MLA Format: Parenthetical Citations

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MLA Format: MLA Works Cited

Parenthetical Citations

(Including a Few Notes on Citation of Electronic Sources)

General Rules for Parenthetical Citations:

Using Author Name

The author of a source is always mentioned either in your text or in the parenthetical citation--unless no author is provided. (See "Special Cases" below for information regarding those situations.)

Author's name mentioned in text

Use the author's name in a single sentence to introduce the material. Then, cite the page number(s) in parentheses.

Example

Pope was clear to point out that, although many of his ideas were idealistic, Rousseau held ambivalent feelings toward women (138).

Author's name not mentioned in text

When you do not include the author's name in the text, place the author's last name in the parenthetical citation before the page number(s). There is no punctuation between the author's name and the page number(s).

Example

During World War I, British and American women could, for the first time, earn first-class pay for first-class work (Gilbert 236-7).

More than one work by the same author(s)

If you use more than one work from a single author, when you refer to either of the sources, give the author's last name, an abbreviated title of the work, and the relevant page number(s). A comma separates the author's last name and the title; however, there is no punctuation between the title and the page number(s).

Example

When calculating the number of homeless animals in the United States, the author comically stated that "Maybe man would not overrun the planet, but his pet poodles and Siamese cats might" (Westin, Pethood 6). She then further stated that there are 50 million homeless animals in the country (Westin, "Planning" 10).

Note: If you mention the author's last name in the sentence, you do not need to include the author's last name in parentheses.

Two authors with the same last name

If you use sources by authors with the same last name, always include the author's first and last name in the sentence or in the parenthetical citation.

Example

Children will learn to write if they are given the freedom to choose their own subjects, Allison Faye argues, citing the city school council study of the early 1970s (42-51); however, Robert Faye believes that children will learn how to write regardless of their school subjects (102-115).

Two or three authors in a single source

If a source is written by two or three authors, place all of the authors' last names in the single sentence or in the parenthetical citation.

Example

Richards, Jones, and Moore maintain that college students who actively participate in extracurricular activities achieve greater academic excellence because they learn how to manage their time more effectively (185).

or

The authors maintain that college students who actively participate in extracurricular activities achieve greater academic excellence because they learn how to manage their time more effectively (Richards, Jones, and Moore 185).

Four or more authors in a single source

If a source is written by four or more authors, use the first author's last name followed by "et al." (Latin for "and others") either in the single sentence or in the parenthetical citation. You can also name all of the authors in the single sentence or in the parenthetical citation.

Example

Chazon et al. argued that ethnic groups are culturally based social organizations in which members have multiple identities (105-6).

or

The authors argued that ethnic groups are culturally based social organizations in which members have multiple identities (Chazon, Riley, Jacobs, and Rutherford 105-6).

Multivolume Works

Citing an entire volume of a multivolume work

When using an entire volume in a multivolume work, it is not necessary to include the page number(s). Give the author's last name and then the volume number, including the abbreviation "vol." A comma separates the author's last name and the volume number.

Example

Between 1762 and 1796, the economy of imperial Russia experienced profound changes under Empress Catherine II (Spielvolgel, vol. 3).

Using part of one volume of a multivolume work

When using part of one volume of a multivolume work, name the author in the single sentence or in the parenthetical citation. Place the volume number first and then the page number(s) with a colon and one space between them.

Example

According to Flint, Japanese women of the Tokugawa period had key roles and functions in the home (5: 139).

Classic works available in several editions:

If you use an edition of a classic prose work, poem, or play, you need to give more information than just a page reference because readers might be using other editions.

For prose works:

1. If you are basically using writing about 1 or 2 prose sources, include a footnote, which clearly provides information as to the edition that you are using following the first citation.

Example

Iago suggests that Othello “Strangle her in her bed, / even the bed she hath contaminated” (Othello. 4.1.203-204).[1]

2. If you are using several prose sources, give information about parts, sections, or chapters in addition to page number(s) in an edition. (You can use standard abbreviations, such as "pt." [part], "sec." [section], and "ch." [chapter].) Use a semicolon to separate the page number(s) from the other information.

Example

When the reader first encounters the character Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky presents the reader with a man contemplating a devilish act but terrified of meeting his talkative landlady on the stairs (1; pt. 1, ch. 1).

For verse plays, supply only the act, scene, and line number(s) (either with Arabic or Roman numerals) separated by periods.

