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When you refer to the words and ideas of others within your own research MLA style requires you to give credit by using an in-text citation (also known as “imbedded” or “parenthetical” citation) within the text of your paper.
- MLA requires the use of an in-text citation whether you put the words of others in your own words ( paraphrase ) or state them exactly as found in the original source ( direct quote ).
- Signal phrase reference (author's name) appears within the sentence with page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence
- Full parenthetical reference (author last name and page number) appears at the end of the sentence
Remember that all sources mentioned within in-text citations in your paper must have a corresponding full bibliographic citation in your Works Cited list.
In-text citations generally contain the author’s last name (surname) and page location of cited material placed within parentheses at the end of a sentence.
Full In-text citation
Start with the surname of the author (or editor, translator, compiler, etc.). When referring to a particular part of a work, follow the surname by a space and a page number or numbers.
Example: This psychological phenomenon has been previously demonstrated (Smith 178-85).
Using a signal phrase
If you introduce the cited material with a signal phrase (including the author’s last name within the sentence), omit the surname from the parentheses.
Example: Smith demonstrates this psychological phenomenon (22-24).
Standard sentence punctuation should be placed after the parenthetical citation.
Can we allow ourselves to trust Frank’s Dramatic Theory of Cause and Effect (73-74)?
There are ways to document this “overwhelming need for self-study” (Jones 18).
Direct quotes with special punctuation
For a direct quote with specific punctuation associated with it, include that punctuation mark within the quotation marks followed by the parenthetical citation and end the sentence with proper punctuation.
Example: In response, Mary replies, “what, no more fighting?” (Blackwell 43).
When citing more than four lines of quoted material, position the quoted section as a separate or "block" set of lines.
Indent the entire quoted section one half inch from the left margin: do not further intent the first line of the section.
Punctuate the sentence introducing the quote with a colon and do not use quotation marks.
At the end of the last sentence of the block quote, use parentheses to identify page number(s) of the quoted material. If the author's name is not included as a signal phrase in the introductory sentence, include it in the parentheses, as well.
Example: In Song of the Lark, Willa Cather demonstrates her ability to create detailed interior spaces in the first page of the novel with the description of the physician's office:
The waiting-room was carpeted and stiffly furnished, something like a country parlor. The study had worn, unpainted floors, but there was a look of winter comfort about it. The doctor’s flat-top desk was large and well made; the papers were in orderly piles, under glass weights. Behind the stove a wide bookcase, with double glass doors, reached from the floor to the ceiling.It was filled with medical books of every thickness and color. On the top shelf stood a long row of thirty or forty volumes, bound all alike in dark mottled board covers, with imitation leather backs. (3)
Citing Works by Two Authors
List all surnames, separating two authors with “and.”
Examples: Griff and Blum offer a fresh reading of this novel (242).
This novel recently drew critical attention (Talbot and Smith 22).
Citing Works by Three or More Authors
List the first author's last name followed by et al. (with a period).
Examples: Some critics consider this work to be Hawthorne's most gothic tale (Blaine et al. 75).
It has been said by Fredensen et al. that global warning is the biggest threat to our planet (45).
List the first initial of each author as well as the surname. If this does not differentiate them, include the whole first name.
Examples: (F. James 43) or (Frank James 43)
After the surname, include the title or an abbreviated version of the title. Separate the surname and title with a comma.
Example: (Smith, Cartoon Heroines 80)
Separate the references by semicolons.
Example: (Brown 40; Smith 50; Green 22-23)
Cite a corporation or organization in parentheses just as you would an individual author’s surname. If the organization's name is long, include it as a signal phrase rather than in parentheses. When possible, shorten terms commonly abbreviated, for example: “National” = “Natl.” or “Association” = “Assn.”
When a source does not have a stated author, the Works Cited entry will begin with the title of the source. For the in text citation, either state the entire name of the source as a signal phrase, or use a part of the phrase in parentheses.
