How to Properly Write a Parenthetical Citation for Your Research Paper in MLA Style

Plagiarism is a problem that many students can avoid by properly citing their work. This includes both inside the research paper and in a "Works Cited" page. It may appear repetitious to some, yet whenever you use the words of someone and do not properly give him credit, it is stealing. Luckily, the seventh edition of the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers" provides many guidelines for in-text, parenthetical citations to help avoid plagiarism.

Use the following format when dealing with print sources (such as books and magazines) where the author is known but not quoted in the text: (Author’s Last Name pg. number). So for example, if the author's name was Brown, and the fact you found was on page 63, you insert (Brown 63) at the end of the example you used.

Place only the page number in the parenthetical citation if you mention or quote the author directly. For example, if you state “According to Brown,” you need only put (63) at the end of your sentence.

Use the following for works with multiple authors: (Last Name 1, Last Name 2, Last Name 3 page number). This means that if the authors are Brown, White and Red and you found them on page seven, then you would place the citation (Brown, Red, White 7) at the end of your sentence.

Use the following when the author of the text is not known: (“title of work” pg. number). For example, if the title is “The History of Dinosaurs” and you use information from page 3, then your citation will appear as (“The History of Dinosaurs" 3) at the end of your sentence.

  • Note no punctuation appears between the author or title and page number in MLA citations.
About the Author

Born and raised in Texas, Jacob Guerra is a college instructional designer who began writing professionally in 2009. His work appears on eHow. He holds a Master of Science in computer education and cognitive systems from the University of North Texas and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Texas-Pan American.

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