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Citing Sources In An Essay Mla

This section will be especially useful to you if you are a Higher Diploma or Bachelor student.

For more information on MLA referencing, please check the HCT Online Library. It has a very comprehensive section on external web sites that have further information on this topic.

In-text Citation

What is in-text citation?
  • A link in the body of your assignment to your bibliography.
  • Offers enough information so that the reader can find the complete information in the bibliography.
  • Written next to the information that has been taken from another source.
  • May be written within a sentence or at the end of a sentence.
When do you use in-text citation?
  • Whenever you use information from another source in your report.
Why do you use in-text citation?
  • To lead your reader to the correct entry in your Bibliography.
  • To avoid plagiarizing.

In-Text Citation Examples

Books (Author’s Last Name and page number)Example:
“The use of water in the UAE has increased 15 percent since 1990” (Jones 34).
Use the title if there is no obvious author. (Title page number)Example:
“Sharjah is promoted as the capital of the Arabian Gulf” (Emirates Guide 3).
If your Works Cited list entry starts with the article title, use the article title . (“Article Title” page number) Example:
Results of a recent survey suggest that more tourists prefer eco-tourism adventures (“Tourism Study Results” 7).
If you include the author’s name in your sentence, use only the page number in the parenthesis: Example:
Jones notes that the page number follows the sentence (54).
For a website with no author, use the webpage (or website) title for your in-text citation. If it is a long title, you can shorten it to the first three words. Example:
According to their website, a breeding centre for endangered Arabian animals started functioning in February 1998 ("Sharjah Natural History").

Two Types of In-Text Citation

  • When you use some else’s exact words.

  • Always written inside double quotation marks: “ ” when the quotation is 4 or less typed lines.

    A quotation helps support your arguement by showing that other experts agree with you.
Example One (to avoid plagarism):
When you use a quotation, “enclose the author’s last name and the relevant page number(s) within parentheses” (Smith, Jones, and Parks 781).
Example Two (to avoid plagarism):
Smith, Jones, and Parks note that “you can shorten a parenthetical note by naming the author of the source in the body of the essay; then the parenthetical note consists of a page number only” (782).
  • When you use someone else’s ideas but write it in your own words.
  • Do not use quotation marks.
Original Quote:
“To avoid plagiarizing an author’s language... close the book, write from memory, and then open the book to check for accuracy” (Hacker 361).
Paraphrasing Example:
This is one method for avoiding plagiarism. Experts suggest a reflective approach by reading the original source, then writing down your understanding of the idea. Afterward the original source should be compared with your paraphrase to make sure it’s correct (Hacker 361).

Special In-Text Citation Examples

Two different works by the same author Guideline:
Put the title after the author’s name in the in-text citations. Separate the citations with a semi-colon.Example:
(Smith, MLA Style, 54; Smith, Understanding MLA, 78).
No author and very long article titleGuideline:
If the title in the reference source is very long, shorten the title to the first few words. Make sure that you include enough information for the reader to find the full publication details in your bibliography.
Shorten ("Sharjah Natural History Museum and Desert Park") to ("Sharjah Natural History")
Website page numbersGuideline:
When citing a website, page numbers are not necessary. In special cases, you can give the number of the paragraph on the webpage.
”Numbering the paragraph helps the reader locate it within the webpage” (Smith, par. 6).

Special In-Text Citation Examples - TABLES

  • Number each table above the table at the left-hand margin: Table 1
  • Caption each table on a separate line at the left-hand margin, capitalizing the first letter of each big word and proper nouns.
  • Place in-text citation (from NoodleTools) in parentheses (brackets) on a separate line below the table after the word Source.
  • Give full information about the source of the table in the citation in the bibliography.


