The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison

Using MLA in–text citations

General information about parenthetical citations

How do I cite sources in my paper?

The following instructions are basically the same for print sources and electronic sources. When you quote or paraphrase a specific portion of a text in a source, give enough information—most typically the author's last name and the page number—to identify the exact location of the borrowed material. If you are using two sources from the same author, then you'll need to reference both the title of the piece along with the author's name either in the sentence itself or in the parenthetical citation. Use a comma between the last name and the title of the source if both appear in the parenthetical citation.

The parenthetical information should not repeat information given in your text (e.g., if you mention the author's name in your text, you do not include it in the citation). For more information and example citations, see: Citing books, articles, and other sources parenthetically in your paper.

How should I format my quotations and citation information?

For direct references, paraphrases, and quotations that are shorter than four lines, include the citation information in parentheses at the end of the sentence directly following any quotation marks and right before the sentence's ending punctuation.

Use the block quotation format for quotations more than four lines long: indent one half inch from the left margin, double space the quotation, and do not use quotation marks. Place the parenthetical citation after the period (or other mark of punctuation) that closes the block quotation.

When it comes to referencing numbers in parenthetical citations, do not include the word "page" or "pages" or the abbreviations "p." or "pp."—just the page numbers themselves. If an electronic source uses paragraph or section numbers instead of page numbers, use the appropriate abbreviation (e.g., "par."; do not count paragraphs if they are not numbered in the electronic source; if an electronic source does not include page or paragraph numbers, don't include any numbers in your citation).

When referring to plays, poems, or modern prose works that call attention to other divisions, in the parenthetical citation first include the page number, then provide any other identifying information—abbreviating terms like "chapter" and "section"—and then include the appropriate number. For more information, see: Abbreviating references to your sources