Section 3. Citing Sources in MLA Style


How to Format a Basic Parenthetical Reference
A parenthetical reference will usually have the author's last name and the page number from where the work was borrowed (click here for the rule for non-paginated souces such as web sites). These two parts act as tags to inform the reader what information has been borrowed and from whom. The 'tags' point to the full citation at the end in on the Works Cited page.

Paraphrases, summaries, or quotes can be formatted or 'tagged' in a variety of ways:

Parenthetical for a summary or paraphrase
Here is a parenthetical reference for part of a work that has been summarized or paraphrased. The borrowed information has been condensed into a paragraph that is "tagged" at the end with the author and page number. (This and the following examples are taken from: Trushell, John M. "American Dreams of Mutants: The X-Men-"Pulp" Fiction, Science Fiction, and Superheroes." Journal of Popular Culture 38.1 (Aug 2004): 149.)
The X-Men, however, featured not only psioid mutants (the telepathic Professor Xavier and the telekinetic Marvel Girl) but also mutants with grotesque deformities. The Angel was endowed with avian wings, and the Beast had simian characteristics, including prehensile feet and enhanced agility and strength, despite such grotesquerie having become a cliché in sophisticated science fiction literature of the 1950s (Turney 127).
Parenthetical for a quotation
Quotations should not stand alone in a sentence but should be worked into your narrative. Here is a parenthetical reference for a quotation. The quote is introduced with the author's name so that only the page number is needed at the end in parentheses:
A new writer, Grant Morrison, maintains that the New X-Men was "not a story about super-heroes but about the ongoing evolutionary struggle between good/new and bad/old," and a story that "kids will dig for their sheer gee-whiz, kinetic strut, which college kids will buy for the rebel irony and adults will love for the distraction . . . [a story] aimed at the mainstream, media-literate audience of kids, teenagers and adults with disposable income" (2-3).
Parenthetical for an entire work
When an entire work is referenced, it is preferable to include just the author (or the author and title) in your narrative and indicate in your passage that the work is being summarized. Remember to reference the entire work in the Works Cited page:
A similar premise was provided by Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio . . .
This future Middle Ages, as Umberto Eco has remarked,
Edward James found acceptance that science fiction was a serious literature. . . . The pulp fiction origins of science fiction and detective noir, James observes, were shared by American comic books . . .


Here's a list of signal phrases that help introduce quotes, summaries or paraphrases (from St. Martin's Guide):

admits, agrees, argues, asserts, believes, claims, compares, confirms, contends, denies, emphasizes, insists, notes, observes, points out, reasons, refutes, rejects, reports, responds, replies, suggests, thinks, writes

In addition to the above list of verbs, there are other phrases you might use:

In _____'s words...

According to ____'s (notes, study, narrative, novel, etc.)...


Click below if you would like specific information about:

 Which parenthetical reference is better?
In describing the problem of the "digital divide," Jerabek comments that "one of the central problems inherent with automated systems...is reduced access to information for those who are unable to use the technology" (278).

Jerabek describes the "digital divide" as the barrier created by lack of access to technology and lack of understanding about how to use that technology. "One of the central problems with automated systems, however, is reduced access for those who are unable to use the technology" (Jerabek 278).