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MLA Style 9th edition: In-text Citation Formats for Different Mediums

This guide covers the basics of MLA Style writing, formatting, and citing.

Different Mediums

In the previous section, we covered in-text citation basics for MLA Style 9th ed..

This section provides in-text citation examples for different mediums.

Although we've tried to include most mediums, you may encounter one that we don't have listed.

If so, just contact the ERC and we will help locate the information.

In-text Citations: Author-Page Style

In MLA Style, the author's last name and page number(s) the cited material came from must appear in the text. A corresponding reference must appear on your Works Cited page. One without the other is considered plagiarism (except in specific instances such as personal interviews). The author's name could be in the sentence as a signal phrase or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase. The page number(s) should always be included in parentheses, not within the sentence.

1. Newton emphasized that the natural world was "amenable to observations and experiment" (3).

2. The natural world is "amenable to observations and experiment" (Newton 3).

3. Newton's empirical approach to science revealed the importance of observations and experiment in change (3).

In sentence 1, readers can see what Newton said and that the quote can be found on page 3 of the corresponding entry on the Works Cited page.

In sentence 2, it's clear that someone named Newton said something and that it can be found on page 3.

In sentence 3, the author paraphrases Newton's revelation and shows it is on page 3.

In each example, the reader can refer to the corresponding entry on the Works Cited page, which will start with Newton.


Author-Page Citation for Classic and Literary Works with Multiple Editions

Page numbers are always required, but additional citation information can help literary scholars, who may have a different edition of a classic work, like Marx and Engels's The Communist Manifesto. In such cases, give the page number of your edition (making sure the edition is listed in your Works Cited page, of course) followed by a semicolon, and then the appropriate abbreviations for volume (vol.), book (bk.), part (pt.), chapter (ch.), section (sec.), or paragraph (par.). For example:

Marx and Engels described human history as marked by class struggles (79; ch. 1).

Page numbers are always required but including additional information can help literary scholars, particularly if they have a different edition of a classic work. In these cases, provide the page number of your edition followed by a semicolon and the appropriate abbreviations for volume (vol.), book (bk.), part (pt.), chapter (ch.), section (sec.), or paragraph (par.).

Marx and Engels described human history as marked by class struggles (70; ch. 1).

"MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics." The Purdue OWL, Purdue U Writing Lab. Accessed 10 Apr. 2022.

Three or More Authors

List only the first author’s last name and replace the additional names with et al.

According to Allen et al., “Climate change will inevitably lead to a major drop in population” (41).

The authors stated that population will significantly decrease within 50 years when climate change begins to stabilize (Allen et al. 41).

Corresponding Works Cited entry:

Allen, Joan, et al. “Climate Change and the Global Tragedy.” Journal of Global Change, vol. 31, no. 2, Oct. 2020, pp. 32-45.

Multivolume Works

If citing from different volumes of a multivolume work, include the volume number followed by a colon. Space after the colon and provide the page number(s).

. . . as Quintilian wrote in Institutio Oratoria (1: 14-17). 

"MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics." The Purdue OWL, Purdue U Writing Lab. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022.

Transcripts, Plays, or Screenplays

When citing dialogue that involves two or more participants, each line of dialogue should start with the speaker’s name written in all capitals and indented half an inch. Place a period after the name (e.g. JOE.). Following the period, write the dialogue. Each successive line should receive additional indentation. Start a new line with the person’s name indented half an inch when another person begins speaking. Repeat this pattern each time speakers change. Include stage directions within the quote if they appear in the original source.

Use a parenthetical citation that explains where the excerpt in the source is located.

Finish with a parenthetical citation that shows where to find the excerpt in the source. The author and source title can appear in a signal phrase before quoting the excerpt.

From O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh:

Alcohol becomes a primary topic in O’Neill’s play. In the first scene, O’Neill’s characters treat alcohol as the ultimate solution for any problems.

WILLIE. (Pleadingly) Give me a drink, Rocky. Harry said it was all right. God, I need a drink.

ROCKY. Den grab it. It's right under your nose.

WILLIE. (Avidly) Thanks. (He takes the bottle with both twitching hands and tilts it to his lips and gulps down the whiskey in big swallows.) (1.1)

"MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics." The Purdue OWL, Purdue U Writing Lab. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022.

Print Sources with Known Author

When citing print sources like books or magazines, use a signal word or phrase (typically the author's last name) and a page number. If the name is provided in the sentence, don't include it in the parenthetical citation.

Archetypes are described by Carl Jung as "archaic forms of innate human knowledge" passed down from ancestors (36).

Archetypes are described as "archaic forms of innate human knowledge" (Jung 36).

For either example, a corresponding entry beginning with Jung will be on the Works Cited page:

Jung, Carl. Archetypes Revealed. Southwestern Press, 1940. 


Print Sources with No Known Author

If a source is used but doesn’t have a known author, use a shortened title of the work instead. List the title in quotation marks (a short work like an article) or italicize if it’s a longer work (a longer work like plays or books) and provide the page number if it’s available.

