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Sample MLA in-text citations

1. Author not named in your text

When you have not already named the author in your sentence, provide the author's last name and the page number(s), with no punctuation between them, in parentheses.

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See models 5 and 6 for the forms to use when the source does not provide page numbers.

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2. Author named in your text

If the author's name is already given with the material you're citing, you need not repeat it in the parenthetical citation. The citation gives just the page number(s).

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3. A work with two or three authors

If the source has two or three authors, give all their last names in the text or in the citation. Separate two authors' names with "and":

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According to one study, "The poor and the minorities were the leading victims of highway and renewal programs" (Frieden and Sagalyn 29).

With three authors, add commas and also "and" before the final name:

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One text discusses the "ethical dilemmas in public relations practice" (Wilcox, Ault, and Agee 125).

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4. A work with more than three authors

If the source has more than three authors, you may list all their last names or use only the first author's name followed by "et al." (the abbreviation for the Latin et alii, "and others"). The choice depends on what you do in your list of works cited.

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5. A work with numbered paragraphs or screens instead of pages

Some electronic sources number each paragraph or screen instead of each page. In citing passages in these sources, give the paragraph or screen number(s) and distinguish them from page numbers: after the author's name, put a comma, a space, and "par." (one paragraph), "pars." (more than one paragraph), "screen," or "screens."

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6. An entire work or a work with no page or other reference numbers

When you cite an entire work rather than a part of it, you may omit any page or paragraph number. Try to work the author's name into your text, in which case you will not need a parenthetical citation. But remember that the source must appear in the list of works cited.

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Use the same format when you cite a specific passage from a work with no page, paragraph, or other reference numbers, such as an online source.

If the author's name does not appear in your text, put it in a parenthetical citation.

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7. A multivolume work

If you consulted only one volume of a multivolume work, your list of works cited will indicate as much, and you can treat the volume as any book.

If you consulted more than one volume of a multivolume work, give the appropriate volume in your text citation.

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The number 5 indicates the volume from which the quotation was taken; the number 438 indicates the page number in that volume. When the author's name appears in such a citation, place it before the volume number with no punctuation: (Lincoln 5: 438).

If you are referring generally to an entire volume of a multivolume work and are not citing specific page numbers, add the abbreviation "vol." before the volume number as in (vol. 5) or (Lincoln, vol. 5) (note the comma after the author's name). Then readers will not misinterpret the volume number as a page number.

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8. A work by an author of two or more cited works

If your list of works cited includes two or more works by the same author, then your citation must tell the reader which of the author's works you are referring to. Give the title either in the text or in a parenthetical citation. In a parenthetical citation, give the full title only if it is brief; otherwise, shorten the title to the first one or two main words (excluding A, An, or The).

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The title Arts is shortened from the full title of Gardner's book, The Arts and Human Development.

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9. An anonymous work

For a work with no named author or editor, use a full or shortened version of the title. In your list of works cited, you will alphabetize an anonymous work by the first main word of the title, so the first word of a shortened title should be the same. This citation refers to an unsigned article titled "The Right to Die."

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(A page number is omitted for this source because the article is no longer than a page.)

If two or more anonymous works have the same title, distinguish them with additional information in the text citation, such as the publication date, periodical title, or online site title.

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10. A government publication or a work with a corporate author

If the author of the work is listed as a government body or a corporation, cite the work by that organization's name. If the name is long, work it into the text to avoid an intrusive parenthetical citation.

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11. An indirect source

When you want to use a quotation that is already in quotation marks&emdash;indicating that the author you are reading is quoting someone else&emdash;try to find the original source and quote directly from it. If you can't find the original source, then your citation must indicate that your quotation of it is indirect. In the following citation, "qtd. in" ("quoted in") says that Davino was quoted by Boyd:

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The list of works cited then includes only Boyd (the work consulted), not Davino.

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12. A literary work

Novels, plays, and poems are often available in many editions, so your instructor may ask you to provide information that will help readers find the passage you cite no matter what edition they consult. For novels, the page number comes first, followed by a semicolon and then information on the appropriate part or chapter of the work.

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For poems that are not divided into parts, you can omit the page number and supply the line number(s) for the quotation. To prevent confusion with page numbers, precede the numbers with "line" or "lines" in the first citation; then just use the numbers.

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For verse plays and poems that are divided into parts, omit a page number and cite the appropriate part&emdash;act (and scene, if any), canto, book, and so on&emdash;plus the line number(s). Use Arabic numerals for parts, including acts and scenes (3.4), unless your instructor specifies Roman numerals (III.iv).

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For prose plays, provide the page number followed by the act and scene, if any.

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13. The Bible

When you cite passages of the Bible in parentheses, abbreviate the title of any book longer than four letters&emdash;for instance, "Gen." (Genesis), "1 Sam." (1 Samuel), "Ps." (Psalms), "Matt." (Matthew), "Rom." (Romans). Then give the chapter and verse(s) in Arabic numerals.

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14. An electronic source

Cite an electronic source as you would any other source: usually by author's name or, if there is no author, by title.

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This example cites a source with page numbers. For a source with paragraph or screen numbers or no numbering, see models 5 and 6.

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15. Two or more works in the same citation

If you use a single parenthetical citation to refer to more than one work, separate the references with a semicolon.

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Since long citations in the text can distract the reader, you may choose to cite several or more works in an endnote or footnote rather than in the text.

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