When citing sources in an MLA Style thesis or dissertation, you'll need to follow two different formats. In-text citations are references to sources that you make within the main text of your paper. "Works Cited" is a separate page at the end of your paper where you list every reference source you used in the paper.

In a formal paper, it's important to cite every source you use. You need to let your readers know that you've performed the proper research to support the position you've taken in the paper. Readers who want more information than what you've provided in your paper can use the cited sources. It's important to credit the researchers who provided the information in your paper.

With this article, we'll focus on MLA rules for citing sources inside the text.

I. BASIC RULES

With MLA Style, an in-text citation is sometimes called a parenthetical citation. Essentially, any time you paraphrase another person's or source's ideas, or any time you use a direct quotation in your paper, you need to cite that source.

By citing the source within the text, you give your readers a chance to find the source material themselves, should they want more information about a particular quote or idea.

II. IN-TEXT CITATIONS

When creating an in-text citation, you want to give your readers an easy method for finding the source material. You only need enough information in the in-text citation to give the reader an easy method of finding the source in the Works Cited list at the end of your paper. Because the Works Cited list will be in alphabetical order, listed by the author's last name first, you only need to list the author's last name for your in-text citation. That should be enough information for your readers to find the source on the Works Cited page.

Here are some examples for in-text citations, based on particular sources and circumstances.

A) One source, author known.

List the author of the source and the page number or numbers that you used in your reference. Place the source material inside parentheses immediately after the material you need to source. Do not separate the author's name and the page number with any punctuation.

Some economists have indicated that technological advancements spur economic growth (Johnson 16).

B) One source, author unknown.

In addition to the page number, list a shortened title for the source, if you don't know the author's name. If the title is for a long work, list it in italics. If the title is for a short work, list it inside quotation marks. Again, use parentheses for the in-text citation.

Some economists have indicated that technological advancements spur economic growth ("2007 Economic Growth Report" 16).

C) Two or more sources, authors known.

Follow the same rules as you used with one source, but you'll need to separate each source with a semicolon.

Some economists have indicated that technological advancements spur economic growth (Johnson 16; Jones 37-38; Smith 2).

D) Multiple works, same author.

If you have more than one source from the same author, just add a shortened title for the particular source you're using to the author's name in the in-text citation. Separate the author's name and the title with a comma.

Some economists have indicated that technological advancements spur economic growth (Johnson, "2007 Economic Growth Report" 16).

E) Multiple authors, same last name.

You might end up with sources from two different authors who share the same last name. In that case, you may use the author's first initial, first and middle initials, first name and middle initial, or first and middle names. Use as much of the first and middle names as required so it's easy for your readers to find the source in the Works Cited list.

Some economists have indicated that technological advancements spur economic growth (B. Johnson 16).

F) Indirect source.

If you have a quote taken from an indirect source, include the phrase "qtd. in" with the in-text citation. List the actual source where you found the quote in the in-text citation and in the Works Cited list.

Jones has mentioned that "technological advancements spur economic growth" (qtd. in Johnson 16).

G) Other option.

If it makes more sense in your writing to list the author in the actual text, you can simply list the page number inside the parentheses for the in-text citation.

The economist Johnson has indicated that technological advancements spur economic growth (16).

Although MLA Style allows you to use the author's name in the text of the sentence you're citing, you are not allowed to use the page number or numbers in the sentence. The page number should always appear in parentheses.

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