Frequently asked questions

What is a parenthetical citation.

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.

Frequently asked questions: Citing sources

A scientific citation style is a system of source citation that is used in scientific disciplines. Some commonly used scientific citation styles are:

  • Chicago author-date , CSE , and Harvard , used across various sciences
  • ACS , used in chemistry
  • AMA , NLM , and Vancouver , used in medicine and related disciplines
  • AAA , APA , and ASA , commonly used in the social sciences

There are many different citation styles used across different academic disciplines, but they fall into three basic approaches to citation:

  • Parenthetical citations : Including identifying details of the source in parentheses —usually the author’s last name and the publication date, plus a page number if available ( author-date ). The publication date is occasionally omitted ( author-page ).
  • Numerical citations: Including a number in brackets or superscript, corresponding to an entry in your numbered reference list.
  • Note citations: Including a full citation in a footnote or endnote , which is indicated in the text with a superscript number or symbol.

A source annotation in an annotated bibliography fulfills a similar purpose to an abstract : they’re both intended to summarize the approach and key points of a source.

However, an annotation may also evaluate the source , discussing the validity and effectiveness of its arguments. Even if your annotation is purely descriptive , you may have a different perspective on the source from the author and highlight different key points.

You should never just copy text from the abstract for your annotation, as doing so constitutes plagiarism .

Most academics agree that you shouldn’t cite Wikipedia as a source in your academic writing , and universities often have rules against doing so.

This is partly because of concerns about its reliability, and partly because it’s a tertiary source. Tertiary sources are things like encyclopedias and databases that collect information from other sources rather than presenting their own evidence or analysis. Usually, only primary and secondary sources are cited in academic papers.

A Wikipedia citation usually includes the title of the article, “Wikipedia” and/or “Wikimedia Foundation,” the date the article was last updated, and the URL.

In APA Style , you’ll give the URL of the current revision of the article so that you’re sure the reader accesses the same version as you.

There’s some disagreement about whether Wikipedia can be considered a reliable source . Because it can be edited by anyone, many people argue that it’s easy for misleading information to be added to an article without the reader knowing.

Others argue that because Wikipedia articles cite their sources , and because they are worked on by so many editors, misinformation is generally removed quickly.

However, most universities state that you shouldn’t cite Wikipedia in your writing.

Hanging indents are used in reference lists in various citation styles to allow the reader to easily distinguish between entries.

You should apply a hanging indent to your reference entries in APA , MLA , and Chicago style.

A hanging indent is used to indent all lines of a paragraph except the first.

When you create a hanging indent, the first line of the paragraph starts at the border. Each subsequent line is indented 0.5 inches (1.27 cm).

APA and MLA style both use parenthetical in-text citations to cite sources and include a full list of references at the end, but they differ in other ways:

  • APA in-text citations include the author name, date, and page number (Taylor, 2018, p. 23), while MLA in-text citations include only the author name and page number (Taylor 23).
  • The APA reference list is titled “References,” while MLA’s version is called “ Works Cited .”
  • The reference entries differ in terms of formatting and order of information.
  • APA requires a title page , while MLA requires a header instead.

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 .

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.”

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 does not permit the use of ibid. This is because APA in-text citations are parenthetical and there’s no need to shorten them further.

Ibid. may be used in Chicago footnotes or endnotes .

Write “Ibid.” alone when you are citing the same page number and source as the previous citation.

When you are citing the same source, but a different page number, use ibid. followed by a comma and the relevant page number(s). For example:

  • Ibid., 40–42.

Only use ibid . if you are directing the reader to a previous full citation of a source .

Ibid. only refers to the previous citation. Therefore, you should only use ibid. directly after a citation that you want to repeat.

Ibid. is an abbreviation of the Latin “ibidem,” meaning “in the same place.” Ibid. is used in citations to direct the reader to the previous source.

Signal phrases can be used in various ways and can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.

To use signal phrases effectively, include:

  • The name of the scholar(s) or study you’re referencing
  • An attributive tag such as “according to” or “argues that”
  • The quote or idea you want to include

Different citation styles require you to use specific verb tenses when using signal phrases.

  • APA Style requires you to use the past or present perfect tense when using signal phrases.
  • MLA and Chicago requires you to use the present tense when using signal phrases.

Signal phrases allow you to give credit for an idea or quote to its author or originator. This helps you to:

  • Establish the credentials of your sources
  • Display your depth of reading and understanding of the field
  • Position your own work in relation to other scholars
  • Avoid plagiarism

A signal phrase is a group of words that ascribes a quote or idea to an outside source.

