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The Basics of In-Text Citation | APA & MLA Examples

Published on March 14, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 23, 2022.

An in-text citation is a short acknowledgement you include whenever you quote or take information from a source in academic writing. It points the reader to the source so they can see where you got your information.

In-text citations most commonly take the form of short parenthetical statements indicating the author and publication year of the source, as well as the page number if relevant.

We also offer a free citation generator and in-depth guides to the main citation styles.

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Table of contents, what are in-text citations for, when do you need an in-text citation, types of in-text citation, frequently asked questions about in-text citations.

The point of an in-text citation is to show your reader where your information comes from. Including citations:

  • Avoids plagiarism by acknowledging the original author’s contribution
  • Allows readers to verify your claims and do follow-up research
  • Shows you are engaging with the literature of your field

Academic writing is seen as an ongoing conversation among scholars, both within and between fields of study. Showing exactly how your own research draws on and interacts with existing sources is essential to keeping this conversation going.

Scribbr Citation Checker New

The AI-powered Citation Checker helps you avoid common mistakes such as:

  • Missing commas and periods
  • Incorrect usage of “et al.”
  • Ampersands (&) in narrative citations
  • Missing reference entries

text bibliography citations

An in-text citation should be included whenever you quote or paraphrase a source in your text.

Quoting means including the original author’s words directly in your text, usually introduced by a signal phrase . Quotes should always be cited (and indicated with quotation marks), and you should include a page number indicating where in the source the quote can be found.

Paraphrasing means putting information from a source into your own words. In-text citations are just as important here as with quotes, to avoid the impression you’re taking credit for someone else’s ideas. Include page numbers where possible, to show where the information can be found.

However, to avoid over-citation, bear in mind that some information is considered common knowledge and doesn’t need to be cited. For example, you don’t need a citation to prove that Paris is the capital city of France, and including one would be distracting.

Different types of in-text citation are used in different citation styles . They always direct the reader to a reference list giving more complete information on each source.

Author-date citations (used in APA , Harvard , and Chicago author-date ) include the author’s last name, the year of publication, and a page number when available. Author-page citations (used in MLA ) are the same except that the year is not included.

Both types are divided into parenthetical and narrative citations. In a parenthetical citation , the author’s name appears in parentheses along with the rest of the information. In a narrative citation , the author’s name appears as part of your sentence, not in parentheses.

Note: Footnote citations like those used in Chicago notes and bibliography are sometimes also referred to as in-text citations, but the citation itself appears in a note separate from the text.

An in-text citation is an acknowledgement you include in your text whenever you quote or paraphrase a source. It usually gives the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number of the relevant text. In-text citations allow the reader to look up the full source information in your reference list and see your sources for themselves.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

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.

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Referencing: In-Text Citations

  • In-Text Citations

An in-text citation is the brief form of the reference that you include in the body of your work. It gives enough information to uniquely identify the source in your reference list. The brief form usually consists of:

  • family name of the author(s), and
  • year of publication.

In-text citations will look the same, regardless of whether you're referencing a journal article, a report, or a video.

For a brief (4-minute) introduction to in-text referencing, view the video below:

Please note that the closed captions might obscure some of the detail in this video. If viewing the video with subtitles, we recommend you click on the diagonal arrow on the video toolbar to watch the video in Panopto.

In-text citations can either be in parenthetical form, or have part of the citation included in the narrative of your work:

Parenthetical citation

The general form is (Author, date) , within parentheses . Parenthetical citation is also known as information-prominent citation: it is used to emphasise the information  being cited.

A parenthetical citation should directly follow the idea being cited. Include it within the punctuation of the sentence. For instance:

... as has been shown in a recent study (Mihrshahi & Baur, 2018), and discussed at length in the literature in years past (Smith, 2007).

Narrative citation

You do not necessarily need to use parenthetical citations in your work, but you must include both the author and the date of the work you wish to cite within the body of your text. There are multiple ways to include a citation within the narrative. Here are two examples:

Kessler (2014) found that among epidemiological samples . . .
In 2014, Kessler's study of epidemiological samples showed that . . .

Narrative citation is also known as author-prominent citation. Narrative citations place more emphasis on the author of the work you are using. This type of citation can introduce some variety into your writing, and will sound more natural in an oral presentation than a citation at the end of the sentence. However, it does require more skill to use clearly.

Academic Skills Essentials has tip sheets and tutorials on writing clearly and appropriately in a variety of academic writing genres, and on integrating others' ideas into your work with appropriate attribution. You can also find some great examples of citing works you have paraphrased on the APA Style website .

Number of authors

  • If the work you are citing has one or two authors , include them in your citation every time. Separate two authors with an ampersand (&) in parenthetical citations, but write out the word 'and' if discussing the work in-text.
  • If the work has 3 or more authors , your brief in-text citation will give only the family name of the first author, followed by "et al." (which means "and others").
  • If the author is a company , government  organisation , or other group , use the full name in your citation.
  • If you have multiple authors with the same name or no author, click on the appropriate question under In-Text Citations: Advanced below.

text bibliography citations

APA 7 Tutorial: Citing References in Text

Learn how to cite references in the text, including basic in-text citation formats, citing multiple works, achieving clarity, and formatting in-text citations with missing author and/or date information.

