How to Create Parenthetical Citations
Parenthetical citations are in-text citations set within parentheses that summarize source details, such as the author’s last name, year of publication, or relevant page numbers. Unlike full citations in a works cited page, parenthetical citations are quick and minimal, so they don’t disrupt reading.
Citing sources is necessary for academic writing, which often makes parenthetical citations a requirement. The good news is they’re simple once you know how they work. Below, we explain how to write parenthetical citations in the Chicago, APA, and MLA formats, along with some other need-to-know basics.
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What is a parenthetical citation?
Parenthetical citations are any citations set in parentheses (like this). In academic writing , they’re used to share a source’s details directly in the text, so the reader doesn’t have to go to the footnotes or works cited page to find the original work.
Because parenthetical citations lie in the text, they’re intentionally short to avoid distracting the reader. Each style guide has its own requirements, but in general, parenthetical citations contain details such as these:
- the author’s last name
- the page numbers for the reference
- the year of publication
The formatting and content of each citation vary, depending on the requirements of the style guide. We explain each style’s preferences below, but to save time, you can also use a citation generator or other citation tools . For example, our Grammarly auto-citations feature corrects parenthetical citations with a quick click, or it creates originals from compatible website sources.
When should you use an in-text parenthetical citation?
In-text parenthetical citations are a requirement if you’re using the APA or MLA formats.
If you’re using Chicago, you have a choice between parenthetical citations (the “author-date” format) and the notes format, which uses footnotes and endnotes. According to Chicago, parenthetical citations are preferred for the sciences, including the social sciences, whereas notes are better for topics relating to history, literature, or the arts.
You need a parenthetical citation for each new idea in your paper that’s not your own . Often, paragraphs will have three or four parenthetical citations (or more), one after each sentence—that’s completely normal. Sometimes you’ll even have multiple parenthetical citations in the same sentence.
Parenthetical citations are needed not only for direct quotes but also for paraphrasing . Additionally, even if you use parenthetical citations, you still need to list full citations in a bibliography section, such as a references list or works cited page.
What’s the difference between parenthetical citations and narrative citations?
In narrative citations, you mention the source author, work, or page number directly in the text:
As Freud (1930) put it, “under the pressure [. . .] of suffering, men are accustomed to moderate their claims to happiness.”
Because the author’s name is mentioned, it’s redundant to mention it a second time in the parenthetical citation.
However, in our example, the year of publication was not mentioned in the text, so an abridged parenthetical citation is needed to fill in the missing information. Typically, narrative citations still use parenthetical citations for a year or page number, depending on the style guide.
In short, narrative citations still incorporate partial parenthetical citations. In these cases, the parenthetical citation mentions only what information is not in the text, instead of all the details.
Chicago parenthetical citation
In the Chicago style , in-text parenthetical citations are optional. They’re required only if you choose to use the author-date system of citations instead of the notes system.
The Chicago style’s format for parenthetical citations is to list the author’s last name and the year of publication in parentheses, with no other punctuation. If you’re referring to a specific passage, you can also add page numbers (or a time stamp for other media), separated by a comma.
(Last Name Year)
(Last Name Year, Page No.)
If the parenthetical citation comes at the end of a sentence in quotation marks, forgo the period in quotes. Place the citation outside the quotation marks with the period following it.
For sources with two or three authors, you can include all their names using the word and (for three authors, use commas as well). For sources with four or more authors, use only the last name of the first listed author, followed by et al.
If the main author of a source is an editor or translator, use only their name without abbreviations like ed. For sources with no listed author, use a short form of the title.
All sources must have a corresponding full citation in the references list (similar to a works cited page) at the end of the work.
Chicago parenthetical citation example
There is no evidence to suggest there is currently life on Mars (Thompson 2018).
Even though the tests were conclusive (Richardson, Hacker, and Backhurst 2002, 76–77), research continues to this day.
According to Pratchett, “[Ambition] was something that happened to other people” (1989, 62).
APA parenthetical citation
In-text parenthetical citations are required for the APA format . Just like Chicago, the APA format uses an author-date style, although the author and year of publication are separated by a comma. Locations to specific passages are also used when applicable, with a comma and the appropriate abbreviation: p. for page , pp. for pages , and paras. for paragraphs .
(Last Name, Year)
(Last Name, Year, pp. No.)
One or two authors can be listed using an ampersand (&), but three or more authors use et al. after the first listed author. If no author is listed, use the title instead.
Just like Chicago, if the parenthetical citation comes at the end of a sentence in quotation marks, the citation goes outside the quotes, followed by the period.
Again, all sources must have a corresponding full citation in the references list.
APA parenthetical citation example
There is no evidence to suggest there is currently life on Mars (Thompson, 2018).
Even though the tests were conclusive (Richardson et al., 2002, pp. 76–77), research continues to this day.
According to Pratchett, “[Ambition] was something that happened to other people” (1989, p. 62).
MLA parenthetical citation
The MLA format also prefers in-text parenthetical citations, like the APA format. However, unlike the previous two style guides, MLA does not require the publication year. Only the author’s last name is necessary, although page numbers and other locations are also recommended if applicable, without a comma.
(Last Name Page No.)
Abbreviations are not necessary for page numbers, but use them for chapters ( ch. ) and scenes ( sc. ).
For sources with two authors, list both names connected with the word and . For sources with three or more authors, use only the first listed author’s name and et al. Sources with no listed authors use the title instead, shortened to the first noun phrase—i.e., Faulkner’s Novels of the South becomes Faulkner’s Novels .
Again, place parenthetical citations outside the quotation marks, followed by the period.
As always, all sources must have a corresponding full citation in the works cited page.
MLA parenthetical citation example
There is no evidence to suggest there is currently life on Mars (Thompson).
Even though the tests were conclusive (Richardson et al. 76–77), research continues to this day.
According to Pratchett, “[Ambition] was something that happened to other people” (62).
Here’s a tip: Grammarly’s Citation Generator ensures your essays have flawless citations and no plagiarism. Try it for citing lectures in MLA , APA , or Chicago styles.
Parenthetical citation FAQs
What are parenthetical citations, when should parenthetical citations be used.
In-text parenthetical citations come at the end of each new idea that’s not your own. The APA and MLA formats use parenthetical citations as the main method for referencing sources. In the Chicago style, they are optional.
In narrative citations, you mention the author directly in the text—for example, “As Einstein himself once said . . .” Narrative citations still require a shortened form of parenthetical citations, but there’s no need to mention the author’s name twice.
- Document Format
Introduction to Parenthetical Citations
Formatting the parenthetical citation, sample parenthetical citations.
- Reference Entries
The function of a parenthetical citation--also known as an in-text citation--is twofold: (1) it unambiguously directs readers to a source listed on the works cited page, and (2) it provides the specific location within the source of the information being cited. In an effort to disrupt reading as little as possible, parenthetical citations are often but not always placed at the end of a sentence.
A typical in-text citation has two components. The first component mirrors the start of a source's entry on the works cited page. It allows readers to move from an in-text citation to a corresponding reference entry, where the source's publication information resides. The first component is usually the author's last name; t he second is usually a page number.
The parenthetical citation in the example above indicates that the quotation comes from page 202 of a work by Cicero. B ecause the first component of a parenthetical citation corresponds to a reference entry, r eaders can easily locate the publication information for the source. In this case, readers will locate Cicero's name in the alphabetical list of works cited at the end of the paper.
Textual integration : Keep in mind that there is always some interplay between the text of a sentence and and its parenthetical citation. Specifically, if an author is mentioned in the body of a sentence, his or her name does not need to be repeated in a parenthetical citation, for it is already clear from what source the borrowed material originates. The examples below show three different ways that an author's name might be integrated into the body of a sentence. Note that p age numbers are still indicated in parenthesis .
Rhetoric without philosophy, according to Cicero, is but "an empty and ridiculous swirl of verbiage" (202).
In De Oratore , Cicero says that rhetoric--when not joined by philosophy--is "an empty and ridiculous swirl of verbiage" (202).
Cicero argues that the art of rhetoric, unless reunited with the discipline of philosophy, provides little more than "an empty and ridiculous swirl of verbiage" (202).
Textual flow : Most parenthetical citations appear at the end of a sentence. Such placement is ideal because it does not substantially disrupt the flow of reading. Such placement is not always possible, however, without abandoning the precision of a citation. In the following example, two different ideas from two different pages are cited within the same sentence. A single parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence would not be sufficient here, as it would not be absolutely clear which information came from which page. In these types of situations , MLA guidelines dictate that parenthetical citations be placed at natural pauses in the sentence and as close to the cited material as possible. The solution here is to place a parenthetical citation after each idea or point. The citations are not only close to the cited material but also appear at natural pauses (e.g., at a comma, at a period).
In Gorgias , Plato accuses the sophists of practicing a form of verbal manipulation, one which deliberatively deceives the audiences (69), in an attempt to secure personal advantage (75).
Not every source has a single author and numbered pages. Accordingly, not every source can be cited in the exact manner outlined above. The following section will provide sample parenthetical citations for the types of sources that researchers are likely to encounter.
One author : A source by a single author lists the author's surname and the page number(s) of the cited material.
(Cicero 202) (Quintilian 353-54)
Two or more authors : If a source has two authors, each author's surname is listed in the parenthetical citation, joined by the coordinating conjunction "and." If a source has three or more authors, only the first author's surname is listed, followed by "et al ." (the abbreviation for et alia, Latin for "and others"). Because it is a common Latin abbreviation, "et al." should not be italicized.
(Bizzell and Herzberg 33) (Losh et al. 7-10)
Multiple authors with same last name : If a writer uses two or more sources by authors with the same surname, parenthetical citations must include the first initials of said authors.
(K. Burke 245-46) (E. Burke 22)
Multiple works by the same author : If two or more works by the author are used, parenthetical citations must also include a title or shortened title of the work. Note that titles of articles are in quotes and those of books are italicized.
(Richards, "Learning" 251) (Richards, Philosophy 3-5) (Richards, Practical Criticism 174)
Corporate authors : Parenthetical citations for corporate authors simply list the corporation's name. If the corporation has an especially long name, it is acceptable to use the first few words of the name or to use abbreviations.
(Pew Research Center 3-5) (Washington Institute 12) (NORML 2)
Government authors : When a government agency is the author, a parenthetical citation will include the name of the government and the name of the agency that produced the work.
(United States, Department of Education 82) (United States, Center for Disease Control 10)
Works with no author : If a work is not attributed to an author, the parenthetical citation will still list the first element of the works cited entry. Instead of an author, the first element is typically the title of the work. If the title is long, use only the first few words of the title.
( Beowulf 16; XIV) ("Good Riddance" 16A)
Works of prose with multiple editions : Popular and oft-studied literary works are frequently available in multiple editions. To assist readers in locating cited material, it is customary to include division numbers. Divisions can be books, chapters, sections, etc. For prose works, division numbers are provided in addition to page numbers, which are listed first. The two are separated by a semicolon.
(Vonnegut 109-10; ch. 5) (Plato, Republic 94-95; 398a) ( Beowulf 16; XIV)
Works of poetry : For verse, division and/or line numbers replace page numbers. Divisions can be books, chapters, sections, etc. For a long verse work with multiple divisions, give the division number and line, separated by a period. For shorter verse works, give only line numbers. NB: When citing divisions and lines, the first parenthetical citation for a source should include the name or abbreviation of the division and the word "line" or "lines," separated by a comma. Thus establishing the use of divisions and lines for that source , subsequent citations will only include referenced line numbers.