Shorten titles that are longer than a standard noun phrase into a noun phrase by excluding the articles.

In the Realm can be shortened to Realm.

If a title can’t be shortened into a noun phrase, cut the title after the first clause, phrase, or punctuation:

It’s easy for readers to understand how past experiences “shape their future . . . ” (“Way to Return”).

The corresponding entry on the Works Cited page shows the full title:

“The Way to Return to the Past without Losing a Moment.” Healing in the Present. 2009. Accessed 19 Dec. 2009.

Authors with Same Last Names

If two or more authors have the same last name, provide both authors’ first initials or the authors’ full name if the authors share initials.

Some professors maintain that more interactive lectures will improve higher education (S. Jones 16), and administrators emphasize that academic freedom should permit this allowance (W. Jones 32).

Two Articles by the Same Author

Hess established that digital learning should be emphasized at an early age (“Moving Digitally” 20), but to do so requires adults to be oriented to the same digital learning (“Digitally Challenged” 12).

Two Books by the Same Author

Weiss states that incarnations often remain within the same DNA structure, with “a sister in one life being a brother in another” (Many Lives 57). Moreover, Weiss emphasizes that the purpose of incarnation is to “evolve into the next stage of life” (Mirrors of Time 31).

If the author’s name isn’t mentioned within the sentence, provide a citation with the author’s name followed by a comma and a shortened title of the work. If appropriate, include the page number(s):

Reincarnation, although it is highly controversial, is gaining popularity due to “inexplicable incidents of recall” (Weiss, “Many Lives” 57).

Indirect Sources

An indirect source is a source cited within another. Use “qtd. In” to identify the source consulted.

Arnold states that students are encouraged to “commit to digital learning when they don’t actually have access to high-speed services” (qtd. in Smith 131).

*It is best to find the original source instead of citing an indirect source.

Non-Print or Sources from the Internet

In-text citations for electronic sources are sometimes confusing because page numbers often don’t exist. For electronic and Internet sources, use the following guidelines:

Be sure that the first item in parenthesis corresponds to the citation on the Works Cited page.

Don’t provide paragraph or page numbers based on your Web browser’s print preview function.

Do not include URLs in-text unless it is necessary to get the reader to the appropriate entry. Only provide partial URLs when the site name includes a domain name. EX: instead of

Print Sources by a Corporate Author

Use the name of the corporation when citing a corporate author. Follow with the page number. Use abbreviations where appropriate to minimize interruption of the flow of reading.

(American Council on Education 32)


Sources with Non-Standard Labeling Systems

If a source is using a numbering system other than typical page numbers, such as a script or line number, precede the citation with said label. For example, when citing a poem, the parenthetical would begin with the word “line” and include the line number or range.

The speaker reveals the unnatural correlation between peace and despondence. “No longer does the silence make sound. / Nor does the wind scream in the tree,” the speaker states while describing an eerily crossover into despondence from a former stance of peace (lines 3-4).

For longer labels like chapters (ch.) and scenes (sc.), abbreviate.

Author-Page Citation for Works in an Anthology, Periodical, or Collection

When citing a work that appears inside of a larger source such as a short story in a collection, cite the author of the internal source (the short story or essay). For example, to cite Albert Einstein's article "A Brief Outline of the Theory of Relativity," which was published in Nature in 1921, you might write something like this:

Relativity's theoretical foundations can be traced to earlier work by Faraday and Maxwell (Einstein 782).

"MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics." The Purdue OWL, Purdue U Writing Lab. Accessed 10 Apr. 2022.

Citing a Work by Multiple Authors

If a source has two authors, list their last names in the text or within the parenthetical citation.

Smith and Alberts emphasize that clarity in writing is critical to successful writing (22).

Both authors claim that writing is lackluster without clarity (Smith and Alberts 22).

Corresponding Works Cited entry:

Smith, Jay, and Elizabeth Alberts. “Successful Writing: The Basics.” Writing World, vol. 103, no. 2, Fall 2013, pp. 4-22. ProQuest, doi: 10.1321/rep.2013.102.3.1

Multiple Works by the Same Author

If citing more than one work by an author, include a shortened title for the work from which you are quoting or paraphrasing so that it is distinguished from the other works. Short book titles should be italicized and short article titles within quotation marks.

The Bible

Clearly identify which Bible you’re using in your first parenthetical citation and underline or italicize the title, followed by book (do not italicize or underline), chapter, and verse.

Ezekiel saw “what seemed to be four living creatures,” each with faces of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (New Jerusalem Bible, Ezek. 1.5-10).

If using the same edition of the Bible you’re using in future references, list only the book, chapter, and verse in the parenthetical citation:

John of Patmos echoes this passage when describing his vision (REV. 4.6-8).

"MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics." The Purdue OWL, Purdue U Writing Lab. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022.

When a Citation is not Needed

Do not provide sources for familiar proverbs, known quotations, or common knowledge. If you’re citing something that states the sky is blue-that is considered common knowledge; however, if you’re citing something that explains why the sky is blue-that is likely not common knowledge so you would need to cite the source.