MLA in-text citations are made with a combination of signal phrases and parenthetical references. A signal phrase introduces information taken from a source (a quotation, summary, paraphrase, or fact); usually the signal phrase includes the author’s name. The parenthetical reference comes after the cited material, often at the end of the sentence. It includes at least a page number (except for unpaginated sources, such as those found online).
The guidelines presented here are consistent with advice given in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (2009).
Readers can look up the author’s last name in the alphabetized list of works cited, where they will learn the work’s title and other publication information. If readers decide to consult the source, the page number will take them straight to the passage that has been cited.
The MLA system of in-text citations, which depends heavily on authors’ names and page numbers, was created with print sources in mind. Although many online sources have unclear authorship and lack page numbers, the basic rules are the same for both print and online sources.1. Author named in a signal phrase Ordinarily, introduce the material being cited with a signal phrase that includes the author’s name. In addition to preparing readers for the source, the signal phrase allows you to keep the parenthetical citation brief.
Frederick Lane reports that employers do not necessarily have to use software to monitor how their employees use the Web: employers can “use a hidden video camera pointed at an employee’s monitor” and even position a camera ”so that a number of monitors [can] be viewed at the same time” (147).
Notice that the period follows the parenthetical citation. When a quotation ends with a question mark or an exclamation point,
leave the end punctuation inside the quotation mark and add a period at the end of your sentence:
TIP: Before assuming that a Web source has no author, do some detective work. Often the author’s name is available but is not easy to find. For example, it may appear at the end of the page, in tiny print. Or it may appear on another page of the site, such as the home page.
4. Page number unknown Do not include the page number if a work lacks page numbers, as is the case with many Web sources. Even if a printout from a Web site shows page numbers, treat the source as unpaginated in the in-text citation because not all printouts give the same page numbers. (When the pages of a Web source are stable, as in PDF files, supply a page number in your in-text citation.)
As a 2005 study by Salary.com and America Online indicates, the Internet ranked as the top choice among employees for ways of wasting time on the job; it beat talking with co-workers—the second most popular method—by a margin of nearly two to one (Frauenheim).
5. One-page source If the source is one page long, MLA allows (but does not require) you to omit the page number. Many instructors will want you to supply the page number because without it readers may not know where your citation ends or, worse, may not realize that you have provided a citation at all.
Anush Yegyazarian reports that in 2000 the National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the General Counsel helped win restitution for two workers who had been dismissed because their employers were displeased by the employees’ e-mails about work-related issues. The case points to the ongoing struggle to define what constitutes protected speech in the workplace.
Anush Yegyazarian reports that in 2000 the National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the General Counsel helped win restitution for two workers who had been dismissed because their employers were displeased by the employees’ e-mails about work-related issues (62). The case points to the ongoing struggle to define what constitutes protected speech in the workplace.
This section describes the MLA guidelines for handling a variety of situations not covered by the basic rules in items 1–5. These rules for in-text citations are the same for both print and online sources.6. Two or three authors Name the authors in a signal phrase, as in the following example, or include their last names in the parenthetical reference: (Kizza and Ssanyu 2).
When three authors are named in the parentheses, separate the names with commas: (Alton, Davies, and Rice 56).
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According to a 2001 survey of human resources managers by the American Management Association, more than three-quarters of the responding companies reported disciplining employees for “misuse or personal use of office telecommunications equipment” (2).
In the list of works cited, the American Management Association is treated as the author and alphabetized under A. When you give the organization name in parentheses, abbreviate common words in the name: “Assn.,” “Dept.,” “Natl.,” “Soc.,” and so on.
In a 2001 survey of human resources managers, more than three-quarters of the responding companies reported disciplining employees for “misuse or personal use of office telecommunications equipment” (Amer. Management Assn. 2).