Signal phrases distinguish the cited idea or argument from your own writing and introduce important information including the source of the material that you are quoting , paraphrasing , or summarizing . For example:

“ Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker (1994) insists that humans possess an innate faculty for comprehending grammar.”

If you’re quoting from a text that paraphrases or summarizes other sources and cites them in parentheses , APA and Chicago both recommend retaining the citations as part of the quote. However, MLA recommends omitting citations within a quote:

  • APA: Smith states that “the literature on this topic (Jones, 2015; Sill, 2019; Paulson, 2020) shows no clear consensus” (Smith, 2019, p. 4).
  • MLA: Smith states that “the literature on this topic shows no clear consensus” (Smith, 2019, p. 4).

Footnote or endnote numbers that appear within quoted text should be omitted in all styles.

If you want to cite an indirect source (one you’ve only seen quoted in another source), either locate the original source or use the phrase “as cited in” in your citation.

In scientific subjects, the information itself is more important than how it was expressed, so quoting should generally be kept to a minimum. In the arts and humanities, however, well-chosen quotes are often essential to a good paper.

In social sciences, it varies. If your research is mainly quantitative , you won’t include many quotes, but if it’s more qualitative , you may need to quote from the data you collected .

As a general guideline, quotes should take up no more than 5–10% of your paper. If in doubt, check with your instructor or supervisor how much quoting is appropriate in your field.

To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

  • Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
  • Combining information from multiple sentences into one
  • Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
  • Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

“ Et al. ” is an abbreviation of the Latin term “et alia,” which means “and others.” It’s used in source citations to save space when there are too many authors to name them all.

Guidelines for using “et al.” differ depending on the citation style you’re following:

To insert endnotes in Microsoft Word, follow the steps below:

  • Click on the spot in the text where you want the endnote to show up.
  • In the “References” tab at the top, select “Insert Endnote.”
  • Type whatever text you want into the endnote.

If you need to change the type of notes used in a Word document from footnotes to endnotes , or the other way around, follow these steps:

  • Open the “References” tab, and click the arrow in the bottom-right corner of the “Footnotes” section.
  • In the pop-up window, click on “Convert…”
  • Choose the option you need, and click “OK.”

To insert a footnote automatically in a Word document:

  • Click on the point in the text where the footnote should appear
  • Select the “References” tab at the top and then click on “Insert Footnote”
  • Type the text you want into the footnote that appears at the bottom of the page

Footnotes are notes indicated in your text with numbers and placed at the bottom of the page. They’re used to provide:

  • Citations (e.g., in Chicago notes and bibliography )
  • Additional information that would disrupt the flow of the main text

Be sparing in your use of footnotes (other than citation footnotes), and consider whether the information you’re adding is relevant for the reader.

Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page they refer to. This is convenient for the reader but may cause your text to look cluttered if there are a lot of footnotes.

Endnotes appear all together at the end of the whole text. This may be less convenient for the reader but reduces clutter.

Both footnotes and endnotes are used in the same way: to cite sources or add extra information. You should usually choose one or the other to use in your text, not both.

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.

If you are reusing content or data you used in a previous assignment, make sure to cite yourself. You can cite yourself just as you would cite any other source: simply follow the directions for that source type in the citation style you are using.

Keep in mind that reusing your previous work can be considered self-plagiarism , so make sure you ask your professor or consult your university’s handbook before doing so.

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

  • The information should be up to date and current.
  • The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
  • The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
  • For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.

Peer review is a process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Utilizing rigorous criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decide whether to accept each submission for publication. For this reason, academic journals are often considered among the most credible sources you can use in a research project– provided that the journal itself is trustworthy and well-regarded.

Academic dishonesty can be intentional or unintentional, ranging from something as simple as claiming to have read something you didn’t to copying your neighbor’s answers on an exam.

You can commit academic dishonesty with the best of intentions, such as helping a friend cheat on a paper. Severe academic dishonesty can include buying a pre-written essay or the answers to a multiple-choice test, or falsifying a medical emergency to avoid taking a final exam.

Academic dishonesty refers to deceitful or misleading behavior in an academic setting. Academic dishonesty can occur intentionally or unintentionally, and varies in severity.

It can encompass paying for a pre-written essay, cheating on an exam, or committing plagiarism . It can also include helping others cheat, copying a friend’s homework answers, or even pretending to be sick to miss an exam.

