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MLA Citation Style & Formatting 8th Edition: In-text Citations

A comprehensive guide to creating citations in MLA style

Using Sources in Your Research Paper

How to structure your sources, include your own analysis, and use sources to support an argument. (5:44)

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Take your writing to the next level! Learn some easy strategies for distinguishing your ideas from those that you get from your sources. (6:15)

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In-text Citations

Listing your sources in a Works Cited page is only one part of the citation process; the other part is making references to your sources in the body of your paper. The purpose of the in-text citation is to inform your audience when you are making a reference to someone else's ideas, words, works, or other information you used to support your writing.

According to the MLA Handbook: "References in the text must clearly point to specific sources in the list of works cited" (214). This means that for every reference you make in your paper there should be a corresponding citation in your Works Cited page, and vice versa.

MLA formatting uses the author-page style when producing in-text citations, meaning that you should have information about the author and the page number when making reference in your paper. Here are seveal examples of the author-page style, followed by the citation as it would appear in your Works Cited:

 

  • According to Harold Bloom, "there is no single way to read well" (19).

 

  • Crane's ability to hold the reader's attention is "one of the indubitable powers of poetry" (Bloom 141).

 

  • Harold Bloom's interpretation of Shakespeare's Hamlet focuses on the father-son struggle and how this recurring theme influences the entire plot of the play (201).

 

Citation listed in Works Cited:

Bloom, Harold. How to Read and Why. Scribner, 2000.

 

For non-print sources, such as movies, music, or web-based sources that do not have page numbers, you do not need to include page or paragraph information. Instead, include the author's name when available, or the source's title as listed in the Works Cited. If you include the author's name and the title in your reference, you do not need to include any parenthetical information:

 

  • After the Indonesian earthquake of 2009, Oxfam International worked to bring 2400 sheets to individuals effected by the disaster ("Asia-Pacific").

 

  • Some believe that pressure from an increasingly environmentally aware public forced George W. Bush's administration to cave to pressure and declare the polar bear an endangered species (Kluger).

 

  • Carol Reed's The Third Man contains some of the rarest post-war images of Vienna ever captured on film.

 

Citations listed in Works Cited:

“Nourish South Asia.” Oxfam International, 26 Sept. 2011. www.oxfam.org/en/research/nourish-south-asia.

Kluger, Jeffrey. "A Big Win for Polar Bears?" Time, 2006, content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1572970,00.html.

 

More Examples of In-text Citations

Sources with known author  

According to Harold Bloom, "there is no single way to read well" (19).

OR

Crane's ability to hold the reader's attention is "one of the indubitable powers of poetry" (Bloom 141).

OR

Harold Bloom's interpretation of Shakespeare's Hamlet focuses on the father-son struggle and how this recurring theme influences the entire plot of the play (201).

As listed in Works Cited:  

Bloom, Harold. How to Read and Why. Scribner, 2000.


Sources with two to three authors  

Many experts believe that developing a medical management plan can help patients control their asthmatic symptoms (Pottel and Feldman 2).

OR

Pottel and Feldman belive that developing a medical management plan can help patients control their asthmatic symptoms (2).

As listed in Works Cited:  

Pottel, Claudia, and B. Robert Feldman. 100 Questions and Answers About Your Child's Asthma. Jones & Bartlett, 2008. Ebook Central.


Sources with more than three authors  

Folse, et al. believe that sentence structure is one of the most important elements of composition (121).

OR

Sentence structure is one of the "foundations" of composition writing (Folse et al. 121)

As listed in Works Cited:  

Folse, Keith S. et al. Blueprints: Composition Skills for Academic Writing. Houghton Mifflin, 2003.


Sources with no author

 

After the Indonesian earthquake of 2009, Oxfam International worked to bring 2400 sheets to individuals effected by the disaster ("Nourish South Asia").

 

As listed in Works Cited:  

“Nourish South Asia.” Oxfam International, 26 Sept. 2011. www.oxfam.org/en/research/nourish-south-asia.


Non-print sources with no page numbers  

Some believe that pressure from an increasingly environmentally aware public forced George W. Bush's administration to cave to pressure and declare the polar bear an endangered species (Kluger).

 

As listed in Works Cited:  

Kluger, Jeffrey. "A Big Win for Polar Bears?" Time, 2006, content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1572970,00.html.