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
Citing books, articles, and other sources parenthetically in your paper
In conjunction with the explanations about structuring and formatting in–text citations detailed here, this page provides example citations for how a range of different source types are correctly referenced according to MLA’s citation guidelines.
– Author’s name in text
Magny develops this argument (67-69).
– Author’s name in reference
This argument has been developed elsewhere (Magny 67-69).
– Quotation found in indirect or “secondhand” source
The philosopher Alain states that “admiration is not pleasure but a kind of attention. . .” (qtd. in Magny 66).
– Material found in indirect source
Alain’s words seem to dissociate admiration from pleasure (in Magny 66).
– Two authors’ names in reference
The most notorious foreign lobby in Washington is the “Sugar Mafia” (Howe and Trott 134).
– Reference to volume and page in multivolume work
As a painter Andrea was “faultless” (Freedberg 1: 98).
– Reference to whole volume
In his second volume, Freedberg gives an account of Andrea’s whole painting career.
– Two works by same author on list of works cited
Frye connects Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange to romance tradition (Secular Scripture 110). And while this connection may be surprising given A Clockwork Orange‘s themes and content, Frye’s unique perspective on the nature of genres sheds light on this unusual combination (“Rhetorical Criticism: Theory of Genres”).
– Two locations in same source
Dabundo deals with this problem (22, 31).
– Two sources cited
This controversy has been addressed more than once (Dabundo 27; Magny 69).
– Personal interview; name given in text
Parsons addresses the need for physical education teachers to understand the relationship between physical activity and fitness.
– Corporate author
Many different types of organizations in the United States are involved in mediation and dispute resolution (Natl. Inst. for Dispute Resolution).
– Quotation from a play with page numbers
In A Raisin in the Sun, Walter doesn’t hide his disdain for his sister’s attitude towards his mother’s money: “the line between asking and just accepting when the time comes is big and wide—ain’t it!” he levels at Beneatha (Hansberry 37; act 1, scene 1).
– Quotation from a play with division and line numbers
This is made clear by the Duke’s recommendation that the best response to grief is to move on (Othello 1.3.208–209).
– Quotation from a poem
Amy Quan Barry asks piercingly, “What is it to know the absolute value / of negative grace . . .?”
– Quotation from a multi–page poem with line numbers
It is at this point that Eliot first introduces the women in the room “talking of Michelangelo” (line 14).
– Electronic source that uses paragraph numbers
The semiconductor workplace is highly toxic (Ross par. 35).
– Electronic source that uses chapter and section numbers
“Once we start using a tool extensively, it also starts using us” (Rawlins ch. 1, sec. 1).
Formatting quotations according to the MLA guidelines
Parenthetical citations appear at the end of the sentence in which the direct reference, summary, paraphrase, or quote appears.
For quotations that are shorter than four lines, include the citation after the final quotation marks and before the sentence’s concluding punctuation.
Use the block quotation format for quotations more than four lines long:
- In most cases, use a colon to introduce the quotation.
- Indent the quotation one half inch from the left margin.
- Double space the quotation.
- Do not use quotation marks.
Place the parenthetical citation (author and page number) after the period (or other mark of punctuation) that closes the block quotation.
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