MLA In-Text Citation Guide: A comprehensive guide

The in-text citation is used after quoting, summarizing, or paraphrasing your work using another author’s context. The in-text citation is a very crucial part of your work and without it, your work will sound untrue to the reader.

Your work should always have a reference point that proves that the information you are giving is valid.

The key details in this style are the date and page number. However, the citation is not complete without other details that should be included while citing your sources.

On your computer, you will find ‘references’ at the top of your screen. This is the section that allows you to add, delete or make changes to the references that you have cited in your paperwork. The ‘style’ section should be changed into MLA. In the section of ‘insert citation’ is the part where you insert details on ‘add new source’.

It is important to key in the correct details to ensure that whatever you are citing should be of correct order and appear as per the MLA principles.

Here are a few details to keep in mind while inserting the source details in MLA format.

  • The name of the author should always be keyed in starting from the last name then the first and finally the middle one. However, if there is more than one author, there is an option to add more. It is pretty simple to key in details since all the sections are labeled for you to provide the correct information.
  • If in a given sentence, the author’s name has been indicated already, you can only provide other details in the citation other than the names. On the contrary, you can always edit out the name details in that specific sentence and include the name in the citation.
  • If the reference material has four or more original authors, write the name of the author followed by “et al.”

Example: Michael, Andrew, et al.

There are different sources included in a reference based on the MLA format. Below are examples of cases where information differs and how you should structure each citation in the right format.

Book by a single author.

Last Name, First Name and Initial (if given). Title. Location: Publisher, Year. Medium of Publication.

Example:  Michael, Andrews B. The mindset: How It Shapes the Lifestyle. New York: Forbes, 2001. Print.

Book by two or more authors.

Last Name, First Name and Initial (if given), and First Name, Last Name. Title. Location: Publisher, Year. Medium of Publication.

Example: White, Napoleon B., and Shelby K. White. The untold stories of homelessness. Los Angeles: Times, 2021. Print.

Text in an anthology or edited book

Last Name, First Name (of the author of the article). “Article Title”. Anthology Title. Ed. First Name (of the editor). Location: Publisher, Year. Pages. Medium of Publication.

Example: Fernando, Martin. “Introverted Extrovert.” When life breaks you. Ed. Miriam Gonzales. New York: Times, 1996. 105-107. Print.

Article in a Reference Book

“Article Title.” Book Title. Edition Number. Publication Year. Medium of Publication.

Example: “Antarctica.” The World Atlas 5th Ed. 1999. Print.

Article in a Magazine

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Magazine Title Day Month Year: Pages. Medium of Publication.

Example: Gomez, Eleanor. “Political Analysis of Mexico.” The Standard 8th May 2005: 45-51. Print.

Article in a journal

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Journal Title Volume Number. Issue (Year): Pages. Medium of Publication.

Example: Woods, Paul M. “Beginning of Life.” Developmental Biology 20.1 (1990): 100-110. Print.

Article in a Newspaper

Names of Author(s). “Article Title.” Title of Newspaper Day Month Year: Pages. Medium of Publication.

Example: Montana, Jones. “Voice of Majority.” The Daily Nation 9th August 2022: 20-25. Print.

TIP: If the newspaper that you are referencing, is a local newspaper that is not well known by many people, make sure that you include the name of the city and the state/ country where the publication originate. It should appear after the title of the newspaper and should be in brackets.

Personal interview or communication.

Last Name, First Name (of the person being interviewed). Interview Type (face-to-face, phone call, E-mail, short messages). Day Month Year.

Example: Sergey, Robin W. Face-to-Face interview. 16th May 2019.


Editor, Author, or Compiler (if available). Site name. Version Number. Institution/ Organization affiliated (publisher or sponsor), Date of publish (if available). Medium of Publication. Date of Access.

Example: Aryandna, Leno, Gustavo. Beauty by Leno. 2. Exeter U. 12th June 2020.Web. 1st May 2022.

TIP: If you are referencing your work from a website, make sure to include all the applicable information and details that are available. This refers to an entire website.

Library Subscription Service

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Internet Site or Database title Ed. Volume Number (Date of publication): Page number. Name of Publisher. Medium of Publication. Day Month Year of access.

Example:   Juan, Barbara G. “Gene cloning in Animals.” Animal Genetics 65.3 (1998): 330. Biology Researcher. Web. 2nd August 2018.

-Depending on the origin of the work you are using as a reference; from online books, periodical articles, online journals, etc., the first part of the citation will not appear in the same format and will always vary.


-In your citation, if there is no volume number, always indicate the date of publication without using parenthesis ().

Reference list

This is a collection of all resourceful materials that have been used in the paperwork to justify certain information.

In this list, all references appear as entire details of the sources cited throughout the article.

Tips to note while creating a work cited list;

  • According to MLA, the reference list is indicated as ‘work cited’. You can always change the heading in your generated citation to be ‘work cited’ instead of ‘references’.
  • The ‘work cited’ should not be underlined or punctuated. It should always be centered.
  • The list should appear in alphabetical order. Do not consider arranging your work based on if the first words are ‘a’, ‘an’, or ‘the’.
  • The list is a stand-alone section of the article. This means that it should appear on its own page and no other part of the article should appear on the same page as the list. If for instance, the list is longer than one page but on the next page, it only covers a quarter or half of it, any other work done, for instance, diagrams, and tables should start on the next page from the list of references.
  • If an entry covers more than one line in the list, use hanging indentation by a half inch. This only applies on the second line, third or more lines of the same citation entry but the first line should always remain the same alignment and justification based on MLA style.
  • Only cite the work you used in your document.
  • Abbreviations can only be used if they are obvious and clear to understand. For example, Oxford University can be Oxford U. New York can be NY. United Nations can be UN, Edition can be Ed.
  • If you are citing work that is from indirect sources or your source has cited the work from an original author, always write the original author of the text and put ‘qtd in’ followed by the name of the author and page number of the material you found the information from.

If you find this informative, check out my other related posts.

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