Example: There is evidence that as many as 40% of all elementary students experience some type of bullying ("Saving our Schools").
List the name of the author of the selection (not the editor of the anthology) in the signal phrase or the parentheses.
If a document does not include page numbers (as is the case with many electronic or web documents), do not list any.
- Page numbers in a printout from a web site should not be used unless the printout is a PDF.
- If there are no page numbers, paragraph numbers, or obvious subdivisions, cite the author’s name in a signal phrase in the text rather than in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
If paragraph numbers are used in the document instead of page numbers, use “par.” or “pars.” followed by the relevant number(s). If the author's surname is included in the parentheses, put a comma after it. Only use paragraph numbers if the source includes them - do not create your own paragraph count.
Example: (Smith, par.16)
If the work has any type of subdivision other than paragraph, use the name of that subdivision.
Example: ...the image of Cinderella (Brown, screens 2-3).
If you are citing a specific page within a multi-volume work, list the volume number, then separate it from the page number with a colon.
Example: (Wright 5; 33)
Cite the name of the primary source (the text you are actually citing) as a signal phrase and within the parentheses, include the words “qtd. in” before the secondary source (source which included the text you have cited) information: The Works Cited entry will refer to the bibliographic information for the secondary source.
Example: Alex Green imagines a “new type of oligarchy” (qtd. in Smith 232).
In the above example, the Works Cited entry will provide bibliographic details for the work by Smith.
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MLA Formatting Quotations
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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 (8 th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.
When you directly quote the works of others in your paper, you will format quotations differently depending on their length. Below are some basic guidelines for incorporating quotations into your paper. Please note that all pages in MLA should be double-spaced .
To indicate short quotations (four typed lines or fewer of prose or three lines of verse) in your text, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks. Provide the author and specific page number (in the case of verse, provide line numbers) in the in-text citation, and include a complete reference on the Works Cited page. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical citation.
Question marks and exclamation points should appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage, but after the parenthetical citation if they are a part of your text.
For example, when quoting short passages of prose, use the following examples:
When using short (fewer than three lines of verse) quotations from poetry, mark breaks in verse with a slash, ( / ), at the end of each line of verse (a space should precede and follow the slash). If a stanza break occurs during the quotation, use a double slash ( // ).
For quotations that are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented 1/2 inch from the left margin while maintaining double-spacing. Your parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark . When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.)
For example, when citing more than four lines of prose, use the following examples :
Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and dehumanizes him throughout her narration: They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78)
When citing long sections of poetry (four lines of verse or more), keep formatting as close to the original as possible.
In his poem "My Papa's Waltz," Theodore Roethke explores his childhood with his father:
The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. We Romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself. (qtd. in Shrodes, Finestone, Shugrue 202)
When citing two or more paragraphs, use block quotation format, even if the passage from the paragraphs is less than four lines. If you cite more than one paragraph, the first line of the second paragraph should be indented an extra 1/4 inch to denote a new paragraph:
In "American Origins of the Writing-across-the-Curriculum Movement," David Russell argues,
Writing has been an issue in American secondary and higher education since papers and examinations came into wide use in the 1870s, eventually driving out formal recitation and oral examination. . . .
From its birth in the late nineteenth century, progressive education has wrestled with the conflict within industrial society between pressure to increase specialization of knowledge and of professional work (upholding disciplinary standards) and pressure to integrate more fully an ever-widening number of citizens into intellectually meaningful activity within mass society (promoting social equity). . . . (3)
Adding or omitting words in quotations
If you add a word or words in a quotation, you should put brackets around the words to indicate that they are not part of the original text:
If you omit a word or words from a quotation, you should indicate the deleted word or words by using ellipses, which are three periods ( . . . ) preceded and followed by a space. For example:
Please note that brackets are not needed around ellipses unless they would add clarity.
