How to Cite a Page Number in an Essay

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Depending on the teacher and the level of research required to complete an essay, you may be required to cite your references within the article. To aid your citation later, write down the title of the book and the page number of any information you glean while taking notes. High school or college-level essays may draw on one of two different formatting styles. The Modern Language Association (MLA) formatting requires the writer to cite page numbers for all referenced material; however, the American Psychological Association (APA) only requires a page number within the citation when the material is a direct quote.

MLA Format for Page Number Citation

Locate the information you need to cite within the body of the essay. If all of the information in a paragraph came from the same page of the same source or contiguous pages of the same source, you only need to cite the last sentence in that paragraph. However, if you combined several sources or the information came from different or noncontiguous pages of the same source, you will need to provide a citation for each sentence or group of sentences.

Locate the last name of the author and page number(s) for the information.

Place the citation within parenthesis before the period of the last sentence of the information you wish to cite. If you are citing a direct quotation enclosed in quotation marks, place the citation outside the final quotation marks.

Format the citation as (last name, page number). For example, information on page 36 from a book written by William Smith would be written as (Smith, 36).

APA Format of Direct Quote Citations

Locate the information you need to cite within the body of the essay.

Locate the author, date of publication and page number(s) for the information.

Enclose direct quotations within quotation marks.

Place the citation outside the final quotation mark. Enclose the citation within parenthesis and include the last name of the author, publication date of the source and page number according to the template (last name, date, p. page number). For example, a quote taken from page 214 of a book written by Jane Phillips published in 2003 would be written as (Phillips, 2003, p. 214). APA style uses the "p." symbol before the page number, whereas MLA does not.

Place a period after the enclosed citation.


  • For either MLA or APA format, if you state relevant citation information within the sentence you are referencing or before the quotation, you do not need to repeat the information within the citation.


About the Author

Transplanted Yankee Erin Watson-Price lives in Birmingham, Ala., and has been writing freelance articles since 1997. She worked as writer/co-editor for Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue's newsletter, "The Long and the Short of It." In 2007 she obtained a certification as a copy editor. Watson-Price holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

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