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Parenthetical Citation: Full Guide

Sep 27, 2022

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Every student and scholar needs to know how to correctly include citations in their works. Such knowledge and understanding should be acquired before beginning to write academic work. The current guide will quickly and effectively educate you on the difference between an in-text citation, parenthetical citation, and narrative citation, as well as teach you all the nuances of their correct application.

In-Text or Parenthetical Citation?

Often, you hear about the importance of in-text citations. However, how is it different from a parenthetical citation and a narrative one?

All three forms of citations define how you give credit to the external sources, which you mention in your work. This can relate to a direct citation or a paraphrased one. It is considered to be a good tone and an absolute rule in the academic world to accurately quote the original source of your direct citation or a paraphrased sentence or group of sentences.

The biggest secret of the “in-text” citations vs. parenthetical citations debate is that there is essentially no secret and no difference between the two – both mean a citation that you place inside your text (as compared to citations mentioned in the bibliography list at the end of your work). 

An example of an in-text parenthetical citation:

Scientists believe that modern man first set foot in North America some 20,000 years ago (Cooper, 21).

Then what about the narrative citation? This one is in fact different from the parenthetical citation in the way that it is not usually taken into parenthesis, but simply mentioned in the text. The above example in narrative citation will look the following:

Dr. Cooper believes that modern man first set foot in North America some 20,000 years ago

Why Bother to Use Parenthetical Citations?

The correct use of citations is often the decisive factor in one’s college work success. The academic world is a highly regulated and even bureaucratic environment. Scientists and scholars use the language, which they find appropriate for any scientific debate. Proper citation rules, including parenthetical citation, are some of the most widely recognized and respected norms within such rules.

You need to use parenthetical citations to avoid accusations of plagiarism. Citations within your text give a clear message to the readers that you give proper credit to the sources, which helped you write your work.

In general, you should use parenthetical citations in each of these situations:

  • You refer to the work of other writers(s) in your paper
  • Embed a direct quotation from some other source
  • Rephrase or insert quotations by other authors with significant or minor deviations
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Examples of Parenthetical Citations

Today, academic writing is done using one of several referencing styles. The most popular referencing styles in academia are Chicago, APA (American Psychological Association), and MLA (Modern Language Association) styles. Each one of these styles has very common, although slightly different parenthetical citations rules.

Examples of Parenthetical Citations in MLA Style

MLA style requires scholars to use the author’s last name followed by the page number of the cited text (book, article, publication, blogpost, etc.). If the last name of the author is not known, you should use the first few words of the title of the cited source. MLA style forbids using commas between the last name and the page number, as well as abbreviations such as p. or pp..

For example:

Diplomacy is the art of verbal and non-verbal communication on the highest official level (Miller 15)

Example of one author and two different sources:

Good animal care programs can tell a lot about the society they are administered in (Sanchez Animal Care and Cat Dietary Supplements). 

Examples of Parenthetical Citations in APA Style

The APA referencing style is a little bit more formal when it comes to in-text or parenthetical citations. It requires writers to include the author’s last name followed by the year of source when the quoted source was published (both must be separated by a comma). When you need to include a direct quote using APA style, you must also add the page number.

For example:

There is a lack of plot originality in modern-day popular movies and TV shows (Gosh, 2020)

Example of a direct citation:

Classical education is increasingly losing value compared to contemporary online education applying augmented and virtual reality tools (Barat, 2021, pp. 21-29).

Examples of Parenthetical Citations in Chicago Style

Have you noticed some texts have small superscript numbers within the lines and footnotes information at the bottom of the page? This is about Chicago referencing style. This style uses both – author-date format (very similar to the APA and MLA guidelines above), and the mentioned superscript-footnote format. 

To use the author-date format, include the author’s last name, year of publication, and page number(s).

For example:

The beauty of math is that it can concisely, yet accurately describe the world around us, including social behavior mechanisms and the forces of nature (Stone, 2012, 55).     

To use the Chicago superscript-footnote in-text citation format, you must include an ordinal superscript number right after your direct or paraphrased quote, and supplement it with more detailed information about the source in the footnote section at the bottom of the page. 

For example:

Many times laboratory medical tests can contain inaccuracies, mistakes, or misprints

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