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MLA Style Guide, 9th Edition

In-Text Parenthetical Citations

An in-text citation begins with the shortest piece of information that directs the reader to the entry in the works-cited list. (MLA 9th, 227). The overarching goal is to allow the reader to efficiently locate the relevant source for the writers assertion.

Common examples of in-text citations:

  1. Statements followed by cite in parentheses:
    1. (Paraphrase) Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).
       
    2. (Exact Quote) "Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).
       
  2. Include the author(s) in the statement with the page number in parentheses. The 9th edition requires the inclusion of a time for time-based media, such as music or video:
     
    1. Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263).
       
    2. Buffy's promise that "there's not going to be any incidents like that at my school" is obviously not one on which she can follow through ("Buffy" 00:03:16-17). (MLA 9th, 250)
       
  3. If you are citing one of two or more works by the same author, identify the work with a shortened version of its title in parentheses along with the page number. Note that in the shortened title, you will remove a, an and the from the beginning of the title, and include only a few important words from the title itself; there is no need to include the entire title. The 8th edition suggests shortening the title to the first noun phrase:

     

    1. Lightenor has argued that computers are not useful tools for small children ("Too Soon" 38), though he has acknowledged elsewhere that early exposure to computer games does lead to better small motor skill development in a child's second and third year ("Hand-Eye Development" 17).
       
    2. For example if you had in-text citations to both Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Joy in the Morning one would be (Smith, Tree 72) and the other would be (Smith, Joy 10).

Thanks to Purdue OWL for the examples in this section.

Works with No Known Author or Multiple Works by the Same Author

If a work has no known author or if you are citing more than one work by the same author, the in-text citation should include a shortened version of the title and page number. For example, to cite the following:

"The Impact of Global Warming in North America." GLOBAL WARMING: Early Signs. 1999. Web. 23 Mar. 2009.

The in-text citation would look like this:

We see so many global warming hotspots in North America likely because this region has "more readily accessible climatic data and more comprehensive programs to monitor and study environmental change . . ." ("Impact" 6).

Note that in the shortened title, you will remove a, an and the from the beginning of the title, and include only a few important words from the title itself; there is no need to include the entire title. The 8th edition suggests shortening the title to the first noun phrase. The goal is simply to let your reader know to which source on your Works Cited page you are referring.

Put the title in quotation marks if referring to a short work (such as an article); omit the quotation marks and italicize instead if using a longer/complete work (such as a book).

Thanks to Purdue OWL for the examples in this section.

Websites and In-Text Citations

If you're citing a website with no known author, what does the in-text citation look like?

Use a shortened version of the website title and use that in place of the author name.

If you wanted to cite this source:

"Guglielmo Marconi: The 'Father of Radio'." The Guglielmo Marconi Foundation, U.S.A. www.marconiausa.org/marconi.

The in-text citation would look like this:

("Guglielmo Marconi")

What if the source doesn't have page numbers?

  1. If a source has numbered paragraphs, sections, or chapters, use par./pars, sec./secs. or ch./chs. instead of p./pp. Only follow this formatting if the source is already numbered -- do not add numbers.
     
  2. If a source is time-based, like a song or television episode, note the time as 00:00:00 (hour:minute:second).  For example, (02:45:34-47)