Guaranteed Higher Grade!
Plagiarism checker
Verify originality of an essay
Get ideas for your paper
Plagiarism checker
Cite sources with ease

In-text – The Quick Guide To MLA Citations

blog author name

The Modern Language Association is a globally recognized professional association for language scholars. Based in the US, the MLA was founded in 1883 and acts as a hub for language & literature professionals to exchange ideas, collaborate, and contribute to the domain’s advancement.

The Modern Language Association citation style is the native referencing format of the organization. Extremely popular and used across all domains in humanities, it formats in-text citations using parentheses. And a separate works-cited page lists all the sources referenced. Like all its counterparts, MLA citations ensure validity and credibility and prevent plagiarism.

If you must work with the MLA style, read this article thoroughly. It offers a quick but precisely detailed overview of the MLA referencing style.

Key Things You Need To Know About The MLA Style

The MLA style appears in diverse write-ups across several domains. It is currently in its ninth edition, which came out in 2021. The ninth edition eases many rigid rules and presents flexible guiding principles instead. Current instructions are universally applicable as they follow the document process and structure. This allows easy citing once one learns all the rules.

Citations can take up a lot of time. The best way to speed them up is to be proactive and note all vital metadata early. As you shortlist the best sources for your task, list core data like à 

  • Author Names.
  • Source Titles.
  • Title of the Container,
  • Publication Date,
  • Publisher Name,
  • Version Number,
  • ISDN Number [where applicable],
  • Location.
  • Specific Page Number(s) [for intext citations]

 Note the punctuation marks after every element. The same marks find a place in the reference list entries. As for in-text citations in MLA, they come in parenthetical and narrative formats. In both cases, you need to mention the surname of the first writer and the page number referenced.

Now, we know citations help counter plagiarism. They also boost a document’s overall credibility. But what is so special about the MLA style? Why is it the chosen format in arts and humanities?

The next section clarifies.

Why Is The MLA Format So Popular? How Does It Help Writers?

The Modern Language Association is the foremost association of language and literature professionals in the USA. It has more than 25000 members from 100+ countries. Scholars, researchers, professors, graduates & post-graduates contribute to the domain through research, discussions, conventions, and the like.

The prestige of this professional organization, alongside its undertakings, and achievements, make it highly influential worldwide. The formatting., structure, and presentation in MLA papers and journals have become global standards in the domain—no wonder the MLA paper formatting and referencing styles are popular across colleges and universities worldwide.

  • Certain features make the MLA style easy to use and highly effective.
  • The guidelines lay out standard rules and format. This ensures consistency across all documents that use the MLA format.
  • Following a specific citation and formatting style ensures uniformity in appearance. It supplies a common template, making it easy for anyone, student, or researcher, to follow everything.
  • Language, comparative literature, history, archaeology, social sciences, law, philosophy, arts, music, etc.— the MLA style is usable in any humanities discipline.

You can use it for citation in an essay, a thesis, or even a presentation. There is no limit to the kind of task for which it can be used.

  • The author-page style and the rules are very flexible—no wonder the MLA style is used by everyone from historians to sociologists, literary analysts to psychologists.

Plagiarism and Referencing

Referencing is vital in any writing. It allows you to acknowledge and give credit where it is due. Any idea or information you borrow or get inspired by needs to be cited – that is the basic courtesy and ethical consideration. Without proper referencing, you might be accused of plagiarism. Intentionally or unintentionally, plagiarism affects reputation and can result in severe penalties.

At the same time, citations boost the credibility and quality of a work. The audience finds out the breadth and depth of your research. Proper referencing is also crucial for further research. Authors trace the origin and development of an idea and concept by locating sources.

There are three primary ways to counter plagiarism while writing à paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing. The MLA style rules have provisions for supporting them all. 

Now, let us dive deeply into all the different in-text citation rules.

Rules & Tips for In-Text Citations

For any style, in-text citations need to be clear and simple. They must not be hard to read but direct readers toward the right sources. In-text tags point readers to the correct works cited entry. Thus, they must contain the first elements in the entries. For the MLA style, they are the first author’s surname. Page numbers are the other vital part.

So, how to write in-text citations in MLA?

