Loading...

Citing Sources in the Text

When you use the ideas or words of another person in your paper, you must document the source within the text of the paper as well as on the Works Cited page.  Whether you quote or paraphrase a source, you must include a citation that 1) clearly points to the source on the Works Cited page and 2) identifies the location of the borrowed information.

An in-text citation most commonly includes the author’s last name and the page number from the passage you cite, such as (Clark 146).  Some exceptions exist and are explained below. A citation should be placed at the end of a sentence or after the quotation where there is a pause in the sentence (such as before a comma or semicolon). When a citation appears at the end of a sentence, the end period comes after the parentheses.

Keep in mind the function of in-text citations: they direct the reader to the full citation information at the back of the paper. Thus, there should be clear correspondence between parenthetical citation and the entry on the Works Cited page. In other words, as readers move through the essay, they come across a citation, stop, and flip to the Works Cited page. They should be able to run their fingers down the left-hand side of the page and immediately find the Works Cited entry in alphabetical order. If the in-text citation is (Clark 146), the reader can turn to the Works Cited page and find Clark as the first element of an entry in alphabetical order. If the in-text citation is ("Economy"), the reader can turn to the Works Cited page and find an article listed by title with "Economy" as the first important word of that title.

1.  Author not named in sentence:  Include the author’s last name and page number in parentheses after the quotation or paraphrase.

Another critic argues, “The Awakening should be read in the broader context of the contemporaneous New Woman fiction movement in England” (Rich 72).  

2.  Author named in sentence: If you mention the author’s name in the sentence, do not mention it again in the citation.

For example, Charlotte Rich argues, “The Awakening should be read in the broader context of the contemporaneous New Woman fiction movement in England” (72).

3.  For two or three authors, name both authors.

It has been noted that Chopin’s novella is rich with imagery (Smith and Hughes 89).

Smith and Hughes note that Chopin’s novella is rich with imagery (89).

4.  For four or more authors, name all of the authors or include only the first author’s name followed by "et al," meaning "and others."

It has been noted that Chopin’s novella is rich with imagery (Sanders et al.  89).

5.  If you cite two different works by the same author, name the title or a shortened version of the title in the parenthetical citation.

Rich suggests that Chopin would have read English magazines for women (“Reconsidering” 74).  In a later article, Rich revises her statement by arguing that Chopin had actually submitted her stories to English magazines (“Publishing” 75).

6.   A source without page numbers:  If a source does not have page numbers, do not include a page number in the parenthetical citation. If .pdf files have page numbers in the text of the document, use them; however, do not use the page numbers that your printer or browser places on the page when printing.

Another critic argues that “The Awakening should be read in the broader context of the contemporaneous New Woman fiction movement in England” (Rich).

According to the article "Influential Literary Women," the Women Writers of America named Kate Chopin as one of the top ten American writers of the twentieth century. 

7.   A source without an author or organization: Include the full title of the work or a shortened version of the title in the citation. Always check the entire Web site before determining the material has no author. Sometimes the author's name can be found at the end of the page, in small print, and/or on a home page.

For example, it is obvious that Chopin’s writing was influenced by English as well as American writers (“Reconsidering” 72).

8. A quote in the source from a person other than the author: This is called an indirect quotation. To cite an indirect quotation, give the name of the original source in the sentence. In the citation, abbreviate "quoted in" as "qtd. in," and then include the name and page number of the source where you found the quotation.

In a Victorian advice manual, Marion Harland stated that by the age of twenty-five, a woman's "bloom has gone and her buoyant spirits are depressed by the dread of permanent invalidism" (qtd. in Stacy 161).

9. If the quotation is more than four typed lines of text, include it as a block quotation by setting the quotation off from the text. First, introduce the quotation as you normally would. Begin the quotation on a new line and press Tab twice to indent the entire quotation one inch. Double-space the quotation. Notice that a block quotation does not have quotation marks around it. Also, note that the punctuation is placed at the end of the block quotation, not after the parentheses. The next line of the paragraph should begin back at the left margin. To see an example of a block quotation in MLA style, click here.

Simplifying Citations

For readability, you should keep citations as short as possible. For example, if you name the author in the sentence, do not repeat the name in the citation. Likewise, if you are citing from just one source throughout the essay, you may cite with just page numbers because the reader will know the information all comes from the one source.