Essay Citations

In-Text Citations
Use in-text essay citations when you:
  1. Add a direct quote to your essay.
  2. Paraphrase an idea from a source.
  3. Summarize information from a single source.
Several citation systems exist, but one of the most commonly used is the author-page system. The MLA (Modern Language Association) is the recognized standard for the author-page system of citation and is used widely in the humanities. MLA citations include the author's surname and page number in parenthesis. If you reference the author's name in the text of your essay, it's necessary to include only the page number.

Notice, that when there are two authors, both of their surnames are mentioned. When there are more than two authors, they are referenced as such: (Smith, Jones, et al, 179). Reference pages by number only. (i.e. p.179 is not be used)

The MLA system is an in-text method of citing sources and includes just enough information to help your reader find the information in the works cited page.

Although a quote from an expert can add impact to your essay, in most cases you should try to either paraphrase or summarize the information, using citation to reference your source. However, when you do use direct quotations, follow these rules:

  1. Insert the quotation exactly as it was written, errors and all. Directly after a spelling error in a quote insert the word [sic]. EX: "Directly after a spelling errer [sic]... "
  2. If you don't use the whole quotation, use an ellipses followed by trailing quotation marks (..." ) to signify that it isn't the whole quotation.
  3. If you make a change in the quotation, such as an underline or bold text in part of the quotation, note it in parentheses after the quotation. EX: "Directly after a spelling error [sic] (my underline).
  4. Use parenthesis ( ) for information that you add after a quote and square brackets [ ] for information you add within the quotation.
  5. Cite your source. Usually, when you use a quotation, it's appropriate to cite the author's name within the text. In that case, you need only to reference the page number of the quotation.
Works Cited
The works cited section goes on a new page after the end of your essay. Put the text "Works Cited" at the top center of the page. Generally the woks cited should include the name of the author, the name of the article used (if applicable), the name of the publication, the city of publication, and the year of publication of all the references that you used to write your essay.


The following are formats of how to cite common sources (in MLA format).

Author's Last Name, Author's First Name and Middle Name/Initial. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publishing Company Name, Year of Publishing.

Author's Last Name, Author's First Name and Middle Name/Initial. "Article Name." Title of Encyclopedia. Year of Edition or Edition Number ed.

Author's Last Name, Author's First Name and Middle Name/Initial. "Article Name." Title of Magazine Day of Month (If applicable) Month Year: Page Number(s) of article.

Author's Last Name, Author's First Name and Middle Name/Initial. "Title of Article/Document." Title of Site. Ed. Name of Editor (First Name Last Name). Date of publication or most recent update. Name of organization associated with site. Date of when you accessed the document. <>
(If information is not available then leave that section out)

For more complex citations please consult a stylebook.

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