Parenthetical in-text citations should not distract the reader, but they must be complete enough to allow the reader to easily locate the corresponding entry in the list of works cited. The best place for a citation is just before the final punctuation of the sentence. If that is not appropriate, put the citation before a comma or other internal punctuation or, if nothing else is possible, before a natural pause in the sentence. The following examples illustrate the MLA style of in-text citation.
1. Author named in text. In parentheses, provide the page number of the source. (With block quotations, enclose the page number in parentheses one space after the last punctuation mark.) If you are citing a source that uses paragraph numbers rather than page numbers, such as an electronic journal, precede the numbers with the abbreviation “par.” or “pars.”
According to Tompkins, critics who admire Cooper find themselves in a bind: They must attempt to diminish the embarrassing (and major) features of the novels, or they must alter their standards for evaluating works of literature (98).
If the list of works cited contains two authors with the same last name, include the first initial or first name of each one in the in-text citations.
2. Author not named in text. In parentheses, give both the author’s last name and the page number, separated by one space. (With block quotations, place the parenthetical citation one space after the last punctuation mark.) If you are citing paragraph numbers from an electronic source rather than page numbers, place a comma after the author’s name and use the abbreviation “par.” or “pars.”
The Last of the Mohicans
presents a dilemma for literary critics; even when they are sympathetic, they "have been hard put to explain why they should continue to be fascinated by a novel which, by their own accounts, is replete with sensationalism and cliche" (Tompkins 95).
3. More than one author. If the source has no more than three authors, name them all in the text or the parenthetical citation. If the source has; more than three authors, list them all or use only the first author’s name followed by “et al.” (the abbreviation for the Latin “and others”).
McCrum, Cran, and MacNeil call the development of the English language "the story of three invasions and a cultural revolution" (51).
4. Author of two or more works cited. If the list of works cited includes more than one work by the same author, the source must be identified by both the author’s name and a short version of the title. (The full title for this example is Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction 1790-1860.)
Certain nineteenth-century American novels, despite critical consensus that they are short on literary merit, played an important role by "providing society with a means of thinking about itself (Tompkins, Sensational 200).
5. Corporate author or government agency. The corporate or agency name should match the entry in the list of works cited. For example, if the works cited entry begins with ” United States . Department of Commerce,” the in-text citation should be ” U.S.
Department of Commerce” rather than “Commerce Department.”
Chicago Women in Publishing recommends that workers' titles "be described in a way that indicates the job could be filled by a member of either sex" (10).
6. Unknown author. If the source is not signed (a brief article in a newspaper or magazine, for example), use its full title or a shortened version in the citation. A short title should begin with the same word as the full title so that the work can be located in the list of works cited; for example the title in the example below could be shortened to
“Can Your Mind Heal?” but not to “Mind/Body”
Both physicians and entrepreneurs have recently become interested in how the mind can affect physical health ("Can Your Mind Heal Your Body?" 107).
Tompkins's eloquent argument is this: American literature gives its readers nothing less than a means of comprehending their history and constructing their social consciences.
Like the paintings of Braque, Dali, and Picasso, the compositions of Stravinsky and Schoenberg come fr 0 m the intellect, not the emotions (Hauser 4: 230).
For novels, first give the page number and, after a semicolon, add the chapter or part number.
Fifty years ago, Richard Wright wrote, "Who knows when some slight shock, disturbing the delicate balance between social order and thirsty aspiration, shall send the skyscrapers in our cities tumbling?" ( Native Son 25; bk. 1).
For poems, cite only the line number (or numbers); a page number is unnecessary. Use a dash to indicate inclusive lines.
In earlier parts of "In Just-" e. e. cummings's darker references to "the little/lame balloonman" (4-5) and to "the queer/old balloonman" (11-12) have prepared us for the perhaps not-so-innocent "goat-footed/balloonMan" of the poem's conclusion (20-21).
For prose plays, give the page number and then, following a semicolon, the number of the act and the scene (43; 1, 3—use Arabic numerals unless your instructor specifies a preference for Roman numerals). For verse plays, omit the page number but include the line number (or numbers) and separate the act, scene, and line number with periods.
The 1970s musical Hair turned Hamlet's musings--"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason!" (2.2.320)-- into a song.
10. An indirect source. To show that a quotation in your paper was also a quotation in your source (rather than written by the source’s author), use the abbreviation “qtd. in” (“quoted in”). In the list of works cited, include only the source you consulted (which would be Trimbur in the following example).
Kenneth Bruffee observed, "While students often forget much of the subject matter shortly after class is over, they do not easily forget the values implicit in the conventions by which it was taught" (qtd. in Trimbur 95).
Critics have long had difficulty justifying serious consideration of the works of James Fenimore Cooper (Reynolds 102; Tompkins 98).