Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Citing Sources: In-Text Citations

Learn how and when to cite resources you find in your research.

In-Text Citations

About In-Text Citation

Parenthetical, or “in-text” citations are like breadcrumbs that you leave for your reader to follow, leading them to the exact source within your bibliography (list of sources) from which you took a particular piece of information. In-text citations should be integrated into the research paper, not left as stand-alone sentences.

They include information such as the author’s name, the source’s publication date, and the exact location (page or paragraph number) of the information within the source material. They are formatted according to the rules of the bibliographic style you are using, such as MLA style or APA style.

This video explains what citation is and why we do it:

Formatting In-Text Citations in MLA and APA

The citation styles used  most commonly at Cerro Coso Community College are MLA style and APA style:

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used in English, Art, and Humanities.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) style is used in Social Sciences (Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology), Administration of Justice, Science, and Health Sciences.

If you are unsure about which style you should use for your research paper ask your instructor.

Examples in APA and MLA Format

Let’s look at the process of incorporating information from an outside source into a research paper. We’ll be using the same piece of information to demonstrate how to include it as a quote, paraphrase, or summary using MLA and APA citation guidelines.

The following passage about the chemical composition of the human body is from pages 215-216 of the book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017) by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:

"Only three of the naturally occurring elements were manufactured in the big bang. The rest were forged in the high-temperature hearts and explosive remains of dying stars, enabling subsequent generations of star systems to incorporate this enrichment, forming planets and, in our case, people."

The following examples will illustrate how we can use the passage as a quotation, paraphrase, or summary. We will introduce each quote, paraphrase, or summary with a signal phrase to let our reader know that the information is from an outside source.

Short Quotation

APA Format

Are humans made of stardust? As strange as it may seem, science says yes. All but three of Earth’s elements “were forged in the high-temperature hearts and explosive remains of dying stars,” and became part of our developing planet and all things on it (Tyson, 2017, pp. 215-216).

MLA Format

Are humans made of stardust? As strange as it may seem, science says yes. All but three of Earth’s elements “were forged in the high-temperature hearts and explosive remains of dying stars,” and became part of our developing planet and all things on it (Tyson 215-216).

Long Quotation (Block Quote Format)

APA Format (40 words or more)

Are humans made of stardust? As strange as it may seem, science says we are. According to renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (2017):

Only three of the naturally occurring elements were manufactured in the big bang. The rest
were forged in the high-temperature hearts and explosive remains of dying stars, enabling
subsequent generations of star systems to incorporate this enrichment, forming planets and,
in our case, people. (pp. 215-216)

MLA Format (4 or more lines or stanzas)

Are humans made of stardust? As strange as it may seem, science says we are. According to renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:

Only three of the naturally occurring elements were manufactured in the big bang. The rest
were forged in the high-temperature hearts and explosive remains of dying stars, enabling
subsequent generations of star systems to incorporate this enrichment, forming planets and,
in our case, people. (215-216)

Paraphrase

APA Format

Are humans made of stardust? As strange as it may seem, science says we are. According to renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (2017), only three of the elements in the Periodic Table were present on Earth after the Big Bang. The rest of the elements that compose our planet, and by extension, our human selves, became part of planet Earth as dying stars exploded and sent their scattered remains into future and distant star systems that included our own (pp. 215-216).

MLA Format

Are humans made of stardust? As strange as it may seem, science says we are. According to renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, only three of the elements in the Periodic Table were present on Earth after the Big Bang. The rest of the elements that compose our planet, and by extension, our human selves, became part of planet Earth as dying stars exploded and sent their scattered remains into future and distant star systems that included our own (215-216).

Summary

APA Format

Are humans made of stardust? As strange as it may seem, science says we are. Most of Earth’s elements were not created from the Big Bang, but were incorporated from other solar systems (Tyson, 2017, pp. 215-216).

