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MLA 9th Edition Style Guide: In-Text


This page introduces how to do in-text citations. In-text citations are one of the most important tools for avoiding inadvertent plagiarism, please read the pages on Why Cite and When to Cite for more information on their use.

In general, in-text citation consists of the author's last name and a location.

If there is no author, a shortened version of the title is used, and if there is no location, this element is skipped.

In-Text Citation Example

In-text citations are the brief citations made in the body of your text that point the reader to your full citations on your works-cited-list. They can be added at the end of material requiring a citation or incorporated into a sentence.

Example 1: (At the end)

For example, I might include a quotation from a source in my paper. "Skeptical readers may doubt the basis for your work or your conclusions. Others may simply want to double-check them or do more research on the topic. Your citations should point the way" (Lipson 4).

In the above example (Lipson 4) is the in-text citation.

Example 2: (Incorporated into the sentence)

It would also be correct to use the author's name in the sentence. According to Lipson, "Skeptical readers may doubt the basis for your work or your conclusions. Others may simply want to double-check them or do more research on the topic. Your citations should point the way" (4).

In either case your reader should be able to identify the correct citation on your works-cited-list page from the information given in the in-text citation.

The full citation on the works-cited-list page would be:

Lipson, Charles. Cite Right: a Quick Guide to Citation Styles -- MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More. 2nd ed., U of Chicago P, 2011.

Example 3. (Paraphrased)

Quote from Original Text:

"Many of the problems facing Native Americans today stem from bias, stereotype, and basic misunderstanding on the part of non-Indians. As racist tendencies and generalizations begin at an early age, education and proper treatment in textbooks is essential in remedying the problem. However, education and learning do not end in one's teen years. Perceptions (both positive and negative) can be molded, reshaped, or solidified in later years. Thus, while adequate and accurate coverage of the role of Native Americans in the American governmental system should be standard fare in college textbooks, it is not."


Societal stereotypes and misinformation about Native Americans contribute to many of that group's contemporary problems, Ashley and Jarret-Ziemski argue. Exposing children to accurate and comprehensive information about Native Americans through primary and secondary school textbooks is an important way to curtail misconceptions early in life. Nevertheless, the authors believe,  it is equally important that college textbooks cover Native Americans adequately, since biases are shaped not only in childhood, but throughout life. However, they find that such coverage is not the norm.


 Ashley, Jeffrey S., and Karen Jarratt-Ziemski. “Superficiality and Bias: The (Mis)Treatment of Native Americans in U. S. Government Textbooks.” American Indian Quarterly, vol. 23, no. 3-4, summer-autumn 1999, pp. 49–62. JSTOR,

Additional examples can be found in the MLA sample papers.

Indirect Sources

It is preferable to cite material from the original source, but sometimes you must cite information from an indirect source. An indirect source is essentially a quotation within a quotation. You consult a source and find that the author has quoted someone else. That someone else is an indirect source.

On the works-cited-list page, you include a complete citation for the direct source. This will not mention the indirect source.

However, within the text of your paper you must indicate that your quotation or paraphrase comes from an indirect source, using qtd. in.

For example, "'The panther is being squeezed,' says NWF Senior Counsel John Kostyack" (qtd in Dupree).

Work Cited

Dupree, Joe. “Cat on a Collision Course.” National Wildlife, vol. 45, no. 3, Apr. 2007, pp. 22–30. EBSCOhost,

Book or Article with Page Numbers

For any book or article that has page numbers:


  • the author's last name
  • the page number

For example: (Rodriguez 42)

This is the most basic example.

Sources Without an Author

If the source has no author, use

  • a shortened version of the title

For example: ("Using In-Text" 6)

This is a shortened version of the title "Using In-Text Citation in an MLA-Formatted Paper." Use enough of the title so that your reader will be to identify the correct entry on your works-cited-list page.

Electronic Source (no page numbers)

If an electronic source does not have page numbers, use

  • the author's last name

For example: (Williams)

Do not invent page numbers. If the information is printed out and the printer numbered the pages, do not use those numbers.

Multiple Authors

If a source has two authors, use

  • the last name of each person.

For example (Johnson and Seguin 42).

If a source has three or more authors, use

  • the last name of the first person and et al.

For example (Johnson et al. 53).

Video, Film, or Audio

For video or audio files, include the time stamp in an in-text citation, if one is available, with the author's name or a shortened title.

Author example: (Cuddy 4:27-29)

For full-length documentaries and films, the title is italicized: (Latin American 4:41-48) for Latin American Women Artists: 1915-1995.

For shorter videos and television episodes, the title is placed in quotation marks: ("Four Marks" 12:57-13:01) for the episode "Four Marks" from the television series The Witcher.

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