MLA in-text citations come in two forms- parenthetical and narrative. Parenthetical tags come enclosed in parentheses. And, if you used the author’s name in a sentence, that is a narrative citation.

Go through the quick rules to MLA citations along with examples à 

Narrative: Nick Caboose, a post-grad researcher, uncovered new data through his studies.

Parenthetical: A post-graduate researcher uncovered new data through his studies. (Caboose)

Works Cited: Caboose Nick. “Unearthing hidden data: Case of the Evaporating Black Hole” UCLA, vol. 125, no. 2, Feb 2014, pp. 139-200

  • As mentioned, page numbers can be mentioned optionally. Add page numbers if you wish to point readers to a specific portion. Include page numbers if you quote or paraphrase from a source.

You can also add line numbers or time stamps per the source’s nature.

  • The title of the source can also appear in in-text citations. However, the key is to keep things concise. Do not add the author’s surname and/or title in the prose and the parentheses.
  • Add only the author’s surname in parentheses. You can use the full name in prose.
  • If you use the name in the text, there is no need to mention it In the citation bracket.
  • Shorten source titles when using parenthetical citations.
  • If you add a chapter, section, or line number, you should mention so—no need to mention the page when adding page numbers. Use abbreviations in parentheses.

Now, let’s look at how to write in-text citations for different sources and situations.

  • What is the correct format for parenthetical citations for a magazine or journal article? Parenthetical citations appear at the end of the sentence for any printed source. However, this rule is not set in stone.
    • If you have more than one quotation from different pages/sections of a source, place page numbers in parentheses after each.

You can do so even if there is just a single quotation.

  • You can also present all citations for quotes from a lone source in one bracket. Just make sure everything is clear.
    • If you use ideas from just one source in a paragraph, there’s no need to mention the author’s name more than once. Just add specific page numbers near quotes and paraphrases.

You can also place a single parenthesis at the end of the paragraph with respective page numbers.

  • Remember to mention sources time and again for clarity. This is necessary if you are presenting your ideas and ideas from sources.
    •  Need to use more than one source using MLA citations in an essay? Make sure to e mention all sources in parentheses. Separate each using semicolons. You can arrange them in any order.
  • “How do I cite a website using MLA in an essay?” MLA website in-text citations are like that of any other source. Mention the author’s surname in parenthesis at the site of reference. If there is no author, mention the first word of the title of the website content.

Add the section’s title after the surname or primary title to specify a specific web page section.  

  • How to cite a blog using MLA in-text citations? Again, it is just like citing any other print or electronic source. For blog posts, the author’s surname is the in-text citation.

Blogs do not have any page numbers, sections, or headings. Add them as per the rules of printed sources if necessary.

  • Do you know how to cite secondary sources in MLA?

Though it is best to add primary data, sometimes there is no choice. If so, you need to cite the source through the secondary source. Here is an example à

Bones (qtd. in Wight 89) stated that the research could not confirm the proposed hypothesis.


Ron stated that “the research process provided ample proof of the hypothesis proposed” (qtd. in John 89).

  • How will you cite different works by the same author? How to cite different works by the same group of authors?

In such cases, there is no need to mention author names repeatedly. Mention the different source names. Add page, section, etc., numbers if needed.

  • Does MLA require the date accessed for a source?”  Well, the MLA format does not require it. You can add the date if you want. But, do so only for online sources. Mention the date you visited a website, especially when there’s no publication date.

Add in the DD/MM/YY format at the end of the entry in the works cited section. If there is no date anywhere, leave it.

  • Citation rules for short and long quotes are different in MLA.

For the short ones, enclose the quote within quotation marks. Then cite the source at the end.

For long quotes, use the block format. Indent all lines of the block quote by half an inch. Do not enclose block quotes within marks. Use citations in brackets after the block quote.

  • You will have to cite even if you are paraphrasing.
  • Want to know how to do MLA citations in the essay? There are no special rules for essays.

How to do MLA citations in the essay? Here’s an example:

(Author Surname, Page number).

And, for the works cited entry:

Last, First M. “Essay Title.” Container Title, edited by First M. Last, Publisher, year published, page numbers. Website Title, URL (if applicable).

