Parenthetical Citations Using MLA Format
1. Parenthetical citations tell readers where a writer has drawn material from a source.
2. The basic elements of the parenthetical citation are the author’s last name and the page number of the material used in the source. Example: (Brown 52). However, it is not necessary to repeat any information that is already clearly provided. In other words, omit the author’s last name from the parenthetical citation if you have identified it in the text shortly before the material being cited.
Constance Brown argues that in Richard III, Lawrence Oliver uses a cyclical theme of the crown to create a “central device of coherence” (133).
3. For other citations in which the author’s name is not included within the text, the citation (usually parenthetical) should appear as follows, according to the alphabetized examples below:
A. Work by one author
Oliver creates Richard III’s “central device of coherence” by using a cyclical theme of the crown (Brown 133).
U.N. investigators who have studied the extent of child labor in third-world countries estimate that “as many as 200 million children go to work rather than to school . . . making everything from clothing and shoes to handbags and carpets” (Schapiro 205).
B. Work by two or three authors
High software prices mean that “education must do without this resource, prices must come down, or new strategies for development must be devised” (Holdstein and Selfe 27).
C. Work by more than three authors
In one important study, women graduates complained more frequently about “excessive control than about lack of structure” (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule 205).
In one important study, women graduates complained more frequently about “excessive control than about lack of structure” (Belenky et al. 205).
D. Authors with the same last name
If a works-cited list includes authors with the same last name, use the initials of their first names to distinguish them.
As early as 1966, government studies showed that dioxin-contaminated 2, 4, 5-T caused birth defects in laboratory animals. Later studies also found that this herbicide was to blame for miscarriages, liver abscesses, and nerve damage (J. Adler 32).
E. Separate works by the same author
If a works-cited list includes two or more works by the same author, add shortened forms of the titles to their in-text citations.
As the rangers evacuated students, the marines launched another offensive at Grand Mal Bay, then moved south to seize the capital and free the governor (Frye, “Why the Surprise” 33).
For Northrope Frye, one’s death is not a unique experience, for “every moment we have lived through we have also died out into another order” (Double Vision 85).
F. Two separate sources for the same citation
If two sources provide essentially the same information and you wish to mention both in one parenthetical citation, alphabetize them according to their authors’ last names, group them together with a semicolon between them, and position the citation as you would any other citation.
In contending that a 3% reduction in state funding for community colleges would not significantly hamper their operations, the governor overlooked the fact that community college enrollment was expected to jump by 15% during the next year (Byrce A4; Warshow A2).
G. Citing a work listed by title
In a parenthetical reference to a work alphabetized by title in the list of works cited, the full title (if brief) or a shortened version precedes the page or section number or numbers unless the title appears in the essay text.
A presidential commission reported in 1970 that recent campus protests had focused on “radical injustice, war, and the university itself” (Report 3).
H. Citing Religious Source
In one of the most vivid prophetic visions in the Bible, Ezekiel saw “what seemed to be four living creatures,” each with the faces of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (New Jerusalem Bible, Ezek. 1.5-10). John of Patmos echoes this passage when describing his vision (Rev. 4.6-8).
4. Indirect quotations: If you use a quotation from person A that you obtained from a book or article written by person B, or you paraphrase such a quotation, put “qtd. in” before the name of the publication’s author in the parenthetical reference.
Rudolph Giuliani favors the death penalty for “the murder of a law-enforcement officer, mass murder, a particularly heinous killing” but would impose it only “when there is certainty of guilt well beyond a reasonable doubt” (qtd. in Klein 37).
5. Quotation within Short Quotation:
The report further stated, “All great writing styles have their wellsprings in the personality of the writer. As Buffon said, ‘The style is the man’” (Duncan 49).
6. Block quotations: Quotations over four lines long should be indented from the rest of the text. No quotation marks are needed for block quotes, and in-text citations should be placed immediately following the closing punctuation. Block quotes are double-spaced along with the rest of the text.
Barbara Tuchman’s The Proud Tower presents a somewhat different view of the new conservative leaders. As she writes it:
Besides riches, rank, broad acres, and ancient lineage, the new government also possessed, to the regret of the liberal opposition, and in the words of one of them, “an almost embarrassing wealth of talent and capacity.” Secure in authority, resting comfortably on their electoral majority in the House of Commons and on a permanent majority in the House of Lords, of whom four-fifths were conservatives, they were in a position, admitted the same opponent, of unassailable strength. (4)
7. THE UNIVERSAL RULE FOR ALL ESSAYS: If you quote or provide proof, comment on the quotation or analyze the proof. Let the reader know what you make of it and why you bring it to the readers’ attention.
As Janice Rushing and Thomas Frentz put it in their book Projecting the Shadow: The Cyborg Hero in American Film, “To survive, a man must be technological, and to thrive, he must be technologically adept” (147). The new heroes cannot be sustained without technology, which counteracts their human weaknesses with cyborg prosthetics that give them an inhuman capacity for human salvation.
8. Blend quotations into your own sentences. Quotations should be introduced so that the reader knows as much as necessary about who is being quoted and how the content relates to your larger ideas. DO NOT, for example, bring in quotations in the following manner:
Some industries are in trouble. “It will never be as large as an industry as it has been. There are a lot of plants that will never come back and many laborers who will never be retired” (Cybert 43).
This abrupt quotation throws the reader off balance because it is not blended into the previous sentence. It is better to prepare the reader to move from the discourse to the quotation, as in the following revision:
Economist Richard M. Cybert, president of Carnegie-Mellon University offers the following sad prediction about the steel industry’s future: “It will never be as large as an industry as it has been. There are a lot of plants that will never come back and many laborers who will never be retired” (43).
Here the quotation is made an actual part of the sentence. This sort of blending is satisfactory, provided the quotation is brief. Signal phrases and verbs also help blend quotes into sentences and alert readers to upcoming quotations.
acknowledges allows believes concludes
advises answers charges concurs
agrees asserts claims confirms
criticizes emphasizes offers reveals
declares expresses opposes says
describes interprets remarks states
disagrees lists replies suggests
discusses objects reports thinks
disputes observes responds writes
9. Use three spaced periods (an ellipsis) to show omissions. Whether a quotation is long or short, you will often need to change some of the material in it to conform to your own sentence requirements. You might wish to omit something from the quotation that is not essential to your point. Indicate such omissions with three spaced periods ( . . . ).
10. Use square brackets to insert your own explanations within quotations. If you add words of your own to integrate the quotation into your train of discourse or to explain words that may seem obscure, put square brackets around these words.
In the “Tintern Abbey Lines,” Wordsworth refers to a trance-like state, in which the “affections gently lead . . . [him] on” (42-3). He is unquestionably describing the state of extreme relaxation, for he mentions that the “motion of . . .human blood [was] / Almost suspended [i.e., his pulse slowed]” (44-7) and that in these states he considered himself to be “a living soul” (49).