What Is an In-text Citation?

What Is an In-Text Citation?

An in-text citation is a brief description of where the information you are citing in your writing comes from. It directs the reader to more complete documentation in the Works Cited page at the end of the paper. In-text citations are placed inside the body of your paper.

When Do I Use an In-Text Citation?

In-text citations are used when you use information (ideas, quotations, statistics, dates, figures, graphs, charts, and images) from other sources in your writing.  Writers most often take information from other sources and either directly quote it, paraphrase it, or summarize it.

MLA has specific rules about how to format your in-text citations. In-text citations must correspond with the first word(s) of the matching Works Cited page citation. Below are general MLA guidelines for in-text citations.

  • Include Author’s Name
    • The first time you use a source in your paper, include the author’s and their credentials if those credentials help to establish the credibility of the author.
    • This will be done at the beginning of the sentence.
    • After the initial introduction, in-text citations can then be contained in parenthesis at the end of the research.
    • If you have two authors, include both of their names.
    • If you have more than two authors, use the first author’s name followed by a comma and et al.
    • If there is no author, use the title of the source, capitalized according to MLA rules, in “quotation marks.”
      • Example: According to the article “What Is Wrong with Today’s Schools,” children need teachers who they view as role models (24).
  • Include the Page Number(s)
    • The page number should be put at the end of the sentence in (parentheses).
    • Put the period after the parentheses.
      • Example: At the end of the day Wilbur made “in excess of half a million dollars” (Marx 43).
    • If there is no page number, skip this part. (The period should be put inside of the “quote marks” in direct quotes.)
      • Mark Kantrowitz, publisher for a private financial aid help site, published tips in Forbes magazine stating, “To get a better financial aid offer, you need to understand how the system works.”


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What Is an In-text Citation? by Sami Lange; Vicki Brandenburg; and Leila Palis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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