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Macdonald DeWitt Library at SUNY Ulster

MLA Style 9th Edition: In Text Citations

A brief introduction to MLA Style adapted from the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Eighth Edition.

When to Cite

Any time you use a piece of information that is not your own in a paper, project, or presentation you must give credit to the original author. This includes both quotations and paraphrases. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism.

Even when you are not directly quoting a source, if you use information or an idea that is not common knowledge or that you did not come up with yourself, you must provide a citation.

Anything considered common knowledge does not need a citation.

In Text Citations

MLA Style uses parenthetical in text citations. The sources are cited briefly - usually author's last name and page number - in the text of your paper and correspond to an alphabetical list of citations at the end of the paper called Works Cited. Use the simple present tense.


Citing sources with a known author

Provide author's last name and page number:

The aesthetic and ideological orientation of jazz underwent considerable scrutiny in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Anderson 7).

When an author's name appears in text

Provide only the page number in parentheses:

Anderson explains in his research the aesthetic and ideological orientation of jazz (7).

Citing a work listed by title (without known author)

Place the quote around the title (if brief) or shortened version, that proceeds the page, paragraph, section number(s):

The nine grades of mandarins are “distinguished by the color of the button on the hats of office” (“Mandarin” 10).

Citing two or more works by the same author(s)

Put a comma after the author’s last name, a space, and the title or shortened title followed by the relevant page information:

Shakespeare’s King Lear has been called a “comedy of the grotesque” (Frye, Anatomy 237).

Citing indirect sources

A source cited in another source. Use the phrase "qtd. in" to indicate the actual source used:

Strickland contends that "the shortbow as a specific category of weapon forming an important forerunner of the longbow simply did not exist" (qtd. in Rogers 322).

Works cited:

Rogers, Clifford J. "The Development of the Longbow in Late Medieval England and 'Technological Determinism.' " Journal of Medieval History, vol. 37, issue 3, 2011, pp. 321-341. ScienceDirect,  

Formatting Quotations

Sometimes a quotation will not flow naturally in the text of your paper or you may only want parts of a quotation. You may need to modify it slightly.


Use brackets [ ] when you need to adjust a quotation to flow naturally in a paragraph.

Brackets are used to indicate when you insert your own words into a direct quotation.


Use the ellipsis (...) to indicate that part of a quotation is not included.

The ellipsis can take the place of a whole sentence, multiple words, or just one word.

Use the ellipsis at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a quotation that is missing parts.

Do not change the meaning of the original quotation.

Block Quotations

For quotations more than three lines of prose or three lines of verse, place quotations in a free-standing block of text without quotation marks.

Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quotation indented half an inch from the left margin.

Your parenthetical citation comes after the closing punctuation mark.

MLA Style Center

The MLA Style Center has resources to guide you through the process. Refer to the links below for more help.