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Citation Help: In-text Citation

MLA In-Text Citations: General Guidelines & Examples

Include an in-text citation when you refer to, summarize, paraphrase, or quote from another source. For every in-text citation in your paper, there must be a corresponding entry in your reference list.

MLA in-text citation style uses the author's last name and the page number from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken, for example: (Smith 163). If the source does not use page numbers, do not include a number in the parenthetical citation: (Smith).

In MLA style the author's name can be included either in the narrative text of your paper, or in parentheses following the reference to the source.

Note: For quotations that are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, display quotations as an indented block of text (one inch from left margin) and omit quotation marks. Place your parenthetical citation at the end of the block of text, after the final punctuation mark.

In addition to awareness-raising, practicing listening to accented speech has been shown to improve listening comprehension. This article recommends developing listening training programs for library faculty and staff, based on research from the linguistics and language teaching fields. Even brief exposure to accented speech can help listeners improve their comprehension, thereby improving the level of service to international patrons. (O'Malley 19)

Example paragraph with in-text citation

A few researchers in the linguistics field have developed training programs designed to improve native speakers' ability to understand accented speech (Derwing et al. 246; Thomas 15). Their training techniques are based on the research described above indicating that comprehension improves with exposure to non-native speech. Derwing and others conducted their training with students preparing to be social workers, but note that other professionals who work with non-native speakers could benefit from a similar program (258).

Author's name part of narrative:

Gass and Varonis found that the most important element in comprehending non-native speech is familiarity with the topic (163).

Author's name in parentheses:

One study found that the most important element in comprehending non-native speech is familiarity with the topic (Gass and Varonis 163).

Group as author:

(American Psychological Association 123)

Multiple works (separate each work with semi-colons):

Research shows that listening to a particular accent improves comprehension of accented speech in general (Gass and Varonis 143; Thomas 24).

Direct quote (include page number):

One study found that “the listener's familiarity with the topic of discourse greatly facilitates the interpretation of the entire message” (Gass and Varonis 85).

Gass and Varonis found that “the listener’s familiarity with the topic of discourse greatly facilitates the interpretation of the entire message” (85).


Derwing, Tracey M., et al. "Teaching Native Speakers to Listen to Foreign-accented Speech." Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, vol. 23, no. 4, 2002, pp. 245-259.

Thomas, Holly K. Training Strategies for Improving Listeners' Comprehension of Foreign-accented Speech. University of Colorado, Boulder, 2004.

Works by Multiple Authors

When citing works by multiple authors, always spell out the word "and." When a source has three or more authors, only the first one shown in the source is normally given followed by et al.

One author

In-text Citation

(Field 399)

Works Cited entry
Field, John. "Intelligibility and the Listener: The Role of Lexical Stress." TESOL Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 3, 2005, pp. 399-423.

Two authors

In-text Citation

(Gass and Varonis 67)

Works Cited entry
Gass, Susan, and Evangeline M. Varonis. "The Effect of Familiarity on the Comprehensibility of Nonnative Speech." Language Learning, vol. 34, no. 1, 1984, pp. 65-89.

Three or more authors

In-text Citation

(Munro et al. 70)

Works Cited entry
Munro, Murray J., et al. "Salient Accents, Covert Attitudes: Consciousness-raising for Pre-service Second Language Teachers." Prospect, vol. 21, no. 1, 2006, pp. 67-79.

Web pages

Cite web pages in text as you would any other source, using the author if known. If the author is not known, use the title as the in-text citation.

Your in-text citation should lead your reader to the corresponding entry in the reference list. Below are examples of using in-text citation with web pages.

Entire website with author

In-text citation

Parents play an important role in helping children learn techniques for coping with bullying (Kraizer).

Reference entry

Kraizer, Sherryll. Safe Child. Coalition for Children, 2011,

Web page with no author

In-text citation

The University of Iowa's was the first public university to admit students regardless of race or gender ("University Archives: Resource Guide to University ‘Firsts’").

Reference entry

"'Firsts' at the University of Iowa" University Archives: Resource Guide to University 'Firsts'. University of Iowa Special Collections, 2017,

Courtesy of Penn State University Libraries

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