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Online Library Workshops

Online video tutorials, resources and handouts which cover the same content basics that our on-site workshops do

MLA Formatting and Guidelines

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Video by Alexander Clarkson

In-Text Citations:

  • MLA style requires you to supply an in-text citation (also called parenthetical citation) each time you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or otherwise integrate material from a source.
  • In-text citations are made with a combination of signal phrases and parenthetical references and include the information your readers need to locate the full reference in the works cited list at the end of the text.
  • An in-text citation typically includes the author's last name and a page number (except for unpaginated sources, such as those found on the Web)


In his discussion of Monty Python routines, Crystal notes that the group relished “breaking the normal rules” of language (107).

Signal Phrases:

  • A signal phrase introduces information taken from a source; usually the signal phrase includes the author’s name or information about the author, such as his position or area of expertise.  
  • There is a direct connection between the signal phrase and the first word or words in the works-cited entry.


A noted linguist explains that Monty Python humor often relied on “bizarre linguistic interactions” (Crystal 108).

Signal Phrase Verbs:

acknowledges, adds, admits, affirms, agrees, answers, argues, asks, asserts, attacks, believes, calls, claims, comments, compares, concedes, confirms, contends, counters, counterattacks, declares, defines, denies, disputes, echoes, emphasizes, endorses, estimates, finds, grants, illustrates, implies, insinuates, insists, labels, mentions, notes, observes, points out, predicts, proposes, reasons, recognizes, recommends, refutes, rejects, reports, responds, retorts, reveals, says, speculates, states, suggests, surmises, tells, thinks, warns, writes

Signal Phrase Formulas:

According to "x" construction:

According to Rich, we need to be careful about the risk of "presentism," of projecting present meanings on past events (31).

According to the Polish critic Jan Kott, the play is best understood as a "great staircase," an endless procession of falling and rising kings (10).

Author+verb (+that) construction:

Rich warns us that we need to be careful about the risk of "presentism," of projecting present meanings on past events (31).

Patterson reviews the legal limits placed on the murder of slaves (190-93).


Digital or Nonprint Sources:

  • Give enough information in a signal phrase or in parentheses for readers to locate the source in your list of works cited — at least the author’s name or title.
  • If the source lacks page numbers but has numbered paragraphs, sections, or divisions, use those numbers with the appropriate abbreviation in your parenthetical citation. Do not add such numbers if the source itself does not use them.


As a Slate analysis has noted, “Prominent sports psychologists get praised for their successes and don’t get grief for their failures” (Engber).

Julian Hawthorne points out that his father and Ralph Waldo Emerson, in their lives and their writing, “together . . . met the needs of nearly all that is worthy in human nature” (ch. 4).


Information and examples from MLA Guide from Bedford-St. Martin.

Video by Kyle Stedman 

Video by Professor Allen NPCC