Academic dishonesty doesn’t just occur in a classroom setting, but also in research and other academic-adjacent fields.

To apply a hanging indent to your reference list or Works Cited list in Word or Google Docs, follow the steps below.

Microsoft Word:

  • Highlight the whole list and right click to open the Paragraph options.
  • Under Indentation > Special , choose Hanging from the dropdown menu.
  • Set the indent to 0.5 inches or 1.27cm.

Google Docs:

  • Highlight the whole list and click on Format >  Align and indent >  Indentation options .
  • Under  Special indent , choose Hanging from the dropdown menu.

When the hanging indent is applied, for each reference, every line except the first is indented. This helps the reader see where one entry ends and the next begins.

For a published interview (whether in video , audio, or print form ), you should always include a citation , just as you would for any other source.

For an interview you conducted yourself , formally or informally, you often don’t need a citation and can just refer to it in the text or in a footnote , since the reader won’t be able to look them up anyway. MLA , however, still recommends including citations for your own interviews.

The main elements included in a newspaper interview citation across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the names of the interviewer and interviewee, the interview title, the publication date, the name of the newspaper, and a URL (for online sources).

The information is presented differently in different citation styles. One key difference is that APA advises listing the interviewer in the author position, while MLA and Chicago advise listing the interviewee first.

The elements included in a newspaper article citation across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the author name, the article title, the publication date, the newspaper name, and the URL if the article was accessed online .

In APA and MLA, the page numbers of the article appear in place of the URL if the article was accessed in print. No page numbers are used in Chicago newspaper citations.

Untitled sources (e.g. some images ) are usually cited using a short descriptive text in place of the title. In APA Style , this description appears in brackets: [Chair of stained oak]. In MLA and Chicago styles, no brackets are used: Chair of stained oak.

For social media posts, which are usually untitled, quote the initial words of the post in place of the title: the first 160 characters in Chicago , or the first 20 words in APA . E.g. Biden, J. [@JoeBiden]. “The American Rescue Plan means a $7,000 check for a single mom of four. It means more support to safely.”

MLA recommends quoting the full post for something short like a tweet, and just describing the post if it’s longer.

The main elements included in image citations across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the name of the image’s creator, the image title, the year (or more precise date) of publication, and details of the container in which the image was found (e.g. a museum, book , website ).

In APA and Chicago style, it’s standard to also include a description of the image’s format (e.g. “Photograph” or “Oil on canvas”). This sort of information may be included in MLA too, but is not mandatory.

The main elements included in a lecture citation across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the name of the speaker, the lecture title, the date it took place, the course or event it was part of, and the institution it took place at.

For transcripts or recordings of lectures/speeches, other details like the URL, the name of the book or website , and the length of the recording may be included instead of information about the event and institution.

The main elements included in a YouTube video citation across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the name of the author/uploader, the title of the video, the publication date, and the URL.

The format in which this information appears is different for each style.

All styles also recommend using timestamps as a locator in the in-text citation or Chicago footnote .

Each annotation in an annotated bibliography is usually between 50 and 200 words long. Longer annotations may be divided into paragraphs .

The content of the annotation varies according to your assignment. An annotation can be descriptive, meaning it just describes the source objectively; evaluative, meaning it assesses its usefulness; or reflective, meaning it explains how the source will be used in your own research .

Any credible sources on your topic can be included in an annotated bibliography . The exact sources you cover will vary depending on the assignment, but you should usually focus on collecting journal articles and scholarly books . When in doubt, utilize the CRAAP test !

An annotated bibliography is an assignment where you collect sources on a specific topic and write an annotation for each source. An annotation is a short text that describes and sometimes evaluates the source.

The elements included in journal article citations across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the name(s) of the author(s), the title of the article, the year of publication, the name of the journal, the volume and issue numbers, the page range of the article, and, when accessed online, the DOI or URL.

In MLA and Chicago style, you also include the specific month or season of publication alongside the year, when this information is available.

In APA , MLA , and Chicago style citations for sources that don’t list a specific author (e.g. many websites ), you can usually list the organization responsible for the source as the author.

If the organization is the same as the website or publisher, you shouldn’t repeat it twice in your reference:

  • In APA and Chicago, omit the website or publisher name later in the reference.
  • In MLA, omit the author element at the start of the reference, and cite the source title instead.

If there’s no appropriate organization to list as author, you will usually have to begin the citation and reference entry with the title of the source instead.

