MLA style uses in-text citations to give credit to authors when paraphrasing or quoting their ideas. In-text citations include two parts, the lead-in phrase and the parenthetical citation.
The lead-in phrase is an important element of the in-text citation to include when integrating sources into your own writing. As stated above, when lead-in phrases are left out, students are sometimes accused of plagiarism because it is not clear where a paraphrase has begun.
As in the example above, if you inserted a quotation into an essay, and then you spent two paragraphs and part of a third explaining the quotation in terms of your main argument and showing why it supports that point of view. What will happen if you then include a paraphrase that is several sentences long without the lead-in phrase? Again, if you don’t include a lead-in phrase, the reader will not know you have begun paraphrasing your source and this could lead to accusations of plagiarism, even if unintentional.
Models for In-Text Citations
Author, title, and page number known
Lyndsay Murray, organic chemist at the University of Iowa, writes that students learn how important chemistry is to society in the Organic Chemistry I (18).
An organic chemist at the University of Iowa writes that students learn how important chemistry is to society in the Organic Chemistry I (Murray 18).
Multiple authors (3 or less)
The authors discuss effective ways to incorporate sources into a paper (Graff, Birkenstein, and Durst 3).
Multiple authors (4 or more)
The authors “examine women’s ways of knowing and describe five different perspectives from which women view reality” (Belenky et al. 3).
Same authors, multiple works
The lonely aura becomes even more pronounced as he says, “the loneliness includes me unawares” (Frost, “Desert Places” 1405). Elsewhere, though, Frost embraces the loneliness (“Stopping by Woods” 1403).
Author known, publication electronic without page numbers
Lyndsay Murray, organic chemist at the University of Iowa, writes that students learn how important chemistry is to society in the Organic Chemistry I.
NOTE: In the new MLA format, paragraph numbers are no longer used for publications without page numbers. If the paragraphs are numbered, you would include (para. 10) to indicate the paragraph. The paragraphs are not numbered in this document; therefore, this paraphrase does not require a citation. However, to be on the safe side, you might want to include the chapter or section title.
An organic chemist at the University of Iowa writes that students learn how important chemistry is to society in Organic Chemistry I (Murray).
Refer to the title in the absence of an author.
According to an article in Newsweek entitled “Getting the Most Out of College,” students learn how important chemistry is to society in the course Organic Chemistry I (18).
Another method for documenting when the author is unknown
According to an article in Newsweek, students learn how important chemistry is to society in the course Organic Chemistry I (“Getting the Most” 18).
NOTE: Abbreviate the title to the first few words in your parenthetical reference. If you were providing the title of a book or larger independent work, it would be italicized.
Referencing the Bible
Billy Budd’s last words are very reminiscent of Jesus’ last words “…Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…” (New International Version, Luke 23.34).
Multiple Citations in One Sentence
The stars are separated by “empty spaces”, not “lovely, dark, and deep” sky (Frost, “Desert Places” 1405; Frost, “Stopping by Woods” 1403).
A Work from an Anthology
Cite it as if from a book, using the page number from the anthology.
Frost captures muffled beauty by describing how “the only other sound’s the sweep / Of easy wind and downy flake” (“Stopping by Woods” 1403).
A source is considered indirect when an author refers to another author’s publication. For example, let’s say you’re reading a book on grammar written by Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman. The two authors then talk about an article written by another author. You would format your citation as follows:
They further state, “There are two ‘zero’ articles in English. Andrew Chesterman reminds us that one occurs with nonspecific or generic noncount and plural nouns and is referred to as the zero article (qtd. In Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman 280).
Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman would be the authors listed in the works cited as with any other publication.
Quotes that run more than 4 typed lines
NOTE: The quotation begins on a separate line after the lead-in phrase, is indented, does not use quotation marks, locates the parenthetical citation after the period, and is continuously double-spaced like the rest of the paper would be.
Lyndsay Murray, organic chemist at the University of Iowa, writes:
I have had a fascination with chemistry ever since I can remember. I think my first experience with chemistry happened when I was four years old, and my mother gave me a handful of baking powder and told me to pour vinegar over it to see what would happen. Magic. I’ve been hooked ever since. (26)
eBooks: Location Numbers vs. Page Numbers
If you’re quoting or paraphrasing from an eBook on a device such as a Kindle, you should be aware that location numbers will vary from device to device and depending on whether you enlarge or shrink the text. So if the digital file only contains location numbers and no page numbers, our recommendation is to use chapter or section titles to indicate approximately where quotations and paraphrased material can be located in the original document.
(Murray “Becoming a Chemist”).
As publishers catch up with researchers’ need for adequate citation, more and more are including the page numbers that match the print version. So if your eBook contains page numbers, follow the rules for quoting printed material. Your works cited entry should indicate the medium as “Kindle file” or “eReader file.” See the example in the section below.
Image from the Web
The full citation goes in the caption for the image.
Shah, Akheil. Graffiti Art in Dusseldorf, Germany. 2010. Akheil Shah Portfolio. Web. 3 April 2012.