In-text citations are brief, unobtrusive references that direct readers to the works-cited-list entries for the sources you consulted and, where relevant, to the location in the source being cited. An in-text citation begins with the shortest piece of information that directs your reader to the entry in the works-cited list. Thus, it begins with whatever comes first in an entry: the author's name or the title (or description) of the work. The citation can appear in your prose or in parentheses.
Citation in prose
Naomi baron broke new ground on the subject.
At least one researcher has broken new ground on the subject (Baron).
Baron, Naomi S. "Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media." PMLA, vol. 138, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 193-200.
If the works-cited-list entry begins with an author's name and you are citing the author in your prose, give the full name at first mention and the surname alone thereafter.
If the entry in the works-cited list begins with the names of two authors, include both names in your citation. If you are mentioning the authors for the first time in your prose, include both first names and surnames. In a parenthetical citation connect the two name with and.
(Doris and Erdirch, 23)
If the source has three or more authors, the entry in the works-cited list begins with the first author's name followed by et al.
(Burdick et al. 42)
Citation in prose
Others, like Jay Lemery and Paul Auerbach, note that doctors have not yet adequately explained the effects of climate change will have on human health (4-5). Lemery and Auerbach's book focuses on the human, not the environmental, risks.
Parenthetical citation (surnames only)
Others note that doctors have not yet adequately explained the effects climate change will have on human health (Lemery and Auerbach 4-5).
Lemery, Jay, and Paul Auerbach. Enviromedics: The impact of Climate Change on Human Health. Rowman and Littlefield, 2017.
For concision, when a corporate author (i.e., an organization) is named in a parenthetical citation, shorten the name to the shortest noun phrase. For example, the American Historical Association consists entirely of a noun phrase (a noun, association, preceded by two modifiers) and would not be shortened. By contrast, the Modern Language Association of America can be shortened to its initial noun phrase, Modern Language Association. If possible give the first noun and any preceding adjectives, while excluding any initial article: a, an, the.
Citation in prose
According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, the "speed of warming is more than ten times that at the end of an ice age, the fastest known natural sustained change on a global scale"(9).
According to one study of climate change., the "speed of warming is more than ten times that at the end of an ice age, the fastest known natural sustained change on a global scale" (National Academy 9).
National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. National Academy Press, 2020,
Page numbers and other divisions of works
When you cite pages from a paginated work, use the same style of numerals as in the source—whether roman (traditionally used in the front matter or books), arabic, or a specialized style, like alphanumberic (e.g., A1). Use arabic numerals in all your other references to divisions of works (volumes, sections, books, chapters, acts, scenes, etc.), even if the numbers appear otherwise in the source. Do not precede a page number with p. or pp., as you do in the list of works cited.
A parenthetical citation that follows a quotation is directly placed after the closing quotation mark. The author's name may appear in the text itself or, abbreviated, before the page number in the parenthesis.
Reading is just half of literacy. The other half is writing" (Baron 194).
If a quotation starts at the bottom of one page and continues onto the next page, include the page span in your parenthetical citation.
The narrator smugly asserts that liars have the fullest understanding of the world around them. "For just a moment I saw the truth in her eyes, and the truth was that she hated me for what she thought i was, the agent of an oppressive regime" (Nguyen 9-10).
Nguyen, Viet Thanh. The Sympathizer. Grove Press, 2015.
When an entry in the works-cited list begins with the title of a work, the title may appear in prose or in parentheses.
Citation in prose
Reading at Risk notes that despite an apparent decline in reading during the same period, " the number of people doing creative writing—of any genre, not exclusively literary works—increased substantially between 1982 and 2002" (Reading 3).
Despite an apparent decline in reading during the same period, "the number of people doing creative writing—of any genre, not exclusively literary works—increased substantially between 1952 and 2002" (Reading 3).
Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. National Endowment for the Arts, June 2004.
Volume numbers for multivolume nonperiodical works
If you borrow from only one volume of a multivolume work that does not have a unique title, the number of the volume is specified in the entry in the works-cited list and does not need to be included in the in-text citation.
"In a few short months," Rampersad explains, "Hughes had become virtually the house poet of the most important journal in black America" (48).
Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2nd ed., vol. 1, Oxford UP, 2002.
If you borrow from more than one volume, include a volume number and a page number in the in-text citation, separating the two with a colon and a space. It is not necessary to use the words volume and page or their abbreviations. The functions of the numbers in such a citation are understood.
"The contributions to criticism of semantics, sociology, psychoanalysis, and anthropology are largely new, " writes Wellek, acknowledging that the problems addressed by criticism in the modern era have historical specificity, too (1: 5). Ultimately, he asserts, "An evolutionary history of criticism must fail. I have come to this resigned conclusion" (5: xxii).
Wellek, René. A History of Modern Criticism, 1750-1950. Yale UP, 1955-92. 8 vols.
Time stamps for video and audio recordings
For works in time-based media, such as audio and video recordings, cite the relevant time or time span if it is displayed. Give the numbers of the hours, minutes, and seconds as displayed in your media player, separating the numbers with colons, with no space on either side.
Buffy's promise that "there's not going to be any incidents like at my old school" is obviously not one that she can keep ("Buffy" 00:03:16-17).
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Unaired Pilot 1996." YouTube, uploaded by Brian Stowe, 28 Jan. 2012, www.youtube.com?watch?v=WR3J-v7QXXw.
Punctuation in the parenthetical citation
No punctuation is used between the author's name or the title (or description) and a page number.
Citations of multiple sources in a single paragraph are separated by semicolons.
(Baron 194; Jacobs 55)
Citations of different locations in a single source are separated by commas.
(Baron 194, 200, 197-98)
Additional information related to in-text citations can be found in section 6 (pp. 227-252) of The MLA Handbook. Also check Purdue's OWL page