Academic Writer, © 2020 American Psychological Association.

Direct quotations

If you are including a word-for-word quote from another work, you must enclose the quote in quotation marks and add the page number or numbers to your citation. For electronic sources where there is no page number, use the paragraph number or section heading .

You may also optionally include a page or paragraph number when it would help the reader locate the relevant information in a long or complex text, even when you have paraphrased instead of quoting. Note: Some Schools prefer that you only provide a page number for a quotation, so check with your lecturer to understand their preference.

 If your quote spans more than one page in the source, use the abbreviation "pp." instead of "p.":

(Pitcan et al., 2018, pp. 170-171).

To cite information from a work with no page numbers, click on "How do you cite a specific part of a text?" below.

For quotations with 40 or more words, the formatting of both the quotation and the citation are slightly different. The quotation is offset from your text, and the punctuation of the quote comes before the in-text citation.

Social media users will share different types of content on different sites, often basing their decisions on a mental model of how their audience on each site will react. Many participants curated a respectable online presence by avoiding sexual innuendo and censoring opinions on controversial topics. Aviva was “very wary about the things [she] puts online.” . . . She described her online self as a different “form.” She chose to present a fragment of herself, because certain facets of her being would be unacceptable to her imagined audience. (Pitcan et al., 2018, p. 170)

Note the ellipsis (. . .) in the quote above. This indicates that some text from the original work was omitted for this quotation. For more information on quotations in APA 7th style, refer to Sections 8.25 - 8.36 in the Publication Manual , the APA Style website here , or the tutorial below.

text bibliography citations

APA 7 Tutorial: Direct Quotations and Paraphrases

Learn how to cite and format direct quotations, including short quotations and block quotations; make and indicate changes to quotations; and cite paraphrased material.

In-Text Citations: Advanced

If the work you want to cite is more complex than the examples above, click on a question below to find out more.

If there is no author, including a company or government organisation that might be responsible for the work, your end-text reference will use the title in its place. (See section on End-Text References .) Your in-text citation should include a few words of that title, in title case .

If the title is italicised (stand-alone works such as books and films), italicise the few words of your title in your in-text citation. If it is not italicised (works that are part of a whole, such as chapters and articles), enclose those few words within double quotation marks.

Full end-text reference for an article (i.e. a part of a larger work) with no author

Italian government declares state of emergency in flood-ravaged Venice. (2019, November 15). The Age . https://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/italian-government-set-to-declare-state-of-emergency-in-venice-20191115-p53ast.html

In-text citation

("Italian Government Declares," 2019) In the article "Italian Government Declares" (2019)...

In-text citation for a stand-alone work with no author

( Interpersonal Skills , 2019) According to  Interpersonal Skills  (2019)...

If an organisation's name is long and you will be using it multiple times, you might want to use an abbreviation in your citations.

To do this, include the abbreviation in parentheses after the full group name, the first time it appears. (The parentheses become  square brackets  when nested within another set of parentheses.) After you have introduced this abbreviation, you may use it throughout your work. You will still need to use the whole group name in the reference list entry.

You are not required to abbreviate a long name. You may use the full name every time.

Here are a couple of examples (bold text for emphasis):

Guidelines published by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Sciences (CCSDS) in 2016... as previously discussed ( CCSDS , 2012).
...found in several studies ( National Mental Health Commission [NMHC] , 2018, 2019a, 2019b). A future NMHC report is planned on...

In APA style, you do not place two sets of parentheses next to each other (see also citing multiple works for one idea ).

If the abbreviation is part of a narrative citation, separate the author and date with a comma as usual:

American Psychological Association (APA) (2014) ⇒ American Psychological Association (APA, 2014)

If the abbreviation comes before a parenthetical citation, separate the abbreviation from the citation with a semi-colon (;):

dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs) (Choi et al., 2011) ⇒ dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs; Choi et al., 2011)

For more information, visit the official APA style webpage on group author abbreviations .

If you are citing a work with no publication date, use the abbreviation for "no date" in place of the year of publication.: n.d.

Work with no publication date

(Garcia & Klein, n.d.)

Entry in an online dictionary that updates continuously

("Self-Report," n.d.)

If the work has a more detailed date than just the year (for instance, a newspaper article reference might include the month and day), include only the year in the in-text citation.

Newspaper article published June 22, 2018

(Caro, 2018)

To cite a specific part of a text within your in-text citation, include information that would identify that portion of the work alongside the usual author-date citation. This might be a page range, a foreword or chapter from an authored book, the appendix of a report—whatever specific portion you would like to highlight.

If a work has no page numbers, you will need to help the reader find the relevant section of the cited work using a different method: paragraph number, section name, time stamp, or a combination of those. What you use depends on what is available in the work you are citing. See the examples below and the APA webpage:  Direct Quotation of Material Without Page Numbers .

Your reference list should contain an entry for the entire work, not just the portion you are citing.

