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MLA Style Guide: In-Text Citations

A guide to help with the MLA Citation Style.

Basic Format for In-Text Citations

In MLA, in-text citations are inserted in the body of your research paper to briefly document the source of your information. Brief in-text citations point the reader to more complete information in the works cited list at the end of the paper.

In-text citations include the last name of the author followed by a page number enclosed in parentheses. For example: "Here's a direct quote" (Smith 8).

Read the "Frequently Asked Questions" section below for answers to questions about in-text citations beyond the basic example above, including how to do in-text citations when your source has no author, or how to do in-text citations for videos.

1. How do I include an in-text citation if I don't have an author for my source?

Unknown Author:

Where you'd normally put the author's last name, instead use the first one, two, or three words from the title. Don't count initial articles like "A", "An" or "The". You should provide enough words to make it clear which work you're referring to from your Works Cited list.

If the title in the Works Cited list is in italics, italicize the words from the title in the in-text citation.

If the title in the Works Cited list is in quotation marks, put quotation marks around the words from the title in the in-text citation.

Examples:

(Cell Biology 12)

("Nursing" 12)

2. How do I format my in-text citation if my source is a streaming video from a website?

When creating in-text citations for media that has a runtime, such as a Youtube video or a podcast, include the range of hours, minutes and seconds you plan to reference. For example, if the creator/author of the video was Sethi, this is how the in-text citation would appear:

(Sethi 00:03:30-00:04:16)

The full citation on your Works Cited page would look like this:

Sethi, Ramit. "How to Write a Winning Resume, With Ramit Sethi." YouTube, 23 June 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0fjkKCsM1w.

     Accessed 28 June 2016.

3. How do I format my in-text citation if my source is a film on DVD or Blu-ray?

If your in-text citation is referring to a film, i.e. a major motion picture, you do not need to include the specific runtime. You can just put the title within parenthesis. For example:

(Title of Movie)

(The Usual Suspects)

Note: If the title in your Works Cited page is in italics, always use italics for the title in your in-text citation as well. If the title in your Works Cited page is not in italics, then do not use italics in your in-text citation.

 

Adapted from: Columbia College's MLA Citation Guide - http://columbiacollege-ca.libguides.com/mla/in-text, and Purdue OWL's MLA Citation Guide - https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/2/