How to In-Text Cite a Website in MLA

How to in-text cite a website in MLA 8th edition, complete with examples.

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Introduction

In-text citations for websites can be confusing because you may not know how much information to include. The general rule is to include as much information as you can to help your reader find the source, but without going into too much detail that would distract from your own writing.

The MLA format for in-text citations from a website includes the author’s last name, a space, and the page number (or other location) where the information was found. If there is no author listed, start with the title of the page instead.

Here are some examples:

According to John Smith, “The best way to learn MLA format is by practicing it” (123).
“The best way to learn MLA format is by practicing it” (Smith 123).

What is MLA?

The Modern Language Association (MLA) is a formatting and citation style guide widely used in the humanities. MLA 7th edition was published in 2016, and MLA 8th edition was published in April 2019. This guide will focus on MLA 8th edition.

What is an in-text citation?

An in-text citation is a way of giving credit to the source you’re quoting or referring to in your writing. In MLA style, an in-text citation includes the author’s last name and the page number where the quoted or paraphrased information can be found in the original source.

For example, if you were quoting from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, you might write:

“All right, then, I’ll GO to hell” (Twain78).

This tells your reader that the information comes from page 78 of Twain’s novel.

If you were paraphrasing or referring to an idea from the same source, you would still include the author’s last name and the page number, but you wouldn’t use quotation marks around the paraphrased material. For example:

Twain argues that conscience is “the thing that hurts” (78).

How to in-text cite a website in MLA

The in-text citation for a website should include the author’s name, the title of the page, the name of the website, the publication date, and the URL.

If there is no author listed for the website, begin the citation with the title of the page.
If there is no title listed for the page, begin the citation with the URL.

Examples of in-text citations

In MLA style, referring to the works of others in your text is done by using what is known as parenthetical citation. This method involves placing relevant source information in parentheses after a quote or a paraphrase. General guidelines for parenthetical citations:
-Authors’ names: Last name followed by first name or first name followed by last name. (Or if no author is given, the title of the website.)
-Titles: Titles of articles, chapters, songs, and other shorter works are put in quotation marks; titles of books and other longer works are italicized.
-Where to place the parenthetical citation: The parenthetical citation goes outside the last period or set of periods that end the sentence containing the quoted or paraphrased material (unless the context makes more sense for it to go inside that last period).
-Dates: When available, include the day, month, and year in a parenthetical citation. If no date is given on a website, use “n.d.” (no date) instead of the year.

When to use an in-text citation

An in-text citation is a brief reference to a source of information used in the text of an essay. In MLA style, an in-text citation must be used any time you include material from another source in your paper, whether you are quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing.

To determine whether you need to use an in-text citation, ask yourself the following question:

-Is the material quoted, paraphrased, or summarized from another source?
-Would my reader be able to find the original source of the material?

If you answered “yes” to both questions, then an in-text citation is necessary.

How to format an in-text citation

An in-text citation is a brief reference to a source of information used within the body of an essay. This appears in parentheses, and usually includes the author’s last name and the page number from which the quote, idea, or statistic was taken.

To format an in-text citation in MLA style:
-Include the author’s last name and the page number from which you took the information, placed in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
-If there is no author listed, use the title of the website instead.
-If you are citing a direct quote, include the page number as well.

Tips for in-text citations

MLA 8th Edition has simplified the rules for citing websites by only requiring the author’s last name and the page title, or the website’s name, to be entered into the Works Cited list. Here are some tips for creating in-text citations for websites in MLA 8:

-If there is no author listed for the website, begin the citation with the title of the website.
-If there is no date listed for the website, use “n.d.” in your in-text citation (meaning “no date”).
-When citing a website, do not includehttp:// or https:// at the beginning of the URL.

Here is an example of an in-text citation for a website with no author listed:

The MLA 8th Edition says that websites can be cited in two ways: as a container or as an entry in a reference list (“MLA Formatting and Style Guide”).

And here is an example of an in-text citation for a website with no date listed:

According to the MLA 8th Edition, if there is no date listed on a website, use “n.d.” in your in-text citation (“MLA Formatting and Style Guide”).

Troubleshooting in-text citations

There are a few trouble spots that students commonly run into when trying to MLA format their in-text citations correctly. Here are some tips on how to avoid them:

1. When citing an entire website, it is sufficient to give the address of the site in the text (no date is needed). For example:

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.

2. If you are citing a specific page, article, or document on a website, include the name of the work, as well as the URL. For example:

The OWL at Purdue (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/) provides useful advice for formatting your papers in MLA style.

Resources for in-text citations

When you’re writing a paper, you’ll often need to cite sources from the internet. While there’s no one definitive way to do this, MLA style is most commonly used in the humanities, and that’s what we’ll focus on here.

In MLA style, when you cite a website in your paper, you include the author’s name, the title of the page or article, the name of the website, the date you accessed it, and (if relevant) the specific URL. Here’s an example:

According to John Smith, “Citing Websites is Easy” (MLA Style Guide 4).

If no author is given for a website or page, start with the title of the page or article. Here’s an example:

According to “Citing Websites is Easy” (MLA Style Guide 4),…

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