The main elements included in website citations across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the author, the date of publication, the page title, the website name, and the URL. The information is presented differently in each style.

When you want to cite a specific passage in a source without page numbers (e.g. an e-book or website ), all the main citation styles recommend using an alternate locator in your in-text citation . You might use a heading or chapter number, e.g. (Smith, 2016, ch. 1)

In APA Style , you can count the paragraph numbers in a text to identify a location by paragraph number. MLA and Chicago recommend that you only use paragraph numbers if they’re explicitly marked in the text.

For audiovisual sources (e.g. videos ), all styles recommend using a timestamp to show a specific point in the video when relevant.

The abbreviation “ et al. ” (Latin for “and others”) is used to shorten citations of sources with multiple authors.

“Et al.” is used in APA in-text citations of sources with 3+ authors, e.g. (Smith et al., 2019). It is not used in APA reference entries .

Use “et al.” for 3+ authors in MLA in-text citations and Works Cited entries.

Use “et al.” for 4+ authors in a Chicago in-text citation , and for 10+ authors in a Chicago bibliography entry.

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.

The main elements included in all book citations across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the author, the title, the year of publication, and the name of the publisher. A page number is also included in in-text citations to highlight the specific passage cited.

In Chicago style and in the 6th edition of APA Style , the location of the publisher is also included, e.g. London: Penguin.

A block quote is a long quote formatted as a separate “block” of text. Instead of using quotation marks , you place the quote on a new line, and indent the entire quote to mark it apart from your own words.

The rules for when to apply block quote formatting depend on the citation style:

  • APA block quotes are 40 words or longer.
  • MLA block quotes are more than 4 lines of prose or 3 lines of poetry.
  • Chicago block quotes are longer than 100 words.

In academic writing , there are three main situations where quoting is the best choice:

  • To analyze the author’s language (e.g., in a literary analysis essay )
  • To give evidence from primary sources
  • To accurately present a precise definition or argument

Don’t overuse quotes; your own voice should be dominant. If you just want to provide information from a source, it’s usually better to paraphrase or summarize .

Every time you quote a source , you must include a correctly formatted in-text citation . This looks slightly different depending on the citation style .

For example, a direct quote in APA is cited like this: “This is a quote” (Streefkerk, 2020, p. 5).

Every in-text citation should also correspond to a full reference at the end of your paper.

A quote is an exact copy of someone else’s words, usually enclosed in quotation marks and credited to the original author or speaker.

The DOI is usually clearly visible when you open a journal article on an academic database. It is often listed near the publication date, and includes “” or “DOI:”. If the database has a “cite this article” button, this should also produce a citation with the DOI included.

If you can’t find the DOI, you can search on Crossref using information like the author, the article title, and the journal name.

A DOI is a unique identifier for a digital document. DOIs are important in academic citation because they are more permanent than URLs, ensuring that your reader can reliably locate the source.

Journal articles and ebooks can often be found on multiple different websites and databases. The URL of the page where an article is hosted can be changed or removed over time, but a DOI is linked to the specific document and never changes.

When a book’s chapters are written by different authors, you should cite the specific chapter you are referring to.

When all the chapters are written by the same author (or group of authors), you should usually cite the entire book, but some styles include exceptions to this.

  • In APA Style , single-author books should always be cited as a whole, even if you only quote or paraphrase from one chapter.
  • In MLA Style , if a single-author book is a collection of stand-alone works (e.g. short stories ), you should cite the individual work.
  • In Chicago Style , you may choose to cite a single chapter of a single-author book if you feel it is more appropriate than citing the whole book.

Articles in newspapers and magazines can be primary or secondary depending on the focus of your research.

In historical studies, old articles are used as primary sources that give direct evidence about the time period. In social and communication studies, articles are used as primary sources to analyze language and social relations (for example, by conducting content analysis or discourse analysis ).

If you are not analyzing the article itself, but only using it for background information or facts about your topic, then the article is a secondary source.

A fictional movie is usually a primary source. A documentary can be either primary or secondary depending on the context.

If you are directly analyzing some aspect of the movie itself – for example, the cinematography, narrative techniques, or social context – the movie is a primary source.

If you use the movie for background information or analysis about your topic – for example, to learn about a historical event or a scientific discovery – the movie is a secondary source.

Whether it’s primary or secondary, always properly cite the movie in the citation style you are using. Learn how to create an MLA movie citation or an APA movie citation .