(Dickinson, line 6) (Dickinson 11-12) (Homer, bk. 9, lines 366-67) (Homer 9.366)
Works of drama : Parenthetical citations for dramatic works are built the same way as the previous two categories. If the drama is written in prose, it follows the guidelines for works of prose with multiple editions. If the drama is in written in verse, it follows the guideline for poetry.
(McDonagh 84; scene 9) (Shakespeare, Macbeth 5.11.28-30)
Scriptural works : Parenthetical citations for sacred works use divisions and lines in lieu of page numbers. For the Bible, specifically, give the abbreviated name of the book being cited, followed by appropriate chapter and line number, separated by a period. To establish the use of a specific translation or version of the text, the first reference of the source--and only the first--should echo the first element of its works cited entry.
( New English Bible , Gen. 1.27) (Gen. 2.22-23)
Paragraph numbers : If a source has numbered paragraphs, they may be used to identify the location of cited material. Numbered paragraphs are sometimes present when page numbers are not, especially in online sources. Do not count and label paragraphs yourself; only use paragraph numbers when the source explicitly provides them. Writers signify that they are using paragraph numbers with the abbreviation "par." or "pars."
(Center for Academic Integrity, par. 9) (Straw, pars. 9-10)
No page numbers : When a source has no page numbers--or other such numbers or divisions that identify textual location--simply provide the name of the author.
Time-based media : Audio and video recordings are cited by time or time range. Use HH:MM:SS format to indicate hour(s), minute(s), and second(s) into the recording.
(Clapton 00:02:32) (Harrison 00:03:05-22) (Scorsese 01:22:00-23:15)
Indirect citation : When a writer is quoting a quotation from another source, he or she should mention the name of the primary author in the body of the text but provide citation information for the secondary source parenthetically. Precede the secondary source with "qtd. in" to indicate that the quote is provided secondhand.
Léonard Misonne explains the concept: "Light glorifies everything. It transorms and ennobles the most commonplace and ordinary subjects. The object is nothing: light is everything" (qtd. in Sussman 19).
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APA Style, 7th Edition
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Parenthetical and Narrative Citations in APA
8.12 multiple works in one citation, 8.14 unknown or anonymous author, 8.17 number of authors in in-text citations, 8.19 works with the same author and date, 8.20 authors with the same name, 8.21 group authors.
- Quoting and Paraphrasing
- Additional Resources
It is very important to insure that any item listed in a parenthetical or in-text citation corresponds to an item in your reference list. Make certain that author, title, and publication information are listed exactly the same in both citation types.
APA uses parenthetical or in text citations where the last name of the author, date of publication, and specific page or chapter are placed in parentheses within the text. Examples may be found in APA section 8.
Most parenthetical citations, placed immediately after a quotation or paraphrase, must include the following elements as shown in section 8.10-11.
- Include only the author's last name without any initials or suffixes followed by a comma.
- Include only the year of publication.
- When citing a specific quotation, idea, or figure from a specific page of the source, indicate the page number, chapter, or figure or table number after the publication year with a comma in between. The word page may be abbreviated but not chapter or figure. See 8.13 for additional examples.
- Place all elements in parentheses with the period after the closing parentheses.
Narrative citations incorporate the author and publication date within the sentence. In most instances, the author's name will be given and the publication date placed in parentheses immediately after. In some instances, the date may be included in the sentence without parentheses.
When utilizing multiple sources in a single instance, group all of the sources together in a single note. Sources should be listed alphabetically in the order found in the reference list and separated by semicolons.
List two or more works by the same author in chronological order
To highlight specific works that are particularly relevant to your point, place those works first in alphabetical order. Then use a semi-colon and the phrase see also before listing additional citations also in alphabetical order.
If citing multiple sources in a sentence as a narrative citation, no specific order is required.
If no author is listed, refer to the work by title within the text and parenthetical citation.
If the author is officially listed as "anonymous," APA indicates that word should be treated as the author's real name in both the parenthetical citation and reference list.
- For one or two authors, include both author names in every citation.
- For three or more authors, include the name of the first author followed by et al.
- The exception is when using et al would create confusion because more than one reference begins with the same authors.
- In those cases, write out all of the names until there is a difference.
- If there are multiple authors remaining, use et al.
- If there is only one additional author, write out that name as well.
- Use an ampersand (&) between names for two authors and before the last author's name when multiple authors are listed.
- In a narrative citation, write out the word and .
References by the same author with the same publication date should be listed in chronological order by the specific date and then place a lower case letter immediately after the year in the in-text citation.
When citing more than one work by authors with the same last name, include the author's initials in all text and parenthetical citations in order to differentiate between works.
If a group name has a familiar abbreviation, include the abbreviation in brackets after the full name for the first usage and then utilize the abbreviation for the following citations.
If two groups share the same abbreviation and both groups are cited in a paper, spell out both group names every time.
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MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics
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MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (9 th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.
Guidelines for referring to the works of others in your text using MLA style are covered throughout the MLA Handbook and in chapter 7 of the MLA Style Manual . Both books provide extensive examples, so it's a good idea to consult them if you want to become even more familiar with MLA guidelines or if you have a particular reference question.
Basic in-text citation rules
In MLA Style, referring to the works of others in your text is done using parenthetical citations . This method involves providing relevant source information in parentheses whenever a sentence uses a quotation or paraphrase. Usually, the simplest way to do this is to put all of the source information in parentheses at the end of the sentence (i.e., just before the period). However, as the examples below will illustrate, there are situations where it makes sense to put the parenthetical elsewhere in the sentence, or even to leave information out.
- The source information required in a parenthetical citation depends (1) upon the source medium (e.g. print, web, DVD) and (2) upon the source’s entry on the Works Cited page.
- Any source information that you provide in-text must correspond to the source information on the Works Cited page. More specifically, whatever signal word or phrase you provide to your readers in the text must be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of the corresponding entry on the Works Cited page.
In-text citations: Author-page style
MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on your Works Cited page. The author's name may appear either in the sentence itself or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence. For example:
Both citations in the examples above, (263) and (Wordsworth 263), tell readers that the information in the sentence can be located on page 263 of a work by an author named Wordsworth. If readers want more information about this source, they can turn to the Works Cited page, where, under the name of Wordsworth, they would find the following information:
Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads . Oxford UP, 1967.
In-text citations for print sources with known author
For print sources like books, magazines, scholarly journal articles, and newspapers, provide a signal word or phrase (usually the author’s last name) and a page number. If you provide the signal word/phrase in the sentence, you do not need to include it in the parenthetical citation.
These examples must correspond to an entry that begins with Burke, which will be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of an entry on the Works Cited page:
Burke, Kenneth. Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method . University of California Press, 1966.
In-text citations for print sources by a corporate author
When a source has a corporate author, it is acceptable to use the name of the corporation followed by the page number for the in-text citation. You should also use abbreviations (e.g., nat'l for national) where appropriate, so as to avoid interrupting the flow of reading with overly long parenthetical citations.
In-text citations for sources with non-standard labeling systems
If a source uses a labeling or numbering system other than page numbers, such as a script or poetry, precede the citation with said label. When citing a poem, for instance, the parenthetical would begin with the word “line”, and then the line number or range. For example, the examination of William Blake’s poem “The Tyger” would be cited as such:
The speaker makes an ardent call for the exploration of the connection between the violence of nature and the divinity of creation. “In what distant deeps or skies. / Burnt the fire of thine eyes," they ask in reference to the tiger as they attempt to reconcile their intimidation with their relationship to creationism (lines 5-6).
Longer labels, such as chapters (ch.) and scenes (sc.), should be abbreviated.
In-text citations for print sources with no known author
When a source has no known author, use a shortened title of the work instead of an author name, following these guidelines.
Place the title in quotation marks if it's a short work (such as an article) or italicize it if it's a longer work (e.g. plays, books, television shows, entire Web sites) and provide a page number if it is available.
Titles longer than a standard noun phrase should be shortened into a noun phrase by excluding articles. For example, To the Lighthouse would be shortened to Lighthouse .
If the title cannot be easily shortened into a noun phrase, the title should be cut after the first clause, phrase, or punctuation:
In this example, since the reader does not know the author of the article, an abbreviated title appears in the parenthetical citation, and the full title of the article appears first at the left-hand margin of its respective entry on the Works Cited page. Thus, the writer includes the title in quotation marks as the signal phrase in the parenthetical citation in order to lead the reader directly to the source on the Works Cited page. The Works Cited entry appears as follows:
"The Impact of Global Warming in North America." Global Warming: Early Signs . 1999. www.climatehotmap.org/. Accessed 23 Mar. 2009.
If the title of the work begins with a quotation mark, such as a title that refers to another work, that quote or quoted title can be used as the shortened title. The single quotation marks must be included in the parenthetical, rather than the double quotation.
Parenthetical citations and Works Cited pages, used in conjunction, allow readers to know which sources you consulted in writing your essay, so that they can either verify your interpretation of the sources or use them in their own scholarly work.
Author-page citation for classic and literary works with multiple editions
Page numbers are always required, but additional citation information can help literary scholars, who may have a different edition of a classic work, like Marx and Engels's The Communist Manifesto . In such cases, give the page number of your edition (making sure the edition is listed in your Works Cited page, of course) followed by a semicolon, and then the appropriate abbreviations for volume (vol.), book (bk.), part (pt.), chapter (ch.), section (sec.), or paragraph (par.). For example:
Author-page citation for works in an anthology, periodical, or collection
When you cite a work that appears inside a larger source (for instance, an article in a periodical or an essay in a collection), cite the author of the internal source (i.e., the article or essay). For example, to cite Albert Einstein's article "A Brief Outline of the Theory of Relativity," which was published in Nature in 1921, you might write something like this:
See also our page on documenting periodicals in the Works Cited .
Citing authors with same last names
Sometimes more information is necessary to identify the source from which a quotation is taken. For instance, if two or more authors have the same last name, provide both authors' first initials (or even the authors' full name if different authors share initials) in your citation. For example:
Citing a work by multiple authors
For a source with two authors, list the authors’ last names in the text or in the parenthetical citation:
Corresponding Works Cited entry:
Best, David, and Sharon Marcus. “Surface Reading: An Introduction.” Representations , vol. 108, no. 1, Fall 2009, pp. 1-21. JSTOR, doi:10.1525/rep.2009.108.1.1
For a source with three or more authors, list only the first author’s last name, and replace the additional names with et al.
Franck, Caroline, et al. “Agricultural Subsidies and the American Obesity Epidemic.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine , vol. 45, no. 3, Sept. 2013, pp. 327-333.
Citing multiple works by the same author
If you cite more than one work by an author, include a shortened title for the particular work from which you are quoting to distinguish it from the others. Put short titles of books in italics and short titles of articles in quotation marks.
Citing two articles by the same author :
Citing two books by the same author :
Additionally, if the author's name is not mentioned in the sentence, format your citation with the author's name followed by a comma, followed by a shortened title of the work, and, when appropriate, the page number(s):
Citing multivolume works
If you cite from different volumes of a multivolume work, always include the volume number followed by a colon. Put a space after the colon, then provide the page number(s). (If you only cite from one volume, provide only the page number in parentheses.)
Citing the Bible
In your first parenthetical citation, you want to make clear which Bible you're using (and underline or italicize the title), as each version varies in its translation, followed by book (do not italicize or underline), chapter, and verse. For example:
If future references employ the same edition of the Bible you’re using, list only the book, chapter, and verse in the parenthetical citation:
John of Patmos echoes this passage when describing his vision (Rev. 4.6-8).
Citing indirect sources
Sometimes you may have to use an indirect source. An indirect source is a source cited within another source. For such indirect quotations, use "qtd. in" to indicate the source you actually consulted. For example:
Note that, in most cases, a responsible researcher will attempt to find the original source, rather than citing an indirect source.
