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How to Use In-Text Citation Bullet Points in MLA

by Jonita Davis, Demand Media
    If you're writing a scholarly or student paper, it's best to avoid bullet points.

    If you're writing a scholarly or student paper, it's best to avoid bullet points.

    Bullets in written text are used to draw the reader's attention to a list found either inside of a paragraph or standing alone. In MLA style guides, bullets were traditionally shunned, and writers admonished to leave them out of academic writing. However, MLA style guides are used outside of the classroom, and in those writing situations, the in-text or parenthetical citations should be treated like similar citations in a normal paragraph.

    Step 1

    Write the citation at the end of each line when the bulleted items are each a separate sentence. Use the traditional MLA parenthetical formatting. Place the last name of the author, a space, and then the page number inside parenthesis at the end of the line containing the fact needing the citation. An example is: (Davis 243).

    Step 2

    Write the citation at the end of the last line of bullets when the bulleted lines are created as a part of a long sentence. Place the last name of the author, a space and the page number on which the cited information is found in parenthesis. Follow it with the end punctuation. An example is: (Davis 243).

    Step 3

    Mention the author's name in the sentence leading preceding the colon before the bulleted list. Once this is done, you don't have to perform the traditional citation. Enclose the page number on which the facts cited are found, in parenthesis. For example, your in-text citation may read (243). Any punctuation follows the closed parenthesis.

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    Tip

    • The bullets are one long sentence when there are commas at the end of each line and a period or some sort of ending punctuation on the end of the last bulleted line. The bullets are separate sentences or thoughts when each line of text ends with a period or another type of ending punctuation. This is also true if the last line of the bullets does not contain any punctuation.

    Warning

    • Do not use the bullets for writing MLA style text as an assignment for school.

    About the Author

    Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Work.com. Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.

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