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MLA Style Writing Guide: In-text Citations

In-text Citations

In-text citations should include the author's last name and the page number the information or quote is coming from. The citation will be in parentheses at the end of the sentence before the period. 


"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" (Fitzgerald 180).

If you list the author’s name within the sentence that cites the information, you do not need to include this in the parenthetical citation. 


Fitzgerald ends the novel with, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" (180). 

Remember that if you cite a work in the text of your paper, that work should be included in your Works Cited page. If you do not cite a work in your paper, then it should not be included in your Works Cited page. 


Alternatives to Page Numbers: 

Occasionally, you may have a work that does not have page numbers. In some cases these works will have other numbered sections, which you will need to indicate by using abbreviations such as: 

  • Paragraphs -- use par., e.g., (Smith par. 3)
  • Sections -- use sec., e.g., (Smith sec. 10)
  • Lines -- use ln., e.g., (Smith ln. 50)

If there are no page numbers at all and there are no other identifying numbers, use the abbreviation n. pag., e.g., (Smith n. pag.).


Alternatives to Including the Author's Name: 

A parenthetical citation with no author would look like the following: (Beowulf ln. 54-56)

When the title is too long to repeat in each citation, you can shorten it. For instance, the title Sir Gawain and the Green Knight could be shortened to Sir Gawain

When shortening the title: 

  • Begin the title with the same first word(s)
  • Be sure the shortened title is still clear enough to indicate which citation it refers to in the Works Cited page
  • When a title begins with "A," "An," or "The" you can omit that word from the abbreviation and begin the shortened version with the second word of the title


When Citing Multiple Works by the Same Author:

List the author's name followed by the title of the work (or a shortened version of the title) in the citation. 

Two parenthetical citations from the same paper for two different books by F. Scott Fitzgerald would look like the following:

(Fitzgerald, Great Gatsby 85) and (Fitzgerald, Tender 15)

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 2004.

---. Tender is the Night. Scribner, 2003.