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MLA Style Guide

The purpose of having in-text citations is to ethically give credit to other's ideas within your paper. This information is like a quick link to your Works Cited list where anyone can get further details about your source and find it themselves. The provided information is brief and should not distract the reader from the "flow of ideas" (MLA 54).

Basic information to include:

  • Author's last name  See examples below for one, two or multiple authors.
  • Page number  Number only. DO NOT include any abbreviation for the word "page."
  • No Page number  If there is no number, you do not offer a substitution. See Lopez, et al., below

Format options:

  • Use author's last name in the text, with page number in parentheses.

Notice that in the example the writer refers to the author and uses quotations around the exact words written by the author. Then at the pause of the sentence, which happens to be at the end of it, the writer indicates on which page the reader can find that quote from the original source.

According to Smith, a writer should use thoughtful information "that supports your argument" (123).

  • Author's name is used in the text but there are no numbered pages

Lopez, et al., have determined that "about 40 million people in the U.S. speak Spanish at home." 

  • Author's name is not referred to in the text, include the last name and page number in parentheses.

 Notice in these examples that the writer did not refer to the author in the text. Instead all the information, author and page number, is found in the parentheses at the pause or end of the sentence.

Use information "that supports your argument" (Smith 123).

It has been proven that "each counterexample is actually primitive itself" (Jones and White 35).

"About 40 million people in the U.S. speak Spanish at home" (Lopez, et al.)

Works Cited

Jones, Lenny and Daniel White. "On Primitive Covering Numbers." International Journal of Number Theory, vol. 13, no. 1, Feb. 2017, pp. 27-37Academic Search Complete, doi:10.1142/S1793042117500038.

Lopez, Mark Hugo, et al. "Most Hispanic Parents Speak Spanish to their Children." Pew Research Center, 2 Apr. 2018,

Smith, Joe. "In-text Citations." Academic Ethics, Lone Star Press, 2016, 123.

General Rules

Use the person's full name the first time that he/she is mentioned in the text of your paper. After that you may refer to him/her by the last name. For more information about names, see Author.

  Make sure that you spell the name correctly throughout your paper and that it matches the name on your works cited list.

If you find that you have misspelled a word or name that is used throughout your paper, an easy way to go through your entire paper, is by using the Find Function (CTRL + F). Go to the options feature to the right of the search box and select Replace. A pop-up box called Find and Replace will come up. Enter the incorrect spelling into the Find What field and the correct spelling into the Replace With field. 

In your paper, you might refer to a title repeatedly. 

  • The first time, use the complete title. The Centers for Disease Control
  • The second and subsequent times, you may use a shortened title. CDC
  • For a shortened version that is obvious or commonly used, no explanation is needed. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn might become Huckleberry Finn.
  • For a shortened version that is less common, the first time you use it, include it in parentheses after the complete title. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • If the shortened version will not lead directly to a citation in your works cited list, you might need to include an in-text citation.  The Affordable Care Act covered pre-existing conditions (42 U.S.C. § 18001).


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