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MLA Style Guide

Why Should I Use In-Text Citations?

To avoid plagiarism, you must also indicate in the text of the paper exactly what you have taken from a source and where to locate that information in a source. When you use an original idea from one of your sources, whether you quote, summarize or paraphrase it, you must use in-text citation to credit your source. In-text citations appear in parentheses, usually at the end of a sentence, and correspond directly with an entry in your Works Cited.

In-text citations, also called parenthetical references, do the following:

  • allow your reader to know which source each idea/fact came from
  • give you credibility as a writer
  • protect you from plagiarism
  • point your reader to the proper entry in your Works Cited.

When Do I Need to Cite?

You will always need to cite your source when you use:

A direct quote from a source

EXAMPLE: Doctor Who "has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series" (Smith 43).

A paraphrase or summary of a source's ideas

EXAMPLE: Much of Britain's television continues to be impacted by Doctor Who to this day, as many of those who are employed by television stations cite Doctor Who as a major influence (Smith 43).

A specific figure or number, which will often be:

  • Statistics

EXAMPLE: About 38% of the Doctor Who episodes made in the 1960s are not available in the BBC Archives (Smith 42).

  • Exact numbers

EXAMPLE: By the 1990s, Doctor Who episodes had set the precedent that a Time Lord can regenerate, or come back to life in a new physical form, no more than 12 times, meaning that we could have 13 different actors (or actresses) play a single Doctor (Smith 42).

In-Text Citation Options

You have two choices as to how you credit an author in the body of your essay.

  • Choice 1: Introduce the author before his or her quotation, and include the page number(s) in parentheses at the end of the sentence. The period follows the parenthesis because the in-text citation is considered part of the sentence.

EXAMPLE:  As Charlotte McDonald-Gibson, journalist and author, notes, “It was only when there was nothing else left--when there was no income, education, shelter, food, or safety--that people put themselves and their families in a boat and took that last gamble” (3).

  • Choice 2: Include the author’s name with the parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase.

EXAMPLE:  While most people wanted to remain in a familiar culture, hopeful to be able to return home eventually, “it was only when there was nothing else left--when there was no income, education, shelter, food, or safety--that people put themselves and their families in a boat and took that last gamble” (McDonald-Gibson 3).

Examples of In-Text Citations

Type of Citation Example
One Author (Smith 30).
Two Authors (Smith and Jones 9).
More Than Two Authors (Smith et al. 367).
No Author ("Refugees" 82).
Indirect Source (qtd. in Smith 32).