In-Text Citation

Placing citation in your essay informs your reader where additional or outside information has come from. This connects them to the Works Cited page, and works like a map to allow the reader to go to your original source material. Therefore, it's imperative that you provide a well-drawn map for your readers. This starts with the in-text citation.

Sometimes, citing in your essays is pretty straightforward: the author listed in the parentheses is the speaker of the quote. However, it can get sticky, especially when you have multiple authors within one source, as we do in the Contemporary Literary Criticism references. You can keep where your information is coming from very clear for your reader with a few options:

  1. Introduce the information by identifying the author and/or source material.
  2. Ensure the information in your parenthetical citation clearly indicates the ownership of the text cited.
  3. Have a correct works cited page.

All of these things are important to the accuracy of your map for your reader.

Introduce the information by identifying the author and/or source material

Both of these uses of source should be followed up by connecting to what MY point is, but they start out by informing what my point will be about, and the evidence from the text that I will use to directly support my idea.

Ensure the information in your parenthetical citation clearly indicates the ownership of the text cited

Notice in the above two examples that the information is not only qualified in the text, but in the parenthetical citation as well. This establishes ownership to the quote-who is actually saying it. The first example is one that causes the most problems: dealing with a text that has multiple authors and/or editors. In compilations like Contemporary Literary Criticism (and there are many like it), it is important to know the publication information about the volume itself as well as the publication information of the original article. You want to make sure you're listing the author of the article itself, but also the name of the editor of the compilation so that the reader can clearly identify the original source (meaning the one YOU saw and used) on the works cited page. That is why the parenthetical in the first example says "Lewis in Senick"-because Lewis wrote it, and it's collected in the volume Senick edited.

The second quote is from an article off of Proquest, a research database that compiles articles for easy searching. Notice the parenthetical citation provides the author's last name, as it should. Because this was viewed as an electronic source, and therefore didn't have any page numbers, none are listed.

Have a correct works cited page

To have correct works cited entries on these articles, you'll need to review the MLA end-of-text citation information in Writing Analytically, as well as the handout on citation tips. When in doubt, go to the MLA Guide for Writing Research Papers or the online citation help at the library web page.

The most basic rule to a works cited page is that however the source is listed on the works cited page helps dictate what goes into your parenthetical citation in the body of the text. The works cited page itself is alphabetical, based on the first piece of information in each entry. Like regular spelling rules, if those remain the same (e.g., two books by C.S. Lewis), you continue alphabetizing by the next piece of information (so The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would come before Surprised by Joy).

Bibliographic entries on compilations

Name of Author of article. "Title of Article." Title of Book. Volume number. Name of editor, ed. City: Publisher, Year.

If you follow this pattern, the entry for the first example above will look like this:

Lewis, C.S. "Letters to C.S. Lewis." Children's Literature Review. Vol. 27. Gerard Senick, ed. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1992.

Even if you use many articles out of this one volume, you must list them individually.

Bibliographic entries on articles from research databases

When citing from an article you received via Proquest or another database, you'll notice these are previously published articles. You'll need that information, plus the information from your using the database. Depending on the type of publication, the information in the first part will vary. Use your references to the MLA Handbook and Writing Analytically to ascertain the correct citation for the first section of this type of entry. The following is a descriptive pattern of this information (for a newspaper, as the above is from):

Author. "Title of Article." Name of Original Publication Date of Publication: page numbers. Owner of subscription, Location. Accessed Date of Access < URL >.

The second part of this information states who subscribes to the database, the date it was accessed, and the website address (URL) for access to the database, NOT the URL from the result of a search.

Packer, J.I. "Still Surprised by Lewis." Christianity Today 27 September 1998: 54-60. North Seattle Community College Library, Seattle, WA. Accessed 21 October 2002 <>.

For more information on how to cite websites that aren't articles from a research database, please refer to the materials mentioned above.

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