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Northeast Middle School: In-Text Citations

Library Information Technology Research Center

Basic Rules

Basic Rules for In-Text Citations:

  • Use the author's last name and page number(s) when available.
  • The author's name may be placed within the text of the sentence, in which case only the page number is put in parentheses.
  • If the source has no page numbers, indicate the lack of a page number with "N. Pag."
  • If the source is not attributed to an individual author, use a "corporate" (or group) author, such as "U.S. Government Printing Office," or "American Library Association."
  • If there is no author (not even a corporate author), use an abbreviated form of the work's title in the parenthetical citation.
  • In all cases, create a citation that is brief and that unambiguously and clearly directs the reader to the right entry on your Works Cited page.

Scroll Down for More Examples!

Direct Quoting


When you directly quote an author, include the author's name and the page number of the quotation.

Examples*:

1. (Author's name in text)

It may be true, as Robertson maintains, that "in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance..." (136).

2. (Author's name in reference)

It may be true that "in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance..." (Robertson 136).


Remember to provide a full bibliographic entry of the author's work on your works cited page.

*Examples excerpted from: Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Assoc. of America, 2009. Print.

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing or summarizing an author's ideas in your own words is perfectly acceptable as long as you acknowledge the original author, and clearly define the boundary between that author's ideas and your own ideas.

Examples*:

1. (Single author)

In his Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin states that he prepared a list of thirteen virtues (135-37).

2. (Two authors)

Others, like Jakobson and Waugh (210-15), hold the opposite point of view.


Remember to provide a full bibliographic entry of the author's work on your works cited page.

*Examples excerpted from: Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Assoc. of America, 2009. Print.

Citing a Source Cited in Your Source

Sometimes you may need to use information cited in another source. For example, a text by Boswell that you found quotes something written by Johnson. There are two possible ways of handling it. You can:

  1. Find the original item by Johnson and cite directly from that author (preferred).
  2. Name Johnson as a source in your paraphrase, but only cite Boswell in the references page (acceptable if the original item is unavailable).

Example*:

Samuel Johnson admitted that Edmund Burke was an "extraordinary man" (qtd. in Boswell 2: 450).

You would only need to list the work by Boswell, not Johnson, in your references page, since this is the author you have read.

*Example excerpted from: Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Assoc. of America, 2009. Print.

Citing a Web Page

Citing a web-based source within text can be tricky because a website may provide neither a page number nor an author. In this scenario, you can do the following:

  • If there is no author listed, look for other authorship information, such as the creator or editor, or performer of the item or organization responsible for the site. If there is neither, use the title of the item in quotation marks in place of the author's name.
  • Page numbers are not common on websites; MLA does not require a page number (or "N. Pag.") for web-based items.

Example:

Though 2500 scientists were signatories to the IPCC, and the report, released in 2007, was heralded widely as a document that would change U.S. climate policy ("The Scientists Speak"), policy has not developed since then.

The entry on the Works Cited page would be alphabetized by its title:

"The Scientists Speak." Editorial. New York Times. New York Times, 20 Nov. 2007. Web. 3 January 2013.