Example

As William Shakespeare's play, Othello, begins, Iago lets loose his wicked passion on Brabantino: "Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags!" (I. i. 85).

or

As William Shakespeare's play, Othello, begins, Iago lets loose his wicked passion on Brabantino: "Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags!" (1. 1. 85).

Verse quotations of more than three lines in length need to begin on a new line. Indent each line one inch (two tabs) from the left margin and double space between the lines. Do not add quotation marks unless they appear in the original text. The parenthetical citation, located at the end of the verse quotation and after the end punctuation, will include the author's last name and the line numbers (unless previously mentioned in text).

Example

Othello again displays his calm and control when he speaks to the political authorities and to Desdemona's father in act one scene two:

Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,

My very noble and approved good masters,

That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter,

It is most true; true I have married her. (78-81)

Note: this quotation is from a classic work that has been identified in text through the title character, the act and scene numbers have been identified in the text, and only the line numbers need to appear in the parenthetical citation.  Since the quotation is over three lines long, the parenthetical citation appears after the end punctuation.

Note: Be sure to copy the verse exactly as it appears in the text.

 For poetry: See Rules for Citing Poetry Below         

Special Cases:

No author identified in a source

If you use a source that does not supply an author's name, substitute, by using the title or an abbreviated title, for the author's name in the sentence or in the parenthetical citation. In the citation, do not forget to include the page number(s) unless the source is one page or less in length. Be sure to italicize the title if the source is a book, and if the source is an article, place quotation marks around the title.

Example

Goddess religions are thought to have originated somewhere between 25,000 and 7,000 BCE (When God Was a Woman).

Indirect quotations

If you are citing an author who was quoted by another author, include both names. First, give the name of the author whose words you are citing, followed by "qtd. in." Then, give the name of the author of the source you used. If you include the author whose words you are quoting in your text, you do not need to include the author's name again in your citation.

Example

 In last month's issue of Rolling Stone, Lenny Cravitz admitted that Jimmy Hendrix was an "extraordinary man" (qtd. in Riverwell 220).

Note: Whenever you can, try to take material from the original source and not from a secondhand one. Your credibility as a writer could suffer if you depend too heavily on secondhand sources.  

Citing more than one work in single parenthetical reference

If you need to acknowledge two or more works in a single reference, cite each source as you normally would, but use semicolons to separate the reference.

Example

Several critics have noted that Butler is unique in being a female African American writer who has excelled in the science fiction genre (Crossley xii; Salvaggio).

Rules for Citing Poetry:

1. The name of a poem is always enclosed in double quotations - not underlined and not in italics.

2. When quoting or paraphrasing from a poem, always capitalize whatever is capitalized in the original.

3. Be certain to identify the name of the poet in your text or in parentheses following the quotation.  This is particularly important if you are writing about more than one poem.  Also, be certain to give the line reference in parenthesis following your quotation. Once you have established that the numbers designate lines, it is only necessary to use numbers (and the poet’s name) in subsequent citations.

Example

"For the Anniversary of My Death" begins with the suggestion that after death the soul starts a journey through time "Like the beam of a lightless star" (Merwin, line 5).  The poem ends with Merwin's affirmation of concrete experience, behind which lies the mystery of existence:

As today writing after three days of rain

Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease

And bowing not knowing to what. (11-13)

Note: In the 2nd quotation Merwin’s name was omitted because it was part of the text and only the actual numbers of the lines were included - not the word “line” or “lines”.

4. When directly quoting only one line of poetry, the line should be worked into the text.

Example

Gerard Manley Hopkins presents his view of life best in a single line: "The world is charged with the grandeur of God" (line 7).

  Note: Name of poet is omitted from parenthesis because it is specified in the text.

If you quote two to three lines of poetry, separate each line with a slash (with space before and after the slash) and enclose the entire quotation in quotation marks.

Example

Reflecting on the "incident" in Baltimore, Cullen concludes, “Of all the things that happened there / That’s all that I remember" (lines 11-12).

Note: Name of poet is omitted from parenthesis because it is specified in the text.

Quotations of more than three lines should begin on a new line.  Unless the quotation involves unusual spacing, indent each line one inch (or ten spaces on a typewriter) from the left margin and double-space between lines, adding no quotation marks that do not appear in the original.  A parenthetical reference for a verse quotation set off from the text follows the last line of the quotation.

