Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

MLA Style: Using Source Material: In-Text Citations

An introduction to MLA style for academic papers, based on the MLA Handbook, 8th Edition.

MLA Style

MLA Style is the format used by the Modern Language Association. Most papers written for classes in the arts and humanities use MLA style; instructors in other disciplines may also prefer MLA format.

MLA Style Resources

For additional information on MLA Style, consult

Using Source Material: In-Text Citations

  • When you incorporate any information drawn from a source in your paper, you need to identify the source within your text in one of the following ways:
  1. Introduce the information with an author tag or signal phrase. Use the full name of the author in the first reference, after which the last name alone is used.  Follow the information with the page number in parentheses.

According to Jane Smith the legend of King Arthur evolved over hundreds of years (14). This makes it difficult to distinguish between the historical and mythological aspects of the legend (15).

  1. Follow the information with the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses:  (Smith 148).
  • For sources with two authors, include both authors’ names in the citation:

Jane Smith and Edward Jones argue . . . (148).

(Smith and Jones 148).

  • For sources with three or more authors, use the last name of the first author listed, followed by the abbreviation et al. (meaning “and others”):

(Smith et al. 148)

  • For  unsigned sources, use the first piece of information in the Works Cited entry for that source, usually the title; shorten long titles to the first few words:

According to “Latest Developments” . . . (19).

(“Latest Developments” 19).

  • For sources without page numbers:
  1. If paragraph numbers are marked within the source, include them in in-text citations: (Garcia, par. 11)
  2. For sources that use neither page numbers nor explicit paragraph numbers, no location will appear in in-text citations: (Hansen)