In-text citation in APA, MLA and Chicago

You will use in-text citations throughout the writing of your paper when drawing on the ideas of others. Direct quotes, as well as paraphrased and summarized text, must all be cited so the reader knows exactly where the idea came from.

What is an in-text citation?

An in-text citation is used to indicate the source from which you took a direct quote, or information that you have paraphrased or summarized, featured in the body of your academic work. Any time you use the ideas of others, whether you are quoting or not, you must cite the source.

Every citation style has different rules for how to cite your sources in the body of your paper. Your supervisor or university will be able to inform you which citation style applies for your paper.

Be sure to follow these guidelines carefully, as they form part of your assessment and also ensure you avoid plagiarism.

Example of an in-text citation

There are two styles of in-text citation: parenthetical and numerical citations. Typically, parenthetical-style citations, such as those used in APA and MLA, are seen in humanities subjects. Fields including science, engineering and mathematics usually favour numerical systems, like Chicago A or Vancouver.

Example of a parenthetical citation:
“When this moment happened is a matter of some debate. Cosmologists have long argued over whether the moment of creation was 10 billion years ago or twice that or something in between” (Bryson, 2003, p. 2).
Example of a numerical citation:
“When this moment happened is a matter of some debate. Cosmologists have long argued over whether the moment of creation was 10 billion years ago or twice that or something in between.”1

Parenthetical vs. numerical citation style

Citation style typeCitation styles
Parenthetical citationAPA, Harvard, Chicago B, MLA, AAA, APSA
Numerical citationChicago A, Vancouver, OSCOLA, IEEE, Turabian, AMA, ACS

As APA, MLA and Chicago are the most popular citation styles, our examples focus on these methods. You can check our citation style overview to learn more about your particular style.

Keep in mind that in-text citations in Chicago A will be indicated with a superscript number(1). Therefore, the following examples are for Chicago B, which is a parenthetical style.

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How to cite a website

Citation styleRulesExample
APAList the author name or publisher, date and paragraph number. Include a comma after the author name and date.“Up to 12,000 pieces of microplastic particles were found per litre of sea ice in core samples taken from five regions on trips to the Arctic Ocean – as many as three times higher than levels in previous studies” (Taylor, 2018, para. 2).
MLAList the author name. If the author name is unknown, list the article title.“Up to 12,000 pieces of microplastic particles were found per litre of sea ice in core samples taken from five regions on trips to the Arctic Ocean – as many as three times higher than levels in previous studies” (Taylor).
Chicago BList the author name or publisher, date and paragraph number. Include a comma between the date and paragraph number.“Up to 12,000 pieces of microplastic particles were found per litre of sea ice in core samples taken from five regions on trips to the Arctic Ocean – as many as three times higher than levels in previous studies” (Taylor 2018, para. 2).

How to cite a book or journal article

Citation styleRulesExample
APAList the author surname, date and page number. Include a comma after the author name and date, as well as a ‘p.’ before a single page number and a ‘pp.’ before multiple page numbers.“The Xhosa are a proud and patrilineal people with an expressive and euphonious language and an abiding belief in the importance of laws, education, and courtesy” (Mandela, 1994, p. 1).
MLAList the author name and page number(s). No commas are necessary.“The Xhosa are a proud and patrilineal people with an expressive and euphonious language and an abiding belief in the importance of laws, education, and courtesy” (Mandela 1).
Chicago BList the author name, date and page number. Include a comma between the date and paragraph number.“The Xhosa are a proud and patrilineal people with an expressive and euphonious language and an abiding belief in the importance of laws, education, and courtesy” (Mandela 1994, 1).

Examples of APA Style citations

Interested in more APA Style examples? We have a thorough knowledge base featuring instructions on how to cite all kinds of sources in the APA citation style, ranging from books and journal articles to interviews and movies. You can find them by clicking the button below!

APA examples

How to cite multiple authors

In each citation style, apply the same rules as for a book or journal, then take the following rules into account.

Example of citing multiple authors in APA
RuleExample
If there are two authors, include an ampersand between the author names.“Designed for access, agency, ownership, participation, and experience, open education has the potential to become a great global equalizer, providing opportunity for people throughout the world to exercise this basic human right” (Blessinger & Bliss, 2016, p. 11).
If there are between three and five authors, list all authors in the first citation, then in subsequent citations, list the first author followed by ‘et al.’ which means ‘and others’.First citation:
“In any case, court decisions resolve conflicts, enforce community norms, stigmatize people, apply statutes or determine their constitutionality, and legitimize or reject decisions made elsewhere in state or local government” (Nowlan, Gove, & Winkel, 2010, p. 139).

Second citation:
(Nowlan et al., 2010, p. 182)
If there are six or more authors, list the first author followed by ‘et al.’“The earthquake thus demonstrated not only the weaknesses of Haiti’s physical infrastructure but also the more fundamental weaknesses of its institutions” (Crane et al., 2010, p.1).
Example of citing multiple authors in MLA
RuleExample
If there are two authors, include the word ‘and’ between the names.“Designed for access, agency, ownership, participation, and experience, open education has the potential to become a great global equalizer, providing opportunity for people throughout the world to exercise this basic human right” (Blessinger and Bliss 11).
If there are more than two authors, list the first author followed by ‘et al.’“The earthquake thus demonstrated not only the weaknesses of Haiti’s physical infrastructure but also the more fundamental weaknesses of its institutions” (Crane et al. 1).
Example of citing multiple authors in Chicago B
RuleExample
If there are two or three authors, include ‘and’ between the names.“Designed for access, agency, ownership, participation, and experience, open education has the potential to become a great global equalizer, providing opportunity for people throughout the world to exercise this basic human right” (Blessinger and Bliss 2016, 11).
If there are more than three authors, list the first author followed by ‘et al.’“The earthquake thus demonstrated not only the weaknesses of Haiti’s physical infrastructure but also the more fundamental weaknesses of its institutions” (Crane et al. 2010, 1).
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Courtney Gahan

Courtney has a Bachelor in Communication and a Master in Editing and Publishing. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2013, and joined the Scribbr team as an editor in June 2017. She loves helping students and academics all over the world improve their writing (and learning about their research while doing so!).

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