In-Text Paraphrase Citation for MLA

Paraphrasing is a useful tool for writing research papers. However, just because you changed the words doesn’t mean you can use someone else’s text freely. You still need to give proper acknowledgment of the source you are using to avoid any unintentional plagiarism.

How you create citations changes according to the style you are using for your paper. For the MLA style, you have to give in-text citations of the material you are referring to.

We will take a look at MLA paraphrase citation rules to teach you how to properly cite your sources in your papers.

What is Paraphrasing?

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Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Paraphrasing is an important skill. You can seamlessly integrate other people’s ideas into your work, and it is the preferred way to integrate most research information into your paper. 

Paraphrases are new ways to convey a piece of information after reading and analyzing a source. Paraphrasing translates the main ideas of a passage into a new passage using your own words and perspective. You can utilize a paraphrase to control where information is highlighted.

One of the biggest advantages of paraphrasing over direct quotes is the fact that you can control them. Direct quotes can be clunky because they go into great detail. With paraphrasing, however, you can just pick the most important aspects of a text and relay them to your readers.

Paraphrasing is also practical because it allows you to mix multiple sources in one sentence. If you were using direct quotes, you would have to write all of them one by one, which can be cumbersome.

Instead, you can mix and match other opinions and continue this train of thought with your ideas.

Does Paraphrasing Constitute Plagiarism?

There is a common misconception among students who think paraphrasing and plagiarism are synonymous. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

It is true that paraphrasing is used as a trick to hide plagiarized text by students. However, as mentioned above, paraphrasing has many advantages over quotes.

As long as you are correctly citing the sources, it won’t be an act of plagiarism.

MLA Paraphrase Citation Rules

For every quotation, paraphrase, summary, or reference to a source in the MLA style, parenthetical citations are used. Citations feature the author’s last name, keywords from the title, and page numbers that refer to the Works Cited list at the end.

Names or keywords allow the reader to locate information for the resource in full. All of the details of the source material are available on the Works Cited page.

Place the citation, in parentheses, where the sentence ends. Following a quote or a paraphrase, include the author’s last name and the page number of the source in parentheses. It isn’t necessary to use a comma to separate the author’s name from the page number.

For the sentence, the period is after the citation.

The shorter your parenthetical references are, the easier it will be to read your essay. As a result, should you name the author (last name) in your text, include only a page number in parentheses.

Include a brief form of the title after the author’s last name if you cite more than one work of the same author in your Works Cited list.

If you refer to two titles, you must write two citations according to the order they are referred to. This example includes two texts by the same author.

Citing work with two or more authors, list each author’s last name in the order they appear on each work.

When citing work from four authors or more, use only the last name of the first author followed by et al.

In-text citations for electronic resources follow the same format as printed sources. E-texts generally do not have page numbers, although sometimes paragraphs are numbered.

Examples of In-Text MLA Paraphrase Citation

The general rule for in-text citation in MLA is as follows:

(Author Last Name, Page Number)

However, there are some caveats to this format, such as multiple authors.

Print Source With One Author

(Brown, 86)

Source With Multiple Authors (Less Than Four)

(Brown and Douglas, 86)

Source With Multiple Authors (Four or More)

(Brown, et al. 86)

Paraphrased Paragraph

(Brown, 86)

In-Text Citation of Multiple Sources

(Brown, 86; Smith, 45)

Source With No Page Numbers


To Wrap Up

In essence, paraphrasing means that you present an author’s idea in your own words, trying to get the idea across as clearly and accurately as possible. Rather than merely restating the author’s words, paraphrasing imparts your own ideas to support the author’s argument.

As a result, paraphrasing generally falls under the umbrella of research and is not considered plagiarism.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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