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MLA Citation Guide: In-Text Citation

This guide shows you how to cite references in current (9th edition) MLA style

Parenthetical References / In-Text Citation

The examples provided below aim to illustrate only basic principles of formatting in-text (parenthetical) references using MLA citation style. 

Please refer to the Handbook's sections 6.1-6.82, pp. 227-286 for more details.

Parenthetical (in-text) citation enable the reader to easily find the complete title of the source in the "Work Cited" list at the end of the research paper. 

Elements of Parenthetical Citation 

  • Author
  • Page
  • Title (if there is no author)

Book (one author):      (Harbord 16)

Book (two or three authors):     (Booth, Colomb, and Williams 60)

Book (four or more authors):     (Plag et al. 203)

Corporate author:      (Natl. Research Council 15) - or, as part of text: According to the study by the National Research Council, the population of China ....(15).

Article in a scholarly journal (online only, no page numbers):    (Berlaut)

Article in a journal (print):    (Piper 125)

Article in an online database:     (Jenson 112)

Encyclopedia entry: 

print with no author ("Japan")

print with author    (Allen)

online with no author ("Picasso, Pablo")


with an author (Peterson)

with an unknown author (Margaret Sanger Papers Project)