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Citation Styles

Help with different citation styles including how to format citations.


MLA style guidelines (2021) state that “when the work of others informs your ideas, give credit by summarizing or paraphrasing that work or by accurately quoting it–and always cite your source” (98). 

You are required to cite sources within the text (or body) of the paper using the author-date citation system. This system consists of an in-text citation and a works cited list entry. 

Every resource cited in the body of your paper must be listed alphabetically in the works cited list. Likewise, every resource in the works cited list must be cited in the body of your paper.

  • Exceptions include personal communications you've had with others, general allusion or mention of whole websites or works, or general mention of common software and applications. These have in-text citations or mentions in the text, but they are not included in the works cited list.
  • Common knowledge is also not required to cite in the text or include in the works cited list.

Format of In-Text Citations

Placement of the citation may vary within the body of your paper. There are two main formats of in-text citation: 

  • Narrative citation: The author’s name is incorporated into the text as part of the sentence. The cited material is introduced alongside the author, allowing the reader to look at the Works Cited list to see the complete publication information. The page number appears in parentheses at the end of the sentence.
    Example: Smith found that children learn the alphabet by… (13)
  • Parenthetical citation: Both the author name and page number appear in parentheses at the end of a sentence, after the cited material.
    Example: Children can learn the alphabet by… (Smith 13)

General guidelines for both formats of in-text citations include the following: 

  • Dates are not included
  • There is no punctuation between the author’s name and page number
  • Periods follow the parentheses of parenthetical citation and after the page number in narrative citation
  • The abbreviations p. or pp. are not used for page numbers
  • If the source lacks page numbers but has identifiable paragraphs (e.g. web pages etc.), use "par." or "pars." with the number(s)

Using In-Text Citations


You may summarize or paraphrase the original words, thoughts or ideas of another. This lets you focus on and synthesize specific information from one or more sources rather than quote excessively. However, credit must be given to the source. You must cite any work or passage you paraphrase in the body of your paper with in-text citations. 

When a specific part of the work is quoted or paraphrased and has an indicator of where the information can be found (page number, paragraph number, time stamp, etc.), this is included within an in-text citation. The following are examples of in-text citations in various scenarios:

One Author:

Example: Ratcliff testified that he was on vacation when his neighbor's tree fell in his yard (13).

Example: The auditor's report identified a number of issues such as the number of accidents, time of day, road conditions and age of driver. (Smith 29).

No Author/Unknown Author: When no author is found, you can use the complete title in the narrative, or you can use a short form of the title in parentheses. Remember to italicize book titles and put article or chapter titles in quotation marks. If an author is labeled "Anonymous," use "Anonymous" instead of a title.

Example: The 2009 report indicates a decrease in the number of books published each year for the past five years ("Changes in Book Publishing" 67).

ExampleRecipes for Thought introduces the concept of mutual aid and provides examples of positive interactions within communities (7). 

Corporate Author: When the author is a corporation, government entity or organization, use its name either in the narrative or parenthetical citation. If it is short, use the entire name. If it's longer, use the shortened name or abbreviation. If an agency, department or specific state in the United States is the author, include either the state name United States in the citation; it will be listed under that name in the Works Cited. 

Example: The Arizona Department of Transportation reports the number of accidents due to drunk driving decreased after the passage of the new law in 2009 (17).

Example: The number of accidents due to drunk driving across the fifty states has decreased since 2006 (United States Department of Transportation 49).

Two Authors: In citing information from a work by two authors include both last names in either the narrative or parenthetical citation.

Example: Smith and Jones discussed the use of poetry in teaching... (43).

Example: The use poetry as a tool for exciting young children was found to be successful (Smith and Jones 43).

Three or More Authors: You can use the first author's last name followed by "et al." If the format would look the same with "et al.," you have the option to use all the author's last names (or as many needed followed by "et al.") in the narrative or parenthetical citation. 

Example: Researchers at Arizona State University found significant differences in the cancer rates of people who used sunscreen when compared to those who did not (Roberts, Greene, Lombardi, and Winters 73).

Example: Roberts et al. found significant differences in the cancer rates of people who used sunscreen when compared to those who did not (73).

Multiple Works with Same Author in Same Year: If you cite multiple works with the same author(s) and date, include a shortened version of the title; depending on your source, the title is in italics or quotations. For parenthetical citations, use a comma to separate the author and title, but do not use a comma to separate the title and page number. In narrative citations, include the shortened title in the sentence.

Example: (Steinbeck, East of Eden 100) OR Steinbeck showcases ... (East of Eden 100).
Example: (Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath 16) OR Steinbeck explores the theme of self-interest in Grapes of Wrath, stating ... (16).

Indirect Sources: When you use a source cited in another source, begin the parenthetical citation with the abbreviation "qtd. in." This indicates to the reader that the information was originally “quoted in” another source. This occurs when you quote from someone else's report of a conversation, an interview, a letter, etc.

Example: According to President Truman "the buck stops here" (qtd. in Reese and Martin 239).


When using quotations in your paper, you must use the exact words, capitalization, interior punctuation and spelling of the original source. Any changes to the original quotation must be indicated in brackets or parentheses. This is acceptable when the original is unclear and confusing due to misspelled or missing words or information.

Example: In arguing before the judge Masterson indicated he could provide the court with "hundreds of examples [of court decisions] regarding the separation of powers."

Example: Richardson admitted "My admiration is boundless for the leadership qualities demonstrated by Eisenhower" (sic).

Quotations may be incorporated at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence. Quotations can be divided by your words as long as quotation marks are used.

Example: Dickens wrote that the eighteenth century was both "the best of times" and "the worst of times" (53).

If you decide to italicize words for emphasis that were not italicized in the original, this must also be indicated. If you omit a word, phrase, sentence or more from the original source, do not present the information in a manner that causes the author's words to be misunderstood. When omitting words or information from the original, you must use ellipsis (or three periods) to indicate the quotation does not exactly reflect the original.

Example: Lincoln's second inaugural address closed with these words:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in ... to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. (2)

Short Quotations: Quotations running no more than four lines can be incorporated in the paper's narrative offset by quotation marks. Complete sentences are not always required for short quotations.

Example: In describing the eighteenth century Charles Dickens wrote "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times" (53).

Long Quotations: When the information you quote is longer than four lines, set it off from your text with a free standing block. When quoting one paragraph, do not indent the first line of this block. Begin a new line, then indent one half inch from the left margin and type it double spaced with no quotation marks. Use a colon to introduce the quotation. If you are quoting more than one paragraph, use a free standing block, then indent the first line of each paragraph an additional quarter of an inch.

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