MLA in-text citations are made with a combination of signal phrases and parenthetical references. A signal phrase introduces information taken from a source (a quotation, summary, paraphrase, or fact); usually the signal phrase includes the author’s name. The parenthetical reference comes after the cited material, often at the end of the sentence. It includes at least a page number (except for un-paginated sources, such as those found online).
Kwon points out that the Fourth Amendment does not give employees any protections from employers’ “unreasonable searches and seizures” (6).
Readers can look up the author’s last name in the alphabetized list of works cited, where they will learn the work’s title and other publication information. If readers decide to consult the source, the page number will take them straight to the passage that has been cited.
Basic rules for print and online sources
The MLA system of in-text citations, which depends heavily on authors’ names and page numbers, was created with print sources in mind. Although many online sources have unclear authorship and lack page numbers, the basic rules are the same for both print and online sources.
MLA discourages extensive use of explanatory or digressive notes. MLA style does, however, allow you to use endnotes or footnotes for bibliographic notes, which refer to other publications your readers may consult:
1. See Blackmur, especially chapters three and four, for an insightful analysis of this trend.
2. On the problems related to repressed memory recovery, see Wollens 120-35; for a contrasting view, see Pyle 43; Johnson, Hull, Snyder 21-35; Krieg 78-91.
3. Several other studies point to this same conclusion. See Johnson and Hull 45-79, Kather 23-31, Krieg 50-57.
Or, you can also use endnotes/footnotes for occasional explanatory notes (also known as content notes), which refers to brief additional information that might be too digressive for the main text:
4. In a 1998 interview, she reiterated this point even more strongly: "I am an artist, not a politician!" (Weller 124).
Numbering Endnotes and Footnotes in the Document Body
Endnotes and footnotes in MLA format are indicated in-text by superscript Arabic numbers after the punctuation of the phrase or clause to which the note refers:
Some have argued that such an investigation would be fruitless.6
Scholars have argued for years that this claim has no basis,7 so we would do well to ignore it.
Note that when a long dash appears in the text, the footnote/endnote number appears before the dash:
For years, scholars have failed to address this point8—a fact that suggests their cowardice more than their carelessness.
Do not use asterisks (*), angle brackets (>), or other symbols for note references. The list of endnotes and footnotes (either of which, for papers submitted for publication, should be listed on a separate page, as indicated below) should correspond to the note references in the text.
Formatting Endnotes and Footnotes
MLA recommends that all notes be listed on a separate page entitled Notes (centered, no formatting). (Use Note if there is only one note.) The Notes page should appear before the Works Cited page. This is especially important for papers being submitted for publication.
The notes themselves should be listed by consecutive Arabic numbers that correspond to the notation in the text. Notes are double-spaced. Each endnote is indented five spaces; subsequent lines are flush with the left margin. Place a fullstop and a space after each endnote number. Provide the appropriate note after the space.
Footnotes (below the text body)
Please note that the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook does not specify how to format footnotes. Consult your instructor to see what his or her preference is when formatting footnotes in MLA style.
For more information on using endnotes and footnotes, consult “Using Notes with Parenthetical Documentation” in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition (sec. 6.5, 230-32).
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