The American Management Association and ePolicy Institute have tracked employers’ practices in monitoring employees’ e-mail use. The groups’ 2003 survey found that one-third of companies had a policy of keeping and reviewing employees’ e-mail messages (“2003 E-mail” 2); in 2005, more than 55% of companies engaged in e-mail monitoring (“2005 Electronic” 1).
A 2004 survey found that 20% of employers responding had employees’ e-mail “subpoenaed in the course of a lawsuit or regulatory investigation,” up 7% from the previous year (Amer. Management Assn. and ePolicy Inst., “2004 Workplace” 1).
Multiple citations can be distracting, so you should not overuse the technique. If you want to alert readers to several sources that discuss a particular topic, consider using an information note instead.
12. Repeated citations from the same source When you are writing about a single work of fiction, you do not need to include the author’s name each time you quote from or paraphrase the work. After you mention the author’s name at the beginning of your paper, you may include just the page number in your parenthetical citations.
In Susan Glaspell’s short story “A Jury of Her Peers,” two women accompany their husbands and a county attorney to an isolated house where a farmer named John Wright has been choked to death in his bed with a rope. The chief suspect is Wright’s wife, Minnie, who is in jail awaiting trial. The sheriff’s wife, Mrs. Peters, has come along to gather some personal items for Minnie, and Mrs. Hale has joined her. Early in the story, Mrs. Hale sympathizes with Minnie and objects to the way the male investigators are “snoopin’ round and criticizin’” her kitchen (200). In contrast, Mrs. Peters shows respect for the law, saying that the men are doing “no more than their duty” (201).
If you cite only one volume of a multivolume work, you will include the volume number in the list of works cited and will not need to include it in the parentheses. (See the second example in item 17.)15. Entire work Use the author’s name in a signal phrase or a parenthetical citation. There is no need to use a page number.
Online monitoring by the United States Department of the Interior over a one-week period found that employees’ use of “sexually explicit and gambling websites . . . accounted for over 24 hours of Internet use” and that “computer users spent over 2,004 hours accessing game and auction sites” during the same period (3).
For other historical documents, cite as you would any other work, by the first element in the works cited entry (see item 74).
19. Legal source For legislative acts (laws) and court cases, name the act or case either in a signal phrase or in parentheses. Italicize the names of cases but not the names of acts.
For a visual that is not contained in a source such as a book or periodical, identify the visual in your text and then cite it using the first element in the works cited entry: the photographer’s or artist’s name or the title of the work. (See item 69.)
Julian Hawthorne points out profound differences between his father and Ralph Waldo Emerson but concludes that, in their lives and their writing, “together they met the needs of nearly all that is worthy in human nature” (ch. 4).
a and sacred texts are usually available in a variety of editions. Your list of works cited will specify which edition you are using, and your in-text citation will usually consist of a page number from the edition you consulted (see item 24). When possible, give enough information — such as book parts, play divisions, or line numbers — so that readers can locate the cited passage in any edition of the work (see items 25–27).24. Literary work without parts or line numbers Many literary works, such as most short stories and many novels and plays, do not have parts or line numbers. In such cases, simply cite the page number.
At the end of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard drops dead upon learning that her husband is alive. In the final irony of the story, doctors report that she has died of a “joy that kills” (25).
26. Novel with numbered divisions When a novel has numbered divisions, put the page number first, followed by a semicolon, and then the book, part, or chapter in which the passage may be found. Use abbreviations such as “pt.” and “ch.”
One of Kingsolver’s narrators, teenager Rachel, pushes her vocabulary beyond its limits. For example, Rachel complains that being forced to live in the Congo with her missionary family is “a sheer tapestry of justice” because her chances of finding a boyfriend are “dull and void” (117; bk. 2, ch. 10).
The title of a sacred work is italicized when it refers to a specific edition of the work, as in the preceding example. If you refer to the book in a general sense in your text, neither italicize it nor put it in quotation marks: “The Bible and the Qur’an provide allegories that help readers understand how to lead a moral life.”