You can also use this method to discuss a section of work within your writing.

(Wang, 2018, pp. 27-31)

Paragraph number

(Vrajlal, 2020, para. 3)

Section name

(Beyond Blue, n.d., Plan for the Future section)

If the section title is long, you can abbreviate it to the first few words. Enclose the shortened section title in quotation marks.

(World Health Organization, 2020, "How to Cope" section)

To cite a specific kind of section (e.g. chapter or figure), write the type of section out in full, beginning with a capital letter. See here for more examples.

(Thornton, 2019, Slide 14)
(Sheridan, 2006, Chapter 2)
(NMBA, 2016, Standard 5)

To quote from an audiovisual work, include a time stamp for the point where the quotation begins.

(Boisvert, 2019, 3:38)

Some classic works (like Shakespeare's works or the Bible) use a numbering system that is consistent across editions, and when citing specific portions it can be more helpful to use that system than to give page numbers, e.g. citing lines in Act 5, Scene 1: (Shakespeare, 1623/1963, 5.1.38-43). See the APA Style website for more information about  works with canonically numbered sections .

Narrative citations can be in any order. To include multiple parenthetical citations for the same idea, fold the references into the same set of parentheses, separated with a semi-colon.

Place the works in the order they appear in the reference list , which is usually alphabetically by first author. If including two works with the same author (or first author) but different dates, give the author only once, and list the dates in chronological author.

Please note that you do not need to include an exhaustive list, and too many citations can be visually disruptive for a reader. Include only the citations you need to support your work. What counts as an appropriate level of citation depends on the context, but see this APA Style post for more information.

Multiple references, in general

(Cairns, 2013; Gemmill et al., 2001)

Same author, multiple dates

(Smith, 2015, 2019) (Kong et al., n.d., 2018, 2019, 2020, in press)

If you would like to highlight one particularly important work out of several, give that citation first, followed by an introductory phrase (such as "see also"), and then the rest of the citations. You might do this to point out the most relevant, recent, or highly regarded source.

Special emphasis on one work

(Gemmill et al., 2001; more recently discussed in Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016; Kong et al., 2019, in press; Sheridan & Khoo, 2018)

To make sure each work has its own in-text citation, add a lower-case letter to the year in your reference list. The same letter will be added to the year in your in-text citation each time you want to cite that source:

(Johnston, 2018b)

If you're citing something with a more specific date, the letter still attaches to the year. If the work has no publication date, the letter attaches to the abbreviation for "no date" in place of the year (but include a hyphen before the appended letter).

More specific date

Caro, J. (2019c, August 29). The greatest gifts I received from my father. The Sydney Morning Herald . https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/the-greatest-gifts-i-received-from-my-father-20190829-p52lzo.html

In-text citation:  (Caro, 2019c)

Beyond Blue. (n.d.-a).  Our history . https://www.beyondblue.org.au/about-us/who-we-are-and-what-we-do/our-history2

In-text citation:  (Beyond Blue, n.d.-a)

If you are citing works by two different authors who have the same family name and different first initials, include their first initials in your in-text citations—even if the publication dates are different. If two authors with the same family name are cited in the same work, there is no need to include their initials.​

Authors with the same surname in different works

(A. L. Smith & Gorkin, 2019; H. Smith, 1982)

Authors with the same surname in the same work

(Palmer & Palmer, 2016)

If the two different authors have the same first initials, reference their works using the standard author-date format, the same way you would if they were the same person. Only include extra information if not doing so would be confusing. For instance, if you are discussing their opinions as two sides of an issue, or reviewing the body of work each author has contributed to the field. In that case, include the full first name of each author in your in-text citation.

Authors with the same surname: John & Jane Brown, works published in different years

(Brown, 2011, 2019)

Authors with the same surname: John and Jane Brown, both works published in 2019

(Brown, 2019a) ... (Brown, 2019b)

If identifying the two authors as separate people is needed to avoid confusion

...according to a new study (Jane Brown, 2019), in contrast to the results of the 2011 survey by John Brown et al.

In APA 7th edition, only the first author is included in your in-text citation if there are three or more authors. This is true even if the other authors are different. However, if the rules for creating an in-text citation have given you the same in-text citations for two works with multiple authors, add as many of the other authors as you must to uniquely identify the works. Use the same citation every time it appears in your text.

Multiple authors, but the same first author​; different years

(Kong et al., 2018; Kong et al., 2019)

Multiple authors, same first author; same year

(Kong, Webb, McLaughan, et al., 2019; Kong, Webb, Sheridan, et al., 2019)

Only the final author is different

...with unexpected results (Kong, Webb, & McLaughan, 2019). These findings were corroborated by Kong, Webb, and Sheridan (2019)...

Citing content you found in one source that is originally from another source (e.g. a quote from a book that was cited in a lecture) is called secondary citation. Usually you want to avoid doing this: it is better to find the original source, read it, and cite that. You can't be sure that the source you read has represented the original idea fairly.

If the original source is not available, give an end-text reference only for the work you consulted, but mention the author and date of both the work you used and the original in your in-text citations.