MLA Format

Are humans made of stardust? As strange as it may seem, science says we are. Most of Earth’s elements were not created from the Big Bang, but were incorporated from other solar systems (Tyson 215-216).

Formatting In-Text Citations in MLA and APA

The citation styles used  most commonly at Cerro Coso Community College are MLA style and APA style:

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used in English, Art, and Humanities.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) style is used in Social Sciences (Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology), Administration of Justice, Science, and Health Sciences.

If you are unsure about which style you should use for your research paper ask your instructor.

Formatting Guidelines

Rule

APA Format

MLA Format

Elements to Include

Include the author's last name, year, and page number with every quote, generally in parentheses after the quote.

Include the author's last name and page number with every quote, generally in parentheses after the quote.

No Author

If there is no author, use a shortened form of the title.

If there is no author, use a shortened form of the title.

More than One Author

If there are two authors, cite both each time. If there are 3-5 authors, cite them all the first time. Each subsequent time, cite the first surname and et al. If there are 6+ authors, cite the first surname and et al. every time.

If a source has two authors, include both authors' surnames in the in-text citation, connected by the word and.

For three or more authors use the surname of the first author followed by et al.

Missing Date

If there is no date, use "n.d." where the date should go.

Does not apply.

Missing/

Nonstandard Information

If there is no page number, use the paragraph number (para. 7).

If no paragraph number is visible, cite the heading, shortened as needed, and the number of the paragraph following it ("Discussion of Cats," para. 3.).

If there is no page number, leave it out of the in-text citation.

Use paragraph numbers only if they explicitly appear in the work: (par. 3).

For recordings, use hours, minutes, and seconds: (00:43:24-28).

Paraphrase 

If something is being paraphrased, quotation marks are not necessary. An in-text citation is still required.

If something is being paraphrased, quotation marks are not necessary. An in-text citation is still required.

1 Author Example

In order to be successful, a woman writer "must have money and a room of her own" (Woolf, 1989, p. 4).

In order to be successful, a woman writer "must have money and a room of her own" (Woolf 4).

2 Authors Example

Statistics show that the proportion of women who work "nearly doubled from 1950 to 2005" (Rudman & Glick, 2008, p. 179).

Statistics show that the proportion of women who work "nearly doubled from 1950 to 2005" (Rudman and Glick 179).

3-5 Authors: First Quote

Silent women, it is argued "see blind obedience to authorities as being of utmost importance for keeping out of trouble and insuring their own survival" (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986, p. 28).

Silent women, it is argued "see blind obedience to authorities as being of utmost importance for keeping out of trouble and insuring their own survival" (Belenky et al. 28).

3+ Authors: Subsequent Quotes

Silent women, it is argued "see blind obedience to authorities as being of utmost importance for keeping out of trouble and insuring their own survival" (Belenky et al., 1986, p. 28).

(The MLA rule for citing three or more authors does not differentiate between the first and subsequent quotes.)

No Author

No Page Number

Woolf and her husband "established Hogarth Press, their own publishing house operated out of their home" ("Virginia Woolf", 2017, "Literary Work," para. 1).

Woolf and her husband "established Hogarth Press, their own publishing house operated out of their home" ("Virginia Woolf").

The Bloomsbury Group, of which Virginia Woolf was a member, "openly rejected the old Victorian ideals from their childhoods" (Brooks).

Author Used in Sentence

Virginia Woolf (1989) suggests that "Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman" (p. 49).

Virginia Woolf suggests that "Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman" (49).

Paraphrase

If Shakespeare had an equally talented sister, she would likely have drowned herself for lack of social support in Renaissance times (Woolf, 1989, p. 48).

Virginia Woolf feels that if Shakespeare had an equally talented sister, she would drown herself for lack of social support (48).

Integrating Quotes into Your Research Paper

Integrating quotes into your research paper can be tricky. Here are five basic steps to making sure your quotes flow smoothly with the rest of your paper.

Integrating Quotes into Your Research Paper [8:01]