To determine if a source is primary or secondary, ask yourself:

  • Was the source created by someone directly involved in the events you’re studying (primary), or by another researcher (secondary)?
  • Does the source provide original information (primary), or does it summarize information from other sources (secondary)?
  • Are you directly analyzing the source itself (primary), or only using it for background information (secondary)?

Some types of source are nearly always primary: works of art and literature, raw statistical data, official documents and records, and personal communications (e.g. letters, interviews ). If you use one of these in your research, it is probably a primary source.

Primary sources are often considered the most credible in terms of providing evidence for your argument, as they give you direct evidence of what you are researching. However, it’s up to you to ensure the information they provide is reliable and accurate.

Always make sure to properly cite your sources to avoid plagiarism .

Common examples of secondary sources include academic books, journal articles , reviews, essays , and textbooks.

Anything that summarizes, evaluates or interprets primary sources can be a secondary source. If a source gives you an overview of background information or presents another researcher’s ideas on your topic, it is probably a secondary source.

Common examples of primary sources include interview transcripts , photographs, novels, paintings, films, historical documents, and official statistics.

Anything you directly analyze or use as first-hand evidence can be a primary source, including qualitative or quantitative data that you collected yourself.

The Scribbr Citation Generator is developed using the open-source Citation Style Language (CSL) project and Frank Bennett’s citeproc-js . It’s the same technology used by dozens of other popular citation tools, including Mendeley and Zotero.

You can find all the citation styles and locales used in the Scribbr Citation Generator in our publicly accessible repository on Github .

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Introduction to parenthetical citations

Use the menu at the right to review more specific guidelines.

Definition of parenthetical citations

This section provides guidelines on how to use parenthetical citations to cite original sources in the text of your paper. These guidelines will help you learn the essential information needed in parenthetical citations, and teach you how to format them correctly.

Parenthetical citations are citations to original sources that appear in the text of your paper. This allows the reader to see immediately where your information comes from, and it saves you the trouble of having to make footnotes or endnotes.

The APA style calls for three kinds of information to be included in in-text citations. The author’s last name and the work’s date of publication must always appear, and these items must match exactly the corresponding entry in the references list. The third kind of information, the page number, appears only in a citation to a direct quotation.

Additional Information

See the Publication Manual , available for consultation at the UW-Madison Writing Center, in many libraries, and bookstores. You can also visit the APA web site , where you can purchase the Manual online.

If you are a registered UW-Madison student, you can attend the Writing Center class “The Basics of APA Documentation.”

Check the APA website ( ), where you will find links to the following:

  • “Tip of the Week” and archived tips
  • Information on bias in language
  • “Ask the Expert”–an e-mail form that allows you to ask questions about APA style
  • A form for requesting e-mail updates of APA style
  • A chapter-by-chapter description of changes made in the 6th edition

parenthetical citation def

American Psychological Association Documentation

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  • Magazine or newspaper article
  • Publication, private organization
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Parenthetical Citations: APA & MLA Examples

parenthetical citation def

From scholarly writers and researchers to university and graduate students, every academic writer needs to understand how to use parenthetical citations correctly. Parenthetical citations are commonly used to credit sources when quoting directly or paraphrasing another author’s ideas or statements in your academic work.

In this article, we explain how to correctly cite your sources using parenthetical citations in your research article, dissertation , or college essay. Specifically, you will learn crucial information about how to use parenthetical citations using MLA, APA, and Vancouver style Works Cited and Reference formats, along with best practices for in-text citations.

parenthetical citation rules overview

What are parenthetical citations?

Citing original sources within parentheses in your text is known as parenthetical citation or in-text citation . As the terms indicate, parenthetical citations use parentheses ( ) within the text itself to cite the source listed in the Works Cited or References section. Readers should be able to immediately see where your information comes from, without referring to footnotes or endnotes. Parenthetical citations are used in MLA format , APA format , and many other academic styles .

What is the purpose of parenthetical citations ?

Parenthetical citations are useful because they give credit to the original author or speaker’s message or research within the text. This allows the reader to understand the cited author’s voice, the date of publication, and the source of the information. 

With the reference placed directly in-text, the reader does not have to check footnotes at the bottom of each page or the citation list at the end of the paper. This helps the reader stay focused while being able to view the relevant sources.

