Parenthetical Citations


The purpose of a parenthetical citation or in-text documentation is to document where you found your information.  You give credit to the authors for using their works.  You must use a parenthetical citation for quotations, ideas that are not common knowledge, statistics, figures, charts or graphs.


Parenthetical citations refer the reader to your Works Cited page at the end of your paper.


Do not use back-to-back parenthetical citations; each citation should be followed by your ideas, explanations, or analysis


Helpful Hints for Writing Parenthetical Citations


Try to incorporate the author’s name within the text.



As a general rule, the punctuation is placed after the parenthetical citation.  The exceptions to the rule are long quotations, exclamation points, and question marks.


Brief Quotes

These are quotations incorporated in the text and using quotation marks.  The period is placed after the parenthetical citation and not inside the quotation mark.




 Shelley thought poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the world” (Magill 2001).



Long Quote

If your quote is more than three or four lines, set it off from the rest of the text in your paper by beginning a new line, indenting 1 inch (10 spaces or 2 tabs), and typing it in double space without quotation marks.


The parenthetical citation is placed after the period.



At this point, the creature has wrecked havoc on the villagers, and this causes Dr. Frankenstein


to wonder:

 How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavored to form. I cannot understand what could have caused the catastrophe that altered everything.  (Shelly 43)
Use a colon (:) at the end of the sentence that begins the long quote.


Format for Parenthetical Documentation


Books with 1 Author or Editor

(Magill 220).


Book with 2 Authors or Editors

(Taves and Meade 155).


Two or More Works by the Same Author

(Bloom, Survey 110).

(Bloom, Critical 227).


Use a shortened title to distinguish between the two books.

Put a comma between the author or editor’s name and the title.

Italicize the shortened title.


Using 2 or more Volumes of a Multivolume Work

(Wellek 5: 7).


Author/ Editor’s last name, volume, page number

Use a colon to separate the volume and the page number


Citing By Title – No Author is given

(“Robert Frost” 10)  - this is an essay in an anthology

(Salinger 10) – this is a book


Use an abbreviated title or if the title is brief, use the full title

 Article titles are put in quotes while book titles are underlined


****Citing Online Databases and the Web Sources******

If the online source uses a PDF format, include the page numbers


One Author




No Author and Same Title of Article


(“F. Scott Fitgerald,” Literature)    - use the name of the database


Notice there are no page numbers.  Online databases and the Internet do not have page numbers.  The numbers on your hard copy are numbers placed there by the printer.  The exception is a PDF file that contains the original page numbers from the article.


Hints for Placement of Citations within Your Paper

Parenthetical citations should be brief and should not interfere with the presentation of your paper.


Do not use back-to-back parenthetical citations; each citation should be followed by your ideas, explanations, or analysis.


Using One Source on a Page or in a Paragraph


If you are using information from one source in a section of your paper and the next parenthetical citation is from the same source, follow this format:


For the first parenthetical citations use the author/editor’s name and the page number

(Magill 20)


Then, just use the page numbers for the other information:  (25)


Vary the Format of the Parenthetical Citation


Weave the author’s name into the paragraph and just give the page number in the parenthetical citation.

If using two or more works by the same author, weave the title of the article or name of the book into the sentence and just give the author’s name and page number in the parenthetical citation.





Return to MLA index