Parenthetical Citation

MLA Format For Parenthetical Citations

MLA style uses parenthetical citations in the text following each quotation, paraphrase, summary, or reference to a source. Each citation, made up of the author's last name or key words from the title, and the page reference, refers to an entry in the Works Cited list at the end of the essay. The name or key words allow the reader to locate the entry with complete publication information for the resource. The page reference allows readers to find the exact material in the source itself. Place the citation, in parentheses, at the end of a sentence or at a logical break in its syntax. Place any punctuation marks - periods, commas, semicolons, etc. -- after the closing parentheses. Below are the various ways of citing sources within a text:

Author page format 
After a quotation, paraphrase, or summary of an author's work, add the author's last name and the page number of the source in parentheses. Note that you do not need a comma to separate the author's name and the page number. The period for the sentence comes after the parentheses. 

In places de Beauvoir "sees Marxists as believing in subjectivity as much as existentialists do" (Whitmarsh 63).

Author named in text 
The shorter your parenthetical references are, the easier your essay will be to read. Therefore, if you name the author in your text, then include only a page number in parentheses.

As Mueller and Rodgers have shown, television holds the potential for distorting and manipulating consumers as free-willed decision makers (370).

Author of more than one reference 
If you cite more than one work by an author in your Works Cited list, signal which work you mean by adding a comma and a short form of the title after the author's name.

Through Grendel, "a pointless, ridiculous monster, crouched in the shadows, stinking of dead men, murdered children, and martyred cows" (Gardner, Grendel 2), readers are presented with their own silliness.

Title without identified author 
Use a short version of titles with no identified author. Use quotation marks or underlining as you would in the Works Cited list.

"Hype" by one analysis, is "an artificially engendered atmosphere of hysteria" ("Today's Marketplace" 51).

"Identify biblical quotations by chapter and verse (John 3:16). Spell out the names of all books mentioned in your text...use an abbreviation for books whose names are longer than five letters (Gen. for Genesis, Matt. For Matthew)" (Lunsford 628).

Two works referred to in one sentence
When you refer to two titles, you must make two citations in the order in which they are referred. This example is of two texts by the same author. The full titles are Tess of the D'Urbervilles and The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Thomas Hardy reminds readers in his prefaces that "a novel is an impression, not an argument" and that a novel should be read as "a study of man's deeds and character" (Tess xxii, Mayor 1).

Citing several authors who have written on the same topic 
As in the example below that refers to three different writers who treat the same topic, simply list the authors and page numbers separating each by a semi-colon.

Several sources have addressed this aspect of gang warfare as a fight for survival, not just turf (Rollins 34; Templass 561-65; Robertson 98-134).

Citing a source by more than one author 
If you cite a work with two or three authors, list each author's last name in the order used on the title page.

"Opinion leaders" influence other people in an organization because they are respected, not because they hold high positions (Cortner, Mahier, and Nicholson 175).

Citing a work with four authors or more
If you cite a work with four authors or more, use only the last name of the first author followed by et al.

As the Schools Council study showed in the 1960's, children will learn to write if they are allowed to choose their own subjects (Britton et al. 37-42).

Quotations for Indirect Sources
When you are using a quotation from an indirect source, i.e. not the original source, put the abbreviation qtd. inthen the author's name and page number.

Physician Michael Klaper has stated that there is "absolutely no nutrient, no protein, no vitamin, no mineral that can't be obtained from plant-based foods" (qtd. in Seamens 7).

Long quotations 
If you use a long quotation (five lines or more), type it double-spaced as a block indented ten spaces from the left margin, and do not use quotation marks. Put two spaces after the last punctuation mark, and add the parenthetical citation. The block quotation is indented on the left only and is double-spaced. The period goes at the end of the quotation.

In similar fashion, the beginning of Being and Time also raises this problem: The question of the meaning of Being must be formulated. If it is a fundamental question, it must be made transparent and in an appropriate way. We must therefore explain briefly what belongs to any question whatsoever, so that from this the question of Being can be made visible as a very special one with its own distinctive character.  (Heidigger 24)

Electronic Resources

In-text citations for electronic resources follow the same parenthetical citation format as a print source. The only real difference is that electronic texts usually do not have page numbers, although sometimes paragraphs are numbered. If so, the paragraph number should appear in your citation following the abbreviation par (for paragraph).


Employees "blogging" on the job may find themselves without one (Tapper and Taylor).

The Format Of The Research Paper

College Composition Thesis and Outline Requirements

Library Research Guide from the U of M

Works Cited (for this Webpage):

Gibaldi, Joseph.MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed.  New York: The Modern Language Association, 2003. Print.

Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual. 2nd edition. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997. Print.

Lunsford, Andrea and Robert Connors, eds. The St. Martin's Handbook. 3rd ed. New York:  St. Martin's Press. 1995. Print.

MLA Handbook For Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association, 2009. Print.

MLA Handbook For Writers of Research Papers. Modern Language Association. 2009. Web. 3 Nov. 2009 <>.