How to Make In-Text Citations

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  • 0:12 Introduction
  • 0:34 What is a Citation?
  • 2:56 Citing Multiple Authors
  • 4:25 Citing Corporations…
  • 5:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kelly Sjol
With this lesson, you'll get to know the basics of creating in-text citations. We'll go over both MLA and APA style parenthetical citations and how to use them to cite different types of sources.


Whenever you're writing a paper, there is one very important step that must be followed: citing sources. There are two places where you will need to cite sources: within your text and in your reference or bibliography page. In this video, we are going to focus on citing sources within the text.

What is a Citation?

First, let's do a quick review of what a citation actually is and why we use them. According to Plagiarism.org, a citation is a way to tell your reader that certain material in your work came from another source. In fact, I just used a citation to define the word for you! Whenever we use information we learned from others in our writing, we are required to cite the source.

There are two pieces of information you will always need for citing a source: the author's name and the year of publication. If you are utilizing a direct quote, meaning you are using the exact words the original author used in the exact same order, you also need to put where the quote can be found. This might include the page on which the quote is found in a book or journal article, or even the paragraph where it can be found if you are using a website without page numbers.

When it comes to the name of the author, it is important to know if you are dealing with one author, multiple authors, information from places like corporations or government organizations or even works with no or an anonymous author. Exactly how you cite the source in your paper depends on your lead-in. Let's start with a source in which you are paraphrasing the author's work. If I am using a source with one author, this is how the citation might look:

Some believe Duke Ellington's biggest gift from his parents was confidence (Crease, 2009).

I can also write:

According to Crease (2009), Duke Ellington's biggest gift from his parents was confidence.

Both of these options display the same information. The information that I am citing came from a work written by an author with the last name of Crease, and the work was published in 2009. If I am going to quote directly from the book exactly as written, the citation would look like this:

Crease (2009) believed there is one thing Mr. Ellington's parents gave him above everything else when she stated, 'Duke Ellington's biggest gift from his mother and father was his confidence' (p. 13).

Citing Multiple Authors

Now that we have figured out how to cite a source from one author, let's look at sources with multiple authors. The first thing to remember is that when a source has two authors, you cite both names every time you use the source. So your citations will look very similar to the citation with one author, except you will have two authors and use the word 'and' between each author. Remember to cite the names in the order in which they appear in the book or article, not necessarily in alphabetical order. Things start to change a bit when we are citing sources with three or more authors. The first time you use the source, you will list the last name of each author - again, remember you are writing the names in the order in which they appear. Here is an example:

According to Geiger, Allen and Strader (1990), 'Computer simulation of a circuit entails using a computer to predict, or simulate the performance of a circuit or system' (p. 237).

However, the next time you use the same reference, instead of listing the names of all three authors, you just have to put the last name of the first author followed by the words et al., so my second time citing the trio would look like this:

this circuit could include several hundred thousand components (Geiger et al., 1990).

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