When to Include Parenthetical Citations

Citing your sources assures that you are not plagiarizing other writers’ work. Therefore, you include a parenthetical citation when you:

  • Reference another author’s work
  • Include a quotation from a cited source
  • Summarize or paraphrase another work

Parenthetical citations are often used in formal research papers and journal manuscripts to show where information was found. Proper citations can hugely impact the credibility of a paper.

The benefits of using parenthetical citations are that they provide readers with more detailed information about how you discovered certain content or information, which may be helpful for future research. Using these citations correctly also demonstrates to readers–whether a professor or a fellow researcher–that your work is deliberate and credible with sourcing. When submitting to a journal, it is important to check their “Guide for Authors” section to understand the specific formatting and citation guidelines.

Parenthetical vs. Narrative In-text Citations

When using in-text citations in any style format, there are two methods:  parenthetical  and  narrative.

In parenthetical format, citations include all relevant information (author’s last name, publication year, page number)  within  the in-text citation, which is located at the end of the sentence.

The Korean War technically ended in an armistice, not a treaty (Kim, 2019) or (Kim, 2019, p. 12).

In narrative citation format, the author of the cited work is referenced as part of the written sentence itself. Write the first or lead author’s name along with “et al.”, followed by the year in parentheses. This is especially useful when you want to append your own commentary or criticism.

According to Kim et al. (2019), the Korean diaspora can be broken down into several economic and cultural factors.

Read More:  A Researcher’s Guide to Citations: listing authors and using et al.

parenthetical citation rules, apa format

How to Use Parenthetical Citations in APA

A parenthetical citation in APA format consists of the following parts:

  • Author’s name
  • Year of publication
  • Page number

Parenthetical format:

Modern economics in South Korea has grown as a discipline since 1960 (Kim, 2019).

Narrative format:

Kim et al. (2019) recently found in a survey of East Asian economists that modern economics in South Korea has grown as a discipline since 1960.

Tips for APA in-text parenthetical citations

When using parenthetical citations, there are a few situations to be aware of, such as if there is no author name provided.

When no author can be found, the title of the work and year of publication need to be included following the format shown above. If the title within the quotation marks is exceptionally long, it can be shortened in the in-text citation.

APA Style Resources

  • Official APA Style Guidebook
  • Wordvice APA Citation Guide
  • Wordvice APA Citation Generator

parenthetical citation rules, mla format

How to Use Parenthetical Citations in MLA

Parenthetical citations are used in MLA format and closely resemble those in APA format. However, there are two main differences between MLA and APA formats: 

  • Cite the  page number  rather than the  date of publication .
  • There is  no comma  separating the page number from the author’s last name.

Include the first few words in the title of the work or website if there is no author. Do not use “p.” or “pp.” to denote pages, and do not apply commas, even if there are multiple authors:

The tourism industry is one of the main components of Korea’s GDP (Kim 15)…(Kim and Lee 15)…(Kim et al. 15)

MLA Style Resources

  • Official MLA Style Guidebook
  • Wordvice MLA Style Quick Guide
  • Wordvice MLA 8th Citation Generator

parenthetical citation rules, vancouver format

How to Use Parenthetical Citations in Vancouver Style

Parenthetical citations in  Vancouver style  should have numbering (either superscript or in brackets) on either side of the name of an author or study. A unique number should be assigned to each citation, which is then listed at the end of the manuscript in the bibliography. If you cite a source multiple times, use the same citation number from the first work in subsequent parenthetical citations.

Park et al. (4) reported that over 90% of all Korean citizens own a smartphone (p. 552) . 

Vancouver Style Resources

  • Official Vancouver Style Guidebook
  • Wordvice Vancouver Style Quick Guide
  • Wordvice Vancouver Style Citation Generator

Parenthetical Citations Examples

Let’s look at some specific examples of what parenthetical citations look like in the context of a sentence within an academic document. Remember that sources cited in the text MUST be listed in the Works Cited (in MLA) or References section (in APA).

APA parenthetical citation example (author-date-page style)

These three examples are from the same source, but as you can see, they are formulated differently. The first example uses a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name and then the date of publication in parentheses. The second example introduces the source with only a name. And the third example does not include any information about the author in the text and therefore includes the name, date, and publication year in one set of parentheses.

MLA parenthetical citation examples (author-page style)

As mentioned previously in this article, MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation. It is quite similar to APA style, except that the citation only includes the author’s last name and page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken. No comma or other punctuation marks are included in the parenthetical citation, and the citation appears at the end of the sentence. The author’s name may appear either in the sentence or in parentheses, but the page number or range must always appear in parentheses, not in the text. See these three parenthetical citations of the same source.

