How to Make In-Text Citations in MLA

The basic formula of in-text citation in MLA looks like this:

Author’s name + Page number (both elements in parenthesis with no comma between)

Follow general rules of MLA citation format unless otherwise specified.

According to research, “taking a strategic view across the organization is essential” (Turner 2002). OR According to Turner (2002), “taking a strategic view across the organization is essential.”


In our citation examples we use the following color coding:

  • Red – Author
  • Blue – Title of book/article/charter/webpage
  • Sienna – Pages
  • Gold – Book, a part/chapter of which is being cited
Author Named in a Signal Phrase Author not Named in a Signal Phrase Unknown Author Unknown Page Number More than One Work by the Same Author Two or Three Authors Three or More Authors Corporate Author Authors with the Same Last Name Encyclopedia Multivolume Work Two or More Works in the Same Parentheses An Entire Work Work in Anthology Government Publication Dissertation Lecture Multimedia Sources Podcast/Youtube Image from Website

Author Named in a Signal Phrase

Mention the author in the sentence and end it with a page number for the paraphrased information:

According to Barton, teenagers are influenced by marketing campaigns in social media (68).

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Author not Named in a Signal Phrase

Note that there is no comma between the author’s name and the page number:

Teenagers are influenced by marketing campaigns in social media (Barton 68).

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Unknown Author

If the author is unknown, the first name that appears in the source listing should be used with the same formatting and punctuation. If the name is too long, it must be reduced to the first several words when included in parenthesis:

Many young people attended Woodstock in the 1970’s (Readings on the Past Century 89).

Readings on the Past Century: Music and Protest mentions that many young people attended Woodstock in the 1970’s (89).

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Unknown Page Number

If there is no page number and the source is not divided by chapters, paragraphs or other sections, do not include it in the in-text citation.

Young parents tend to have higher levels of stress for their children than experienced couples (Ford).

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More than One Work by the Same Author

When you are referring to more than one work of the author, it is necessary to state a shortened version of a title. The examples below will show how it will look in text.

(Kotler, “Kotler on Marketing” 65)

(Kotler, “Marketing Management” 76)

However, when the author’s last name is presented in the sentence, the in-text reference will appear at the end of the sentence in this format:

(Kotler on Marketing 65)

(Marketing Management 76)

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Two or Three Authors

When making a reference to two co-authors, it is necessary to use “and” to connect their last names.

(Grey and Bell 45).

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Three or More Authors

If the Works Cited Entry shows that three or more than three authors are present, “et al.” is used starting from the first quote or reference.

(White et al. 456)

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Corporate Author

If the author is an organization or corporate entity, it is necessary to include its full name in the in-text citation. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to use abbreviations if it is possible.

(World Trade Organization 56)

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Authors with the Same Last Name

It happens that the authors have same last names. To differentiate them in in-text citations, it is appropriate to use the first initials of the authors.

(R. Smith 45)

(J. Smith 56)

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Encyclopedia

When citing an encyclopedia or a part of it, it is necessary to put the article in quotation marks as it is stated in the reference list entry.

Works Cited: "Activist Media." A Dictionary of Journalism. 2nd ed., 2016.

In-Text Citation: ("Activist Media" 5)

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Multivolume Work

When citing information from different volumes, it is necessary to indicate a volume number. However, it is not necessary if only one volume is used.

(Priestley 1:45).

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Two or More Works in the Same Parentheses

Sometimes, the idea is described by two authors at the same time. Consequently, it is necessary to show both of them in parentheses. It is necessary to use semi-colon to divide them.

(Clark 45; Roberts 65)

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An Entire Work

When citing an entire website, book, or any other long sources, the title will be shortened and presented in italics (if the author is unknown).

(Starbucks).

Nonetheless, if the author is known, then it is reasonable to indicate authors in parentheses.

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Work in Anthology

The work in anthology is cited using the principles of general MLA format. In this case, information in parenthesis will reflect the last name of the author of the short work and page number.

(Arnold 12)

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Government Publication

The similar rules are applied to Governmental Publication as citing a Corporate Author. In this case, the in-text citation has to include a full name of the department and a page number or paragraph. In this case, the in-text citation will look like this:

(United States Department of Labor par. 5)

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Dissertation

If the author is known, the common citation rules are used as (Author’s Last Name and Page Number). Consequently, the in-text will look like this:

(Jameson 65)

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Lecture

In the majority of cases, the information about the lecturer is known. In this instance, the in-text citation will look like this:

(Green par. 1)

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Multimedia Sources

Sometimes, it is necessary to reference various multimedia sources, such as videos, films, podcasts, YouTube videos, and images.

If you are perfectionist (or unlucky student; it depends), you may include particular minutes that the quotation or text refers to such as (00:01:23-00:01:56).

However, it is not necessary.

Video or Film

When citing a video or a film, general rules for MLA referencing are applied. In this case, the title of the video will be italicized as in Works Cited. For example, the in-text may look like this:

(Rogue One)

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Podcast/Youtube

Citing this source is also dependent on how it appears in Works Cited page. In this case, it is reasonable to state the author (user name) if known or provide the title of the work in quotation marks.

(Andersen 00:01:23-00:01:56)

(CrashCourse)

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Image from Website

As for the picture or photograph, if the author is known it is reasonable to state the author, such as (Gogh) and (Burtinsky). With the unknown author, use it the same way as it is stated in Works Cited.

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