Whenever you incorporate outside sources into your own writing, you must provide both in-text citations (within the body of the paper) and full citations (in the works cited page). The in-text citations point your reader toward the full citations in the works cited page.

That's why the first bit of information in your in-text citation (generally, the author's name; if no name is provided, the title of the article/book/webpage) should directly match up with the beginning of your works cited entry for that source.

"Formatting In-Text Citations (MLA)" was written by Jennifer Yirinec and Lauren Cutlip

How might you format your in-text citations so that they're more compliant with MLA guidelines?

You already know why MLA formatting guidelines are an important part of an academic paper, but let’s face it—who can remember all those rules about when and where certain citation information is requisite and when and where particular punctuation is appropriate?

1. Is the heading in the upper left-hand corner of the first page? 

2. Does the heading include:

  • Your name?
  • Your Instructor's name?
  • The course name?
  • The date?

3. Does the paper have an original title (other than something like "Final Paper")?

  • Is the title presented without being bolded, italicized, or placed in quotation marks

4. Does the paper have 1" margins on all sides?

5. Is the paper written in Times New Roman (or another standard font your professor allows) and in 12-pt. font?

6. Is everything double-spaced (including any notes and the works cited page)?

7. Are your last name and the page number in the upper right-hand corner of each page (0.5" from the top, or inserted using the "header" function in Word)?

8.If you've used outside sources, do you have a works cited page? Is it titled "Works Cited" (without the quotation marks)? Does it have a page number (that follows the last page of your paper) and your last name?

9. Are the entries in your list of works cited in alphabetical order by the author's last name?

  • Does each source have an entry on the works cited page?
  • Are all direct quotes in quotation marks?
  • Do all paraphrases and summaries clearly indicate that they come from other sources?
  • Does each in-text reference include a parenthetical citation that includes the author’s last name (unless it is obvious from the context of the sentence who you are referencing) and the page number from which the information was taken?
  • If a quotation is 4 lines or more, is it block-quoted? (i.e. double-spaced, indented 1 inch from the left margin)
  • Have you clearly indicated where you found all information you did not previously know?
  • Does your works cited page conform to MLA format?

Click the "Read More" below to view the article diagram. 

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Look at the sentences below, each of which contains an incorrectly formatted in-text citation. Specify the error made in each sentence; then, write a new sentence in which the in-text citation is correctly formatted.

1. The parlor metaphor of writing describes writing as entering into a conversation, as in arriving late and a parlor and talking to guests who have been there long before you have (7).

2. In “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love,” Jim Corder explains that “Everyone is an argument.” (1)

3. David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day takes place at a school in Paris (Sedaris 1).