Citing transcripts, plays, or screenplays
Sources that take the form of a dialogue involving two or more participants have special guidelines for their quotation and citation. Each line of dialogue should begin with the speaker's name written in all capitals and indented half an inch. A period follows the name (e.g., JAMES.) . After the period, write the dialogue. Each successive line after the first should receive an additional indentation. When another person begins speaking, start a new line with that person's name indented only half an inch. Repeat this pattern each time the speaker changes. You can include stage directions in the quote if they appear in the original source.
Conclude with a parenthetical that explains where to find the excerpt in the source. Usually, the author and title of the source can be given in a signal phrase before quoting the excerpt, so the concluding parenthetical will often just contain location information like page numbers or act/scene indicators.
Here is an example from O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh.
WILLIE. (Pleadingly) Give me a drink, Rocky. Harry said it was all right. God, I need a drink.
ROCKY. Den grab it. It's right under your nose.
WILLIE. (Avidly) Thanks. (He takes the bottle with both twitching hands and tilts it to his lips and gulps down the whiskey in big swallows.) (1.1)
Citing non-print or sources from the Internet
With more and more scholarly work published on the Internet, you may have to cite sources you found in digital environments. While many sources on the Internet should not be used for scholarly work (reference the OWL's Evaluating Sources of Information resource), some Web sources are perfectly acceptable for research. When creating in-text citations for electronic, film, or Internet sources, remember that your citation must reference the source on your Works Cited page.
Sometimes writers are confused with how to craft parenthetical citations for electronic sources because of the absence of page numbers. However, these sorts of entries often do not require a page number in the parenthetical citation. For electronic and Internet sources, follow the following guidelines:
- Include in the text the first item that appears in the Work Cited entry that corresponds to the citation (e.g. author name, article name, website name, film name).
- Do not provide paragraph numbers or page numbers based on your Web browser’s print preview function.
- Unless you must list the Web site name in the signal phrase in order to get the reader to the appropriate entry, do not include URLs in-text. Only provide partial URLs such as when the name of the site includes, for example, a domain name, like CNN.com or Forbes.com, as opposed to writing out http://www.cnn.com or http://www.forbes.com.
Miscellaneous non-print sources
Two types of non-print sources you may encounter are films and lectures/presentations:
In the two examples above “Herzog” (a film’s director) and “Yates” (a presentor) lead the reader to the first item in each citation’s respective entry on the Works Cited page:
Herzog, Werner, dir. Fitzcarraldo . Perf. Klaus Kinski. Filmverlag der Autoren, 1982.
Yates, Jane. "Invention in Rhetoric and Composition." Gaps Addressed: Future Work in Rhetoric and Composition, CCCC, Palmer House Hilton, 2002. Address.
Electronic sources may include web pages and online news or magazine articles:
In the first example (an online magazine article), the writer has chosen not to include the author name in-text; however, two entries from the same author appear in the Works Cited. Thus, the writer includes both the author’s last name and the article title in the parenthetical citation in order to lead the reader to the appropriate entry on the Works Cited page (see below).
In the second example (a web page), a parenthetical citation is not necessary because the page does not list an author, and the title of the article, “MLA Formatting and Style Guide,” is used as a signal phrase within the sentence. If the title of the article was not named in the sentence, an abbreviated version would appear in a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence. Both corresponding Works Cited entries are as follows:
Taylor, Rumsey. "Fitzcarraldo." Slant , 13 Jun. 2003, www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/fitzcarraldo/. Accessed 29 Sep. 2009.
"MLA Formatting and Style Guide." The Purdue OWL , 2 Aug. 2016, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/. Accessed 2 April 2018.
To cite multiple sources in the same parenthetical reference, separate the citations by a semi-colon:
Time-based media sources
When creating in-text citations for media that has a runtime, such as a movie or podcast, include the range of hours, minutes and seconds you plan to reference. For example: (00:02:15-00:02:35).
When a citation is not needed
Common sense and ethics should determine your need for documenting sources. You do not need to give sources for familiar proverbs, well-known quotations, or common knowledge (For example, it is expected that U.S. citizens know that George Washington was the first President.). Remember that citing sources is a rhetorical task, and, as such, can vary based on your audience. If you’re writing for an expert audience of a scholarly journal, for example, you may need to deal with expectations of what constitutes “common knowledge” that differ from common norms.
The MLA Handbook describes how to cite many different kinds of authors and content creators. However, you may occasionally encounter a source or author category that the handbook does not describe, making the best way to proceed can be unclear.
In these cases, it's typically acceptable to apply the general principles of MLA citation to the new kind of source in a way that's consistent and sensible. A good way to do this is to simply use the standard MLA directions for a type of source that resembles the source you want to cite.
You may also want to investigate whether a third-party organization has provided directions for how to cite this kind of source. For example, Norquest College provides guidelines for citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers —an author category that does not appear in the MLA Handbook . In cases like this, however, it's a good idea to ask your instructor or supervisor whether using third-party citation guidelines might present problems.
APA Style 7th Edition
Citing Quoted Material
Quoting a source with no page numbers, when to use page numbers in an in-text citation.
- Using "et al." in Parenthetical Citations
Citing One Author Throughout One Paragraph
Using signal phrases, citing multiple sources in the same parentheses.
- Direct Quote From a Slide Presentation
Citing an Item in a Museum
Citing images in a presentation.
- Citing an Article or Website with Unknown Author
Abbreviating Organizational Authors
Multiple sources from the same author with the same publication year.
- Non Recoverable Information (personal communication)
- Reference List Citations
- Reference List - Web Resources
- Changes from APA 6th ed.
- Bias-Free Language
- Slide Decks: Citations and References
In-text (also called parenthetical) citations follow the author-date citation system in APA style. The author and date of a reference appear in parentheses when referred to in the text of a paper, like this (Smith, 2016) .
When a work does not have an author, use the first few words of the title of the reference in its place.
(Do not pull words from the middle of the title; it needs to be the first few because this is how readers will match your in-text citation to the reference list.)
For articles, chapters, and web pages, put the title in quotation marks. For books, brochures, and reports, put the title in italics. Examples:
(“Article title beginning”, 2016) or ( Book title , 2011) .
You can also work a citation into the flow of the sentence, but the author (or title) and year always stay together. For instance:
As Garcia (2016) states in her groundbreaking work...
If the author of a work is named as "Anonymous," this title takes the place of the author name in the citation. For example:
Read on for more guidelines and tips for citing specific types of sources in-text.
Paraphrasing is preferred to direct quotations, but occasionally using an author’s exact words is desirable. In that situation, you want to direct the reader to the exact location of the quote by including a page number in the parenthetical notation :
(Garcia, 2016, p. 57)
If you use the author’s name in the text of the paper, wait until the end of the quote to insert the page number:
As Garcia (2016) states in her groundbreaking work, “hallucinations provide windows into the neural underpinnings of visual awareness in these patients” (p. 57).
If the quote spans multiple pages, use "pp." instead, like this
(Wong, 2014, pp. 21-22)
If you need to quote a website or other material that does not have page numbers or chapters, use any of the following location information instead: (p. 273)
- Consistent with data from recent flu seasons, "the overall hospitalization rate for the season increased to 29.7 per 100,000" (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020, Severe Disease section).
- In the Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) Technology Modernization Action Plan (2020), "[modernization] of FDA's technology infrastructure will involve dynamic, enterprise-wide collaboration among Agency programs" ("Building the Foundation" section).
- Western countries are experiencing problems on where to send their recyclable waste. Until 2018, "China used to accept 55% of the world's plastic and paper waste" (British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 2020, para. 2).
- Makena, a drug to prevent premature birth, may be taken off the market because "Makena's manufacturer struggled to compete with the cheaper, compounded 17P" (Huetteman 2020, "How Makena cornered the market" section, para. 26).
Note: Kindle location numbers are no longer required with in-text citations. Instead, provide the page number or any of the information listed above.
For audiovisual works, cite the time stamp of when the quotation began in place of where you would normally cite a page number.
- Habits are "mental associations that we form when we repeat an action over and over again in a given context and then get a reward" (Wood, 2020, 15:15).
Page numbers are only required for direct quotations. However, there may be times when you may want to refer to a specific part of a source, in which case you can include page numbers in your parenthetical citation. It is not mandatory, though, to include page numbers for segments that do not have a direct quotation.
... the study dropout rate was a disappointing 50% (Smith & Jones, 2016, p. 3).
For more see page 269 in the APA manual.
Using "et al." in Parenthetical Citations
If you are citing a source with three or more authors, you need to use "et al." in your citations. In APA 6, a work with between three and five authors would be listed the first time, with the use of "et al." each subsequent time the in-text citation was used. In APA 7, any in-text citation with three or more authors will use "et al.".
In text, a citation with more than three authors can be parenthetical:
Reference list errors are prevalent in scholarly journals (Onwuegbuzie et al., 2011).
Or it can be part of the narrative:
Onwuegbuzie et al. (2011) used content analysis to determine that reference list errors are prevalent in scholarly journals.
Similar to APA 6, for works with a group author with an abbreviation, the first citation will spell out the author, followed by the abbreviation in brackets. For example:
(American Psychological Association [APA], 2020) or American Psychological Association (APA, 2020)
Subsequent citations will use the abbreviation only. For instance,
(APA, 2020) or APA (2020)
If you’re citing the same author/source repeatedly throughout one paragraph, inserting multiple citations is technically correct but lacks flow and readability. For example,
Dogs are man’s best friend (Smith, 2015). In a randomized controlled trial, dogs preferred their owners to all other people (Smith, 2015). The results of this study have implications for dog behavior (Smith, 2015). However, the study also had a small sample size, so more research into this area is necessary (Smith, 2015).
Alternatively, using the author's name in your writing can make the paragraph flow better and prevent you from having to repeat the citation subsequent sentences. (Also see p. 174 in the APA manual.) For example,
Smith (2015) notes that dogs are man’s best friend. In a randomized controlled trial conducted by Smith, dogs preferred their owners to all other people. The results of his study have implications for dog behavior. However, his study also had a small sample size, so more research into this area is necessary.
The technique of using authors' names in the text of your paper is also helpful when you want to compare the work of two or more authors and make be citing them alternately throughout a paragraph. For example,
Smith (2015) notes that dogs are man’s best friend. In a randomized controlled trial conducted by Smith, dogs preferred their owners to all other people. Lincoln's (2016) work built on this idea even further and provided some evidence of variation in levels of preference based on amount and type of training the dog had received. Her study revealed that dogs who had spent time in formal training programs with their owners showed a higher the preference for those owners than dogs who had participated in more informal training. The results of both studies have implications for dog behavior and the possible causes for variations in that behavior (Lincoln, 2016; Smith, 2015). However, both studies also had small sample sizes, so more research into this area is necessary.
The examples above for Citing one Author Throughout a Paragraph use what are called signal phrases to alert the reader that the writer is about to use information from an outside source. For example:
According to Smith (2017)... As noted by Watson and Holmes (1884)... Roberts (2000) discovered...
Signal phrases are a handy tool to help you indicate what content of your paper is coming from an outside source and which parts are your own original analysis.
For more on using signal phrases, read this short guide from the GMU Writing Center.
And see suggested words to use in your signal phrases.
Sometimes you will want to make a general statement about two or more of the studies you read, especially if they had similar conclusions. To do that, just include each set of authors and dates in your parentheses, in the same order they appear in your reference list (i.e. alphabetically), and separated by semicolons.
The research shows an increase in birth rates for this particular population (Farhad & Engel, 2015; Pak, 2013; Sanchez, Chopra, & Martin, 2016).
