MLA Handbook for Parenthetical Expressions
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Parenthetical References
(Taken From the MLA Handbook, 5th Edition)

General Information

1.  What is a parenthetical reference? 4.  How do I format my parenthetical reference?  
2.  What does a parenthetical reference look like? 5. When do I use an ellipsis (...)?
3.   What information goes into a parenthetical reference?

Various Methods of Parenthetical Citation of Print Sources With Examples

6.  Author’s Name in Text 11.  Works With No Author
7.  Author’s Name in Reference 12.  Multiple References in the Same Paragraph
8.  Two or More Authors - Names in Text 13.  Rules for Encyclopedia article
9.  Two or More Authors - Names in Reference 14.  Part of a Work
10.  Corporate Author  

Parenthetical References of Online Sources

15.  An Entire Non-Print Work 17.  Work Listed by Title

16.  Part of a Work

 

 

 


1.  What is a parenthetical reference?

You must indicate to your readers exactly what you took from each source and exactly from where you took it whenever you quote OR paraphrase. What you write in parenthesis refers back directly to some entry on your WORKS CITED list.

2.  Example of a parenthetical reference

Medieval Europe was a place both of “raids, pillages, slavery, and extortion” and of “traveling merchants, monetary exchange, towns if not cities, and active markets in grain” (Townsend 10).

The parenthetical reference indicates that the quotes came from page 10 of a work by Townsend. The reader should be able to locate this work in the list of works cited:

Townsend, Robert M. The Medieval Village Economy. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1993.

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3. What information do I put into a parenthetical reference?

Usually the author’s last name and page number of the work. If you are citing text from a general website, there is no page number; just use the author’s last name in parenthesis. See below for examples.

4. How do I format my parenthetical reference?

Use the author’s last name and type the page number with no punctuation in between. The punctuation from your sentence comes AFTER the closed parenthesis. For example, if you are ending your sentence after the parenthetical reference, the period goes OUTSIDE the parenthesis, as in the example in number 2.  

5. When do I use an ellipsis?

Whenever you wish to omit a word, phrase, a sentence, or more from a quoted passage, you should be concerned about two things: fairness to the author and the grammatical integrity of your writing. Examples:

If the original work reads:

Medical thinking, trapped in the theory of astral influenced, stressed air as the communicator of disease, ignoring sanitation or visible carriers. (Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century [1978; New York: Ballantine, 1979] 101-02)

Quotation with an Ellipsis in the Middle and a Parenthetical Reference

In surveying various responses to plagues in the Middle Ages, Barbara W. Tuchman writes, "Medial thinking [. . .] stressed air as the communicator of disease, ignoring sanitation or visible carriers" (101-02).

Quotation with an Ellipsis at the End Followed by a Parenthetical Reference

In surveying various responses to plagues in the Middle Ages, Barbara W. Tuchman writes, "Medial thinking, trapped in the theory of astral influences, stressed air as the communicator of disease [. . .]" (101-02).

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Examples (See MLA 206-208)

6.     Author’s Name in Text

Tannen has argued this point (178-85).

Only Daiches has seen this relation (2: 776-77).

It may be true, as Robertson maintains, that “in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance” (136).

7.     Author’s Name in Reference

This point has already been argued (Tannen 178-85).

Only one scholar has seen this relation (Daiches 2:776-77).

It may be true that “in the appreciation of medieval art the attitude of the observer is of primary importance” (Robertson 136).

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8.     Two or More Authors - Names in Text

Others, like Jakobson and Waugh (210-15), hold the opposite point of view.  

**Note: When there are three or more authors, use the first author's last name and et al.

Others, like Jakobson et al. (210-15), hold the opposite opinion.

9.     Two or More Authors - Names in Reference

Others hold the opposite point of view (Jakobson and Waugh 210-15).  

Three or more authors:

Others hold the opposite point of view (Jakobson et al. 210-15).  

10.     Corporate Author

The federal government has funded research concerning consumer protection and consumer transactions with online pharmacies (Food and Drug Administration 125).

11.    Works with No Author

Several critics of the concept of the transparent society ask if a large society would be able to handle the complete loss of privacy ("Surveillance Society" 115).

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12.    Multiple References in the Same Paragraph

In the late Renaissance, Machiavelli contended that human beings were by nature “ungrateful” and “mutable” (1240), and Montaigne thought them “miserable and puny” (1343).

13.    Encyclopedia Articles

When referring to articles that are arranged alphabetically (as in an encyclopedia), it is not necessary to to use a page reference. For example:

The nine grades of mandarins were "distinguished by the color of the button on the hats of office" ("Mandarin").

This parenthetical reference refers to an article with no author in an encyclopedia in your works cited list, such as:

"Mandarin." The Encyclopedia Americana. 1993 ed.

14.     Part of a Work

Books:

Brian Taves suggests some interesting conclusions regarding the philosophy and politics of the adventure film (153-54, 171).

Periodical Article:

Repetitive strain injury, or RSI, is reported to be "the fastest-growing occupational hazard of the computer age" (Taylor A1).

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Online Sources

15.  An Entire Online Source

It is usually preferable to include in the text, rather than a parenthetical reference, the name of the person (e.g., author, editor, etc.) that begins the corresponding entry in the works cited list:

Joan Merrian reported on a parody of Shakespeare performed by the Muppets.

Works Cited List:

Merrian, Joan. "Spinoff: Monsterpiece Theatre." Online posting. 30 Apr. 1994. Shaksper: The Global             

    Electronic Shakespeare Conf. 27 Aug. 1998     

    <http://www.arts.ubc.ca/english/iemls/shak/MONSTERP_SPINOFF.txt>.

16.    Part of an Online Work

When quoting or paraphrasing from an online source, use the name of the author in the parenthetical reference with NO page numbers, unless the online document is paginated (such as an article from a database).

No Page Numbers:

In terms of the upcoming college basketball tournament, "being competitive with each other is a must to have a true rivalry. You can't have a rivalry if one team dominates the series" (Katz).

Works Cited List:

Katz, Andy. "Rivalry Week ... Any Way You Look At It." ESPN. 29 Jan. 2002

    <http://msn.espn.go.com/ncb/s/2002/0128/1319074.html>.

17.    Work Listed by Title

In an online source that is not paginated (has no page numbers) and has no author, use the title or an abbreviation of the title that refers to your works cited list.

In fresco painting, "the pigments are completely fused with a damp plaster ground to become an integral part of the wall surface" ("Fresco").

Works Cited List:

"Fresco." Britannica Online. Vers. 97.1.1. Mar. 1997. Encyclopedia Britannica. 29 Mar. 1997

    <http://www.eb.com:180>.


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