For instance, if I wish to use material from an out of print poetry book by S. Khoo (originally published in 1928), which was quoted in a 2020 video by L. Sheridan, my in-text citation will look like this:

(Khoo, 1928, as cited in Sheridan, 2020)

I will include an end-text reference for the L. Sheridan video only: this is the only work I actually accessed.

Note that secondary citation is not necessary just because an author cites other works . This is a normal and expected part of academic writing. Consider whether the work you've read provides context, a new approach, or synthesis of the cited ideas; or if it is simply reporting the work of another researcher.

For more information, read the  APA Style page on secondary citations , or try this  interactive tutorial and self-quiz on secondary sources .

If you want to discuss an image or table created by someone else, cite it as you would cite any other work: (Author, Year). If you would like to reproduce that image or table, or include parts of someone else's work inside an image or table you create, you will need to include a caption . The citation will then form a part of that caption.

For more information about captions, see the page on Figures, Tables, & Images . For more information about copyright and finding images that you can use in your work, see the page on Creative Commons & Copyright .

Our 9-minute video on referencing visual art gives an introduction to captions, as well as in-text and end-text referencing for visual arts.

If the source you would like to cite is one that a reader would not be able to access (such as an email, telephone conversation, or unrecorded lecture), you would need to cite it as personal communications.

You should only cite personal communications if there is no source you can cite for that information that would be available to other people. You should also consider carefully whether the source you would like to cite is credible and appropriate to include in your assignment. If you learned about an idea in a class lecture, you should look for the original research your lecturer used to create the class materials, and cite that. Only use this format if it is genuinely new information that is not available elsewhere.

Personal communication citation

For your in-text citation, include the first initials and family name of the source, the phrase 'personal communication', and the full date (if available).

(S. L. Henderson, personal communication, November 8, 2009)

Unlike other works you cite, you do not include a reference list entry for personal communications . End-text references provide the information needed for a reader to retrieve the source; these works are not retrievable.

If you have conducted personal interviews as part of a research project, your own research data does not count as personal communications. For more information about how to present information from your own data, see Section 8.36 in the APA manual.

text bibliography citations

APA 7 Tutorial: Personal Communications

Learn how to cite personal communications, including emails, classroom lectures, personal interviews, text messages, letters, and telephone conversations, as well as how to cite or discuss other types of interviews, such as recoverable interviews or research participant interviews that serve as a data source for your study.

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What are in-text citations?

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What is an in-text citation?

An in-text citation is a reference made within the body of text of an academic essay. The in-text citation alerts the reader to a source that has informed your own writing.

The exact format of an in-text citation will depend on the style you need to use, for example, APA. Check with your academic institution to ensure you provide the in-text citations in the format they are expecting and use Cite This For Me’s citation generator to create them for you, automatically.

How to write an in-text citation

In most cases only the author’s last name, date of publication and page number from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken needs to be included, with the complete reference appearing in your bibliography (or works cited) page at the end of your essay.

The in-text citation should be presented in brackets directly after the text you have quoted or paraphrased so it’s easy for the reader to identify. In some cases, in-text citations are presented as a superscript number, with the corresponding number listed in your bibliography.

Looking for an easier option? Why not let Cite This For Me do the hard work for you by using our mobile app or free web tool. We’ve got over 7,000 styles in our books and are constantly adding new ones, so we’re sure to have the style you need.

APA Format In-Text Citations

In APA format, in-text citations can follow a direct quote or paraphrased information. For direct quotes, the in-text citation should immediately follow. If you’re citing a book, the in-text citation will usually include the author’s surname, the year of publication and the relevant page number or numbers, enclosed by parentheses.

Quote or paraphrase (Author’s surname, Year of publication, p.#).

For example:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us,” said Gandalf (Tolkien, 1954, p. 20).

If you reference the author within the text, however, you don’t need to include it in the in-text citation.

In the first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien writes, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” (1954, p. 20)

If you’re referencing paraphrased information then a page number is not always needed. It depends on whether you wish to direct your reader to a specific section.

The universal theme of The Lord of the Rings is the battle between good and evil (Tolkien, 1954).

When explaining the history of the ring to Frodo, Gandalf touches on themes of fate and having a pre-ordained purpose (Tolkien, 1954, p. 20).

Don’t forget to also add regular citations for the sources to your bibliography at the end of the paper.

MLA and Chicago Formatting

To keep you on your toes, the different formats follow different rules for in-text citations. For example, MLA format in-text citations don’t usually include a publication date and typically use the author’s last name or the first item included in the full citation if not the author’s name.

For example, let’s take the same in-text citation example from above and put it into MLA format.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us,” said Gandalf (Tolkien 20).

In MLA format, in-text citations can either be included in the prose or as a parenthetical citation (or a combination of the two). Any information about the source that is included in the prose does not need to be included in the parenthetical citation. For example, using the above example, a citation in prose would be:

In Tolkien’s book, Gandalf says, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us,” (20).

In this case, if the source didn’t have page numbers or if it was not necessary to include the page number, you would not need to include the parenthetical citation.

