In-Text Citations

In the body of an essay, insert an in-text or parenthetical citation when you quote or paraphrase an author's ideas. In-text citations are frequently preceded by a signal phrase. A signal phrase indicates to the reader that the idea belongs to someone else. Here are some examples of signal phrases and in-text citations in the MLA format:


Robert Frost once said, "I'd just as much assume playing tennis without a net, as writing free verse" (89).


In Sophocles' Antigone, Creon represents the state through both his actions and his words (Miller 33).


According to Lillian Schanfield, Shakespeare's places do not represent those cities or societies so much as comment on Elizabethan England (66).


In the first example, note that only the page number is included in the parenthesis after the quote because the author's name is mentioned in the signal phrase.

In the second example, the author's name appears in the parenthesis because his name was not included in a signal phrase.

The third example is a paraphrase; the signal phrase indicates the author of the source article and the page number of the journal appears in parenthesis.