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Lawrence: Political Science: In-Text and Parenthetical Citations

In-Text and Parenthetical Citations

You must always give credit to those whose research you use in your paper. When writing in MLA style, you can do that by using an in-text citation.  This gives readers enough information to refer to your Works Cited page and locate the original source, if needed. By providing accurate in-text citations and an accurate Works Cited page, you are more likely to avoid plagiarism.

One Author

You do not always have to cite the author's name in a parenthetical citation. If you incorporate the author's name into your writing, you can simply cite the page number where you found the information.

Author's name in text:

Shoemaker made this point in her book (207).

Author's name in parenthetical citation:

This point has been made (Shoemaker 207).



Two Authors


Shoemaker and Noll argued the opposite (100-5).


The opposite point has already been argued (Shoemaker and Noll 100-5).

Three Authors


Shoemaker, Noll, and Jarrell addressed this argument in their last paragraph (274-5).


The argument fails to hold up when scrutinized by other experts (Shoemaker, Noll, and Jarrell 274-5).

Four or More Authors

If your source has four or more authors, use the last name of the author whose name appears first in the source's Works Cited citation. 


Shoemaker et al. argue the importance of citations (372).


Citations are an important part of college-level research (Shoemaker et al. 372).

No Author

If your source has no identifiable author, use the first words of your Works Cited entry, generally the title.

Creating correct citations helps students avoid accidental plagiarism ("Avoiding Plagiarism" 101).

Corporate or Group Author

If your source has a corporate or group author, use the corporation or group's name in the citation. However, using an in-text citation, instead of a parenthetical one, keeps interruptions of the reader to a minimum when the group's name is particularly long.


According to the American Library Association, dozens of books are challenged in public libraries every year (201).


Dozens of books are challenged in public libraries every year (American Library Association 201).


Note: Abbreviations can be used for long corporation names. Ex: American Library Assn. or simply ALA.


The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition, was consulted in creating this guide.