Chicago style in-text citations can follow the (author, date, page number) in-text citation system, like APA format . Alternatively, some following the Chicago style prefer to use a notes and bibliography system, which does away with in-text citations completely, using numbered footnotes or endnotes instead.

You’ll also find variations of in-text citations within each format, depending on factors like the type of source and number of authors. For help understanding how to create in-text citations, you’ll find handy citation guides for APA, MLA and Chicago formats on the Cite This For Me website.

Do’s and Don’ts of In-text Citations

DO be consistent. One of the most important aspects of citation creation is to make sure you choose a citation style and stick with it throughout your paper. Be sure to check your chosen style’s rules for in-text citations, whether you’re using APA format or different style, before starting to write your paper. Use those rules from the beginning to end.

DON’T assume. It can be all too easy to say to yourself “the reader will know where this came from” when you include information from another source. This is not a good attitude to have about citations, as leaving out in-text references can lead to you being accused of plagiarism and receiving a poor grade on your assignment. Always choose to be super clear with where your research information has come from.

DO your in-text citations early on . One of the best ways to make sure you haven’t left out any in-text citations is to write them immediately after you’ve referenced a work as you are writing your paper. Waiting until the very end can lead to last-minute paper stress. Making them early can help you make the references for your bibliography, as they serve as a list of outside sources you have used in your work.

DON’T overuse. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to include an individual in-text citation after each directly quoted sentence. If an entire paragraph or a group of sentences contains information all from the same source, a single in-text citation at the beginning or end of the paragraph will suffice.

DO double check . It is always a good idea to check your in-text citations after you have completed your paper and before you hand it in to your instructor. This is especially important if you have made in-text citations throughout the whole process of writing your paper, as it is unlikely you will remember that error you made two weeks ago. Give your in-text references one last look before turning in your paper for a grade.

DON’T forget to ask your teacher. If you are unsure of how to get started making your in-text citations for your paper, it is always a good idea to speak with your teacher. They can direct you to their preferred citation style, whether it’s MLA formatting , or a different style. It is likely that the assignment directions they provide contain details on how to make citations the way that they expect.

DO use Cite This For Me for your next writing assignment! Cite This For Me contains a bibliography builder as well as in-text citation formatting. Check out the site, and you will have access to thousands of styles, including a Harvard referencing generator , and many source types.

An in-text citation is a short version of a reference you have made in your work-cited list or bibliography, but is in your thesis or paper. The purpose of an in-text citation is to  denote a source of information to the reader, at the point in your paper where this information is relevant. Readers can use your in-text citation to look up that reference in the works-cited list or bibliography at the end of your paper.

Whenever you have referred to, summarized, or quoted from any other source of information in your paper or work, you have to include an in-text citation.

Example In-Text Citation Entries:

Narrative Citation

Jonas observes in his paper that theoretically, all viruses can be contained in the long run with vaccines (2020).

Parenthetical Citation

Theoretically, all viruses can be contained in the long run with viruses (Jonas, 2020).

Per the 17 th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style , footnotes or endnotes are to be used when you have directly quoted, paraphrased, or summarized information from other sources. Any information used in your paper which is not common knowledge should be cited in a footnote of an endnote.

If you are unsure whether your source is common knowledge or not, it is better to cite it using a footnote or an endnote.

While APA style citation is mostly used in science and education, MLA style is mostly used in the humanities field.

The table below lists the differences between APA and MLA styles.

While writing in-text citations with multiple authors, the APA style uses the “&” symbol while the MLA style uses the word “and.”

As far as the academic community is concerned, the MLA and Chicago citation styles are two of the preferred citation and writing styles. While MLA is predominantly preferred in English, Language Arts, and the Humanities, the Chicago style is preferred in History and Humanities.

The table below lists some of the differences between Chicago and MLA styles.

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Citing and referencing: In-text citations

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  • Conference papers, theses and university material
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Personal communications

  • In-text Citations
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  • Letter / Manuscript / Diary
  • Play / Poem
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APA Contents

  • Introduction to APA style
  • Abbreviations
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  • Tables and figures

In-text citing: General notes

  • when you directly quote someone else's work or
  • when you paraphrase someone else's work
  • For direct quotes, make sure to include page or paragraph number. eg. (Weston, 1988, p. 45). Page numbers are not normally included when paraphrasing but may be included if desired.
  • The in-text citation is placed immediately after the information being cited. 
  • If your citation is at the end of a sentence, ensure the full stop is placed after the reference.
  • PLEASE NOTE, HOWEVER you should use secondary sources ONLY where you are unable to obtain a copy of the original, or the original is not available in English. 
  • In-text citations are usually included in the word count of your document.
  • For citations in parentheses with two authors the ‘&’ symbol is used. If the author citation forms part of your sentence the word ‘and’ must be used,  e.g. (Brown & Black, 2010) OR “Brown and Black (2010) indicate that…”

Placement of citations can be important depending on the emphasis you wish to apply

  • Jones (2012) has concluded that... 
  • ... as evidenced from a recent Australian study (Jones, 2012).