Direct Quote from a Slide Presentation
If you are directly quoting text from a slide presentation, include a slide number and a paragraph number (if necessary), so that anyone reading your paper will be able to quickly and easily find your source.
(Smith, 2015, slide 12, para. 2)
If the item in a work of art or other piece with a known creator, use the same structure as you would for a written work with an author:
If the item's creator is unknown, use the same structure as you would for a written work with an unknown author, and use the title/description in its place:
(Gastroscope, ca. 1940)
("ca" stands for circa, for dates that have been approximated)
Citing A Museum Wall Sign
(Museum of Fine Arts, 2015)
All images in a presentation must be treated the same as figures would be in a written paper. You can think of each presentation slide as a page in an APA style paper. An image should have a caption. A caption contains :
- The title of the image, i.e. Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.
- A brief description of the image, followed by (optional) any additional information necessary to explain the figure.
- Adapted from Original Work, by Creator, Year, URL
- A copyright statement.
Here is an example of a figure with a caption that you might put in a presentation:
That is the information that goes on the slide where the image appears. You must also cite the image in your reference list. Please see Citing Digital Images .
These are the basics of using and citing images. For complete rules and details, see section 7.26 in the official APA manual.
Citing an Article or Website with an Unknown Author
When an article or webpage doesn’t have an author listed, use the title of the article in place of the author, both in-text and in your reference list. See above for more info on citing websites without an author.
(“Ativan (Lorazepam),” 2012)
When citing an organization as author, such as the CDC or WHO, you may use the organization’s acronym throughout the paper after you’ve spelled it out completely at least once. For example,
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2016), asthma is…
One in 13 people has asthma (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016).
Whether you spell it out in text or in a parenthetical citation, it only needs to be done once, with the acronym immediately following in parentheses or brackets.
Occasionally, you may have multiple sources with the same author and the same publication year. To distinguish these sources from each other, you add a lowercase letter after the year, in alphabetical order of where the references appear in the reference list. For example,
According to the CDC (2017b)
Non Recoverable Information (Personal Communication)
When citing a source that cannot be recovered, such as your personal notes or a conversation, cite the source in a parenthetical citation with the author, followed by a personal communication designation and the date:
(J. Smith, personal communication, August 8, 2016)
Do not cite personal communication in the reference list.
Quoting something that is quoted in a paper you’ve read is called a secondary citation . They are not recommended in APA; so it would be better if you could find the original source and quote directly from it. However, if you have to because the original document is out of print, no longer exists as it did at the time of citing, not in English, or is otherwise unattainable, put the article you actually read in the reference list.
Then in the text of the paper, the primary citation would appear in the reference list, but the secondary citation would not. Cite the secondary citation as you normally would in author-date format.
Alternatively your text could mention the original source, and it would look something like this:
The Transcultural Nursing Society’s mission statement (Ray, 2013, p. 143) states “to enhance the quality of culturally congruent, competent, and equitable care that results in improved health and well-being for people worldwide”…
Note: APA 6 used the term "as cited in" to cite secondary sources. APA 7 no longer uses this term.
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MLA Citation Style Guide: Parenthetical Citations
- Parenthetical Citations
- Works Cited
- Journal Article from an Online Periodical
- Journal Article from an Online Database
- Magazine Article
- Magazine Article from a Database
- Newspaper Article
- Newspaper Article from a Database
- Newspaper Article from a Website
- Two or Three Authors
- More Than Three Authors
- Anthology, Compilation, or Edited Book
- Corporate Author
- Book with No Author
- Article in a Reference Book
- Multivolume Work
- Basic Web Page
- Document from a Web Site
- Listserv, Blog, or Tweet
- Audiovisual Media
- Images and Art
- Indirect Source
- Government Publication
Using Parenthetical (In-Text) Citations
Include a parenthetical citation when you refer to, summarize, paraphrase, or quote from another source. For every in-text citation in your paper, there must be a corresponding entry in your Works Cited list.
MLA parenthetical citation style uses the author's last name and a page number; for example: (Field 122).
How to Cite a Direct Quote (92-105)
When you incorporate a direct quotation into a sentence, you must cite the source. Fit quotations within your sentences, making sure the sentences are grammatically correct:
How to Cite after Paraphrasing
Even if you put information in your own words by summarizing or paraphrasing, you must cite the original author or researcher as well as the page or paragraph number(s). For example, a paraphrase of Gibaldi’s earlier quotation might be identified as follows:
Within the research paper, quotations will have more impact when used judiciously (Gibaldi 109).
How to Cite Information When You Have Not Seen the Original Source (226)
Sometimes an author writes about research that someone else has done, but you are unable to track down the original research report. In this case, because you did not read the original report, you will include only the source you did consult in the Works Cited list. The abbreviation “qtd.” in the parenthetical reference indicates you have not read the original research.
How to Cite Information If No Page Numbers Are Available (220-222)
If a resource contains no page numbers, as can be the case with electronic sources, then you cannot include a page number in the parentheses. However, if the source indicates paragraph numbers, use the abbreviation “par.” or “pars.” and the relevant numbers in the parentheses.
One website describes these specific dragons (King). A solution was suggested in 1996 (Pangee, pars. 12-18).
How to Cite Two or More Works by the Same Author or Authors (225)
When citing one of two or more works by the same author(s), put a comma after the author’s last name and add the title of the work (if brief) or a shortened version of the title and the relevant page number.
How to Cite if the Author's Name is Unavailable (223-224)
Use the title of the article or book or Web source, including the appropriate capitalization and quotation marks/italics format.
example: (“Asthma Rates Increasing” 29).
How to Cite when you are Altering a Direct Quote
When you need to leave out part of a quotation to make it fit grammatically or because it contains irrelevant/unnecessary information, insert ellipses points, or three spaced periods ( . . . ). (97-101).
If you must add or slightly change words within a quotation for reasons of grammar or clarity, surround the change with square brackets (101).
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MLA Citation Guide: Parenthetical References
- MLA 9th Edition
- Citations Templates and Examples
- Annotated Bibliography
- Online Citation Help
- Collecting Citations
- Placing Citations in a Document
MLA Handbook , section 6.2
A parenthetical reference follows a quotation or paraphrase you are using in the text of your writing. The information in parenthetical references points readers to the complete citation found in the works cited page.
For one author , usually the author and page are enough for a parenthetical reference:
Medieval Europe was a place both of “raids, pillages, slavery, and extortion” and of “traveling merchants, monetary exchange” (Townsend 10).
If you include the name of the author in your text, page number is enough:
Townsend believes that Medieval Europe was a place both of “raids, pillages, slavery, and extortion” and of “traveling merchants, monetary exchange” (10).
For a citation with two authors , use "and" between the names whether it is in narrative or parenthetical.
Mancha and Becerra worked to "provide adequate evidence of [their] claims" (34).
They worked to "provide adequate evidence of [their claims" (Mancha and Becerra 34).
For a citation with three or more authors, use "et al." parenthetically.
The author posited that the red symbolized "animal, especially human, life, as well as death and sin" (Tristan et al. 57).
For a citation that has no author , and therefore the reference list starts with a title, use the title in a parenthetical citation, with the correct formatting for an article, book, etc.
They identified "a new bacterium that feeds on polyurethane" ("Bacteria Eats; We Recycle" 119).
For more detailed information and examples, please see:
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 9 th ed., call number: LB2369 .M52 2021 held at the Reference Desk and the Reserve Desk.
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Parenthetical Citation – Citation Styles & Examples
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Parenthetical citations are a form of citing sources within the text, i.e., in-text citations. They generally include information that indicates where a source is taken from within a paper’s main text. There are different rules and several ways to use parenthetical citation depending on the context and Style Guide. Learn how to use parenthetical citations in the most commonly used academic writing styles such as MLA, APA style, and Chicago style below.
- 1 Parenthetical Citation – In a Nutshell
- 2 Definition: Parenthetical citation
- 3 Parenthetical citations in MLA
- 4 Parenthetical citations in APA
- 5 Parenthetical citations in Chicago
Parenthetical Citation – In a Nutshell
- Parenthetical citations are when you provide references to sources within the text itself rather than as notes.
- Many writing styles favor the use of parentheses for citations, as they remove clutter or excessive notes from the page. The sciences, in particular, prefer this direct method.
- Do not mix and match writing styles. Abide by the formatting rules of one style only in your paper.
- Parenthetical citations must be followed up with a full bibliography or Works Cited page with complete source information.
Definition: Parenthetical citation
A parenthetical citation attributes the source for a quote or paraphrased passage within the paper’s main body. It does so by providing source identification — the author’s name, year, and page number(s) — within parentheses (or brackets). This information corresponds to fuller bibliographical data which must be provided at the end of your paper.
Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” in his iconic The Selfish Gene (1976, p. 192).
Parenthetical citations are adopted by a wide number of academic writing styles across the sciences and humanities. MLA, APA style, and Chicago style all provide guidelines for using parenthetical citations. While the principles are mostly the same, each writing style has specific requirements to consider when composing a paper and formatting a citation.
Parenthetical citations in MLA
The MLA (or Modern Language Association ) expresses its citations in an author-page format. This recommends that citations should contain the author’s last name followed by a page number or range separated by a space.
Page ranges are expressed with a dash and separate pages with a comma. No year is required, although some writers may prefer to include it in the prose itself if it helps their argument.
You can choose to include the citation in parentheses or cite it partially within the text itself (known as “in prose”). The parentheses always appear at the end of the sentence.
The convention for citing multiple authors is to only include up to two authors within the citation with an “and”.
For references written by more than two authors, include the first name followed by “ et al .”.
Parenthetical citations in APA
The APA style ( American Psychological Association ) favors APA in-text citations . The APA style follows an author-year-page format with information appearing in that order.
All information should also be separated by commas rather than spaces. Pages are expressed with a “p.” for individual pages and “pp.” for page ranges.
You can include all citation information in parentheses or include some of it partially within the text (known as “narrative citation” in the APA style).
The conventions for narrative citation recommend that the author’s name appears within the text and the publication date with page numbers are included in parentheses.
With sources written by two authors, include both authors within the citation with a “&”. For citations by more than two authors, include an “et al.” after the first author.
Parenthetical citations in Chicago
The Chicago Style describes its use of parentheses as the author-date system. Chicago recommends this method for the sciences. Chicago follows an author-date-page order when making citations. The author and date should appear after a space only, while page numbers are separated by a comma.
As with other parenthetical styles, you don’t have to repeat the author’s name if it appears within the text itself. However, you should include the identifying year in parentheses and a page number where applicable. The citation should always appear at the end of the sentence.
Chicago recommends including up to three authors when naming a source, separated with an “and”. When there are more than three authors, simply include the first listed author followed by “et al.”.
How do you place a parenthetical citation?
Parenthetical citations always appear enclosed in brackets at the end of a sentence.
The information included depends on the style, but often includes the author’s last name followed by either the year of publication and page number(s) or both.
What styles use parenthetical citations?
MLA and APA both use parentheses to cite sources within the text. The Chicago style also allows the use of parentheses or notes and bibliography formats.
I’ve included the author’s name in the main text, do I have to include it in the citation?
Not usually. You don’t have to repeat author information when it’s clear in the text.
Do you have to include a page number in a parenthetical citation?
If you’re quoting or paraphrasing a direct passage, yes. However, if you’re simply referencing a general book or idea, it may not be necessary.
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- Citation Styles
What is a parenthetical citation
Knowing how to handle parenthetical citations is a key skill that students and researchers need to master. This citation format, also sometimes referred to as an in-text citation, comes into play whenever you need to directly quote or paraphrase someone’s work in your essay or research paper.
