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Essay Writing: In-Text Citations

The Monroe College Guide to Essay Writing presents the information necessary to write effective essays.

Using In-text Citations

You must cite all information used in your paper, whenever and wherever you use it.

When citing sources in the body of your paper, list the author’s last name only (no initials) and the year the information was published, like this:

(Dodge, 2008).
(Author, Date).

If you use a direct quote, add the page number to your citation, like this: 

(Dodge, 2008, p. 125).

(Author, Date, page number)


What is Plagiarism?

Defining and Understanding Plagiarism - an important concept in the research and writing process.

From the Website:

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)

Links to cite it for you:


CiteFast citation generator provides both complete APA Citations and also pre-formatted In-text Citations.

 - KnightCite Citation Service  

KnightCite is an online citation generator service provided by the Hekman Library of Calvin College.

Purdue Owl

The rules of how to use in-text citations and cite anything tricky for MLA or APA papers.

Scribber APA Citation Generator

Worldcat (for citing printed books)

Find your book and click on the “cite” tool at the top right of the screen.

Narrative vs Parenthetical Citation

Narrative vs Parenthetical In-text citations:

narrative citation gives the author name as part of the sentence.

  • Narrative citation: According to Hartmann (2003), although the movement drew widespread criticism, it also led to fundamental reforms in the organizational structure of American amateur athletics.

parenthetical citation gives the source information first or last, but not as part of the narrative flow.

  • Parenthetical citation: Although Tommie Smith and John Carlos paid a heavy price in the immediate aftermath of the protests, they were later vindicated by society at large (Hartmann, 2003).

In-text Citation Tutorial

Download the In-text Citations presentation  (above) for an in-depth look at how to correctly cite your sources in the text of your paper.

Cite All Sources Twice: In Text and on Your References Page


Sample 7th ed APA Citation


Examples of in-text citations:

  • Direct QuoteDodge (2008) states that "academic success, as measured by GPA, is largely predicated on the number of hours undergraduates invest in their studies" (p. 125)

  • Paraphrase: Dodge (2008) found that students who study for exams have higher GPAs.

  • Summary: Students who study for exams have higher GPAs (Dodge, 2008).

In order to avoid plagiarism (using others' ideas without giving them credit - not allowed), each source you use in your paper must be cited in two places

  • in-text and
  • in the References page.

Bear in mind:

  • The in-text citation is very simple: (Author, year) - it generally only consists of the author’s last name, a comma, and the year of publication.
  • The in-text citation has only the author’s last name - no initials! 
  • Always include the year of publication.
  • The in-text citation is used as a signal that you are citing research - using evidence you’ve found that supports or amplifies a point you wish to make in your paper.
    *** IMPORTANT***
    The in-text citation points the reader to the full citation on your References page. For this reason, it is important that the first word of the in-text citation matches the first word of the full citation on the References page.
Side-by-side comparison in-text vs. full citation


For Long Quotations (Over 40 Words), use Block Quotes:

From the APA Style Blog

Format quotations of 40 words or more as block quotations:

  • id="docs-internal-guid-36d1d7ea-7fff-eb8b-bc43-e7a3b9c84f0b">Do not use quotation marks to enclose a block quotation.

  • Start a block quotation on a new line and indent the whole block 0.5 in. from the left margin.

  • Double-space the entire block quotation.

  • Do not add extra space before or after it.

  • If there are additional paragraphs within the quotation, indent the first line of each subsequent paragraph an additional 0.5 in. 

  • Either (a) cite the source in parentheses after the quotation’s final punctuation or (b) cite the author and year in the narrative before the quotation and place only the page number in parentheses after the quotation’s final punctuation.

  • Do not add a period after the closing parenthesis in either case.

Sample Block Quote:

(Left margin)►Researchers have studied how people talk to themselves:

(Inset Block paragraph)►      Inner speech is a paradoxical phenomenon. It is an experience that is central to many

people’s everyday lives, and yet it presents considerable challenges to any effort to study it scientifically.
Nevertheless, a wide range of methodologies and approaches have combined to shed light on the
subjective experience of inner speech and its cognitive and neural underpinnings. (Alderson-Day
& Fernyhough, 2015, p. 957)

(Left margin)►Those who wish to study the experience of inner speech are thus presented with a unique dilemma.


NEW in 7th EditionAccording to the APA's most recent guidelines: 

  • Works by 3 or more authors should be cited in-text using the et al. designation:


In-text Citation
In-text Citation
1 author Forshee, J. (2015). (Forshee, 2015) Forshee (2015)
2 authors Forshee, J., & Williams P. (2016). (Forshee & Williams, 2016) Forshee & Williams (2016)
3 or more authors Forshee, J., Williams, P., & Agnelli, A. (2017). (Forshee et al., 2017) Forshee et al. (2017)


In-Text Citation Quiz

SIgnal Phrase Activity

Paraphrasing Activity from the Excelsior OWL

Helpful Presentations

Presentation: Database Search Strategies & APA Format


Presentation: Understanding Plagiarism & Formatting In-text Citations