Examples of in-text citations

Two authors, three to five authors, six or more authors, different authors : same surname, multiple authors: ambiguous citations, multiple works: by same author, multiple works: by same author and same year, if the author is identified as 'anonymous', unknown author, corporate or group of authors, multiple references, citing specific parts of a source, quote from an electronic source, citation of a secondary source: (i.e a source referred to in another publication), citing legislation or legal cases.

The way you cite legislation or legal cases depends on whether you read the actual legislation or read about it in another source. If it is the latter, the legislation/case should be treated as a secondary source.

Websites (but not a specific document on that site)

Web page, author, web page with corporate author, web page, unknown author, web page, no date, market reports/industry databases, no individual author, market reports/industry databases, author.

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In-Text Citations: The Basics

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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .

Reference citations in text are covered on pages 261-268 of the Publication Manual. What follows are some general guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay.

Note:  On pages 117-118, the Publication Manual suggests that authors of research papers should use the past tense or present perfect tense for signal phrases that occur in the literature review and procedure descriptions (for example, Jones (1998)  found  or Jones (1998)  has found ...). Contexts other than traditionally-structured research writing may permit the simple present tense (for example, Jones (1998)  finds ).

APA Citation Basics

When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, like, for example, (Jones, 1998). One complete reference for each source should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

If you are referring to an idea from another work but  NOT  directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference.

On the other hand, if you are directly quoting or borrowing from another work, you should include the page number at the end of the parenthetical citation. Use the abbreviation “p.” (for one page) or “pp.” (for multiple pages) before listing the page number(s). Use an en dash for page ranges. For example, you might write (Jones, 1998, p. 199) or (Jones, 1998, pp. 199–201). This information is reiterated below.

Regardless of how they are referenced, all sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

In-text citation capitalization, quotes, and italics/underlining

  • Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials: D. Jones.
  • If you refer to the title of a source within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater within the title of a source:  Permanence and Change . Exceptions apply to short words that are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs:  Writing New Media ,  There Is Nothing Left to Lose .

( Note:  in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized:  Writing new media .)

  • When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word:  Natural-Born Cyborgs .
  • Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon: "Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock's  Vertigo ."
  • If the title of the work is italicized in your reference list, italicize it and use title case capitalization in the text:  The Closing of the American Mind ;  The Wizard of Oz ;  Friends .
  • If the title of the work is not italicized in your reference list, use double quotation marks and title case capitalization (even though the reference list uses sentence case): "Multimedia Narration: Constructing Possible Worlds;" "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry."

Short quotations

If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (preceded by "p." for a single page and “pp.” for a span of multiple pages, with the page numbers separated by an en dash).

You can introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

If you do not include the author’s name in the text of the sentence, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.

Long quotations

Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout, but do not add an extra blank line before or after it. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.

Because block quotation formatting is difficult for us to replicate in the OWL's content management system, we have simply provided a screenshot of a generic example below.

This image shows how to format a long quotation in an APA seventh edition paper.

Formatting example for block quotations in APA 7 style.

Quotations from sources without pages

Direct quotations from sources that do not contain pages should not reference a page number. Instead, you may reference another logical identifying element: a paragraph, a chapter number, a section number, a table number, or something else. Older works (like religious texts) can also incorporate special location identifiers like verse numbers. In short: pick a substitute for page numbers that makes sense for your source.

Summary or paraphrase

If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference and may omit the page numbers. APA guidelines, however, do encourage including a page range for a summary or paraphrase when it will help the reader find the information in a longer work. 

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Notes and Bibliography: Sample Citations

Go to Author-Date: Sample Citations

The following examples illustrate the notes and bibliography system. Sample notes show full citations followed by shortened citations for the same sources. Sample bibliography entries follow the notes. For more details and many more examples, see chapter 14 of The Chicago Manual of Style . For examples of the same citations using the author-date system, follow the Author-Date link above.

1. Zadie Smith, Swing Time   (New York: Penguin Press, 2016), 315–16.

2. Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), 12.

Shortened notes

3. Smith, Swing Time , 320.

4. Grazer and Fishman, Curious Mind , 37.

Bibliography entries (in alphabetical order)

Grazer, Brian, and Charles Fishman. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life . New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time . New York: Penguin Press, 2016.

For many more examples, covering virtually every type of book, see 14.100–163 in The Chicago Manual of Style .

Chapter or other part of an edited book

In a note, cite specific pages. In the bibliography, include the page range for the chapter or part.

1. Henry David Thoreau, “Walking,” in The Making of the American Essay , ed. John D’Agata (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016), 177–78.

Shortened note

2. Thoreau, “Walking,” 182.

Bibliography entry

Thoreau, Henry David. “Walking.” In The Making of the American Essay , edited by John D’Agata, 167–95. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016.

In some cases, you may want to cite the collection as a whole instead.

1. John D’Agata, ed., The Making of the American Essay (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016), 177–78.

2. D’Agata, American Essay , 182.

D’Agata, John, ed. The Making of the American Essay . Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016.