Example:

Elizabeth Bishop's "In the Waiting Room" is rich in evocative detail:

It was winter.  It got dark

early.  The waiting room

was full of grown-up people, 

arctics and overcoats,

lamps and magazines. (lines 6-10)

5. Put punctuation--except commas or periods that come at the end of the quotation--in where it is in the original. Use double quotation marks around what you quote. Also, cite the line numbers or numbers in parentheses after the quotation. Be sure you put any end punctuation after the parentheses after the quotation.

EXCEPTION: If you quote more than three lines of poetry or if you quote something in prose that takes up more than four typed lines of your paper, no quotation marks are necessary because when you set the lines off from your paper by indenting (i.e., a "double" indent--both left and right margins are indented), you make clear that the passage is a quotation. Also, the parenthetical citation goes after the end punctuation.

6. If you need to leave a few words out of a line of poetry you are quoting, make sure you indicate that you have done so by using an ellipsis mark  -- 3 periods with a space before each and a space after the last ( . . . ).  Use a row of evenly spaced periods to indicate that one or more lines of poetry have been omitted from a quotation.

Example

Earth has not anything to show more fair ...
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty 
.......................................................................
Ne'er saw I, nor felt, a calm so deep!

Electronic Citations:

Definitely consult my plagiarism handout! Also check out: http://www.thewritesource.com/mla.htm

In-Text (Parenthetical) Citations

Because Internet sources typically have no page or paragraph numbers, and Web sites in particular are often anonymous, people are often confused about how to refer to these sources within their papers. The answer is to cite the author's name whenever possible and use the source's title otherwise (or a shortened version of the title). If no page or paragraph number is provided in the document (NOT on your printer), leave that portion of the citation blank. Keep in mind that the primary purpose of an in-text citation is simply to point readers to the correct entry on the Works Cited Page.

Example

Despite the many challenges she has faced on the Internet, the author still enjoys the "magic" of the MOO (Dibbell).

If the electronic document does not have an author, use identifying words from the title.

Example

Each of the teletubbies has his/her own language acquisition level, and, because of this, a child can identify and progress to the next language level when the child feels comfortable ("The Inside Story").

Note: Do not cite page numbers from printouts because pagination may vary in different printouts.

Reminders

  • Make parenthetical citations brief and accurate.
  • To avoid long parenthetical citations, place reference information, such as the author's name, in your sentence.
  • Place a citation as close to the relevant material as possible without disrupting the sentence.
  • Use one citation at the end of a long section of material that comes from one source and the same page(s)--do not cite at the end of each sentence in this case.
  • Parenthetical citations always go outside of a quotation and always before a punctuation mark, such as a period.  

    Exceptions:
    • If a quotation of over three lines, double indent the quotation, use no quotation marks, and place the parenthetical citation after the punctuation mark. Do not include a period after the parenthetical citation.
    • If a quotation ends with a question mark (?) or an exclamation point (!), include the given punctuation followed by a closing quotation, then insert your parenthetical citation, and insert a period after your parenthetical citation.

  • Place the parenthetical citations in your essay as your write. Do not wait until the essay is finished.  

[1] All references to Othello in this essay are to the Pelican Edition.  Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Alfred Harbab. Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1970.


 Excerpted and adapted from:  

Adams, Mindy  "Re: MLA Documentation."  E-mail to MIchelle Garbis. 19 Aug. 2001.

Carmel High School's Web Page. 25 Aug. 2000. 19 Aug. 2001 <http://www.carmelhigh.org/resources/biblio.html >

Chico High School Library Examples of MLA Style Citations of Electronic Sources. Librarian Peter Milbury. 3 Dec. 1999. 5 June 2000  <http://dewey.chs.chico.k12.ca.us/mla-examples.pdf>.

Devoe, Kristina. "MLA Parenthetical Documentation." Literacy Education Online. 14 February 2000. The Write Place. 19 Feb. 2001 <http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/research/mlaparen.html>.

Electronic Sources: MLA Style. 21 Feb. 2000. The writesource.com.  19 Feb. 2001 <http://www.thewritescource.com/mla.htm>.

Garbis, Michelle.  "MLA Documentation Revised."  Email to Mindy Adams. 20 Jan. 2002.

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.

Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format. Purdue University Writing Lab. 2000. 29 Feb. 2000 <http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/research/r_mla.html>.

Need more help? Read questions and answers from fellow students below. If you're question hasn't already been asked, ask it now.

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So if i just want to state a quote from a book, after the quotation just put the authors name and page numbers?

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