When omitting words from poetry quotations, use a standard three-period ellipses; however, when omitting one or more full lines of poetry, space several periods to about the length of a complete line in the poem:
MLA Citations (9th ed.)
- General Formatting
- Formatting & Ordering Your Works Cited
- Tables and Illustrations
- Title of Source
- Title of Container
- Publication Date
- Optional Elements
- Parenthetical Documentation
- Endnotes and Footnotes
- Avoiding Plagiarism
A direct quote is a word-for-word copy of source material. The quote is enclosed in quotation marks. Include the author's name and page numbers. If your quote is more than 4 lines long, use a block quote.
Author Incorporated into Text:
Joseph Conrad writes of the company manager in Heart of Darkness, "He was obeyed, yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect" (87).
Author After Quotation:
"The red tree vole is a crucial part of the spotted owl's diet" (Moone 15).
The block quote is used for quotations that are longer than 4 lines of prose or 3 lines of verse. Do not use quotation marks. Introduce the block quote on a new line. Indent the entire quote 1 inch from the left margin. Include the page number at the end of your block quote outside of the ending period. Be sure to specify the source in the introduction phrase/sentence, which ends in either a colon or a period.
At the conclusion of Lord of the Flies, Ralph and the other boys realize the horror of their actions:
The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (186)
A paraphrase is a way to represent an idea from a source in your own words. It is typically as long as the original quotation. Paraphrasing is used most often to explain jargon or difficult to understand information in terms the reader can easily understand.
MLA requires you to include the author's name and page number.
Author Incorporated into Text :
Robert Lenz states that Oregon salmon populations have dramatically declined in the past decade (27).
Author After Paraphrase:
Oregon salmon populations have dramatically declined in the past decade (Lenz 27).
Research and Citation
If you are citing a single fact or paraphrased idea that is attributable to more than one source, list all sources in the in-text citation. Separate multiple sources with semicolons.
Example: While reading may be the core of literacy, literacy can be complete only when reading is accompanied by writing (Baron 194; Jacobs 55).
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MLA Quotation Punctuation
The punctuation for integrating academic quotes is a little different than dialogue punctuation. When a quotation ends a sentence and the parenthetical citation is at the end, the period should come after the citation. Additionally, there are separate rules for long quotations.
Quotes That End a Sentence
When a quote with citation ends a sentence, the period should go after the citation because the citation belongs to that sentence.
- Example: In “Synthetic Biology–Putting Engineering into Biology,” Heinemann and Panke theorize about the future of synthetic biology, declaring, “Now, synthetic biology is adopting a very ambitious agenda in building novel biological entities” (2797).
Note the order of the punctuation: Quotation mark, citation, and then period.
Use of Ellipses
If only part of a quote is needed, it is possible to omit information and replace it with ellipses. Ellipses (. . .) are used when information is omitted from the middle of a quote.
- Example: Heinemann and Panke theorize about the importance of engineering in the context of biological fabrication when they assert, “Synthetic biology investigates . . . the process of engineering biological systems” (2790).
Sometimes information is missing or inaccurate in a quote. Words can be added or changed to a quote by using brackets. Changes can be used to correct tense or to add necessary information. Brackets can also be used to make the pronouns in a quote consistent. However, brackets should not be used to change the meaning of the quote.
Brackets for Pronoun Consistency
- Nathan said, “I want people to understand me.”
- Nathan said that he wants people “to understand [him].”
- In this example, the pronoun is changed so it is consistent with the rest of the sentence.
Brackets for Additional Information
- Nathan said, “I need the people to arrive on that day.”
- Nathan said, “I need the people to arrive on [Sunday October 29th ].”
- Information can be added to a sentence with brackets for clarity or understanding.
Quote Introduced with a Colon
If the introduction to a quote is a full sentence, then a colon can be used. Choosing a colon instead of a comma creates a longer pause and puts more emphasis on the quote.
- When alone in a room, Descartes had a thought: “I think, therefore I am” (Descartes).