For more examples, see 14.103–5 and 14.106–12 in The Chicago Manual of Style .

Translated book

1. Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words , trans. Ann Goldstein (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016), 146.

2. Lahiri, In Other Words , 184.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. In Other Words . Translated by Ann Goldstein. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.

For books consulted online, include a URL or the name of the database. For other types of e-books, name the format. If no fixed page numbers are available, cite a section title or a chapter or other number in the notes, if any (or simply omit).

1. Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851), 627, http://mel.hofstra.edu/moby-dick-the-whale-proofs.html.

2. Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, eds., The Founders’ Constitution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), chap. 10, doc. 19, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/.

3. Brooke Borel, The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 92, ProQuest Ebrary.

4. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (New York: Penguin Classics, 2007), chap. 3, Kindle.

5. Melville, Moby-Dick , 722–23.

6. Kurland and Lerner, Founder s ’ Constitution , chap. 4, doc. 29.

7. Borel, Fact-Checking , 104–5.

8. Austen, Pride and Prejudice , chap. 14.

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice . New York: Penguin Classics, 2007. Kindle.

Borel, Brooke. The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. ProQuest Ebrary.

Kurland, Philip B., and Ralph Lerner, eds. The Founders’ Constitution . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/.

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale . New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. http://mel.hofstra.edu/moby-dick-the-whale-proofs.html.

For more examples, see 14.1 59 –63 in The Chicago Manual of Style .

Journal article

In a note, cite specific page numbers. In the bibliography, include the page range for the whole article. For articles consulted online, include a URL or the name of the database. Many journal articles list a DOI (Digital Object Identifier). A DOI forms a permanent URL that begins https://doi.org/. This URL is preferable to the URL that appears in your browser’s address bar.

1. Susan Satterfield, “Livy and the Pax Deum ,” Classical Philology 111, no. 2 (April 2016): 170.

2. Shao-Hsun Keng, Chun-Hung Lin, and Peter F. Orazem, “Expanding College Access in Taiwan, 1978–2014: Effects on Graduate Quality and Income Inequality,” Journal of Human Capital 11, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 9–10, https://doi.org/10.1086/690235.

3. Peter LaSalle, “Conundrum: A Story about Reading,” New England Review 38, no. 1 (2017): 95, Project MUSE.

4. Satterfield, “Livy,” 172–73.

5. Keng, Lin, and Orazem, “Expanding College Access,” 23.

6. LaSalle, “Conundrum,” 101.

Keng, Shao-Hsun, Chun-Hung Lin, and Peter F. Orazem. “Expanding College Access in Taiwan, 1978–2014: Effects on Graduate Quality and Income Inequality.” Journal of Human Capital 11, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 1–34. https://doi.org/10.1086/690235.

LaSalle, Peter. “Conundrum: A Story about Reading.” New England Review 38, no. 1 (2017): 95–109. Project MUSE.

Satterfield, Susan. “Livy and the Pax Deum .” Classical Philology 111, no. 2 (April 2016): 165–76.

Journal articles often list many authors, especially in the sciences. If there are four or more authors, list up to ten in the bibliography; in a note, list only the first, followed by et al . (“and others”). For more than ten authors (not shown here), list the first seven in the bibliography, followed by et al .

7. Rachel A. Bay et al., “Predicting Responses to Contemporary Environmental Change Using Evolutionary Response Architectures,” American Naturalist 189, no. 5 (May 2017): 465, https://doi.org/10.1086/691233.

8. Bay et al., “Predicting Responses,” 466.

Bay, Rachael A., Noah Rose, Rowan Barrett, Louis Bernatchez, Cameron K. Ghalambor, Jesse R. Lasky, Rachel B. Brem, Stephen R. Palumbi, and Peter Ralph. “Predicting Responses to Contemporary Environmental Change Using Evolutionary Response Architectures.” American Naturalist 189, no. 5 (May 2017): 463–73. https://doi.org/10.1086/691233.

For more examples, see 14.1 68 – 87 in The Chicago Manual of Style .

News or magazine article

Articles from newspapers or news sites, magazines, blogs, and the like are cited similarly. Page numbers, if any, can be cited in a note but are omitted from a bibliography entry. If you consulted the article online, include a URL or the name of the database.

1. Rebecca Mead, “The Prophet of Dystopia,” New Yorker , April 17, 2017, 43.

2. Farhad Manjoo, “Snap Makes a Bet on the Cultural Supremacy of the Camera,” New York Times , March 8, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/08/technology/snap-makes-a-bet-on-the-cultural-supremacy-of-the-camera.html.

3. Rob Pegoraro, “Apple’s iPhone Is Sleek, Smart and Simple,” Washington Post , July 5, 2007, LexisNexis Academic.

4. Tanya Pai, “The Squishy, Sugary History of Peeps,” Vox , April 11, 2017, http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/11/15209084/peeps-easter.