In parenthetical citations, the original author or speaker’s words need to be given proper importance through referencing. The reader needs to be able to tell whose work it is, when it was created, and where it was sourced from.
By placing the reference directly into the text itself, the reader is also spared the effort of having to check the footnotes at the end of the paper while reading it.
This guide will be taking a closer look at the best practices for parenthetical citations that you need to know about before you tackle your next paper. The guidelines laid out below will give you all the information and examples you need to use and format a parenthetical reference the right way:
What does a parenthetical citation look like in APA format?
A typical parenthetical citation is made up of a few different parts, including:
- The author’s name
- The year of publication
- The page number
In practice, this will look a little something like this in-text citation example:
Modern architecture systems still rely on dynamic principles (Moseley, 2016) .
An alternative way to structure your parenthetical citation, in this case, would be to state it as:
Elhai et al. (2017) found that smartphone use could lead to depression based on current consumption levels (p.75).
There are a few things to be aware of when using parenthetical citations. If there is no known author, for example, does the method of citation need to be adjusted?
The answer is that the basic structure will remain largely the same. When no author can be found, the title of the work and year of publication needs to be included following the format shown above. If the title within the quotation marks is exceptionally long, it can be shortened for the purpose of being an in-text citation.
Check out these APA style resources
🌐 Official APA style guidelines
🗂 APA style guide
📝 APA citation generator
What does a parenthetical citation look like in MLA format?
The MLA style of parenthetical citation has many parallel elements to the APA format. The only major difference to be aware of is that the page number is cited rather than the date of publishing, and there is no comma separating the pages from the author's last name.
In practice, this would look like the in-text citation example below:
Running regularly can have significant health benefits (Lee et al. 45) .
Again if there is no author to be found, a shortened version of the original title or source can be used as a placeholder instead.
Check out these MLA style resources
🌐 Official MLA style guidelines
🗂 MLA style guide
📝 MLA citation generator
This table summarizes the main differences between parenthetical citations in APA and MLA:
Where are parenthetical citations used?
We’ve already mentioned that parenthetical references are sometimes known as in-text citations, which tells you exactly where you’ll need to add your sources. No matter which citation style you are using, these rules will apply.
The majority of parenthetical citations are placed within the paragraph that contains the direct quote, but this is not the only place that they need to be noted down. Your in-text citations will still need to be added to the final Reference list found at the end of your essay or paper as a bibliographical citation.
The state of paraphrasing
Let’s talk about what happens when you’ve taken information from a source and rephrased it in your own words instead of using a direct quote. How do parenthetical citations apply in this situation and what guidelines should you be aware of?
To start with, it’s important to bear in mind that the original author or source still needs to be cited even if you use a paraphrased version of their work. Taking the examples from the MLA section above, let’s see how this would look in action:
Incorrect running technique has been linked to lower back injuries (Greco et al. 1796) .
Be sure not to skip this step if you are paraphrasing. Giving fitting credit to your sources when using a direct quotation is one of the backbones of academic writing and honesty, and not doing so hurts both the author and you as the writer of the paper. After all, citing correctly only adds more strength and credibility to your argument or thesis.
What about online sources?
With the academic world becoming increasingly connected to technology, many research journals are now being published exclusively on online platforms. Scholarly journal articles, magazine articles, E-books, and other sources have all gone digital to huge benefit - increased accessibility.
Using an online source can have an impact on how in-text citations are written. Not all of these journals or online articles come with clear page numbers, for example. At the same time, it’s unrealistic to expect the reader to go through the entire source looking for the one point you have referenced.
So what do you do in this situation? You make use of the paragraphs instead. When you’re referencing an electronic source, you can use an abbreviation to highlight the paragraph that you are referring to. Take a look at this example:
The New York Times explored the performance of Amanda Gorman at the inauguration and how she started out in poetry ("Amanda Gorman Captures The Moment, In Verse" par. 10) .
Frequently Asked Questions about Parenthetical citations
The difference is that the parenthetical citation will feature the author's name and the date of publication in brackets at the end of the sentence. An in-text citation can, on the other hand, use the author's name in the sentence and only add the date of publication in brackets at the end of the sentence.
The parenthetical citation always corresponds to a full citation in the 'References' or 'Works Cited' section at the end of the paper. These references are cited in alphabetical order, using the author's last name.
It's best to use page numbers when you are making use of a direct quote, with a dash being used for page ranges. If you are paraphrasing the wording, you can add the parenthetical citation without page numbers.
Parenthetical notes indicate to the reader what the original source of the content is when citing research in your paper. This allows them to quickly check the citation and get further background about the point you are making.
Put the parenthetical citation immediately after the quote or at the end of the sentence that contains it. You should not put the parenthetical citation inside the quote, or use it to divide two lines of quotations.
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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / MLA Format / MLA In-text Citations
MLA In-Text Citations
An in-text citation is a reference to a source that is found within the text of a paper ( Handbook 227). This tells a reader that an idea, quote, or paraphrase originated from a source. MLA in-text citations usually include the last name of the author and the location of cited information.
This guide focuses on how to create MLA in-text citations, such as citations in prose and parenthetical citations in the current MLA style, which is in its 9th edition. This style was created by the Modern Language Association . This guide reviews MLA guidelines but is not related directly to the association.
Table of Contents
Here’s a quick rundown of the contents of this guide on how to use in-text citations.
- Why in-text citations are important
- Prose vs parenthetical in-text citation differences
- Parenthetical citation reference chart
In-text citation examples
- In-text citation with two authors
- In-text citation with 3+ authors
- In-text citation with no authors
- In-text citation with corporate authors
- In-text citation with edited books and anthologies
- In-text citation with no page numbers and online sources
- Citing the same sources multiple times
- Citing 2+ sources in the same in-text citation
- Citing multiple works by the same author in the same in-text citation
- Abbreviating titles
- Citing religious works and scriptures
- Citing long or block quotes
Why are in-text citations important?
- Give full credit to sources that are quoted and paraphrased in a work/paper.
- Help the writer avoid plagiarism.
- Are a signal that the information came from another source.
- Tell the reader where the information came from.
In-text citation vs. in-prose vs. parenthetical
An in-text citation is a general citation of where presented information came from. In MLA, an in-text citation can be displayed in two different ways:
- In the prose
- As a parenthetical citation
While the two ways are similar, there are slight differences. However, for both ways, you’ll need to know how to format page numbers in MLA .
Citation in prose
An MLA citation in prose is when the author’s name is used in the text of the sentence. At the end of the sentence, in parentheses, is the page number where the information was found.
Here is an example
When it comes to technology, King states that we “need to be comfortable enough with technology tools and services that we can help point our patrons in the right direction, even if we aren’t intimately familiar with how the device works” (11).
This MLA citation in prose includes King’s name in the sentence itself, and this specific line of text was taken from page 11 of the journal it was found in.
An MLA parenthetical citation is created when the author’s name is NOT in the sentence. Instead, the author’s name is in parentheses after the sentence, along with the page number.
Here is an MLA parenthetical citation example
When it comes to technology, we “need to be comfortable enough with technology tools and services that we can help point our patrons in the right direction, even if we aren’t intimately familiar with how the device works” (King 11).
In the above example, King’s name is not included in the sentence itself, so his name is in parentheses after the sentence, with 11 for the page number. The 11 indicates that the quote is found on page 11 in the journal.
For every source that is cited using an in-text citation, there is a corresponding full reference. This allows readers to track down the original source.
At the end of the assignment, on the MLA works cited page , is the full reference. The full reference includes the full name of the author, the title of the article, the title of the journal, the volume and issue number, the date the journal was published, and the URL where the article was found.
Here is the full reference for King’s quote
King, David Lee. “Why Stay on Top of Technology Trends?” Library Technology Reports , vol. 54, no. 2, Feb.-Mar. 2018, ezproxy.nypl.org/login?url=//search-proquest-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/docview/2008817033?accountid=35635.
Readers can locate the article online via the information included above.
The next section of this guide focuses on how to structure an MLA in-text citation and reference in parentheses in various situations.
A narrative APA in-text citation and APA parenthetical citation are somewhat similar but have some minor differences. Check out our helpful guides, and others, on EasyBib.com!
Wondering how to handle these types of references in other styles? Check out our page on APA format , or choose from more styles .
Parenthetical Citation Reference Chart
Sources with two authors.
There are many books, journal articles, magazine articles, reports, and other source types written or created by two authors.
When a source has two authors, place both authors’ last names in the body of your work ( Handbook 232). The last names do not need to be listed in alphabetical order. Instead, follow the same order as shown on the source.
In an MLA in-text citation, separate the two last names with the word “and.” After both authors’ names, add a space and the page number where the original quote or information is found on.
Here is an example of an MLA citation in prose for a book with two authors
Gaiman and Pratchett further elaborate by sharing their creepy reminder that “just because it’s a mild night doesn’t mean that dark forces aren’t abroad. They’re abroad all of the time. They’re everywhere” (15).
Here is an example of an MLA parenthetical citation for a book with two authors
Don’t forget that “just because it’s a mild night doesn’t mean that dark forces aren’t abroad. They’re abroad all of the time. They’re everywhere” (Gaiman and Pratchett 15).
If you’re still confused, check out EasyBib.com’s MLA in-text citation generator, which allows you to create MLA in-text citations and other types of references in just a few clicks!
If it’s an APA book citation you’re looking to create, we have a helpful guide on EasyBib.com. While you’re at it, check out our APA journal guide!
Sources With Three or More Authors
There are a number of sources written or created by three or more authors. Many research studies and reports, scholarly journal articles, and government publications are developed by three or more individuals.
If you included the last names of all individuals in your MLA in-text citations or in parentheses, it would be too distracting to the reader. It may also cause the reader to lose sight of the overall message of the paper or assignment. Instead of including all last names, only include the last name of the first individual shown on the source. Follow the first author’s last name with the Latin phrase, “et al.” This Latin phrase translates to “and others.” Add the page number after et al.
Here’s an example of an MLA parenthetical citation for multiple authors
“School library programs in Croatia and Hong Kong are mainly focused on two major educational tasks. One task is enhancing students’ general literacy and developing reading habits, whereas the other task is developing students’ information literacy and research abilities” (Tam et al. 299).
The example above only includes the first listed author’s last name. All other authors are credited when “et al.” is used. If the reader wants to see the other authors’ full names, the reader can refer to the final references at the end of the assignment or to the full source.
The abbreviation et al. is used with references in parentheses, as well as in full references. To include the authors’ names in prose, you can either write each name out individually or, you can type out the meaning of et al., which is “and others.”
Here is an acceptable MLA citation in prose example for sources with more than three authors
School library programming in Croatia and Hong Kong is somewhat similar to programming in the United States. Tam, Choi, Tkalcevic, Dukic, and Zheng share that “school library programs in Croatia and Hong Kong are mainly focused on two major educational tasks. One task is enhancing students’ general literacy and developing reading habits, whereas the other task is developing students’ information literacy and research abilities” (299).
If your instructor’s examples of how to do MLA in-text citations for three or more authors looks different than the example here, your instructor may be using an older edition of this style. To discover more about previous editions, learn more here .
Need some inspiration for your research project? Trying to figure out the perfect topic? Check out our Dr. Seuss , Marilyn Monroe , and Malcolm X topic guides!
Sources Without an Author
It may seem unlikely, but there are times when an author’s name isn’t included on a source. Many digital images, films and videos, encyclopedia articles, dictionary entries, web pages, and more do not have author names listed.