Table 1
Middle East Internet Usage and Population Statistics
Middle East Internet Usage and Population Statistics
Middle EastPopulation
( 2008 Est. )
Usage, in
Internet Usage,
Latest Data
% Population
User Growth
(%) of
Bahrain718,30640,000250,00034.8 %525.0 %0.5 %
Iran 65,875,223250,00023,000,00034.8 %9,100.0 %50.2 %
Iraq28,221,18112,500275,0001.0 %2,100.0 %0.6 %
Jordan 6,198,677127,3001,126,70018.2 %785.1 %2.5 %
Kuwait 2,596,799 150,000900,00034.7 %500.0 %2.0 %
Lebanon3,971,941300,0001,570,00039.5 %423.3 %3.4 %
Oman3,311,64090,000340,00010.3 %277.8 %0.7 %
Palestine(West Bk.) 2,407,68135,000355,00014.8 %915.7 % 0.8 %
Qatar824,78930,000 351,00042.6 %1,070.0 %0.8 %
Saudi Arabia 28,146,657200,0006,380,00022.7 %3,090.0 %13.9 %
Syria19,747,58630,0003,470,00017.6 %11,466.7 %7.6 %
United Arab Emirates4,621,399735,0002,260,000 48.9 %207.5 %4.9 %
Yemen 23,013,37615,000320,0001.4 %2,033.3 %0.7 %
TOTAL Middle East196,767,6143,284,80045,861,34623.3 %1,296.2 %100.0 %
NOTES: (1) The Middle East Statistics were updated as of December 31, 2008. (2) CLICK on each country name to see detailed data for individual countries and regions. (3) The demographic (population) numbers are based on data from the US Census Bureau. (4) Internet usage numbers come from various sources and are compiled here, see the site surfing guide. (5) The most recent usage information comes mainly from the data published by Nielsen//NetRatings, ITU, and other reliable sources. (6) For growth comparison purposes, the usage data published by ITU for the year 2.000 is furnished. (7) Data may be cited, giving due credit and establishing an active link back to InternetWorld Stats. Copyright © 2009, Miniwatts Marketing Group. All rights reserved.
Source. (Miniwatts Marketing Group).
NoodleTools Citation in BibliographyExample:
Miniwatts Marketing Group. “Middle East Internet Usage and Population Statistics.” Internet World Stats 31 Dec. 2008. Web. 3 May 2009 <>.
NoodleTools In-Text CitationExample:
(Miniwatts Marketing Group).

Special In-Text Citation Examples - FIGURES: Graphs, Diagrams, Etc.

  • Number and caption each figure below the figure at the left-hand margin, capitalizing the first letter of each big word and proper nouns: Fig. 1. Organic Vegetable Market in California.
  • Place in-text citation (from NoodleTools) in parentheses (brackets) on a separate line below the figure number and caption at the left-hand margin.
  • Give full information about the source of the figure in the citation in the bibliography.


Fig. 1. Organic Vegetable Market in California
(Organic Vegetable Market)

NoodleTools Citation in BibliographyExample:
Organic Vegetable Market in California. Photograph. Certified Farmers’ Markets. 2006. Web. 3 May 2009 < Winner_FARMA_Farmers_Market_2006_(web)pdf>.
NoodleTools In-Text CitationExample:
(Organic Vegetable Market).


Fig. 2. Average Raise in Past 12 Months by Industry
(Average Raise in Past)

NoodleTools Citation in BibliographyExample:
Average Raise in Past 12 Months by Industry. Graph. GCC Human Resource Overview: Salaries, Cost of Living and Loyalty. Web. Feb. 2007: 4. 3 May 2009.
NoodleTools In-Text CitationExample:
(Average Raise in Past).

Use secondary sources sparingly; you should always try to locate the original source of information which is cited in a work which you have read. This is, however, not always possible: sometimes the original work is out of print, unavailable through your usual sources or not available in English.

If you read an article or book which cites some information that you want to cite, always refer to the source where you found the information, not the original source.

For example:

If you read an article by Hulya Ipek, in which she cites information from a previous study by Lantolf and Thorne, and you wish to refer to this information in your assignment:

You would acknowledge Lantolf and Thorne in the text:

Lantolf and Thorne’s study found that “what one can do today with assistance is indicative of what one will be able to do independently in the future..." (qtd. in Ipek 158).

In your Works Cited list at the end of your assignment, your entry would be a reference for Ipek's article because that is where you sourced the information:

Ipek, Helya. "Comparing and Contrasting First and Second Language Acquisition: Implications for Language Teachers." English Language Teaching, vol. 2, no. 2, 2009, pp. 155-63.