Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

How to Do In-Text and Parenthetical Citations

As you start writing your school paper, you need to include citations in the body of your work. Are they in-text citations or parenthetical citations? Actually, both terms are correct. Both “in-text” and “parenthetical citations” are terms you use for the citation you make when you directly quote or paraphrase someone else in your work. Learn what a parenthetical citation is and how to create one in MLA, APA, and Chicago formats.

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What Is an Example of a Parenthetical Citation?

Formatting and examples of parenthetical citations found in this guide can be found in the MLA 8th edition style manual, APA 7th edition manual, and the 17th edition of the Chicago style. However, before you can work on examples, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of what a parenthetical, internal, or in-text citation is.

A parenthetical citation is how you give credit to your sources in the body of your work. Every time you make a direct quote (including a block quote) or paraphrase someone else’s work, you need to give them credit. While each different style has its own way of doing this, an example of a parenthetical citation can speak volumes.

example in-text citation MLA

When to Include Parenthetical Citations

Citing sources helps you avoid plagiarizing the work of other writers. Therefore, you include an internal citation when you:

  • Refer to another work
  • Insert a quotation from another source
  • Summarize or paraphrase their work

In-Text Citations vs. Parenthetical Citations vs. Narrative Citations

The debate between an in-text vs. parenthetical vs. narrative citation is a pretty easy one. All citations that you make within the text are “in-text” or “internal citations.” Additionally, the word parenthetical means it is enclosed in parentheses like:

(Lessing 12)

However, where things get a bit tricky is the difference between parenthetical and narrative citations. The difference between the two is how you compose the citation.

  • Parenthetical citations include all elements of the citation in parenthesis.
  • Narrative citations have some of the citation information in the sentence itself.

MLA Parenthetical Citation

There is a lack of diversity among colleges in the northwest (Lessing 12).

MLA Narrative Citation

According to Lessing (12), there is a lack of diversity among colleges in the northwest.

Examples of Parenthetical Citations

Parenthetic citations are a required part of any scholarly article; therefore, it’s essential to know how to do them in each different style. Check out how to create parenthetical citations in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles through examples.

MLA Citation Example

MLA style parenthetical citations require you to include the author’s last name and the page number within parentheses. If there is no author, use the first few words of the title or website. Do not use p. or pp. or commas.

MLA in-text citations for Authors

In-Text Citation Example MLA

Parenthetical: The article states that “cultural diversity within literature is important” (Druven 34).

Narrative: Druven states that “cultural diversity withing literature is important” (12).

For longer quotes in MLA style, you set off the quotation in an MLA block style.

Parenthetical Citation APA

Citing in-text in APA style requires you to include the author’s last name and year of publication. If you are citing a direct quote, add the page number as well, such as p.12 or pp. 12-13. Separate each element with commas.

APA In-Text Citation Example

Parenthetical: There is a lack of diversity among colleges in the northwest (Lessing, 2016).

Narrative: According to Lessing (2016), there is a lack of diversity among colleges in the northwest.

If you use a direct quote, add the page number as well.

Among colleges in the northwest, “there is a lack of diversity” (Lessing, 2016, p. 12).

If you use longer quotations, follow an APA block quote format.

example APA block quote

Chicago Style Parenthetical Citations

To create parenthetical citations in Chicago style, you can use either the author-date or notes-bibliography style. However, author-date is more common.

chicago and notes-biblio citation description video

Chicago Style Author-Date Parenthetical Citations

In Chicago’s author-date style, create parenthetical citations by including the author(s), year of publication, and the page(s). Add a comma after the year, but not after the author’s name.

(Lessing and Smith 2016, 12)

(Lessing 2016, 12–16)

Chicago Style Notes-Biblio Parenthetical Citations

In Chicago notes-biblio, you create notes entries rather than in-text citations. In the text, you include a superscript number after your quotes or paraphrased information. This is followed by a footnote or endnote created at the foot of the page or the end of the paper or chapter.

Notes In-Text Citation Example

“Many times, parasitic conditions can be misdiagnosed by doctors.” 1

Short Note Example

1. Martin, Timeless, 240.

Chicago block quotations are formatted differently and set off from the rest of the text by indenting them 1/2 inch.

Chicago block quote example

How to Do a Parenthetical Citation for a Website

When it comes to creating a parenthetical citation for a website in any style, it depends on whether the article or page has an author. If so, then the parenthetical citation includes the author. However, if not, then the parenthetical citation consists of the title of the article.

However, the page number is different. Why? Because a website doesn’t have a page number. Therefore, if you use MLA, you use the paragraph number, header, chapter, or some other type of locator for your audience.

MLA Website In-Text Citation

Looking through the article, you can see the growing interest in Classic Literature (Dallas, par. 12).

What Is a Citation?

Now, you know what parenthetical or in-text citations are, but that’s not all there is to a citation. A citation is composed of two parts.

First Part:
In-text or parenthetical citation


Second Part:
The corresponding bibliographic entry in the Works Cited, Reference List, or Bibliography


To create a successful paper, you need to have both types of citations in your paper. And, the in-text citation corresponds with the bibliographic entry.

The Full Reference

Creating a full citation of a source includes both the in-text citation and its corresponding reference or works cited list. Bibliographies or works consulted lists can include sources that are not referred to within the text.

Related Articles:

FAQ How to Do In-Text and Parenthetical Citations

What is an example of a parenthetical citation?

An example of a parenthetical citation is when you include the author and location in the text of the article that corresponds with the bibliographical citation. For example, in MLA, an in-text citation consists of the author and page number like:
(Lessing 20)

What does parenthetical citation mean?

The meaning of a parenthetical citation is that the author and locator information is enclosed in parenthesis (Lessing 20). However, you can also have a narrative citation where part of the citation is in the sentence like:
Lessings tends to agree... (20).

How do you parenthetically cite in MLA?

To create a parenthetical citation in MLA, you need the author of the work and the page number you are quoting or paraphrasing. For example, an in-text citation in MLA looks like:
(Betts 7)

How do you do a parenthetical citation for a website?

To create a parenthetical citation for a website, you follow the same basic format as you do for a book or journal article. For example, in APA, you include the author of the website article and the year it was created like: (Betts, 2019). However, if you don't know the author, you can use the title of the article like (MLA Citations, 2019).

What is the difference between parenthetical citation and narrative citation?

The difference between a parenthetical citation and a narrative citation is that a narrative citation includes some information in the sentence. An example of an MLA citation looks like:
Parenthetical citation: MLA format can include parenthetical and narrative citations (Betts 7).
Narrative citations: According to Betts, MLA format can include parenthetical and narrative citations (7).

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