If the source you’re attempting to cite does not have an author’s name listed, the MLA in-text citation or parenthetical citation should display the title. If the title is rather long, it is acceptable to shorten it in the body of your assignment. If you choose to shorten the title, make sure the first word in the full citation is also the first word used in the citation in prose or parenthetical citation. This is done to allow the reader to easily locate the full citation that corresponds with the reference in the text.
If, in the Works Cited list, the full reference has the title within quotation marks, include those quotation marks in the in-text citation or reference in parentheses. If the title is written in italics in the full reference, use italics for the title in the in-text citation or reference in parentheses as well.
Parenthetical Citations MLA Examples
The example below is from a poem found online, titled “the last time.” the poem’s author is unknown..
“From the moment you hold your baby in your arms you will never be the same. You might long for the person you were before, when you had freedom and time and nothing in particular to worry about” (“The Last Time”).
The example below is from the movie, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain .
“Perhaps it would have been different if there hadn’t been a war, but this was 1917, and people were exhausted by loss. Those that were allowed to stay manned the pits, mining the coal that would fuel the ships. Twenty-four hours a day they labored” ( Englishman ).
Notice the shortened title in the above reference. This allows the reader to spend more time focusing on the content of your project, rather than the sources.
If you’re looking for an MLA in-text citation website to help you with your references, check out EasyBib Plus on EasyBib.com! EasyBib Plus can help you determine how to do in-text citations MLA and many other types of references!
Numerous government publications, research reports, and brochures state the name of the organization as the author responsible for publishing it.
When the author is a corporate entity or organization, this information is included in the MLA citation in prose or parenthetical citation.
“One project became the first to evaluate how e-prescribing standards work in certain long-term care settings and assessed the impact of e-prescribing on the workflow among prescribers, nurses, the pharmacies, and payers” (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 2).
If the full name of the organization or governmental agency is long in length, it is acceptable to abbreviate some words, as long as they are considered common abbreviations. These abbreviations should only be in the references with parentheses. They should not be used in citations in prose.
Here is a list of words that can be abbreviated in parentheses:
- Department = Dept.
- Government = Govt.
- Corporation = Corp.
- Incorporated = Inc.
- Company = Co.
- United States = US
Example of a shortened corporate author name in an MLA parenthetical citation
“Based on our analysis of available data provided by selected states’ departments of corrections, the most common crimes committed by inmates with serious mental illness varied from state to state” (US Govt. Accountability Office 14).
Here is how the same corporate author name would look in an MLA citation in prose
The United States Government Accountability Office states, “Based on our analysis of available data provided by selected states’ departments of corrections, the most common crimes committed by inmates with serious mental illness varied from state to state” (14).
Remember, citations in prose should not have abbreviations; other types of references can.
Looking for more information on abbreviations? Check out our page on MLA format.
Edited Books and Anthologies
Edited books and anthologies often include chapters or sections, each written by an individual author or a small group of authors. These compilations are placed together by an editor or a group of editors. There are tons of edited books and anthologies available today, ranging from ones showcasing Black history facts and literature to those focusing on notable individuals such as scientists like Albert Eintein and politicians such as Winston Churchill .
If you’re using information from an edited book or an anthology, include the chapter author’s name in your MLA citation in prose or reference in parentheses. Do not use the name(s) of the editor(s). Remember, the purpose of these references is to provide the reader with some insight as to where the information originated. If, after reading your project, the reader would like more information on the sources used, the reader can use the information provided in the full reference, at the very end of the assignment. With that in mind, since the full reference begins with the author of the individual chapter or section, that same information is what should be included in any citations in prose or references in parentheses.
Here is an example of an MLA citation in prose for a book with an editor
Weinstein further states that “one implication of this widespread adaptation of anthropological methods to historical research was the eclipse of the longstanding concern with “change over time,” and the emergence of a preference for synchronic, rather than diachronic, themes” (195).
Full reference at the end of the assignment
Weinstein, Barbara. “History Without a Cause? Grand Narratives, World History, and the Postcolonial Dilemma.” Postcolonial Studies: An Anthology , edited by Pramod K. Nayar, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015, p. 196. Wiley , www.wiley.com/en-us/Postcolonial+Studies%3A+An+Anthology-p-9781118780985.
Once you’re through with writing and citing, run your paper through our innovative plagiarism checker ! It’s the editor of your dreams and provides suggestions for improvement.
Sources Without Page Numbers and Online Sources
When a source has no page numbers, which is often the case with long web page articles, e-books, and numerous other source types, do not include any page number information in the body of the project. Do not estimate or invent your own page numbering system for the source. If there aren’t any page numbers, omit this information from the MLA in-text citation. There may, however, be paragraph numbers included in some sources. If there are distinct and clear paragraph numbers directly on the source, replace the page number with this information. Make it clear to the reader that the source is organized by paragraphs by using “par.” before the paragraph number, or use “pars.” if the information is from more than one paragraph.
Here is an example of how to create an MLA parenthetical citation for a website
“She ran through the field with the wind blowing in her hair and a song through the breeze” (Jackson par. 5).
Here’s an example of an MLA citation in prose for a website
In Brenner’s meeting notes, he further shared his motivation to actively seek out and secure self help resources when he announced, “When we looked at statistical evidence, the most commonly checked out section of the library was self-help. This proves that patrons consistently seek out help for personal issues and wish to solve them with the help of the community’s resources” (pars. 2-3).
Here’s another MLA in-text citation example for a website
Holson writes about a new mindful app, which provides listeners with the soothing sound of not only Bob Ross’ voice, but also the “soothing swish of his painter’s brush on canvas.”
In above example, the information normally found in the parentheses is omitted since there aren’t any page, parentheses, or chapter numbers on the website article.
Looking for APA citation website examples? We have what you need on EasyBib.com!
Need an in-text or parenthetical citation MLA website? Check out EasyBib Plus on EasyBib.com! Also, check out MLA Citation Website , which explains how to create references for websites.
Citing the Same Source Multiple Times
It may seem redundant to constantly include an author’s name in the body of a research project or paper. If you use an author’s work in one section of your project, and the next piece of information included is by the same individual(s), then it is not necessary to share in-text, whether in prose or in parentheses, that both items are from the same author. It is acceptable to include the last name of the author in the first use, and in the second usage, only a page number needs to be included.
Here is an example of how to cite the same source multiple times
“One of the major tests is the Project for Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills. This measurement was developed over four years as a joint partnership between the Association of Research Libraries and Kent State University” (Tong and Moran 290). This exam is just one of many available to measure students’ information literacy skills. It is fee-based, so it is not free, but the results can provide stakeholders, professors, curriculum developers, and even librarians and library service team members with an understanding of students’ abilities and misconceptions. It is not surprising to read the results, which stated that “upper-level undergraduate students generally lack information literacy skills as evidenced by the results on this specific iteration of the Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills test” (295).
The reader can assume that the information in the second quote is from the same article as the first quote. If, in between the two quotes, a different source is included, Tong and Moran’s names would need to be added again in the last quote.
Here is the full reference at the end of the project:
Tong, Min, and Carrie Moran. “Are Transfer Students Lagging Behind in Information Literacy?” Reference Services Review , vol. 45, no. 2, 2017, pp. 286-297. ProQuest , ezproxy.nypl.org/login?url=//search-proquest-com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/docview/1917280148?accountid=35635.
Citing Two or More Sources in the Same In-text Citation
According to section 6.30 of the Handbook , parenthetical citations containing multiple sources in a single parenthesis should be separated by semicolons.
(Granger 5; Tsun 77) (Ruiz 212; Diego 149)
Citing Multiple Works by the Same Author in One In-text Citation
Just as you might want to cite two different sources at the same time, it can also be useful to cite different works by the same author all at once.
Section 6.30 of the Handbook specifies that “citations of different locations in a single source are separated by commas” (251).
(Maeda 59, 174-76, 24) (Kauffman 7, 234, 299)
Furthermore, if you are citing multiple works by the same author, the titles should be joined by and if there are only two. Otherwise, use commas and and .
(Murakami, Wild Sheep Chase and Norwegian Wood ) (Murakami, Wild Sheep Chase , Norwegian Wood , and “With the Beatles”)
When listing the titles, be aware that long titles in parenthetical citations can distract the reader and cause confusion. It will be necessary to shorten the titles appropriately for in-text citations. According to the Handbook , “shorten the title if it is longer than a noun phrase” (237). The abbreviated title should begin with the word by which the title is alphabetized.
Best practice is to give the first word the reference is listed by so the source is easily found in the works cited. Omit articles that start a title: a, an, the. When possible, use the first noun (and any adjectives before it). For more on titles and their abbreviations, head to section 6.10 of the Handbook .
- Full title : The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- Abbreviated: Curious
- Full title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
- Abbreviated: Disreputable History
Religious Works and Scriptures
There are instances when religious works are italicized in the text of a project, and times when it is not necessary to italicize the title.
If you’re referring to the general religious text, such as the Bible, Torah, or Qur’an, it is not necessary to italicize the name of the scripture in the body of the project. If you’re referring to a specific edition of a religious text, then it is necessary to italicize it, both in text and in the full reference.
Here are some commonly used editions:
- King James Bible
- The Orthodox Jewish Bible
- American Standard Bible
- The Steinsaltz Talmud
- The Babylonian Talmud
- New International Bible
When including a reference, do not use page numbers from the scripture. Instead, use the designated chapter numbers and verse numbers.
MLA example of an in-text citation for a religious scripture
While, unacceptable in today’s society, the Bible is riddled with individuals who have two, three, and sometimes four or more spouses. One example in the King James Bible , states that an individual “had two wives, the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (1 Sam. 1.2)
The only religious scripture that is allowed to be in the text of a project, but not in the Works Cited list, is the Qur’an. There is only one version of the Qur’an. It is acceptable to include the name of the Qur’an in the text, along with the specific chapter and verse numbers.
If you’re attempting to create a reference for a religious work, but it’s not considered a “classic” religious book, such as a biography about Mother Teresa , or a book about Muhammed Ali’s conversion, then a reference in the text and also on the final page of the project is necessary.
If you’re creating an APA bibliography , you do not need to create a full reference for classic religious works on an APA reference page .
For another MLA in-text citation website and for more on the Bible and other source types, click here .
Long or Block Quotes
Quotes longer than four lines are called, “block quotes.” Block quotes are sometimes necessary when you’re adding a lengthy piece of information into your project. If you’d like to add a large portion of Martin Luther King ’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a lengthy amount of text from a Mark Twain book, or multiple lines from Abraham Lincoln ’s Gettysburg Address, a block quote is needed.
MLA block quotes are formatted differently than shorter quotes in the body of a project. Why? The unique formatting signals to the reader that they’re about to read a lengthy quote.
Block quotes are called block quotes because they form their own block of text. They are set apart from the body of a project with different spacing and margins.
Begin the block quote on a new line. The body of the full project should run along the one inch margin, but the block quote should be set in an inch and a half. The entire quote should be along the inch and a half margin.
If there aren’t any quotation marks in the text itself, do not include any in the block quote. This is very different than standard reference rules. In most cases, quotation marks are added around quoted material. For block quotes, since the reader can see that the quoted material sits in its own block, it is not necessary to place quotation marks around it.
Here is an MLA citation in prose example of a block quote
Despite Bruchac’s consistent difficult situations at home, basketball kept his mind busy and focused:
When I got off the late bus that afternoon, my grandparents weren’t home. The store was locked and there was a note from Grama on the house door. Doc Magovern had come to the house because Grampa was “having trouble with his blood.” Now they were off to the hospital and I “wasn’t to worry.” This had happened before. Grampa had pernicious anemia and sometimes was very sick. So, naturally, it worried the pants off me. I actually thought about taking my bike down the dreaded 9N the three miles to the Saratoga Hospital. Instead, I did as I knew they wanted. I opened the store and waited for customers. None came, though, and my eye was caught by the basketball stowed away as usual behind the door. I had to do something to take my mind off what was happening to Grampa. I took out the ball and went around the side. (13)
Notice the use of the colon prior to the start of the block quote. Do not use a colon if the block quote is part of the sentence above it.
