Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Parenthetical References

Parenthetical References, 9/23/98
English 1.314, Jennifer Chen


(Source: Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 4th ed. New York: MLA, 1995.)

References to prose sources (novels, articles, short stories)

References must clearly point to specific sources in the list of works cited.

Standard reference: (Author's/editor's/translator's last name page#)

Ex.: (Patterson 183-185)

If your list of works cited includes more than one author with the same last name: (Author's first initial and last name page#)

Ex.: (A. Patterson 183-185)
(L. Patterson 230)

If your list of works cited includes more than one work by the same author: (Author's last name, shortened title of the work page#)

Ex.: (Melville, Moby Dick 340)
(Melville, Billy Budd 21)

References to poetry sources

Omit page numbers altogether and cite by division (book, canto, part) and line, with periods separating the various numbers.

Standard reference: (Title of work book.line#)

Ex.: (Prelude 4.62-64) = Prelude, book 4, lines 62-64
Ex.: ("Let by Rain" 1-3) = "Let by Rain," lines 1-3

References to plays

Use roman numerals for citations of acts and scenes in plays.

Standard reference: (Title of work act.scene.line#)

Ex.: (Crucible II.iii)
(Crucible I.i.30-36)

Listing two or more works in a single parenthetical reference Separate the citations with semicolons.

Ex.: (Brown 63; Friedman 101-102)

Other guidelines

If you make clear in your sentence what the source of the information/quote is, you do not need to include the author's name/title of the work/act and scene of the work in the parenthetical reference.

Ex.: Frye calls Shakespeare's King Lear a "comedy of the grotesque" (237).

Place parenthetical references after quotation marks and before the period.

(See above example.)