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Citation Guides: Parenthetical (In-Text) Citations

How to Format Parenthetical or In-Text Citations


An in-text citation provides your reader with two pieces of information:

  1. The first element from the corresponding works-cited list entry, usually the author's last name
  2. The location of the cited information in the work, usually a page number

Standard Formatting of the In-Text Citation

  • Put the page number in parentheses
  • Include the author's name (or the title for works with no author) in the sentence or in the parentheses before the page number.

Smyth makes a similar argument (3-4).

This point has been argued previously (Smyth 3-4).

The article "Black Workers Matter" links racism and union representation (18).

The link between racism and union representation is important ("Black Workers Matter" 18).

  • If it is clear from the context which work you are citing, use only the page number.

Later, the protagonist of Jane Eyre proclaims, "I would always rather be happy than dignified" (413).

  • Multiple authors: 2-3 authors use the last names of each. For more than 3 authors, use the first author's last name and et al.

(Smith, Jones, and Brown 323)

(Bia et al. 161)

  • For authors with the same last name, include their first initial.

(K. Shepard 36)

(J. Shepard 212)

  • For works with no page numbers, use explicitly numbered parts of the work (paragraphs, sections, chapters). Use author (or title) alone if there are no numbered parts.

(Pushkin, ch. 5)

For more detailed information see MLA Handbook, 54-58, 116-128.

Additional MLA Style Guide Websites

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