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MLA Quick Citation Guide

In-Text Citation Guidelines

Purpose: briefly identifies the work you are quoting or paraphrasing, with a corresponding full citation in the works cited so readers can find your sources. Include in-text citations whenever you: 

  • Paraphrase (summarize ideas from a source) 

  • Directly quote from a source 

  • Refer to images, figures, data, or tables from the source 

In-Text Citations should: 

  • Include the first part of the full citation (usually the author’s last name) and the page number (when referring to a specific part of the source). 

  • Always come before punctuation marks at the end of the sentence. 


In-Text Citation Formats

(Author Page Number) 

  • Many believe that “students must learn how to cite sources before starting to work on any research assignment” (Smith 55). 

Author (Page Number) 

  • Smith suggests that “students […] learn how to cite sources before starting to work on any research assignment” (55). 


  • Professors want students to cite their sources when writing research papers (Smith).  


  • Smith argues that students should cite their sources when completing research assignments. 

Other formats for specific circumstances: 

  • Multiple sources cited in a sentence (Author Page Number; Author Page Number). 

    • Several studies show that students who write MLA style papers often struggle with formatting the works cited list (Smith 60; Lee and Wong 45). 

  • Use the title (or whatever is the first piece of information appearing in the full citation) when there is no author. 

    • In-text citations should include the first part of the full citation (“In-Text Citations: An Overview”). 

    • Professors tend to give better grades to students who include in-text citations in their MLA style papers (Citing Sources 43). 

  • When including a quote that is more than four lines long, separate the quote as a block quote without quotation marks and with the (Author Page Number) citation after the punctuation mark. Block quotes should be indented 0.5” from the left. 

    • Students must learn how to cite sources before starting to work on any research assignment. This is helpful because students can include accurate in-text citations as they are writing, rather than waiting until the editing process. Many students claim that adding in-text citations while they are drafting their paper saves time. (Smith 55)