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8th Grade Research and Communications Class: Using Parenthetical Citations

Tips and Tricks

What is a parenthetical citation?
In MLA style, parenthetical citations (also called in-text citations), are used to document any external sources used within a document.  The parenthetical citations direct readers to the full bibliographic citations listed in the Works Cited, located at the end of the document.  In most cases, the parenthetical citations include the author's last name and the specific page number for the information cited. Here are general guidelines for in-text citations:
Use of Authors' Names

Always mention the author's name—either in the text itself or in the parenthetical citation—unless no author is provided.

If the author's name is mentioned in the text
If the author's name is used in the text introducing the source material, then cite the page number(s) in parentheses:
Branscomb argues that "it's a good idea to lurk (i.e., read all the messages without contributing anything) for a few weeks, to ensure that you don't break any of the rules of netiquette" (7) when joining a listserv.

If the author's name is not mentioned in the text
If the author's name is not used in the sentence introducing the source material, then include the author's last name in the parenthetical citation before the page number(s). Note that no comma appears between the author's name and the page number(s).
The modern world requires both the ability to concentrate on one thing and the ability to attend to more than one thing at a time: "Ideally, each individual would cultivate a repertoire of styles of attention, appropriate to different situations, and would learn how to embed activities and types of attention one within another" (Bateson 97).
If there are two or three authors
If a source has two or three authors, place all of the authors' last names in the text or in the parenthetical citation:
A team can be defined as "a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable" (Katzenbach and Smith 45).

If no author is identified
If a source does not include an author's name, substitute for the author's name the title or an abbreviated title in the text or parenthetical citation. Underline the title if the source is a book; if the source is an article, use quotation marks:
The use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems has grown substantially over the past five years as companies attempt to adapt to customer needs and to improve their profitability ("Making CRM Work").

Placement of Citations

  • Place a citation as close to the quoted or paraphrased material as possible without disrupting the sentence.


  • When material from one source and the same page numbers is used throughout a paragraph, use one citation at the end of the paragraph rather than a citation at the end of each sentence.


  • Parenthetical citations usually appear after the final quotation mark and before the period.

Treatment of Electronic Sources
In-text citations for electronic sources are treated in most respects as print texts are. The only real difference occurs because electronic texts do not have page numbers (unless the source is in PDF format or otherwise mimics a print version of the source in which case you would use the page number). Otherwise include no number in the parentheses, as shown below:
The Collaborative Virtual Workspace (CVW) prototype is being used by the Defense Department for crisis management (Davidson and Deus).