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ENGL 1301 Toulmin Argument

Guide for Stacey Joshua's ENGL 1301.

In-text citations in MLA

Any time you use an information source in your paper, you must include an in-text citation.

The purpose of the in-text citation is to give just a little bit of information about the source you used so your reader can find your Works Cited list citation for the source. The Works Cited list citations allow your reader to see where you're getting your information and to find the source again so they can read it for themselves.  

Every in-text citation must correspond to a source citation on your Works Cited list. Every citation on your Works Cited list must correspond to at least one in-text citation somewhere in your paper.  

If you don't include in-text citations or Works Cited citations for information you use from your sources, you are at risk of plagiarism (passing off others' work as your own). Plagiarism has serious academic consequences. 

Formatting In-Text Citations in MLA

The basic elements of MLA in-text citations are author and page number. 

I'm citing a book about students' writing and research skills. The author's last name is Broussard and I am directly quoting something from page 8 of her book: 

Librarians studying students' feelings about research papers found that "students are frustrated, confused, and fearful of the research paper, but such feelings are not necessarily the result of laziness" (Broussard 8).

 

Important to notice here:

  • We never include authors' first names in in-text citations: last names only.

  • There is no punctuation inside the parentheses.

  • There is no special notation like p. or pg. before the page number. 

  • The period at the end of the sentence goes after the parentheses: the in-text citation is part of the sentence. 

When your source has two authors, mention them both in the in-text citation. 

Texting is very common in almost every environment, including the college classroom. Two researchers report finding that “the vast majority of participants (97.5%) reported at least occasional use of a cell phone to text while in class” (Olmsted and Terry 188).

 

Important to notice here:

  • Spell out the word 'and' in between authors' names. Don't use & or + in the in-text citation.

If your source has three or more authors, only write the first author's name (in both the in-text citation and the Works Cited citation). Use the Latin abbreviation "et al." (meaning "and others") to show that there are more authors you're not mentioning. 

Here's what a Works Cited citation looks like for a journal article with three or more authors:

 

 

Here is what the in-text citation will look like:

A recent study focused on how college libraries are recruiting and keeping diverse librarians on their staff (Kung et al. 96).

 

Important to notice here:

  • In the abbreviation "et al." there is no period after et, but there is a period after al. That will be the only punctuation in the in-text citation. 

If the source you're citing doesn't have page numbers, don't make them up: just leave them out of the in-text citation.

Include the author but don't include page numbers:

Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo kept up an “extensive, diary-like correspondence” throughout his life (van Uitert).

Some sources may not have an author. We can still cite them and create in-text citations for them. 

When a source doesn't have an author, we start the Works Cited citation with the source's title, like this webpage:

 

Because the Works Cited citation starts with the source's title, that's also what you'll use in the in-text citation.

Academic librarians “help students research topics related to their coursework and teach students how to access information.” (“Librarians”).

The source you're citing might not follow the examples we list here. What if you're citing a video, or you're quoting something your source is quoting? 

MLA has rules for those situations, too. You don't need to memorize them: you can always look them up if you're not sure. 

The Excelsior College Online Writing Lab has a great guide for in-text citation rules you can bookmark to look at whenever you need to: https://owl.excelsior.edu/citation-and-documentation/mla-style/mla-in-text-citations/   

Direct and Indirect Quotes

Create an in-text citation whenever you use a direct or indirect quote.

Direct quotes: when you copy/paste the exact words from a source. Put quotation marks around the quote to show it is direct. 

Texting is very common in almost every environment, including the college classroom. Two researchers report finding that “the vast majority of participants (97.5%) reported at least occasional use of a cell phone to text while in class” (Olmsted and Terry 188).
 

Indirect quotes: when you summarize or paraphrase a source in your own words. Even though you’re using your own words, you must cite the source to give credit to the original idea.

This is an example of paraphrase of the direct quote above:

Texting is very common in almost every environment, including the college classroom. In a 2014 study of undergraduates, researchers found that nearly all of the students surveyed had used their cell phones to text at some point during class (Olmsted and Terry 188).

 

Need help on the differences between direct and indirect quotes? 

This quick guide tells you the differences between summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting, and offers tips to help you do all three.

Parentheses vs Signal Phrases

There are two ways to create an in-text citation. 

Parentheses: Put the author(s) and page number of the quote together in parentheses at the end of the quote​:

Texting is very common in almost every environment, including the college classroom. Two researchers report finding that “the vast majority of participants (97.5%) reported at least occasional use of a cell phone to text while in class” (Olmsted and Terry 188).

 

Signal phrase: Write the author(s) in the text of the sentence (using a "signal phrase") and put the page number in parentheses at the end of the quote: 

Texting is very common in almost every environment, including the college classroom. In a 2014 study of undergraduates, Olmsted and Terry found that nearly all of the students surveyed had used their cell phones to text at some point during class (188).

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