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MLA 9: In Text Citations and FAQ

Basic Format

Basic Format

(Last Name Page#).

No Author

("No Author Put Beginning of the Title" Page#).


No Page Number

(Last Name).


Signal Phrase

According to Allen the research guide was exceptional (3).

Allen stated "this research guide is great" (3).

Organization as Author

Parenthetical abbreviate... (Amer. Library Assn. 5).

The Modern Language Association states you should write out the organizations full name when using a signal phrase (603).





More Than One Author

In-Text Citations FAQ


  • The in-text citation must match the first element from its works cited entry. 
  • The following examples contain parenthetical and narrative (signal phrase) in-text citations.


What if the source has a corporate author or a government agency as the author?

Abbreviate any terms that might commonly be abbreviated. So, United States, Department of Labor, will look like this in the in-text citation:

  • (United States, Dept. of Labor).
  • According to the United States, Dept. of Labor...

You will notice as well in the example that when citing a government agency, you will first list the country/government of origin, followed by a comma, and then the name of the agency itself.

What if I use different sources that have authors with the same last name?

Use the author's first name in addition to last name in the signal phrase of a narrative citation, or use the author's first initial in a parenthetical citation.

  • Jon Smith believes that "it is key to..." (15).
  • (J. Smith 15).

What if there are no authors attributed to the source?

This happens when the source is anonymous, is simply not listed, or because the author is the organization that published it.

In these cases you will begin the in-text citation with the title of the source in quotation marks, and in title case. Remember to still include page numbers if the source has numbered pages.

  • Use shortened form of the title for parenthetical citation:
    • ("Reading at Risk").
  • Use full title for narrative citation:
    • The article "Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary America" notes that...

What if there are no page numbers in a source?

Simply omit that part. This can happen with web sources especially. If there are numbered sections or paragraph numbers listed you will use those.

  • (United States, Dept. of Labor).
  • According to the United States, Dept. of Labor...

What if I cite a source quoted in another source?

This is called an indirect source. You will begin your parenthetical citation with an abbreviated version of "quoted in..." If using a narrative citation, introduce the source and then include a parenthetical citation at the end that references where you found the source.

  • (qtd. in Gostin 217).
  • Public health researcher Dan Beauchamp adds that...(qtd. in Gostin 217).

Examples from MLA Handbook (Links to an external site.) and the Bedford Handbook