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MLA Style 8th Edition: In-Text Citations

WCCC's Guide to MLA Style

MLA In-Text Citations

MLA In-Text Citations

When writing an MLA paper using citations, you use two types of citations: 

  1. in-text (or parenthetical) citation
  2. Works Cited citation. 

These citations are directly linked.  Any in-text citation should reflect a citation in your Works Cited page at the end of your MLA paper.

The in-text citation is a brief reference to your source which then leads your reader to your Works Cited page for the full citation.  

For example, if you have within your paper something like this:

"Our students' sense of self is shaped by many factors" (Varner 75).

Someone reading your paper would know that if they turned to your Works Cited page and looked alphabetically for Varner, they would find the complete citation for the reference and if they looked up that source, the quote would be on page 75.

This same information could be written in a couple of different ways.  For example:

According to Varner, "our students' sense of self is shaped by many factors" (75). 

 

Or you could paraphrase the information:

There are numerous causes that contribute to a student's sense of self (Varner 75). 

 

Paraphrasing could also look like this: 

Varner noted that there are numerous causes that contribute to a student's sense of self (75).

 

The same is true for summarizing: 

According to Varner, students' sense of self has many causes (75). 

Or: 

Students' sense of self has many causes (Varner 75). 

 

When writing papers for college, you should use signal phrases to indicate that you are about to use a source.  In MLA, these signal phrases are in the present tense.  For examples of how signal phrases are use and a list of signal phrases for MLA, check out this resource: Verbs Used in MLA Style Signal Phrases.


What is important to know is that whether you are directly quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing a source, you must include the in-text citation.  If you don't, then you are actually plagiarizing. 

 

To see in-text citations for various types of sources, please see the WCCC MLA Citation Guide

Additional Resources

Warren County Community College
Haytaian & Maier Library
475 Route 57 West
Washington, New Jersey 07882
908.835.2336 wccclibrary@warren.edu

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