  • Feeling anxious when citing a sacred text? Pray to the higher powers, and then do your job right!
  • First, add the title to the text. Then, add the chapter and verse at the end in brackets. Shorten chapter and verse names in the brackets.
  • When working with a dictionary or encyclopedia, use the tile in the text. If not, then add it in the brackets. Adding the author’s name/s is a must.
  • If there are no page numbers, use only the author’s name.
  • If the article is just a single page, there is no need to add page number/s.
  • When citing poetry, make sure to add line numbers with page numbers. And, if you are quoting lines from poems, end each line with space-/-space.

If you can’t wrap your head around all the rules above or lack time, use the quick MLA citation generator. It delivers flawless citations as well as a complete reference list.

Now let us look at the works cited section.

Designing The Works Cited Section

Creating the works cited list is not that hard. Accuracy and completeness are vital. Add complete data about a source to aid readers. Below are the key parts of the entries.

  • Author,
  • “Title of Source”/ Title of Source.
  • Title of Container (Book, Journal, Magazine, etc.),
  • Other Contributors,
  • Version,
  • Number,
  • Publisher,
  • Publication Date,
  • Location.
  • Optional (Access Date).

Notice the punctuation and the formatting above. Follow them when writing the entries. As for designing the page, here are some tips.

  • Start the works cited section on a new page at the end.
  • Include only the sources you refer to.
  • The title “Works Cited” should be at the centre of the top.
  • Double-space all words.
  • Left justify the first line of each entry. Use half-inch indent for all the next lines.
  • List all entries alphabetically. Ignore ‘A,’ ‘An,’ and ‘The.’
  • For more than one work by the same writer, include the name only in the first entry. Use three hyphens in place of the name for the rest.
  • Add active links to sources.
  • Begin entries by author surnames.
  • Use et al. for three or more authors.
  • Capitalize every major word of the title and end with a period.
  • Title: Subtitle – follow this format in case there’s a subtitle.
  • Italicize the title if the source is stand-alone. Put the title in quotation if the source is a chapter, content, or article. (Part of a large work)
  • Italicize the larger body of work.
  • If there are other contributors, add a ‘by’ before their name and mention their role. Use ‘et al.’ if there are more.
  • Add version or edition numbers if present.
  • Omit business words when mentioning the publisher.
  • No need to mention the publisher if there is no data. Also, no need to mention if the source is periodic or from a social media website.
  • Give the publication date in DD/MM/YY format. Add publication time if found.
  • Location is NOT the place of publication. Add page numbers, URL, DOI, etc. Add physical location only if present, and there are no other data.
  • Use p. for a single page and pp. for multiple pages.
  • Always mention URL and DOI for websites and online journals.
  • Give the access date for websites and web content. But do so only if there is no publishing date.
  • Add the date of the original publication of every source.

We wrap things up with a look at the rules for manuscript formatting.

A Quick Recap of MLA Formatting

Besides referencing, the MLA style also defines rules for formatting your paper. Here are the most important points.


Leave one-inch margins on all sides of the page.

Text Format

Select a common font style such as Calibri or Times New Roman. The font size must be 12. Double-space all words.

The Title Page

Add your name, the name of your professor/ supervisor, the course name, and the date. Double-space all words. Enter everything in separate lines.

The Works Cited Page

  • Add ‘Works Cited’ as the main header on top.
    • Double-space all words.
    • Arrange all entries alphabetically.
    • Start entries by the last name of the first author.
    • If there’s no author, list sources by their titles
    • Left flush the first lines of entries and indent the next lines by inch.
  • Did you add your surname in the upper right corner of every page? Remember this, as it is a very important aspect of MLA formatting.

Well, that’s a wrap for this guide to MLA formatting. I hope it was a good and informative read for everyone.

Use this MA quick citation guide as and when you like. Generate flawless citations and reference lists using the MLA quick citation generator. And, if it is human assistance that you are looking for, then get highly-qualified academic writing experts by your side today.

Call, mail or drop a message at our live chat portal.

Mark Hales

Related Post

Join our 150К of happy users

Get original papers written according to your instructions and save time for what matters most.

Order Now
Plagiarism checker
Verify originality of an essay
Get ideas for your paper
Plagiarism checker
Cite sources with ease
sales chat
sales chat