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MLA Citation Style Guide

Creating citations in MLA format

Signal Phrases

Signal phrases let your reader know that you are quoting or summarizing from another source.


In the words of researchers Redelmeier and Tibshirani, "..."

As Matt Sundeen has noted, "..."

Patti Pena, mother of a child killed by a driver distracted by a cell phone, points out that "..."

"...," writes Christine Haughtney.

"...," claims wireless spokesperson Annette Jacobs.

from Bedford Handbook (583)

Verbs in Signal Phrases

acknowledges comments endorses reasons
adds compares grants refutes
admits confirms illustrates rejects
agrees contends implies reports
argues declares insists responds
asserts denies notes suggests
believes disputes observes thinks
claims emphasizes points out writes

Quoting, Paraphrasing & Summarizing

Quoting Sources

When you quote a source, you include the author's exact words in your text. Use "quotation marks" around the author's words. Include signal phrases and an in-text citation to show where the quote is from.

Paraphrasing & Summarizing Sources

When you paraphrase or summarize a source, you restate the source's ideas in your own words and sentence structure. Select what is relevant to your topic, and restate only that. Changing only a few words is not sufficient in paraphrasing/ summarizing. Instead, you need to completely rephrase the author's ideas in your own words. You should not use quotation marks.

Always use in-text citations when you paraphrase or summarize, to let the reader know that the information comes from another source. Continue to use signal phrases as well.

Author Named in Your Text


Signal phrase with author's name, "quote" (page).


One researcher, Carol Gilligan, concludes that "women impose a distinctive construction on moral problems" (105).

Author Not Named in Your Text

One to Three Authors


Signal phrase, "quote" (Author page).


According to a study, "the poor and minorities were victims" (Frieden and Sagalyn 29).

Our text discusses the "ethical dilemmas in public relations" (Wilcox, Ault, and Agee 125).

More Than Three Authors
You may list all names or use only the first author's name followed by et al.


Signal phrase, "quote" (Author et al. page).


Our text discusses the "ethical dilemmas in public relations" (Wilcox et al. 125).


No Author

If the source has no named author, use the first main word in the title. If it is a very short title, you may use the whole thing.

You may also name the title in your text and provide the page number in parentheses.


Signal phrase, "quote" (Shortened Title page).

Signal phrase with title, "quote" (page).


Full Title: The Right to Die

One article states that, "A death row inmate may demand his execution for notoriety" (Right 135).

The Right to Die states that, "A death row inmate may demand his execution for notoriety" (135).

Electronic Sources with No Page Numbers

If there are no page numbers on the electronic source, use only the author name or the first main word of the title.


Signal phrase, "quote" (Author).

Signal phrase, "quote" (Shortened Title).


According to a study, "Twins reared apart report similar feelings" (Palfrey).

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