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Hist 3100 Contemporary American History: In-Text Citations

Important notice!

COMING SOON! New MLA 8th Edition Guidelines and information!

In-text Citations (a.k.a. Parenthetical Documentation)

What is it? In-text citations, or parenthetical documentation and/or attribution means giving credit in the text (in the written paragraphs of the assignment) for the idea or quote that has been taken from the source of reference. By citing the source within the research paper it enables the readers to look to the works cited page to obtain complete bibliographical information.  However, keep in mind, when paraphrasing, you need to add in "signal phrases" to demonstrate to the reader where your ideas end and the paraphrase starts.  

The following has been excerpted from:  "Documenting Sources in MLA Style: 2009 Update - A Hacker Handbooks Supplement"

MLA in-text citations are made with a combination of signal phrases and parenthetical references.  A signal phrase introduces information taken from a source (a quotation, summary, paraphrase, or fact); usually the signal phrase includes the author’s name. The parenthetical reference, which comes after the cited material, normally includes at least a page number.

AUTHOR NAMED IN A SIGNAL PHRASE Ordinarily, introduce the material being cited with a signal phrase that includes the author’s name. In addition to preparing readers for the source, the signal phrase allows you to keep the parenthetical citation brief.  Example: Frederick Lane reports that employers do not necessarily have to use software to monitor how their employees use the Web: employers can “use a hidden video camera pointed at an employee’s monitor” and even position a camera ”so that a number of monitors [can] be viewed at the same time” (147).

The signal phrase—"Frederick Lane reports that"—names the author; the parenthetical citation gives the page number of the
book in which the quoted words may be found. Notice that the period follows the parenthetical citation. When a quotation ends with a question mark or an exclamation point, leave the end punctuation inside the quotation mark and add a period after the parentheses: “. . . ?” (8).

AUTHOR NAMED IN PARENTHESES If a signal phrase does not name the author, put the author’s last name in parentheses along with the page number. Example: "Employers must consider the possibility that employees will perceive surveillance as a breach of trust that can make them feel like disobedient children, not responsible adults who wish to perform their jobs professionally and autonomously" (Orlov 49). 

Use no punctuation between the name and the page number.  Note:  Keep in mind, when paraphrasing, always include a signal phrase.

AUTHOR UNKNOWN Either use the complete title in a signal phrase or use a short form of the title in parentheses. Titles of books are italicized; titles of articles are put in quotation marks. Example: A popular keystroke logging program operates invisibly on workers’ computers yet provides supervisors with details of the workers’ online activities (“Automatically”). TIP: Before assuming that a Web source has no author, do some detective work. Often the author’s name is available but is not easy to find. For example, it may appear at the end of the source, in tiny print. Or it may appear on another page of the site, such as the home page. NOTE: If a source has no author and is sponsored by a corporate entity, such as an organization or a government agency, name the corporate entity as the author.

PAGE NUMBER UNKNOWN You may omit the page number if a work lacks page numbers, as is the case with many Web
sources. Although printouts from Web sites usually show page numbers, printers don’t always provide the same page breaks;
for this reason, MLA recommends treating such sources as unpaginated in the in-text citation. (When the pages of a Web source are stable, as in PDF files, supply a page number in your in-text citation.)  Example: As a 2005 study by and America Online indicates, the Internet ranked as the top choice among employees for ways of wasting time on the job; it beat talking with co-workers—the second most popular method—by a margin of nearly two to one (Frauenheim). If a source has numbered paragraphs, sections, or screens, use “par.” (or “pars.”), “sec.” (or “secs.”), or “screen” (or “screens”) in the parentheses: (Smith, par. 4). Note that a comma follows the author’s name.

Remember! First complete the full works citated citation correctly. Completing the citation first will save you time by making it easier to determine what is to be included within your research paper.