In-text citation in APA, MLA and Chicago
In-text citations are used each time you quote, paraphrase or refer to a source in the body of your paper. The in-text citation directs the reader to the correct entry in the reference list or bibliography.
Every citation style has different rules for how to cite your sources. Your supervisor or university will usually inform you which citation style to use. If you are allowed to choose, it’s important to consistently follow one style.
|Citation style||Example of an in-text citation|
|APA||(Bryson, 2003, p. 2)|
|Chicago author-date||(Bryson 2003, 2)|
You can easily create in-text citations in APA and MLA using our free citation generators.
Types of in-text citation
There are two methods of citing sources in your text:
- Parenthetical citations give a short reference in parentheses directly in the text.
- Numerical citations give only a number that corresponds to a footnote, endnote or reference list entry.
Example of a parenthetical citation:
Example of a numerical citation:
Parenthetical vs. numerical citation style
|Citation style type||Citation styles|
|Parenthetical citation||APA, MLA, Chicago author-date, Harvard, AAA, APSA|
|Numerical citation||Chicago notes and bibliography, Vancouver, OSCOLA, IEEE, AMA, ACS|
As numerical citations follow many different formats, the following sections focus on parenthetical citations. We give examples from three of the most common citation styles: APA, MLA and Chicago author-date.
How to use in-text citations
To avoid plagiarism, it’s essential to include an in-text citation every time you use someone else’s ideas or information.
Place the in-text citation as close as possible to the relevant information, before any punctuation mark. The exception is when citing a block quote; in this case, the citation comes after the period.
If you already mentioned the author’s name in the sentence, you can leave it out of the parentheses:
Every citation in your text should correspond to an entry in the reference list or bibliography at the end of your paper. This gives full publication details of each source, allowing the reader to easily find it themselves.
How to cite a book or journal article
|APA||List the author surname, year 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.||(Mandela, 1994, p. 1)|
|MLA||List the author name and page number(s). No commas are necessary.||(Mandela 1)|
|Chicago||List the author name, year and page number. Include a comma between the date and page number.||(Mandela 1994, 1)|
How to cite a website
|APA||List the author name or publisher, year and paragraph number. Include a comma after the author name and date.||(Scribbr, 2018, para. 2)|
|MLA||List the author name. If the author name is unknown, list the article title (or a shortened version of it).||(“How to Cite”)|
|Chicago||List the author name or publisher and the year.||(Scribbr 2018)|
How to cite sources with multiple authors
Each citation style has different rules for how many author names should be included in an in-text citation. The Latin abbreviation “et al.” (meaning “and others”) is used to indicate that some author names have been left out.
In all citation styles, you should list the authors in the same order as they are listed in the source (not in alphabetical order).
|If there are two authors, include an ampersand between the author names.||(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.”||First citation:|
(Nowlan, Gove, & Winkel, 2010, p. 139)
(Nowlan et al., 2010, p. 182)
|If there are six or more authors, list the first author followed by “et al.”||(Crane et al., 2010, p.1)|
|If there are two authors, include the word “and” between the names.||(Blessinger and Bliss 11)|
|If there are more than two authors, list the first author followed by “et al.”||(Crane et al. 1)|
|If there are two or three authors, include “and” between the names.||(Blessinger and Bliss 2016, 11)|
|If there are more than three authors, list the first author followed by “et al.”||(Crane et al. 2010, 1)|