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MLA Micro-course

Using hands-on practice, learn how to create in-text and Works Cited citations, as well as craft paraphrases and summaries of source material.

Questions to consider:

  • When and where in my text do I need to include citations?
  • What information is needed to construct an in-text citation?
  • How is an in-text citation usually formatted?
  • What do I do if my source has multiple authors? What if there is no author?
  • What are signal phrases and why should I use them?

An in-text citation (sometimes called a parenthetical citation) is a brief reference within the text of your paper that directs your reader to the full entry on your Works Cited page. It normally consists of the author(s) last name and a page number, if applicable, for locating the quote or paraphrase within the original source.

Every source of information (or ideas or images, etc) you include in your academic writing, with the exception of commonly-known facts (e.g., the name of the current President of the U.S., etc.), needs to have an accompanying in-text citation. 

You generally preface each quote or paraphrase with the author last name preceded or followed by a verb, such as stated or according to (this is called a 'signal phrase), and only include the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. There are different rules for sources with no author, multiple authors, multiple works by the same author, etc. Consult the OWL link below for those details.

  • Example in-text citation using a signal phrase: According to Wilson and Stone, "free will is an illusion" (45).


Study Materials:

[optional[ Hands-On Activity:

Pick up a book, textbook, magazine or other printed publication you have readily at hand. Locate the following 4 citation details, if available, in that publication: author name, title of publication, date of publication, and name of publisher [hint: these elements are often located either near the beginning and or at the end].