Editing and Formatting Your Academic Papers

As you have probably figured out by now, learning how to use citations and references is a bit tedious and there is always the risk of making mistakes. Before you submit your academic work to professors or journals, be sure to get professional English proofreading services –including paper editing and manuscript editing –to make sure your work is completely free of errors, including mistakes in citation and reference formatting. Wordvice provides all-in language editing services that include a review of your citations. And be sure to use our APA citation generator , MLA citation generator , Chicago citation generator , or Vancouver citation generator (depending on your style guide) to prepare your paper’s reference list or works cited.

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Every time you quote or paraphrase someone else’s work in your paper, you must include who wrote the work, what it is called, and where to find a copy.

You give this information in two places: 

  • In the paragraph where you are quoting or paraphrasing = this is called an in-text or parenthetical citation because you will put brief information about the work in the text of your paper.
  • In the References/Works Cited page at the end of your paper.

APA Parenthetical Citation Format Tips

You have two format options:  parenthetical and narrative

Parenthetical In-Text Citation

This citation typically consists of the author’s last name(s), year of publication, and page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. The period goes after the closed parenthesis.

“This is a direct citation” (Chapman, 2019, p. 126).

When paraphrasing the idea in your own words, do not use quotation marks and do not include a page number (Jackson, 1999).

Narrative In-Text Citation

Another option is to use the author’s name in the sentence, followed directly by the year in parentheses, with the page numbers in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

According to Chapman (2019), "This is a direct citation" (p. 216).

Jackson (1999) explains that when paraphrasing the idea in your own words, do not use quotation marks and do not include a page number.

For more examples of parenthetical citations in APA format, see our APA guide or the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab (OWL) .

MLA Parenthetical Citation Format Tips

General guideline.

Include the author's last name and page number.

  • The article goes on to say that “People don't do derby just for exercise but usually because it becomes a part of who they are” (Fagundes 1098).

Fagundes believes that roller derby gives participants "a chance to feel like a superstar" (1098).

If there is no author, use the first word or two of the website or name of a document found on a website.

For more examples of parenthetical citations in MLA format, see our MLA Guide or the Excelsior College Online Writing Lab (OWL) .

  • MLA In-Text Citations: NWTC Citation Guide
  • APA Citations in Paper's Body: NWTC Citation Guide
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MLA Citation Style Guide: Parenthetical Citations

  • Parenthetical Citations
  • Works Cited
  • Journal Article from an Online Periodical
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Using Parenthetical (In-Text) Citations

Include a parenthetical citation when you refer to, summarize, paraphrase, or quote from another source. For every in-text citation in your paper, there must be a corresponding entry in your Works Cited list.

MLA parenthetical citation style uses the author's last name and a page number; for example: (Field 122).

How to Cite a Direct Quote (92-105)

When you incorporate a direct quotation into a sentence, you must cite the source. Fit quotations within your sentences, making sure the sentences are grammatically correct:

How to Cite after Paraphrasing

Even if you put information in your own words by summarizing or paraphrasing, you must cite the original author or researcher as well as the page or paragraph number(s). For example, a paraphrase of Gibaldi’s earlier quotation might be identified as follows:

Within the research paper, quotations will have more impact when used judiciously (Gibaldi 109).

How to Cite Information When You Have Not Seen the Original Source (226)

Sometimes an author writes about research that someone else has done, but you are unable to track down the original research report. In this case, because you did not read the original report, you will include only the source you did consult in the Works Cited list. The abbreviation “qtd.” in the parenthetical reference indicates you have not read the original research.

How to Cite Information If No Page Numbers Are Available (220-222)

If a resource contains no page numbers, as can be the case with electronic sources, then you cannot include a page number in the parentheses. However, if the source indicates paragraph numbers, use the abbreviation “par.” or “pars.” and the relevant numbers in the parentheses.

One website describes these specific dragons (King). A solution was suggested in 1996 (Pangee, pars. 12-18).

How to Cite Two or More Works by the Same Author or Authors (225)

When citing one of two or more works by the same author(s), put a comma after the author’s last name and add the title of the work (if brief) or a shortened version of the title and the relevant page number.

How to Cite if the Author's Name is Unavailable (223-224)

Use the title of the article or book or Web source, including the appropriate capitalization and quotation marks/italics format.

example: (“Asthma Rates Increasing” 29).

