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Extended Essay: MLA Works Cited & In-Text Citations

A guide to the research and writing process required for students completing the IB Extended Essay.

MLA In-Text Citations

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities.

On this page you can find:

General Guidelines for in-text citations and works cited lists 

In-text Citations Tutorial

Basic in-text citation rules

MLA Parenthetical (In-text) Citation Quick Guide

Extra help with:

PDF to download:

Modern Language Association

General Guidelines

The source information required in a parenthetical citation depends (1) upon the source medium (e.g. Print, Web, DVD) and (2) upon the source’s entry on the Works Cited (bibliography) page. 

Any source information that you provide in-text must correspond to the source information on the Works Cited page. More specifically, whatever signal word or phrase you provide to your readers in the text, must be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of the corresponding entry in the Works Cited List.

Watch this tutorial to get an understanding of MLA in-text citations:  why you need to use them and how to put them into your paper.

Boise State University Writing Center. In-text Citations. YouTube. N.p., 21
     Aug. 2008. Web. 14 Nov. 2015. <>. 

Basic In-Text Citation Rules

In MLA style, referring to the works of others in your text is done by using what is known as parenthetical citation. This method involves placing relevant source information in parentheses after a quote or a paraphrase.

In-text citations: Author-page style

MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on your Works Cited page. The author's name may appear either in the sentence itself or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence. For example:

Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263). 

Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).

Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).

Both citations in the examples above, (263) and (Wordsworth 263), tell readers that the information in the sentence can be located on page 263 of a work by an author named Wordsworth. If readers want more information about this source, they can turn to the Works Cited page, where, under the name of Wordsworth, they would find the following information:

Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. London: Oxford UP, 1967. Print.

See Purdue OWL: MLA Formatting and Style Guide - MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics for detailed explanations and examples of in-text citations from different sources.

Quick MLA In-Text Citation Guide

MLA Parenthetical (In-text) Citation Quick Guide

Place the parenthetical citation where there is a pause in the sentence - normally before the end of a sentence or a comma.
A period comes at the end of each citation.


Hard Copy
Print Source

Provide the last name of the author and the specific page numbers of the source

Online Source

No Author

Book title and page number

“Article Title” and page number

        (Book Title 123). or 
        (“Article Title” 123).    

(“Title of Webpage”). OR

   (“Title of Database Article”).

One Author

(Johnson 12-14).


Two Authors

 (Smith and Johnson 45).

  (Smith and Johnson).

Three Authors

If there are two or three authors of the source, include their last names in the order they appear on the source          

(Smith, Johnson and Garcia 56).

 (Smith, Johnson and Garcia 56).

Four or More

 (Smith et al. 56).

  (Smith et al.).

Corporation or

(American Medical Association 12-43).

 (American Medical Association).

Multiple Sources

 (Johnson 12; Lee 20; Williams 15).  

 (Johnson; Lee; Williams).

Two Works by
the Same Author

 (Williams, "Bosina" 14).
(Williams, "Genocide" 8).

(Williams, "Bosina").
(Williams, "Genocide").

(with no author)

 ("Global Warming" 437).

("Global Warming").

Indirect Quote
(a quote that is in a source)

  (qtd. in Williams 97).

 (qtd. in Williams).

Extra Help with Citing Literary, Classic and Religious works

Citing Literary, Classic, and Religious Works

For works such as novels, plays and other classic works, it’s helpful to provide further identifying information along with the page information. Do this by adding a semicolon and then the identifying information following the page number.

(Tolstoy 5; pt. 2, ch. 3).

When citing classic poems and plays, replace page numbers with division numbers (part, book, scene, act). The example below refers to book 10 line 5. Bear in mind the divisions and the way they are written can vary by source.

Fear plays a role in Homer’s Odyssey (10.5).

The titles of books in the Bible and other famous literary works should be abbreviated.

(New Jerusalem Bible, Gen. 2.6-9).

Extra Help with Placing Parenthetical Citations in Direct Quotations

Placing Parenthetical Citations in Direct Quotations

When directly quoting a source, place the parenthetical citation after the quote.

Sanders explains that economic woes are due to “the mortgage crisis and poor risk assessment” (20).

Place the parenthetical citation at the end of an indented quotation. There should be no period after the parenthetical citation. The last sentence of the indented quote should look like:

It’s unclear whether multilateral tariffs are disruptive to bilateral talks. (Evert 30-31)

Extra Help with Long Quotes

Long Quotes

When quoting four lines or more, indent every line you are quoting by one inch (or 10 spaces) and do not use quotes. For example:

The use of nuclear weapons in today’s society is strikingly alarming. Though the United States is the only country to employ it in the past, they are at the same time the country that condemns its use the most. While this may seem hypocritical, is it the most proper action for the United States to make as the global leader. (Taparia 9)


The MLA Parenthetical (In-text) Citation Quick Guide and Extra Help boxes were based on the ones found in the  I.B. Theatre - Director's Notebook guide created by Nancy O'Donnell, School Library Media Specialist, for Kenmore West High School Library in Kenmore, New York.

How Are Those Citations & Works Cited Coming Along?

Your citations and works cited
worry me!

Any information you use that comes from another source must be cited both in and after the paper.
This means only including a works cited page at the end of the paper is not sufficient. 

You must also include parenthetical, or in-text, citations after each piece of information you reference.

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