Here is an example of the same block quote, without the use of the colon:
Despite Bruchac’s consistent difficult situations at home, it was clear that basketball kept his mind busy and focused when he states
When I get off the late bus that afternoon, my grandparents weren’t home…
If two or more paragraphs are included in your block quote, start each paragraph on a new line.
Looking for additional helpful websites? Need another MLA in-text citation website? Check out the style in the news . We also have other handy articles, guides, and posts to help you with your research needs. Here’s one on how to write an MLA annotated bibliography .
Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.
If you’re looking for information on styling an APA citation , EasyBib.com has the guides you need!
MLA Handbook . 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.
Published October 31, 2011. Updated July 5, 2021.
Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.
MLA Formatting Guide
- Annotated Bibliography
- Block Quotes
- et al Usage
- In-text Citations
- Page Numbers
- Sample Paper
- Works Cited
- MLA 8 Updates
- MLA 9 Updates
- View MLA Guide
- Book Chapter
- Journal Article
- Magazine Article
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- Website (no author)
- View all MLA Examples
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In MLA style, if multiple sources have the same author , the titles should be joined by and if there are only two. Otherwise, use commas and and .
- In-text citation: (Austen Emma and Mansfield Park )
- Structure: (Last name 1st Source’s title and 2nd Source’s title )
- In-text citation: (Leung et al. 58)
If the author is a corporate entity or organization, included the name of the corporate entity or organization in the in-text citation.
- In-text citation: (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 2)
Yes, there’s an option to download source citations as a Word Doc or a Google Doc. You may also copy citations from the EasyBib Citation Generator and paste them into your paper.
Yes! Whether you’d like to learn how to construct citations on your own, our Autocite tool isn’t able to gather the metadata you need, or anything in between, manual citations are always an option. Click here for directions on using creating manual citations.
An in-text citation is a shortened version of the source being referred to in the paper. As the name implies, it appears in the text of the paper. A works cited list entry, on the other hand, details the complete information of the source being cited and is listed within the works cited list at the end of the paper after the main text. The in-text citation is designed to direct the reader to the full works cited list entry. An example of an in-text citation and the corresponding works cited list entry for a journal article with one author is listed below:
In-text citation template and example:
Only the author surname (or the title of the work if there is no author) is used in in-text citations to direct the reader to the corresponding reference list entry. For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the author for the first occurrence. In subsequent citations, use only the surname. In parenthetical citations, always use only the surname of the author. If you are directly quoting the source, the page number should also be included in the in-text citation.
Citation in prose:
First mention: Christopher Collins ….
Subsequent occurrences: Collins ….
Works cited list entry template and example:
The title of the article is in plain text and title case and is placed inside quotation marks. The title of the journal is set in italics.
Surname, F. “Title of the Article.” Journal Title , vol. #, no. #, Publication Date, page range.
Collins, Christopher. “On Posthuman Materiality: Art-Making as Rhizomatic Rehearsal.” Text and Performance Quarterly , vol. 39, no. 2, 2019, pp. 153–59.
Note that because the author’s surname (Collins) was included in the in-text citation, the reader would then be able to easily locate the works cited list entry since the entry begins with the author’s surname.
An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed next to the text being cited. The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s name . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when text is quoted from the source being cited. In-text citations are mentioned in the text in two ways: as a citation in prose or a parenthetical citation.
Citations in prose are incorporated into the text and act as a part of the sentence. Usually, citations in prose use the author’s full name when cited the first time in the text. Thereafter, only the surname is used. Avoid including the middle initial even if it is present in the works-cited-list entry.
Parenthetical citations add only the author’s surname at the end of the sentence in parentheses.
Examples of in-text citations
Here are a few tips to create in-text citations for sources with various numbers and types of authors:
Use both the first name and surname of the author if you are mentioning the author for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the author’s surname. Always use only the surname of the author in parenthetical citations.
First mention: Sheele John asserts …. (7).
Subsequent occurrences: John argues …. (7).
…. (John 7).
Use the first name and surname of both authors if you are mentioning the work for the first time in the prose. In subsequent occurrences, use only the surnames of the two authors. Always use only the authors’ surnames in parenthetical citations. Use “and” to separate the two authors in parenthetical citations.
First mention: Katie Longman and Clara Sullivan ….
Subsequent occurrences: Longman and Sullivan ….
…. ( Longman and Sullivan).
Three or more authors
For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues.” For parenthetical citations, use only the surname of the first author followed by “et al.”
Lincy Mathew and colleagues…. or Lincy Mathew and others ….
…. (Mathew et al.).
For citations in prose, treat the corporate author like you would treat the author’s name. For parenthetical citations, shorten the organization name to the shortest noun phrase. For example, shorten the Modern Language Association of America to Modern Language Association.
The Literary Society of Malaysia….
…. (Literary Society).
If there is no author for the source, use the source’s title in place of the author’s name for both citations in prose and parenthetical citations.
When you add such in-text citations, italicize the text of the title. If the source title is longer than a noun phrase, use a shortened version of the title. For example, shorten the title Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to Fantastic Beasts .
Knowing Body of Work explains …. (102).
….( Knowing Body 102).
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How to Do In-Text and Parenthetical Citations
As you start writing your school paper, you need to include citations in the body of your work. Are they in-text citations or parenthetical citations? Actually, both terms are correct. Both “in-text” and “parenthetical citations” are terms you use for the citation you make when you directly quote or paraphrase someone else in your work. Learn what a parenthetical citation is and how to create one in MLA, APA, and Chicago formats.
What Is an Example of a Parenthetical Citation?
Formatting and examples of parenthetical citations found in this guide can be found in the MLA 8th edition style manual, APA 7th edition manual, and the 17th edition of the Chicago style. However, before you can work on examples, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of what a parenthetical, internal, or in-text citation is.
A parenthetical citation is how you give credit to your sources in the body of your work. Every time you make a direct quote (including a block quote) or paraphrase someone else’s work, you need to give them credit. While each different style has its own way of doing this, an example of a parenthetical citation can speak volumes.
When to Include Parenthetical Citations
Citing sources helps you avoid plagiarizing the work of other writers. Therefore, you include an internal citation when you:
- Refer to another work
- Insert a quotation from another source
- Summarize or paraphrase their work
In-Text Citations vs. Parenthetical Citations vs. Narrative Citations
The debate between an in-text vs. parenthetical vs. narrative citation is a pretty easy one. All citations that you make within the text are “in-text” or “internal citations.” Additionally, the word parenthetical means it is enclosed in parentheses like:
However, where things get a bit tricky is the difference between parenthetical and narrative citations. The difference between the two is how you compose the citation.
- Parenthetical citations include all elements of the citation in parenthesis.
- Narrative citations have some of the citation information in the sentence itself.
MLA Parenthetical Citation
There is a lack of diversity among colleges in the northwest (Lessing 12).
MLA Narrative Citation
According to Lessing (12), there is a lack of diversity among colleges in the northwest.
Examples of Parenthetical Citations
Parenthetic citations are a required part of any scholarly article; therefore, it’s essential to know how to do them in each different style. Check out how to create parenthetical citations in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles through examples.
MLA Citation Example
MLA style parenthetical citations require you to include the author’s last name and the page number within parentheses. If there is no author, use the first few words of the title or website. Do not use p. or pp. or commas.
In-Text Citation Example MLA
Parenthetical: The article states that “cultural diversity within literature is important” (Druven 34).
Narrative: Druven states that “cultural diversity withing literature is important” (12).
For longer quotes in MLA style, you set off the quotation in an MLA block style .
Parenthetical Citation APA
Citing in-text in APA style requires you to include the author’s last name and year of publication. If you are citing a direct quote, add the page number as well, such as p.12 or pp. 12-13. Separate each element with commas.
APA In-Text Citation Example
Parenthetical: There is a lack of diversity among colleges in the northwest (Lessing, 2016).
Narrative: According to Lessing (2016), there is a lack of diversity among colleges in the northwest.
If you use a direct quote, add the page number as well.
Among colleges in the northwest, “there is a lack of diversity” (Lessing, 2016, p. 12).
If you use longer quotations, follow an APA block quote format .
Chicago Style Parenthetical Citations
To create parenthetical citations in Chicago style , you can use either the author-date or notes-bibliography style. However, author-date is more common.
Chicago Style Author-Date Parenthetical Citations
In Chicago’s author-date style, create parenthetical citations by including the author(s), year of publication, and the page(s). Add a comma after the year, but not after the author’s name.
(Lessing and Smith 2016, 12)
(Lessing 2016, 12–16)
Chicago Style Notes-Biblio Parenthetical Citations
In Chicago notes-biblio, you create notes entries rather than in-text citations. In the text, you include a superscript number after your quotes or paraphrased information. This is followed by a footnote or endnote created at the foot of the page or the end of the paper or chapter.
Notes In-Text Citation Example
“Many times, parasitic conditions can be misdiagnosed by doctors.” 1
Short Note Example
1. Martin, Timeless , 240.
Chicago block quotations are formatted differently and set off from the rest of the text by indenting them 1/2 inch.
How to Do a Parenthetical Citation for a Website
When it comes to creating a parenthetical citation for a website in any style, it depends on whether the article or page has an author. If so, then the parenthetical citation includes the author. However, if not, then the parenthetical citation consists of the title of the article.
However, the page number is different. Why? Because a website doesn’t have a page number. Therefore, if you use MLA, you use the paragraph number, header, chapter, or some other type of locator for your audience.
MLA Website In-Text Citation
Looking through the article, you can see the growing interest in Classic Literature (Dallas, par. 12).
What Is a Citation?
Now, you know what parenthetical or in-text citations are, but that’s not all there is to a citation. A citation is composed of two parts.
To create a successful paper, you need to have both types of citations in your paper. And, the in-text citation corresponds with the bibliographic entry.
The Full Reference
Creating a full citation of a source includes both the in-text citation and its corresponding reference or works cited list . Bibliographies or works consulted lists can include sources that are not referred to within the text.
How to Avoid Plagiarism in Your School Essay
FAQ How to Do In-Text and Parenthetical Citations
What is an example of a parenthetical citation.
An example of a parenthetical citation is when you include the author and location in the text of the article that corresponds with the bibliographical citation. For example, in MLA, an in-text citation consists of the author and page number like: (Lessing 20)
What does parenthetical citation mean?
The meaning of a parenthetical citation is that the author and locator information is enclosed in parenthesis (Lessing 20). However, you can also have a narrative citation where part of the citation is in the sentence like: Lessings tends to agree... (20).
How do you parenthetically cite in MLA?
To create a parenthetical citation in MLA, you need the author of the work and the page number you are quoting or paraphrasing. For example, an in-text citation in MLA looks like: (Betts 7)
How do you do a parenthetical citation for a website?
To create a parenthetical citation for a website, you follow the same basic format as you do for a book or journal article. For example, in APA, you include the author of the website article and the year it was created like: (Betts, 2019). However, if you don't know the author, you can use the title of the article like (MLA Citations, 2019).
What is the difference between parenthetical citation and narrative citation?
The difference between a parenthetical citation and a narrative citation is that a narrative citation includes some information in the sentence. An example of an MLA citation looks like: Parenthetical citation: MLA format can include parenthetical and narrative citations (Betts 7). Narrative citations: According to Betts, MLA format can include parenthetical and narrative citations (7).
