Cheat Sheet for In-Text Citations by Style
Whether the style guide you are using is APA, the Chicago Manual of Style, or MLA, you’ve no doubt discovered that the rules for writing in-text citations are numerous and detailed. In previous posts, we’ve detailed how to cite your sources using the most common style guides. In today’s post, I’ll explore the intersection of punctuation and in-text citations and the troubles that can arise.
First, here’s a quick review of APA, Chicago, and MLA in-text citations:
|Style||In-Text Citation Type||Information to Include||Example|
|APA||parenthetical||author’s name, year, page number(s)||(Smith, 2017, p. 101)|
(has two common types of citation: notes and bibliography and author-date)
|foot- or endnotes||n/a||1|
|parenthetical||author’s name, year, page number(s)||(Smith 2017, 101)|
|MLA||parenthetical||author’s name, page number||(Smith 101)|
Beyond putting the correct information in your in-text citation, you need to punctuate in and around the citation correctly. Below is a list of reminders to help you properly punctuate your citations.
Please note: If you are using a style other than APA, MLA, or Chicago, (e.g., Harvard) some rules about punctuating may be different. Check your guide! Also, in the examples provided below I specify the style, but the rules apply to any citation of the same type (parenthetical or notes).
- In Chicago style notes and bibliography, periods, commas, and quotation marks come before the superscript note numbers. There is no space between the final punctuation mark and the note number.
Ex. Many historians have come to see peasants as “agents of change rather than subjects of their rulers.”1
- Quotation marks come before parenthetical citations and periods and commas come after for short quotes.
Ex. (APA) Kruel (2018) showed that psychological profiles “can be useful in assigning employees to work teams” (p. 7).
The same is true when incorporating paraphrased material (minus the bit about the quotation marks).
Ex. (APA) The projected date for completion of the study is early 2019 (Markel, 2017).
- For long quotes formatted as block quotes, periods come at the end of the quotation and before the citation.
Ex. (MLA) Frost shows the wisdom of the natural world in many of his works, such as “The Minor Bird”:
The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song. (107)
Block quotes cited with foot- or endnotes are punctuated similarly: quote, ending punctuation, superscript note number—but no space between period and note number!
- Separate multiple sources listed in a single parenthetical citation with semicolons. In APA and Chicago, list the sources alphabetically, and in MLA list the sources in chronological order starting with the oldest (and alphabetically if there are multiple sources from the same year).
Ex. (Chicago author-date) Political participation by youth in high school and college is on the rise in many regions of the world (Babcock 2017; Nguyen 2016; Zipfer 2016).
- There is a period at the end of et al.* There is no comma anywhere in it.
Ex. (MLA) The authors explain that legislators “must act on the proposal before it’s too late” (Smith et al. 101).
Commas may come after et al., but only in APA.
Ex. (APA) The drug’s trial proved its efficacy in reducing “all symptoms, including rash, fever, and headache” (Jones et al., 2018, p. 299).
- Use double quotation marks when excerpting an outside source. Use single quotation marks around quotations within quoted material.
Ex. (Chicago) Lorne describes his interview with Vole succinctly: “When asked about whether the policy might change, Vole said ‘No way.’”8
(*Editor’s note: Et is a complete word in Latin, meaning and. The al. takes a period because it is an abbreviation for several forms of the word alii, which means others.)
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