Citing and referencing: In-text citations

A guide to the styles recommended by Monash schools and departments for students and researchers


Warning symbolThis guide is no longer being maintained as the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook has been replaced by the 8th edition. Only use the 7th edition under direction of your lecturer or tutor. Please click here to go to the MLA 8th library guide.

MLA rules for in-text citations

  • If the author's name is mentioned in the sentence, only cite the page number/s. If citing page ranges, do not write the last page number in full. e.g. (306-8)
  • If you are citing more than one source at the same point in your assignment, place them in the same parentheses, separated by a semi-colon. e.g. (Jackson 41; Smith 150)
  • If you are citing two works by the same author, put a comma after the author's name and add title words to the in-text citation. Do this when citing each of the sources throughout the assignment. e.g. (Smyth, "Memories of Motherhood" 77)
  • If a source has more than one author use 'and' rather than '&'. e.g. (Brown and Czerniewicz 2010)
  • If two authors with the same family name are cited in your assignment, use their first initials to distinguish them. e.g. (G. Brown 26) and (R. Brown 167).

Using Quotations in the MLA Style

Quotation from prose

 If a prose quotation is no more than four lines and does not require special emphasis, put it in quotation marks and incorporate it into the text. Include the page number(s) in brackets.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," wrote Charles Dickens of the eighteenth century (5).

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Ed. Richard Maxwell. London: Penguin Classics, 2003. Print.

Block quotations

If a quotation is longer than four lines, set if off from your text by beginning a new line, indenting one inch from the left margin, and typing it double-spaced, without adding quotation marks. Introduce the quotation with a colon. Place the parenthetical reference after the last line. For example, John Corner in his book, The Art of Record: A Critical Introduction to Documentary, refers to Brian Winston's revaluation of the documentary tradition in the writings of John Grierson.

     Winston's reassessment of Grierson finds the play-off between creativity and realness unconvincing:
                    Grierson's taxonomic triumph was to make his particular species
                    of non-fiction film, the non-fiction genre while at the same time
                    allowing the films to use the significant fictionalising technique
                    of dramatisation. (Winston 103)

This is a usefully provocative point, though agreement with it will largely rest on certain, contestable ideas about 'fictionalisation' and 'dramatisation'. The issue is dealt with directly in Chapter Two, as part of considering the debate around drama-documentary forms, and it occurs in relation to specific works throughout this book.

Corner, John. The Art of Record: A Critical Introduction to Documentary. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1996. Print.  

Quotations from poetry

Quotations from poetry from part of a line up to 3 lines in length, which do not need particular emphasis, may be added, placed in quotation marks, within your text as part of a sentence. Use a slash with a space either side ( / ) to indicate a new line of poetry. Place the page numbers in parentheses before the full-stop.

e.g. More's distress that she had not written about the problems of the slave trade earlier are expressed in the poem: "Whene'er to Afric's shores I turn my eyes, / Horrors of deepest, deadliest guilt arise" (111-112).

Feldman, Paula R. ed. British Women Poets of the Romantic Era: An Anthology. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. Print.

Quotations from poetry over 3 lines in length:

  • begin the quotation on a new line
  • indent each line 2.54cm from the left margin
  • double spacing between the lines
  • no quotation marks
  • place the reference in parentheses at the end of the last line after the full-stop
  • if the lines of poetry do not fit between the margins of your text, continue these on the next line, indented an extra 0.635cm
  • if the text of the original poem does not follow normal textual rules, try to replicate the original as closely as possible
  • if a quotation begins in the middle of the line in the original, try to replicate its position in the original rather than shifting the partial line to the left margin.

Quotations from a play

If you quote the lines of more than one actor or if the piece you are quoting is long, the quotation should not be integrated into your text. The rules in MLA for presenting this text are:

  • leave a line between your text and the quotation
  • indent the first line of each character's words 2.54cm (1 inch)
  • indent all subsequent lines in that piece of dialogue 0.64cm (0.25 inch)
  • write the name of each character in upper case and end with a full-stop, e.g. BODYGUARDS.
  • end each piece of dialogue with a full-stop
  • end the last line of the quotation with a full-stop and then add the section and line numbers in parentheses.

Indirect quotation from a source within a source

Where a quotation is less than four lines, use quotation marks and incorporate it into the text. In the following example, the author of A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Hermann quotes one Hitchcock biographer, Donald Spoto (Smith 192).

Together, noted Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto, the two men shared "a dark, tragic sense of life, a brooding view of human relationships and a compulsion to explore aesthetically the private world of the romantic fantasy" (381).

The parenthetical reference refers to the page in the book where the quotation is found. The book is listed in the bibliography as follows:

Spoto, Donald. The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock. Boston: Little, 1983. Print.

Smith, Steven C. A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Hermann. California: U of California P, 1991. Print.

MLA rules for citing indirect sources

Wherever possible, use material from the original source rather than from a secondhand one. In some instances however, an indirect source may be the only available source, for example, a published account of another person's spoken remarks. If what you quote or paraphrase is itself a quotation, put the abbreviation qtd. in ("quoted in") before the indirect source you cite in your parenthetical reference.

e.g. Samuel Johnson admitted that Edmund Burke was an "extraordinary man" (qtd. in Boswell 2: 450).

In your "Works Cited" list, include the source you quoted from.

Boswell, James. The Life of Johnson. Ed. George Birbeck Hill and L. F. Powell. 6 vols. Oxford, Clarendon, 1934-50. Print.

For more information, see 6.4.7 of the MLA Handbook.