Become a District Partner Become a District Partner

Research Resources and Tips: Basic In-Text Citations MLA Style

MLA (Modern Language Association) is the most common form of citation used within the liberal arts and humanities. This guide provides examples for the general format of MLA research papers using in-text citations and a Works Cited page.

Quoting the Text Directly

In-Text Citation Example
      “Officers on bikes are more accessible to residents than those riding in cars and can often
      respond quicker and sneak up on criminals without fanfare” (Hermann).

Note: Publications that originate on the Web often don’t have page numbers, so don’t worry about including them in your parenthetical reference.

Works Cited Example
Last, First M. "Article Title." Newspaper Title Date Month Year Published: Page(s). Website Title.
      Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

Hermann, Peter. “D.C. Police Hit the Streets on New Mountain Bikes — with Sirens.” The
      Washington Post. 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Note: This includes the date that the article was originally published, and the day that it was referenced for the research for which it is being used.

Referencing Specific Information

When you reference a specific fact or idea in your paper, even if it is not a direct quote, you will add a parentheses at the end of the sentence that includes the author of your source and the page number you found it on (the page number is not needed if it is an online source). The period for the sentence comes after the citation.

In-Text Citation Example
      Although climate change will cause irreversible harm to food production and human
      health, a new United Nations report shows that world governments are not prepared for
      the worst of the changes (Howard).

Works Cited Example
Howard, Brian Clark. “New Climate Change Report Warns of Dire Consequences.” National
      Geographic. 31 March 2014. Web. 14 July 2015.

Note: MLA no longer requires you to include the URL in a citation, but if you would like to, you can include the URL at the end of your citation .

No Author?

When your source does not have an author, it is okay to cite a shortened version of the article title in quotes (or, in the case of a longer form work like a book, the title in italics).

In-Text Citation Example
      If we do not begin cutting back on carbon dioxide emissions within the next five years,
      global warming could become unstoppable by 2042 (“Point of No Return”).

Works Cited Example
“Have We Passed the Point of No Return on Climate Change?” EarthTalk. Scientific American,
      13 April 2015. Web. 13 July 2015.

Newsela articles

Like the one above, these articles should be cited using the following format:

Original author’s last name, author’s first name, original publication via Newsela (Ed. Newsela
      Lexile #). “Headline of Newsela Version of Article.” Date published. Web. Date Accessed.

Works Cited Example
Susman, Tina, Los Angeles Times via Newsela (Ed. Newsela staff. Version 1110). “Bracing for
      a New Civil Rights Movement.” 12 August 2014. Web. 22 July 2015.

Find that article here.

Notice that the Lexile # is the number that is highlighted in the blue rectangle on the right side of the page. You can find the original author of the article by clicking the blue “MAX” button on the right side of the article, above the highlighted number, and checking the byline.

Introducing Evidence

It can be a good idea to introduce a piece of evidence with the name of the source, rather than waiting to put the source at the end of the sentence. If the sentence makes it clear who the author of the work is, the in-text citation should only include the page number.

In-Text Citation Example
      Rich Lowry argues that voter identification laws have no impact on voter turnout (3).

Works Cited Example
Lowry, Rich. “The Poll Tax That Wasn’t.” Politico Magazine. Politico, 22 October 2014. Web. 6
      July 2015.

Citing a Source that Cites Someone Else

If you are citing a part of your source that quotes someone else, that must be made clear in your in-text citation.

In-Text Citation Example
      Yet Pat Mullins says that “even one instance of voter fraud is too many” (qtd. in
      Badger 2).

Works Cited Example
Badger, Emily. “Why Arguments for Voter ID Laws Don’t Add Up.” Washington Post
      24 October 2014: Web. 19 July 2015.

FAQ about MLA Basics

1) How do I know what to cite?
Any source that is referenced in an in-text citation must appear in your Works Cited list. Your Works Cited list may also include sources that do not have specific in-text citations but that helped you with your paper in other ways, such as providing background information.

2) What if the source doesn’t provide information MLA requires?
If MLA asks for specific information that your source doesn’t have, you should denote that through the following abbreviations:
n.p. - no publisher’s name provided
n.d. - no date provided
n. pag. - no page number provided

3) How do I create my Works Cited page?
Works Cited should come at the end of your research, on a separate page. At the top, center you want to label it “Works Cited.” Then, each source is listed alphabetically. The citations should also be double spaced.

Works Cited

Badger, Emily. “Why Arguments for Voter ID Laws Don’t Add Up.” Washington Post.

      24 October 2014: Web. 19 July 2015.

“Have We Passed the Point of No Return on Climate Change?” EarthTalk. Scientific

      American, 13 April 2015. Web. 13 July 2015.

Hermann, Peter. “D.C. police hit the streets on new mountain bikes — with sirens.”

      The Washington Post. 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Howard, Brian Clark. “New Climate Change Report Warns of Dire Consequences.”

      National Geographic. 31 March 2014. Web. 14 July 2015.

Lowry, Rich. “The Poll Tax That Wasn’t.” Politico Magazine. Politico, 22 October 2014.

      Web. 6 July 2015.

Susman, Tina, Los Angeles Times via Newsela (Ed. Newsela staff. Version 1110).

      “Bracing for a New Civil Rights Movement.” 12 August 2014. Web. 22 July 2015.