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9.6: MLA Citation: In-text Citations

  • Page ID
    20078
  • In-text Citations

    When using a signal phrase, remember, at first mention, to give the full author name as it appears in the source.  After that give only the last name.  When you use such a phrase, you will not place the author name in the citation.  For those sources with page numbers–books and articles which were originally published in print publications, even if you accessed them using a research database like Academic Search Complete–place the page number in the citation, without the word “page” or the abbreviation “p.” The rules for citing a work with multiple authors is the same as that for works cited entries.

    • Example of a first mention: In discussing the act of reading, Donald Hall states that “it seems to me possible to name four kinds of reading, each with a characteristic manner and purpose” (15).
    • Example of a successive mention: Huynh and Maroko indicate that “neighborhoods are not static but dynamic entities that can experience change across a number of dimensions” (212).

    If you do not name your author(s) in a signal phrase, then you must place the last name(s) only in the citation.  In doing so, do not place a comma between the author name(s) and the page number. For more information on signal phrases, visit section 9.4.

    • Example: In one study of the effects of gentrification upon health, the researchers conclude that “The health implications of gentrification have not been explored comprehensively, despite the likelihood of its effect on neighborhood socio-economic status” (Huynh and Maroko 212).

    If your source does not list an author, then you must refer to the work by its title.  If you name the title of the source in your signal phrase, give the entire title exactly as it appears in the source.

    • Example: The article, “Poverty in the United States: Census Population Report,” reveals that the official poverty rate rose from 13.2% in 2008 to 14.3 % in 2009 (298).

    If you do mention the article title in your signal phrase, then you must place a shortened version of it in your in-text citation.

    • Example: Census Bureau data indicate that nearly 44 million Americans lived below the poverty line in 2009 (“Poverty” 298).

    Some sources have no page numbers. The prime example are web-based sources. When you cite an online source and name the author(s) in your signal phrase, there will be no in-text citation, as there are no page numbers for web articles.

    • Example: In discussing the pedagogic approach that St. Louis area schools took in aftermath of the 2014 Ferguson violence, Jonathan Zimmerman and Emily Robertson, in their article, “The Case for Contentious Curricula,” note that “not surprisingly, their approaches varied.”

    If you are citing a web-based article and do not mention your author(s) in your signal phrase, then you must place the last name(s) in a citation (again without page numbers).

    • Example: Whereas the approaches may have varied from progressive action to silence, “the major focus of concern remained the psychological well-being of the students, not their intellectual or political growth” (Zimmerman and Robertson).

    The notes above about articles without authors listed applies to web-based works as well.

    • Example: Focusing on the economic woes of long-haul truckers, the article, “The Trouble with Trucking,” points out that “Over the past several decades, inflation-adjusted driver pay has fallen sharply.”
    • Example: The economic woes of long-haul truckers can be summed up this way: “Over the past several decades, inflation-adjusted driver pay has fallen sharply” (“The Trouble”).

    Whereas previous editions of MLA allowed writers to refer to paragraph numbers for works without page numbers, it now instructs writers not to refer to paragraph numbers unless the work contains explicitly numbers its paragraphs.

    Additional Notes on In-text Citations:

    If your source has one or two authors, list all the authors in either your signal phrase or in-text citation.

    • Example: Singh and Remenyi opine that “the extent of cheating at universities is hard to gauge” (36).
    • Example: More instructors have replaced examinations with term papers, which has led to the increased incidence of plagiarism, as “the system is especially vulnerable to cheating” (Singh and Remenyi 36).

    However, if your source has more than two authors, you should list only the first author followed by the abbreviation “et al.” (short for the Latin phrase et alii, literally “and others”).

    • Example: Brenda I. Bustillos et al. note that “when a campus roadway configuration is changed, introducing new parking facilities or other transportation services also changes campus traffic circulation patterns” (5).
    • A main concern is that “only limited prior studies have been identified to address traffic management on campus” (Bustillos et al. 5).

    Remember!

    • Print sources are any source that are on paper or were originally printed on paper, even if you found a copy of it from an online research database like Academic Search Complete. These sources have page numbers. These page numbers need to appear in your in-text citations.
    • Web sources, in many instances, do not have page numbers. Do not make them up! Page 1 of your computer screen is not the same as an actual page one in a print source.
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