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Learning Resource Center: MLA In-text Citations
An MLA in-text citation does not include the date because currency of ideas in certain fields typically is not necessary in order to be valid. Instead, MLA fields focus on the text, making page numbers extremely important. Therefore, an in-text citation includes both the author and page number, regardless of whether it is a direct quote, a summary, or a paraphrase.
There are two ways to cite the author and page number:
Author named in sentence
According to Jonathon Dollimore, “King Lear is, above all, a play about power, property and inheritance” (540).
Author named in parenthetical citation
In Act IV, we see that “King Lear is, above all, a play about power, property and inheritance” (Dollimore 540).
Note that there is no ending punctuation (i.e., a period) before the closing quotation mark—the period appears after the parentheses. Make an exception with quoted sentences that end with an exclamation point or question mark. In these cases, include the punctuation within the closing quotation mark and place a period after the parentheses.
Here are several other common in-text citation situations:
Two or more works by the same author
If you cite two or more works by the same author, you must identify which work you are citing, either in your sentence or in an abbreviated form in parentheses.
Two or more authors of the same work
For two or three authors, name them all either in your text or in parentheses following the same format as for a single author. If there are more than three authors, either list them all or name the first author's last name followed by the phrase "et al."
Organization as author
When material is published by a group, such as a government agency, commission, or corporation, treat the organization as the author. State the name in your text or, if the name is long, use an abbreviated version in parentheses.
When no author is given you can cite a work by its title, using either the full title in a signal phrase or an abbreviated version in the parentheses.
You may need to acknowledge an entire work, such as a film concert, or book, in order to briefly present the gist of the work. In this instance, it is better to name the author, director, or composer and the title in your text.
Work with numbered paragraphs or screens instead of pages
Give the paragraph or screen number after the author's name and a comma. To distinguish them from page numbers, use the abbreviation "par" or the word "screen".
You only need to include the volume number when citing more than one volume of a multivolume work (your works cited entry will make it clear otherwise). To do this, include in the parentheses the volume number followed by a colon, a space, and the page number.