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MLA Citation Guide (8th Edition): In-Text Citation

Quoting and Paraphrasing: What's the Difference?

There are two ways to integrate others' research into your assignment: you can paraphrase or you can quote.

Paraphrasing is used to show that you understand what the author wrote. You must reword the passage, expressing the ideas in your own words, and not just change a few words here and there. Make sure to also include an in-text citation.

Quoting is copying a selection from someone else's work, phrasing it exactly as it was originally written. When quoting, place quotation marks (" ") around the selected passage to show where the quote begins and where it ends. Make sure to include an in-text citation.

About In-Text Citations

In MLA, in-text citations are inserted in the body of your research paper to briefly document the source of your information. Brief in-text citations point the reader to more complete information in the Works Cited list at the end of the paper.

Number of Authors/Editors

Format of In-Text Citation


 (Author's Last Name Page Number)

 Example: (Case 57)


 (Author's Last Name and Author's Last Name Page Number)

 Example: (Case and Daristotle 57)

Three or more

 (Author's Last Name et al. Page Number)

 Example: (Case et al. 57)


 Note: If the author's name is mentioned in your sentence or it's otherwise clear which source you're referring to, do not repeat this information in an in-text citation. In these cases, provide only a page number (if there is one) at the end of the quotation or paraphrased section. 

Quoting Directly

When you quote directly from a source, enclose the quoted section in quotation marks. Add an in-text citation at the end of the quote with the author name and page number, like this:

"Here's a direct quote" (Smith 8).

"Here's a direct quote" ("Trouble" 22).

 Note: The period goes outside the parentheses, at the end of your in-text citation.


Climate change is advancing as "a far more frightening pace" than scientists have predicted (Bocks 9).

Pollan highlights these debates to show the extent to which, even in a court of law, a "standard definition of the adjective" is nearly impossible to arrive at (784).


When you write information or ideas from a source in your own words, cite the source by adding an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased portion, like this:

‚ÄčThis is a paraphrase (Smith 8).

This is a paraphrase ("Trouble" 22).

 Note: The period goes outside the parentheses, at the end of your in-text citation.


Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 65).

 Note: If the paraphrased information/idea is from several pages, include all of the page numbers.


Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 50, 55, 65-71).

No Known Author

When a source has no known author, use the first one, two, or three words from the title instead of the author's last name. Don't count initial articles like "A", "An," or "The." You should provide enough words to make it clear which work you're referring to from your Works Cited list.

If the title in the Works Cited list is in italics, italicize the words from the title in the in-text citation.


(Cell Biology 12)

If the title in the Works Cited list is in quotation marks, put quotation marks around the words from the title in the in-text citation.


("Nursing" 12)

No Page Numbers

When you quote from electronic sources that do not provide page numbers (like webpages), cite the author name only. If there is no author, cite the first word or words from the title only.

Include a paragraph number only if the paragraphs are explicitly numbered in the original text. If there are no page, chapter, paragraph, or section numbers in the original text, then no numbers should be included in the citation. Never count pages or paragraphs yourself or invent your own numbers. 


As Garelli explains, "These are the three phases of the separation response: protest, despair, and detachment" (Garelli).

We know that "nutrition is a critical part of health and development" ("Nutrition").

Vuong "wanted to use the metaphor differently," as he explains in a recent article on literary influence (par. 2).

Works Quoted in Another Source

Sources that are paraphrased or quoted in other sources are called indirect sources. MLA recommends you take information from the original source whenever possible. 

If you must cite information from an indirect source, mention the author of the original source in the body of your text and place the name of the author of the source you actually consulted in your in-text citation. Begin your in-text citation with "qtd. in."


Kumashiro notes that lesbian and bisexual women of colour are often excluded from both queer communities and communities of colour (qtd. in Dua 188).

(In this scenario, you are using an article by Dua that cites information from Kumashiro's original source.)

 Note: In your Works Cited list, include a citation only for the source you consulted, NOT the original source.

In the above example, your Works Cited list would include a citation for Dua's article, NOT Kumashiro's.

Repeated Use of Sources

If you're using information from a single source more than once in a row (with no other sources referred to in between), you can use a simplified in-text citation. The first time you use information from the source, use a full in-text citation. The second time, you only need to give the page number.


Cell biology is an area of science that focuses on the structure and function of cells (Smith 15). It revolves around the idea that the cell is a "fundamental unit of life" (17). Many important scientists have contributed to the evolution of cell biology. Mattias Jakob Schleiden and Theodor Schwann, for example, were scientists who formulated cell theory in 1838 (20). 

 Note: If using this simplified in-text citation creates ambiguity regarding the source being referred to, use the full in-text citation format.

In-Text Citation for More Than One Source

If you would like to cite more than one source within the same in-text citation, simply record the in-text citations as normal and separate them with a semicolon.


(Smith 42; Bennett 71). 

(It Takes Two; Brock 43).

 Note: The sources within the in-text citation do not need to be in alphabetical order for MLA style.

Long Quotations

What Is a Long or Block Quotation?

If your quotation is longer than four lines, it is a considered a long quotation. This can also be referred to as a block quotation.

Rules for Long/Block Quotations

There are three rules that apply to long/block quotations that are different from regular quotations:

  1. Indent the entire quotation 0.5 inches from the rest of the text, so it looks like a block of text.
  2. Do not put quotation marks around the quotation.
  3. Place the period at the end of the quotation before your in-text citation instead of after, as with regular quotations.

Example of a Long/Block Quotation

At the end of Lord of the Flies the boys are struck with the realization of their behaviour:

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (Golding 168)

Citing Three or More Authors

If there are three or more authors, begin your citation with the name of the first author listed followed by a comma and et al.

In-Text Citation: (Last Name, et al. page number)

Example: (Johnson, et al.172)