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Citation Styles Guide | Examples for All Major Styles
Published on June 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on November 7, 2022.
A citation style is a set of guidelines on how to cite sources in your academic writing . You always need a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize a source to avoid plagiarism . How you present these citations depends on the style you follow. Scribbr’s citation generator can help!
Different styles are set by different universities, academic associations, and publishers, often published in an official handbook with in-depth instructions and examples.
There are many different citation styles, but they typically use one of three basic approaches: parenthetical citations , numerical citations, or note citations.
- Chicago (Turabian) author-date
CSE citation-name or citation-sequence
- Chicago (Turabian) notes and bibliography
Table of contents
Types of citation: parenthetical, note, numerical, which citation style should i use, parenthetical citation styles, numerical citation styles, note citation styles, frequently asked questions about citation styles.
The clearest identifying characteristic of any citation style is how the citations in the text are presented. There are three main approaches:
- Parenthetical citations: You include identifying details of the source in parentheses in the text—usually the author’s last name and the publication date, plus a page number if relevant ( author-date ). Sometimes the publication date is omitted ( author-page ).
- Numerical citations: You include a number in brackets or in superscript, which corresponds to an entry in your numbered reference list.
- Note citations: You include a full citation in a footnote or endnote, which is indicated in the text with a superscript number or symbol.
Citation styles also differ in terms of how you format the reference list or bibliography entries themselves (e.g., capitalization, order of information, use of italics). And many style guides also provide guidance on more general issues like text formatting, punctuation, and numbers.
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In most cases, your university, department, or instructor will tell you which citation style you need to follow in your writing. If you’re not sure, it’s best to consult your institution’s guidelines or ask someone. If you’re submitting to a journal, they will usually require a specific style.
Sometimes, the choice of citation style may be left up to you. In those cases, you can base your decision on which citation styles are commonly used in your field. Try reading other articles from your discipline to see how they cite their sources, or consult the table below.
The American Anthropological Association (AAA) recommends citing your sources using Chicago author-date style . AAA style doesn’t have its own separate rules. This style is used in the field of anthropology.
APA Style is defined by the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . It was designed for use in psychology, but today it’s widely used across various disciplines, especially in the social sciences.
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The citation style of the American Political Science Association (APSA) is used mainly in the field of political science.
The citation style of the American Sociological Association (ASA) is used primarily in the discipline of sociology.
Chicago author-date style is one of the two citation styles presented in the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition). It’s used mainly in the sciences and social sciences.
The citation style of the Council of Science Editors (CSE) is used in various scientific disciplines. It includes multiple options for citing your sources, including the name-year system.
Harvard style is often used in the field of economics. It is also very widely used across disciplines in UK universities. There are various versions of Harvard style defined by different universities—it’s not a style with one definitive style guide.
Check out Scribbr’s Harvard Reference Generator
MLA style is the official style of the Modern Language Association, defined in the MLA Handbook (9th edition). It’s widely used across various humanities disciplines. Unlike most parenthetical citation styles, it’s author-page rather than author-date.
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The American Chemical Society (ACS) provides guidelines for a citation style using numbers in superscript or italics in the text, corresponding to entries in a numbered reference list at the end. It is used in chemistry.
The American Medical Association ( AMA ) provides guidelines for a numerical citation style using superscript numbers in the text, which correspond to entries in a numbered reference list. It is used in the field of medicine.
CSE style includes multiple options for citing your sources, including the citation-name and citation-sequence systems. Your references are listed alphabetically in the citation-name system; in the citation-sequence system, they appear in the order in which you cited them.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ( IEEE ) provides guidelines for citing your sources with IEEE in-text citations that consist of numbers enclosed in brackets, corresponding to entries in a numbered reference list. This style is used in various engineering and IT disciplines.
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) citation style is defined in Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (2nd edition).
Vancouver style is also used in various medical disciplines. As with Harvard style, a lot of institutions and publications have their own versions of Vancouver—it doesn’t have one fixed style guide.
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is the main style guide for legal citations in the US. It’s widely used in law, and also when legal materials need to be cited in other disciplines.
Chicago notes and bibliography
Chicago notes and bibliography is one of the two citation styles presented in the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition). It’s used mainly in the humanities.
The Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities ( OSCOLA ) is the main legal citation style in the UK (similar to Bluebook for the US).
There are many different citation styles used across different academic disciplines, but they fall into three basic approaches to citation:
- Parenthetical citations : Including identifying details of the source in parentheses —usually the author’s last name and the publication date, plus a page number if available ( author-date ). The publication date is occasionally omitted ( author-page ).
- Numerical citations: Including a number in brackets or superscript, corresponding to an entry in your numbered reference list.
- Note citations: Including a full citation in a footnote or endnote , which is indicated in the text with a superscript number or symbol.
Check if your university or course guidelines specify which citation style to use. If the choice is left up to you, consider which style is most commonly used in your field.
- APA Style is the most popular citation style, widely used in the social and behavioral sciences.
- MLA style is the second most popular, used mainly in the humanities.
- Chicago notes and bibliography style is also popular in the humanities, especially history.
- Chicago author-date style tends to be used in the sciences.
Other more specialized styles exist for certain fields, such as Bluebook and OSCOLA for law.
The most important thing is to choose one style and use it consistently throughout your text.
A scientific citation style is a system of source citation that is used in scientific disciplines. Some commonly used scientific citation styles are:
- Chicago author-date , CSE , and Harvard , used across various sciences
- ACS , used in chemistry
- AMA , NLM , and Vancouver , used in medicine and related disciplines
- AAA , APA , and ASA , commonly used in the social sciences
APA format is widely used by professionals, researchers, and students in the social and behavioral sciences, including fields like education, psychology, and business.
Be sure to check the guidelines of your university or the journal you want to be published in to double-check which style you should be using.
MLA Style is the second most used citation style (after APA ). It is mainly used by students and researchers in humanities fields such as literature, languages, and philosophy.
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In text vs. parenthetical citations
What is an in-text citation?
In an in-text citation, the author's name appears in a sentence and not in parentheses. Please note that in MLA citing, page numbers (if available) usually go in parentheses. This is the same whether paraphrasing or quoting.
Andersen argued this point (27-32)
Mills wrote that "turnout was poor during the early morning hours" (109).
What is a parenthetical citation?
A parenthetical citation (also called "in reference") is one where the required information is placed in parentheses.
Only 17% of students agreed with the decision ( Thomas 97 ).
During her second year as instructor, attendance "increased by leaps and bounds" ( Gerou 21 ).
In-text/parenthetical citations and the works cited list
Please note that in-text and/or parenthetical citations must parallel the works cited entries. See the examples below -- parallel elements are in maroon.
Formatting in-text and parenthetical citations
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The first step is to correctly cite each source you will use in your paper in your list of sources. Then, when you include a quote or a reference from a source, be sure to correctly cite the source in an in-text citation.
- Introduce your quote with a signal phrase (don’t just copy and paste something from your source!).
- Make sure the quote is in quotation marks.
- Properly cite the quote with an in-text citation. Before the end mark, in parenthesis, type the first word/words of the source listing (this will match your Works Cited page).
- Wrap up your quote by reiterating for readers what point the quote makes (analysis/evaluation).
The in-text citation must match the first word in the list of sources. So, if your source has an author, you would put the author’s name in the in-text citation and also at the end in the works cited. See the following example from a paper formatted using MLA documentation style:
Formatting In-Text References
Signal phrases (also known as transitions ).
When you use others’ ideas, you have a variety of options for integrating these sources into your text. The main requirement is that you make it clear within your in-text reference that the information is not yours and that you clearly indicate where you got the idea. The following box shows some alternate phrases for signaling that the ideas you are using belong to another writer. Using a variety of wording makes writing more interesting.
Note: MLA, use present tense in signal phrases (for example: states, argues, notes).
Phrases That Signal an Idea Belongs to Another Writer ( MLA does not include a year ):
- According to Starr, “Quote”
- Acknowledging that…
- Starr states…
- As Starr notes…
- Starr reports…
- In the words of Starr…
- It is clear, according to Starr, that…
- Starr argues that…
- Starr disagrees when she says…
- Starr emphasizes the importance of…
- Starr suggests…
- Starr observes in a 2010 study that…
- Technology specialist, Linda Starr, claims that…
- …indicates Starr.
- …writes Starr.
Integrating Sources (Using Direct Quotations)
The tables below shows some actual examples of integrating sources within the guidelines of MLA. Note how the cited details are woven in with the author’s ideas.
A quotation longer than four lines should be in block form, like this:
Author’s Name Not in the Sentence:
If you don’t say the author’s name in the sentence, then the author’s name needs to go in the in-text citation. Remember that direct quotes require page numbers.
The author writes, “Not mine, not mine, not mine, but Mrs. Price is already turning to page thirty-two, and math problem number four” (Cisneros 1).
Author’s Name in the Sentence:
If you do say the author’s name in the sentence (usually in the transition or signal phrase), then the author’s name doesn’t need to go in the in-text citation. Remember that direct quotes require page numbers unless it’s a website.
Cisneros writes, “Not mine, not mine, not mine, but Mrs. Price is already turning to page thirty-two, and math problem number four” (1).
Integrating Sources (Summarized or Paraphrased Ideas):
Two authors:, multiple authors:, personal communication:.
If an article/source is viewed in PDF, you can use the paragraph number or the page number, depending on what’s easier. For example, if the PDF has 100 paragraphs, then it might be difficult to count them all, but if the PDF only has two pages, yet is a short story with many lines, then it might be easier to count the paragraphs.
(Hemingway, par. 1)
In MLA, you DO NOT us a comma before the page number, but you DO use a comma if you are using a paragraph number rather than a page number.
For page number, you simply put the number in the citation, like this:
For paragraph number, you need the “par.” like this:
(Cisneros, par. 2).
Examples with No Authors:
It is recommended that you always choose sources that have an author so that you can determine the author’s credibility; however, if your instructor allows you to use sources (usually websites) with no authors, then follow the formatting rules below.
If a source doesn’t have an author, use the title of the source (such as the title of the web page), or the name of the organization.
MLA Summary or Paraphrase:
A dry desert is different from a coastal desert in several ways (“Deserts”).
According to the Center for Disease Control, the wearing a masks helps to prevent one from getting Covid-19.
MLA Direct Quote (Note: page numbers are no longer required for websites with no author):
A dry desert “has specific characteristics that differentiate” it from a coastal desert (“Deserts”).
According to Center for Disease Control, the best way to “prevent transmission of Covid-19 is to wear a mask.”
According to one organization, the best way to “prevent transmission of Covid-19 is to wear a mask” (Center for Disease Control).
1. Go through your essay rough draft and make sure that each in-text citation directly matches the Works Cited or Reference page. For example, if my in-text citation says this–
( Smith 54)
–then “Smith” must be the first word in my Works Cited:
Smith, John. “Creating a website….”
Especially watch that your websites match as well. For example, if my in-text citation says this–
(Center for Disease Control).
–then “Center for Disease Control” must be the first word in my Works Cited:
Center for Disease Control. “Staying Safe….”
The same goes for websites without authors. My in-text citation:
(“Deserts are Alive”).
My corresponding Works Cited:
“Deserts are Alive.” Deserts Design ….
1. Go through your essay and check all of your in-text citations that they are in the correct format.
The OWL at Purdue is one of the best websites you can use for how to do proper in-text citations. There are several rules about sources such as quoting a source within a source, citing multiple authors, and more. Because of this, it’s important you use this website to determine how to probably use the in-text citations. Also, check the appendix of this textbook for the MLA/APA guides.
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