MLA Parenthetical Citations

What is the MLA format for parenthetical citation?

This in-text referencing system directs readers to a "Works Cited" list at the end of a research paper or accompanying a research project. The text reference usually includes an author name and location in the text being cited.

How to do parenthetical citations

The purpose of parenthetical references is to give credit to sources that you use.

  • Cite direct quotations, paraphrases, ideas peculiar to an author, case studies, statistics, and graphics, such as maps, charts, diagrams, and scientific research results.
  • Place citations directly after the quotation or paraphrase.
  • Include only the author's last name and page number(s) in parentheses at the end of the sentence:

(Smith 145)

  • Use the name of the source as listed on the works-cited page if no author or editor is credited:

(Webster's Dictionary 1990)

  • If the author's name appears in the same sentence as the cited material include only the page number:


  • If more than one work by the same author is cited, use the author's last name, key word(s) from the title, and page number(s) in parentheses:

(Smith, Journey Home 145)


Examples of parenthetical citations

  • Native peoples have little to lose by adopting these practices (Johnson 113). [Author's last name and page number(s)]
  • Viviano sees advantages in this line of defense (3-4). [Cite only the page number if the author's name appears in the same sentence]
  • According to police reports, there were no skid marks indicting that the distracted driver who killed John and Carole Hall had even tried to stop. (Stockwell, 'Man' B4). [When more than one work by an author is cited, also include key word(s) from the title.]
  • As of 2001, at least three hundred towns and municipalities had considered legislation regulating use of cell phones while driving ('Lawmakers' 2). [If no author or editor is credited use the name of the source as listed on the works-cited page.]