How to Cite MLA in a Text

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The Modern Language Association (MLA) citation guidelines require you to list all sources used for information in a reference list at the end of your term paper. MLA guidelines also require you to cite all direct quotations and paraphrased sections within the text. Failure to properly cite within the text may lead to charges of academic plagiarism. Follow these simple instructions to cite within the text of your paper according to MLA guidelines.

  • List the last name of the author, followed by the page number you are citing.

    For example: Smith 118

  • Enclose the citation information in parentheses.

    For example: (Smith 118).

  • Place your citation directly after quoting or paraphrasing from the source. The citation should come before punctuation marks such as periods, commas, semicolons or colons. Here are 2 examples:

    One scholar avers that zombies "have the best recovery rate of any supernatural creature" (Smith 118).

    One scholar avers that zombies have the best recovery rate of any supernatural creature (Smith 118); others disagree.

  • Omit the name of the author from your parenthetical citation if you have already referenced it in the text. For example:

    Smith avers that zombies "have the best recovery rate of any supernatural creature" (118).

    Repeat Step 3, however, when you cite a second reference and then go back to the first reference.

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