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Citing Sources: In-Text Citations- MLA

This guide indicates the appropriate form for layout, in-text citations, and bibliography for MLA, APA, and Chicago formatted papers.

What is an In-text Citation?

Created by EasyBib.

What is a Signal Phrase?

Signal phrases let your reader know that you are quoting or summarizing from another source. In the text of your essay, you refer to the source you are using.


  • In the words of researchers Redelmeier and Tibshirani, "..."
  • As Matt Sundeen has noted, "..."
  • Patti Pena, mother of a child killed by a driver distracted by a cell phone, points out that "..."
  • "...," writes Christine Haughtney.
  • "...," claims wireless spokesperson Annette Jacobs.
  • from Bedford Handbook (583).

Verbs in a Signal Phrase

points out

When to Use an In-text Citation

Created by Cardiff University Informmation Services. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

To summarize:

  • If you had to go to a source to find the information, cite it.
  • If all the information in a paragraph comes from the same source, you may cite at the end of the paragraph. If, however, you have used more than one source in the paragraph, provide the citation after the material borrowed.

Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Quoting Sources

When you quote a source, you include the author's exact words in your text. Use "quotation marks" around the author's words. Include signal phrases and an in-text citation to show where the quote is from.

Paraphrasing & Summarizing Sources

When you paraphrase or summarize a source, you restate the source's ideas in your own words and sentence structure. Select what is relevant to your topic, and restate only that. Changing only a few words is not sufficient in paraphrasing/ summarizing. Instead, you need to completely rephrase the author's ideas in your own words. You do not need to use quotation marks.

Always use in-text citations when you paraphrase or summarize, to let the reader know that the information comes from another source. Continue to use signal phrases as well. For more information about paraphrasing, please review the content on the paraphrasing page.

In-text Citations: 1-3 Known Authors

Author named in the text : Format

Signal phrase with author's name, "quote" (page).


One researcher, Carol Gilligan, concludes that "women impose a distinctive construction on moral problems" (105).

Author named in parenthetical citation: Format

Signal phrase, "quote" (Author page).


According to a study, "the poor and minorities were victims" (Frieden and Sagalyn 29).

Our text discusses the "ethical dilemmas in public relations" (Wilcox, Ault, and Agee 125).

In-text Citation - More than 3 Known Authors

More Than Three Authors
List only the first author's name followed by et al.


Signal phrase, "quote" (Author et al. page).


Recent research shows that "…" (Graham et al. 86).

In-text Citation - No Author

If the source has no named author, use the first main word in the title. If it is a very short title, you may use the whole thing. Put the title in quotation marks if it's a short source (e.g., an article) or italicize it if it's a longer source, like a book.

You may also name the title in your text and provide the page number in parentheses.

Note: Books and websites are italicized. Webpages and article names are within quotation marks.


Signal phrase, "quote" (Shortened Title page).

Signal phrase with title, "quote" (page).


Full title of book = Challenging Capital Punishment: Legal and Social Science Approaches

One article states that, "A death row inmate may demand his execution for notoriety" (Challenging Capital Punishment 135).

Challenging Capital Punishment states that, "A death row inmate may demand his execution for notoriety" (135).

Title of the article = "10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's"

One sign of Alzheimers is "memory loss that disrupts daily life" ("10 Early Signs").


In-text Citation - Electronic Sources with No Page Numbers

A database source is NOT the same as an Internet source. Most sites do not reproduce the article exactly as it was published in the original journal or magazine. If you find an article on a news website, such as the BBC site or CBC site please remember to cite the source as a website.

If there are no page numbers on the electronic source, use only the author name or the first main word of the title.


Signal phrase, "quote" (Author).

Signal phrase, "quote" ("Shortened Title" - if citing a webpage or article and author is unknown).


According to a study, "Twins reared apart report similar feelings" (Palfrey).


In-text Citation: Quoting a Source in a Source

If there are no page numbers on the electronic source, use only the author name or the first main word of the title. However, you can indicate where the material came from in your text.

There are occasions where you may find a source that quotes another source that you want to use in your paper. Ideally, you would find the original source to ensure you understand the context of the quote. If you do decide to use the quote from the source you are using, however, you must recognize both sources. For example, in the Critical Insights series, we have a popular book of critical analysis called Things for Apart. One of the chapters, written by Amy Sickels, is entitled "The Critical Reception of Things Fall Apart." In her essay, she quotes Keith M. Booker. This is the quote you decide you want to use:

Booker makes the point that the "African novel is always a complex hybrid cultural phenomenon that combines Western and African cultural perspectives" (qtd. in Sickels 43).

The citation in the Works Cited page (remember you need a hanging indent):

Sickels, Amy. “The Critical Reception of Things Fall Apart." Things Fall Apart,  edited by M. Keith Booker, Salem Press, 2011, pp.  33-52.

MLA Checklist - Quick Guide for Printing

For more information on MLA from OWL at Purdue

OWL at Putdue so one of the best sources of information on citing. Please review the following material if more information is required.


This LibGuide is based on the MLA Citations LibGuide created by Montgomery College Libraries. The content and format are used with permission.

The MLA Formatting Style Guide by OWL at  Purdue was also used with permission.