page without a page number do not need a page number in the citation.

Commonly used in-text citations in parentheses

Type of Source Parenthetical In-text Citation
One author with page number (Blake 70)
One author with multiple works (Harris, Using Sources 13-14)
Two authors, no page number (McGrath and Dowd)
Three or more authors with page number (Gooden et al. 445)
No author, no page number ("Cheating")[First word(s) of the title of the article]
Two sources each with one author and page number (Jones 42; Haller 57)
A person quoted in another work (qtd. in Lathrop and Foss 163)
Video or audio sources ("Across the Divide" 00:06:25)
Government source (United States, Dept. of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
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Notes on Quotes

Block Quotation Format

When using long quotations that are over four lines of prose or over three lines of poetry in length, you will need to use block quotation format. Block format is indented one inch from the margin (you can hit the "tab" button twice to move it one inch). Additionally, block quotes do not use quotation marks, and the parenthetical citation comes after the period of the last sentence. Please see the following sample essay for an example block quote.

Signal Phrase Examples and Ideas

Please see the following sample essay for different kinds of signal phrases and parenthetical in-text citations, which correspond with the sample Works Cited page at the end. The Writing Center also has a handout on signal phrases with many different verb options.

Learn more about the MLA Works Cited page by reviewing this handout.

For information on STLCC's academic integrity policy, check out this website.

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