When using a long quote (longer than four typed lines) block quotes should be used. Block the quote by one-half inch from the left margin. If the paper is double spaced, then the block quote should be double spaced. There are no quotation marks needed for block quotes, and the citation follows the quote, outside of the period.
- Synthetic biology is interpreted as the engineering-driven building of increasingly complex biological entities for novel applications. Encouraged by progress in the design of artificial gene networks, de novo DNA synthesis and protein engineering, we review the case for this emerging discipline. (2790)
Heinemann, M., & Panke, S. (2006). Synthetic biology-putting engineering into biology. Bioinformatics, 22 (22), 2790-2799. doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btl469
Russell, T., Brizee, A., Elizabeth, A. Keck, R., Paiz, M., Campbell, M., Fuentes, Owl Purdue Staff. (2012). MLA Formatting Quotations. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/03/
UNC College of Arts and Science. (n.d.). Quotations. Retrieved October 29, 2017, from http://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/quotations/
Contributor: Nathan Lachner
Punctuation of Quotations
In all academic writing, Quotations must have appropriate punctuation. In order to determine how to punctuate the phrase that comes before a quotation, you need to know whether the phase is an independent clause. Here, you have three options:
1. When the quotation is merged into a clause, no punctuation is necessary to divide them.
Roosevelt spoke of December 7, 1941, as “a day that will live in infamy.”
2. If the quotation is preceded by a form of a word like say, reply, or answer, that word is followed by a comma.
She knows she is no longer safe, saying, “I feared for my Safety in this wicked House” (28).
3. If a complete sentence or independent clause precedes the quotation, a colon is the appropriate mark of punctuation.
She knows she is no longer safe: “I feared for my Safety in this wicked House” (28). Also make sure that you place quotation marks correctly with respect to other punctuation marks and with citations.
1. The final period or comma goes inside the quotation marks, even if it is not a part of the quoted material, unless the quotation is followed by a citation. If a citation in parentheses follows the quotation, the period follows the citation. If a superscript footnote number is used, it follows the period and the quotation marks.
a) The Portland vase is “blue porcelain,” according to Compson (435).
Comma is within the quotation marks; the period follows the citation.
b) Macbeth says, “Life's but a walking shadow” (5.5.24).
Citation follows the quotation marks; period follows the citation. Note: The MLA Handbook recommends the use of Arabic numerals rather than Roman numerals for designating acts and scenes in plays. However, some instructors still prefer Roman numerals. Check with your instructor if you are uncertain which to use.
c) As E. H. Carr has written, “The serious historian is the one who recognizes the historically conditioned character of all values, not the one who claims for his own values an objectivity beyond history.” 1
2. A colon or semicolon is placed outside the quotation marks (regardless of whether or not it exists in the quoted material).
Roberts (137) mentions “the divine right of kings”; the phrase did not become current in English until the late seventeenth century.
Mr. B says that Pamela “may be thawed by kindness;” (180).
Even though the semicolon is present in the sentence quoted, it should not be in the quotation.
Correct: Mr. B says that Pamela “may be thawed by kindness” (180).
3. A question mark, exclamation point, or dash is placed within the quotation marks when it is part of the quoted material. Otherwise it is placed outside the quotation marks.
a) “How do I love thee?” asks the sonnet. “Let me count the ways.”
The first quotation is a question; the question mark is part of it.
b) What is the meaning of the expression “eschew obfuscation”?
The quotation is not a question; the question mark goes outside the quotation to indicate that the whole sentence is the question.
c) There is great pathos in King Lear’s cry, “O reason not the need!” (2.4.259).
An exclamation point within the quotation is followed by quotation marks, then by a parenthetical citation. The period after the citation ends the sentence.
4. Do not place any mark of punctuation inside the quotation marks at the beginning of a quoted phrase, and do not use an ellipsis(...) at the beginning of the quotation.
