Skip to main content

MLA Style 8th edition: In-Text Citations

In-text Citations (a.k.a. Parenthetical Documentation)

What is it?

In-text citations, or parenthetical documentation and/or attribution means giving credit in the text (in the written paragraphs of the assignment) for the idea or quote that has been taken from the source of reference. By citing the source within the research paper it enables the readers to look to the works cited page to obtain complete bibliographical information.

How is it done?

  • First complete the full works cited citation correctly. Completing the citation first will save you time by making it easier to determine what is to be placed in parenthesis within your research paper.
  • Most often only the last name of the author and the number of the page/s on which the idea or quote appears are given in parenthesis. The last sentence before the parenthesis is not punctuated until after the parenthesis is closed
    • Example: The importance of grains and legumes cannot be underestimated. Not only have they affected human nutrition but also cultural evolution (Jones 116).

---OR---

  • If the author's name is noted in the text, only the number of the page from which the idea or quote was taken is included in the parenthesis.
    • Example: According to Jones, the importance of grains and legumes cannot be underestimated. Not only have they affected human nutrition but also cultural evolution (116).

Types of Parenthetical Documentation

PARENTHETICAL DOCUMENTATION EXPLANATION EXAMPLE
Direct Quote

When credit is given for a direct quote, the quotation marks are closed and the parenthesis is opened, but the endmark is saved and placed after the closed parenthesis.

Example: 

  • "The earliest known writing, alphabets, and arithmetical systems, dating from about 3,000 B.C., are devoted to grain transactions. The culture of the fields made possible the culture of the mind" (Jones 116).

 

  • As Jones stated, "The earliest known writing, alphabets, and arithmetical systems, dating from about 3,000 B.C., are devoted to grain transactions. The culture of the fields made possible the culture of the mind" (116).
Direct Quote (Long) A direct quotation of more than 4 lines is indented 10 spaces from the left margin, no quotation marks are used and the period precedes the parenthetical documentation. *Make sure to maintain double space throughout.*

Example:

According to Civitello:

New Orleans, however, was not a disappointment. Its Creole cuisine—ruling class French and Spanish cuisine prepared by African cooks, with some Native American elements—is unique in America. A prime example of this fusion food is gumbo, a sausage and seafood stew. The word is African and so is the use of okra—an African word for an African vegetable—as a thickener. But the roux base is French, the combination of sausage and seafood is southern Mediterranean, like French bouillabaisse, and the seasoning is file—powdered sassafras leaves obtained from Native Americans. (199)

Multiple Works by One Author

If 2 or more sources by the same author are listed on the works cited page, the reader must be told to which book or article the text refers. This is done by including a key word from the title of the book or article in the parenthesis. (Note: Proper marking to designate the type of source must be included, e.g. italics or quotes).

Assume that the paper used information from two sources by Christopher Johnson. The first book is entitled Menus Reflecting a Culture or Tradition, and the material noted is from page 10 of this book. The second is from an article entitled "Menus Around the World," and the material noted is from page 65.

Examples:

  • When people are on vacation, they enjoy meals which reflect a particular culture or tradition (Johnson, Reflecting 10).

 

  • When planning a party, it is a great idea to have a theme. A wonderful idea is to choose a country and make foods which are served in that country (Johnson, "World" 65).

*Note: Menus would not be the word to choose since it appears in both titles.*

Two Authors If a source being cited has 2 authors, each last name must be listed within the parenthesis unless the authors are referred to in the sentence as attribution. Names should appear in the order listed in the original source.

Examples:

  • "Workforce diversity requires employers to be more sensitive to the differences that each group brings to the work setting" (DeCenzo and Robbins 15).

 

  • DeCenzo and Robbins state "workforce diversity requires employers to be more sensitive to the differences that each group brings to the work setting" (15).
Three or More Authors

If more than 2 people have authored the book or article, the first author's last name, a comma, and the words et al. are used.

Assume the book is authored by Eleanor Pitney, Eva Cocchi, Sharon Rady, and Doryce Kilguss, and the idea expressed is taken from page 3 of their book.

 

Examples:

  • Carbohydrate, fat and protein are the three classes of organic nutrients which provide energy the body can use (Pitney, et al. 3).
  • Pitney, et al. noted that carbohydrate, fat and protein are the three classes of organic nutrients which provide energy the body can use (3).
Indirect Source When someone has been quoted in your source, and it is the words or ideas of this person that you are summarizing, paraphrasing or quoting directly, then you must make this clear by adding the abbreviation for "quoted in" to your usual parenthetical documentation. Example:
  • If Raymond Johnson is quoted in the article by Elliot (refer to works cited entry for the citation), the parenthetical documentation would read:

​     Johnson stated, "It is always necessary to choose a panel of judges that mirrors the target market" (qtd. in Elliot 12).

No Author

If there is no author/s given, use the first item listed in the works cited citation. Usually this will be the title of the article or section in quotation marks. (This is why it is very important to create a correct works cited before deciding what must be put in the in-text documentation!) 

Assume an article entitled "Problems with Plagiarism" has no author. Place a key word from the title in parenthesis OR begin your sentence with reference to the title of the article and end with the page number in parenthesis.

*Note: The key word chosen must be used consistently for any in-text citations using the same article, and the key word must distinguish that title from other similar titles.*

Examples:

  • In order to avoid plagiarism, students must document their sources correctly or face serious consequences ("Plagiarism" 5).

 

  • The article entitled "Problems with Plagiarism" states, students must document their sources correctly or face serious consequences (5).

 

Page Content Credits

"In-text Citation" information, originally authored by Professor A. Smith, Retired, Johnson & Wales University, Providence Campus

More Help with In-Text Citations

Please Note

Online Sources Present Some Challenges

  1. Never use only a web address within in-text citations!
  2. Omitting the page number/s is acceptable unless the online source is printed exactly as it appeared in the print version.