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MLA 9th ed. Style Guide

What are In-Text Citations?

In-text citations are used to cite information used from a resource within the body of the research paper.  These references point the reader to the resources in the works cited page.   

MLA 9th edition uses a shortened form of citation that consists of the author's last name and the page number that information was found on; these components are placed within parentheses.  Punctuation marks such as commas, periods, question marks, and semi-colons are usually placed after the in-text citations.  

There are two types of in-text citations: parenthetical and citation in prose (formerly narrative).  The typical parenthetical in-text citation begins with the shortest piece of information that directs readers to the works cited list.  It always begins with whatever comes first in the works cited entry. 

In a citation in prose (or narrative), the author of the source is listed in the body of the paper and the page number of the source is listed in parentheses at the end. 

Examples of in-text citations, both parenthetical and citation in prose, can be found on the In-Text Citations example page.  Find more information regarding in-text citations in chapter 6 of the MLA Handbook. 

Direct and Indirect quotes

Direct quote

A direct quote is a quote that is copied directly from the resource.  It should be copied word for word and put in quotation marks.  Most direct quotes can be put in the general text of the paper; if the quote is more than four (4) lines long, then it needs to be set off separately as a block quote.  

However, if you are omitting a word, phrase, or sentence from a passage, an ellipsis (three spaced periods) should be in place of the word, phrase, or sentence.  If you are quoting a word or phrase, no ellipsis is needed.   Be sure that the quote does not mislead the reader from the original source's sentence structure.  


When information is taken from a source and summarized (i.e. not copied directly as they are written), it is called paraphrasing.  The paraphrased information is not placed within quotation marks but still have the in-text citations, whether parenthetical or narrative, after the information.