King Lear refers to his daughter Goneril as a “detested kite” and as “...wolvish” (1.4.253, 259).
King Lear refers to his daughter Goneril as a “detested kite” and as “wolvish” (1.4.253, 259).
For more information on quotations, refer to Using Sources and Quotations .
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- Parenthetical Citation | APA, MLA & Chicago Examples
Parenthetical Citation | APA, MLA & Chicago Examples
Published on May 9, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on August 23, 2022.
A parenthetical citation gives credit in parentheses to a source that you’re quoting or paraphrasing . It contains information such as the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number(s) if relevant.
Parenthetical citations are used in many citation styles, including MLA , APA , and Chicago .
Parenthetical citations should be placed at the end of the sentence or clause that contains the cited material, and they must always correspond to a full entry in your reference list.
Table of contents
Parenthetical citations in mla, parenthetical citations in apa, parenthetical citations in chicago, frequently asked questions about parenthetical citations.
MLA in-text citations are described as author-page citations. This means that the parentheses contain the author’s last name and a page number or page range.
When a source has two authors , include both names and put “and” between them. For sources with more than two authors , include only the first author’s name, followed by “ et al. ”
Cite page numbers using a page range if you are citing multiple consecutive pages. If the pages are not consecutive, include all relevant page numbers, separated by commas.
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
APA in-text citations are described as author-date citations. This means that parenthetical citations should contain the author’s last name , the publication date , and, if applicable, a page number or page range. These elements should be separated by commas.
When a source has two authors , include both names and separate them using an ampersand (&). When a source has more than two authors , include only the first author’s name, followed by “et al.”
When citing specific pages, write “p.” before a single page number and “pp.” before a page range or series of nonconsecutive pages.
Narrative vs. parenthetical
APA also makes a distinction between parenthetical and narrative citations . You can use a mixture of the two in your text.
In a narrative citation, the author’s name appears as part of your sentence, introducing the cited information with a signal phrase. Only the publication date (and page numbers if included) appears in parentheses.
Both parenthetical and narrative citations are automatically generated when you cite a source using Scribbr’s Citation Generator .
Chicago author-date style (not to be confused with Chicago notes and bibliography ) uses author-date citations.
These are parenthetical citations containing the author’s last name , the publication date , and, if applicable, a page number or page range. Include a comma after the year, but not after the author’s name.
When a source has two or three authors , include each of their names in your in-text citation. For more than four authors , include the name of the first author only, followed by “et al.”
A parenthetical citation gives credit in parentheses to a source that you’re quoting or paraphrasing . It provides relevant information such as the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number(s) cited.
How you use parenthetical citations will depend on your chosen citation style . It will also depend on the type of source you are citing and the number of authors.
In a parenthetical citation in MLA style , include the author’s last name and the relevant page number or range in parentheses .
For example: (Eliot 21)
APA Style distinguishes between parenthetical and narrative citations.
In parenthetical citations , you include all relevant source information in parentheses at the end of the sentence or clause: “Parts of the human body reflect the principles of tensegrity (Levin, 2002).”
In narrative citations , you include the author’s name in the text itself, followed by the publication date in parentheses: “Levin (2002) argues that parts of the human body reflect the principles of tensegrity.”
A parenthetical citation in Chicago author-date style includes the author’s last name, the publication date, and, if applicable, the relevant page number or page range in parentheses . Include a comma after the year, but not after the author’s name.
For example: (Swan 2003, 6)
To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator .
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Ryan, E. (2022, August 23). Parenthetical Citation | APA, MLA & Chicago Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/citing-sources/parenthetical-citation/
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Dr. Sandi Van Lieu and Dr. Karen Palmer
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.
- Content created by Dr. Sandi Van Lieu and Dr. Karen Palmer and licensed CC BY NC SA .
The RoughWriter's Guide Copyright © 2020 by Dr. Sandi Van Lieu and Dr. Karen Palmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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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.