This page will show you how to cite common types of sources within the text of your MLA Style papers.  Citing sources is a way of giving credit to the authors you read as part of your research into your paper.  It lets your professors see that you did proper research to create your paper.  Failing to cite sources will lead to possible punishment for plagiarism (passing off the ideas of others as your own), so please make sure to cite sources.  Remember that everything cited in-text should also be cited on the Works Cited page.  

How to cite sources in-text when you paraphrase:

An in-text citation is a short citation that you make when you mention any information from one of the sources you are using for a paper.  You need to do in-text citations even when you paraphrase by putting the words of an author into your own words.  The in-text citation consists of the author’s last name and then the page number of the paraphrased information, all inside parenthesis.

For example, if I’m citing the short story The Raft by Stephen King  my in-text citation for the story would be:

The short story The Raft features four protagonists trying to survive when stranded on a raft while a monster hunts them (King 25).

You may also integrate the in-text citation into the sentence.

In Stephen King’s short story The Raft he uses haunting locations as a way to instill fear into his reader (25).

See how the in-text citation information is written right into the sentence?

In-text citation for sources with no known author

When citing a source that doesn’t list an author, you can use the title of the source instead of the author.  List a shortened form of the title in parenthesis with quotation marks.

Coral bleaching is having a devastating affect on the Australian Great Barrier Reef (“Another Coral Bleaching Event”).

In-text citation for sources with two authors

In this case you just need combine both last name with the word and, then include the page number.

The latest research suggests strong links between anxiety and depression (Smith and Rodgers 27).

In-text citation for sources with three or more authors

For articles with three or more authors, just include the first author’s last name, then the words et al, followed by a period, then the page number.  Et al is Latin for “and others”.  

The effectiveness of art therapy is well established in modern mental health treatment (Jones et al. 13).

In-text Short Quotes:

If you take an author’s words directly you need to put them in quotations marks and cite them in-text with the author’s last name and the page number of the quote.  For example,

The novel Moby Dick begins with the classic line “Call me Ishmael” (Melville 1) which allows the author to immediately introduce the reader to one of the main characters of the story.

In-text Long Quotes:

Quotes of four lines or longer must be cited differently from short quotes.  Instead of putting them into quotation marks, you must indent the entire quote 1 inch inside the the left margin.  Make sure to include the in-text information at the end after the period.  This includes the author last name and page number. You may also integrate that information into a sentence that introduces the quote.

The Associate of Science (A.S.) degree in Business Administration is designed to provide the foundation necessary for optimal transfer to bachelor degree  programs and beyond, while also simultaneously preparing students for immediate employment in a wide range of business environments requiring  advanced business skills. In addition, this program will enhance the skills of those already employed in the field and those interested in starting or building their own business. (Schrum  67)

In-Text AI Generated Content 

Only use AI created content in a paper if your professor allows it.  AI is not considered an “author” like a traditional source.  Instead, we’ll cite AI sources in-text by using a shortened form of the prompt we used to get a response from the AI.  For example, if you prompted AI to “Describe the themes of the novel The Scarlet Letter”.  Your in-text citation for this would be the first few words of your prompt.  Here is an example.

The themes of The Scarlet Letter include moral absolutism and the suffering imposed by excessive social stigma (“Describe the themes”).

More information about citing AI sources in MLA Style can be found here. 

These are the most common kinds of in-text citation you will have to do on college papers.  For more details about in-text citation consult the MLA Style Website, the MLA Style Guide book held in the Library, or contact [email protected] with questions.