MLA style citation: In-text

The basic purpose of using in-text citations and references is to enable the reader to easily locate/access the sources from which data/information has been collected. The MLA style citations are formatted according to the guidelines of the Modern Language Association. A paper with MLA style citation should include in-text citations with a corresponding reference list, commonly known as ‘Works Cited’. The Works Cited section at the end of your paper should include all the in-text citations that have been used in the main paper.

Guidelines for MLA style citations: In-text

Basic citation

Mention the author’s surname and the page number of the work from which the information was taken.

Example 1: We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom (Tolstoy 348).

Example 2: According to Tolstoy, the company of intelligent women is very much necessary for a young man (15).

Note: There should be no punctuations between the author’s surname and page number. If the author’s name is mentioned in the sentence itself, do not include it in the parentheses.

Two or three authors

If there are two or three authors, use ‘and’ as a separator, not ‘&’.

Example 1: . . . for the effective management of stroke in TAH patients (Hart and Sherman 671).

Example 2: The subjects suffered from severe infection (Rose, Moskowitz, and Packer 726).

More than three authors

List the first author’s surname followed by ‘et al.’

Example:  (Smith et al. 55).

Multiple works cited together

Example: (Tolstoy 348; Smith et al. 55).

Two authors with same surname

To differentiate the works of two authors having the same surname, include the initials of both the authors.

Example: … is described (A. Johnson 118). The advantages of these methods were investigated in another study (T. Johnson 301).

Short Quotations

Example 1: Freud stated that “religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis” (78).

Example 2: “Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis” (Freud 78).

Long Quotations

If the quote is more than 4-5 lines:

  • It should be set as a separate block.
  • Set an indent of one inch from the left margin.
  • Do not use quotation marks.
  • The page number should be set in parentheses after the quotation ends. Remember that it should be set after the period.


This reminds us of Parker’s famous words:

This is a small advice for all young men out there. Do not marry until you have proved yourself, both to you and to others. People don’t value the emotions that you have. They just see what you are, how successful you are. They say that feelings cannot provide you with two square meals a day. You need to have money for that. (28)

We have discussed only a few of the most commonly used MLA style citations for in-text entries. It will be further discussed in our future posts.

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