5. Mead, “Dystopia,” 47.

6. Manjoo, “Snap.”

7. Pegoraro, “Apple’s iPhone.”

8. Pai, “History of Peeps.”

Manjoo, Farhad. “Snap Makes a Bet on the Cultural Supremacy of the Camera.” New York Times , March 8, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/08/technology/snap-makes-a-bet-on-the-cultural-supremacy-of-the-camera.html.

Mead, Rebecca. “The Prophet of Dystopia.” New Yorker , April 17, 2017.

Pai, Tanya. “The Squishy, Sugary History of Peeps.” Vox , April 11, 2017. http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/11/15209084/peeps-easter.

Pegoraro, Rob. “Apple’s iPhone Is Sleek, Smart and Simple.” Washington Post , July 5, 2007. LexisNexis Academic.

Readers’ comments are cited in the text or in a note but omitted from a bibliography.

9. Eduardo B (Los Angeles), March 9, 2017, comment on Manjoo, “Snap.”

For more examples, see 14.1 88 – 90 (magazines), 14.191–200 (newspapers), and 14.208 (blogs) in The Chicago Manual of Style .

Book review

1. Michiko Kakutani, “Friendship Takes a Path That Diverges,” review of Swing Time , by Zadie Smith, New York Times , November 7, 2016.

2. Kakutani, “Friendship.”

Kakutani, Michiko. “Friendship Takes a Path That Diverges.” Review of Swing Time , by Zadie Smith. New York Times , November 7, 2016.

1. Kory Stamper, “From ‘F-Bomb’ to ‘Photobomb,’ How the Dictionary Keeps Up with English,” interview by Terry Gross, Fresh Air , NPR, April 19, 2017, audio, 35:25, http://www.npr.org/2017/04/19/524618639/from-f-bomb-to-photobomb-how-the-dictionary-keeps-up-with-english.

2. Stamper, interview.

Stamper, Kory. “From ‘F-Bomb’ to ‘Photobomb,’ How the Dictionary Keeps Up with English.” Interview by Terry Gross. Fresh Air , NPR, April 19, 2017. Audio, 35:25. http://www.npr.org/2017/04/19/524618639/from-f-bomb-to-photobomb-how-the-dictionary-keeps-up-with-english.

Thesis or dissertation

1. Cynthia Lillian Rutz, “ King Lear and Its Folktale Analogues” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2013), 99–100.

2. Rutz, “ King Lear ,” 158.

Rutz, Cynthia Lillian. “ King Lear and Its Folktale Analogues.” PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2013.

Website content

It is often sufficient simply to describe web pages and other website content in the text (“As of May 1, 2017, Yale’s home page listed . . .”). If a more formal citation is needed, it may be styled like the examples below. For a source that does not list a date of publication or revision, include an access date (as in example note 2).

1. “Privacy Policy,” Privacy & Terms, Google, last modified April 17, 2017, https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/.

2. “About Yale: Yale Facts,” Yale University, accessed May 1, 2017, https://www.yale.edu/about-yale/yale-facts.

3. Katie Bouman, “How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole,” filmed November 2016 at TEDxBeaconStreet, Brookline, MA, video, 12:51, https://www.ted.com/talks/katie_bouman_what_does_a_black_hole_look_like.

4. Google, “Privacy Policy.”

5. “Yale Facts.”

6. Bouman, “Black Hole.”

Bouman, Katie. “How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole.” Filmed November 2016 at TEDxBeaconStreet, Brookline, MA. Video, 12:51. https://www.ted.com/talks/katie_bouman_what_does_a_black_hole_look_like.

Google. “Privacy Policy.” Privacy & Terms. Last modified April 17, 2017. https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/.

Yale University. “About Yale: Yale Facts.” Accessed May 1, 2017. https://www.yale.edu/about-yale/yale-facts.

For more examples, see 14. 20 5–10 in The Chicago Manual of Style . For multimedia, including live performances, see 14. 261–68 .

Social media content

Citations of content shared through social media can usually be limited to the text (as in the first example below). A note may be added if a more formal citation is needed. In rare cases, a bibliography entry may also be appropriate. In place of a title, quote up to the first 160 characters of the post. Comments are cited in reference to the original post.

Conan O’Brien’s tweet was characteristically deadpan: “In honor of Earth Day, I’m recycling my tweets” (@ConanOBrien, April 22, 2015).

1. Pete Souza (@petesouza), “President Obama bids farewell to President Xi of China at the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit,” Instagram photo, April 1, 2016, https://www.instagram.com/p/BDrmfXTtNCt/.

2. Chicago Manual of Style, “Is the world ready for singular they? We thought so back in 1993,” Facebook, April 17, 2015, https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoManual/posts/10152906193679151.

3. Souza, “President Obama.”

4. Michele Truty, April 17, 2015, 1:09 p.m., comment on Chicago Manual of Style, “singular they.”

Chicago Manual of Style. “Is the world ready for singular they? We thought so back in 1993.” Facebook, April 17, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoManual/posts/10152906193679151.

Personal communication

Personal communications, including email and text messages and direct messages sent through social media, are usually cited in the text or in a note only; they are rarely included in a bibliography.

1. Sam Gomez, Facebook message to author, August 1, 2017.


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