How to Cite when you are Altering a Direct Quote

When you need to leave out part of a quotation to make it fit grammatically or because it contains irrelevant/unnecessary information, insert ellipses points, or three spaced periods ( . . . ). (97-101).

If you must add or slightly change words within a quotation for reasons of grammar or clarity, surround the change with square brackets (101).

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Parenthetical Citation – Citation Styles & Examples

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Parenthetical citations are a form of citing sources within the text, i.e., in-text citations. They generally include information that indicates where a source is taken from within a paper’s main text. There are different rules and several ways to use parenthetical citation depending on the context and Style Guide. Learn how to use parenthetical citations in the most commonly used academic writing styles such as MLA, APA style, and Chicago style  below.


  • 1 Parenthetical Citation – In a Nutshell
  • 2 Definition: Parenthetical citation
  • 3 Parenthetical citations in MLA
  • 4 Parenthetical citations in APA
  • 5 Parenthetical citations in Chicago

Parenthetical Citation – In a Nutshell

  • Parenthetical citations are when you provide references to sources within the text itself rather than as notes.
  • Many writing styles favor the use of parentheses for citations, as they remove clutter or excessive notes from the page. The sciences, in particular, prefer this direct method.
  • Do not mix and match writing styles. Abide by the formatting rules of one style only in your paper.
  • Parenthetical citations must be followed up with a full bibliography or Works Cited page with complete source information.

Definition: Parenthetical citation

A parenthetical citation attributes the source for a quote or paraphrased passage within the paper’s main body. It does so by providing source identification — the author’s name, year, and page number(s) — within parentheses (or brackets). This information corresponds to fuller bibliographical data which must be provided at the end of your paper.

Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” in his iconic The Selfish Gene (1976, p. 192).

Parenthetical citations are adopted by a wide number of academic writing styles across the sciences and humanities. MLA, APA style, and Chicago style all provide guidelines for using parenthetical citations. While the principles are mostly the same, each writing style has specific requirements to consider when composing a paper and formatting a citation.

Parenthetical citations in MLA

The MLA (or Modern Language Association ) expresses its citations in an author-page format. This recommends that citations should contain the author’s last name followed by a page number or range separated by a space.

Page ranges are expressed with a dash and separate pages with a comma. No year is required, although some writers may prefer to include it in the prose itself if it helps their argument.

You can choose to include the citation in parentheses or cite it partially within the text itself (known as “in prose”). The parentheses always appear at the end of the sentence.

The convention for citing multiple authors is to only include up to two authors within the citation with an “and”.

For references written by more than two authors, include the first name followed by “ et al .”.

Parenthetical citations in APA

The APA style ( American Psychological Association ) favors APA in-text citations . The APA style follows an author-year-page format with information appearing in that order.

All information should also be separated by commas rather than spaces. Pages are expressed with a “p.” for individual pages and “pp.” for page ranges.

You can include all citation information in parentheses or include some of it partially within the text (known as “narrative citation” in the APA style).

The conventions for narrative citation recommend that the author’s name appears within the text and the publication date with page numbers are included in parentheses.

With sources written by two authors, include both authors within the citation with a “&”. For citations by more than two authors, include an “et al.” after the first author.

Parenthetical citations in Chicago

The Chicago Style describes its use of parentheses as the author-date system. Chicago recommends this method for the sciences. Chicago follows an author-date-page order when making citations. The author and date should appear after a space only, while page numbers are separated by a comma.

As with other parenthetical styles, you don’t have to repeat the author’s name if it appears within the text itself. However, you should include the identifying year in parentheses and a page number where applicable. The citation should always appear at the end of the sentence.

Chicago recommends including up to three authors when naming a source, separated with an “and”. When there are more than three authors, simply include the first listed author followed by “et al.”.


How do you place a parenthetical citation?

Parenthetical citations always appear enclosed in brackets at the end of a sentence.

The information included depends on the style, but often includes the author’s last name followed by either the year of publication and page number(s) or both.

What styles use parenthetical citations?

MLA and APA both use parentheses to cite sources within the text. The Chicago style also allows the use of parentheses or notes and bibliography formats.

I’ve included the author’s name in the main text, do I have to include it in the citation?

Not usually. You don’t have to repeat author information when it’s clear in the text.

Do you have to include a page number in a parenthetical citation?

If you’re quoting or paraphrasing a direct passage, yes. However, if you’re simply referencing a general book or idea, it may not be necessary.

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