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Citation Styles Playbook

The purpose of this playbook is to help you cite the sources used in your academic research.

In text citations: narrative vs. parenthetical citations

What is an in-text citation?

In-text citations are citations that appear in the body of an essay or paper. There are two kinds: narrative and parenthetical

Narrative citations

  • In a narrative citation, the author's name appears in the sentence and not in parentheses. 
    • Example: Walters (2003) wrote that most people tend to follow the path of least resistance.
  • When the name of the author appears in a sentence, the year of publication, if available, follows it. If the year of publication is not available, n.d. (no date) is used instead. 
    • Example:  Johnson and Travers (2016) discussed the causes of this disaster, while Marston (n.d.) focused on the consequences.
      • Exception: The year can be omitted from a citation only when multiple narrative citations to a work appear within a single paragraph; but you must make it clear that you're still using someone else's ideas. See the example below.
        • Koehler (2016) experimentally examined how journalistic coverage influences public perception of the level of agreement among experts. Koehler provided participants with quotations from real reviews for movies that critics either loved or loathed. He found that participants better appreciated the level of expert consensus for highly rated movies when only positive reviews were provided rather than when both positive and negative reviews were provided, even when the proportion of positive to negative reviews was indicated. These findings, in combination with similar research, demonstrate that providing evidence for both sides when most experts agree may lead to a false sense of balance (Koehler, 2016; Reginald, 2015).
  • Page numbers must be used inside the parentheses after a direct quote (a direct quote is a word-for-word quote that is placed within quotation marks). If page numbers are not available, other locators are used, such as paragraph numbers (Example: (para. 10), sections, etc.  Page (or paragraph)  numbers are not required when paraphrasing. 
  • Book titles and the titles of other standalone works are formatted in title case and in italics. Example: Little House in the Big Woods.
  • Journal article titles and the titles of other parts of works are formatted in title case and in quotation marks. Example: "The Iridescent History of Light."


Parenthetical citations

  • A parenthetical citation is one where all the required information is placed in parentheses.
  • In APA style, the information in parentheses consists of the last name(s) of the author(s), the year of publication, and page or paragraph number(s) in the case of an exact quote.  Examples:  (Smith, 2017); (James, Vargas, & Rhodes, n.d.).
  • If there is no author, then the title of the article is placed in parentheses, followed by the year (or by n.d. if there is no date). Example: ("The History of the Circus," 1997).
    • For long titles, a shortened form of the title is used in parentheses. For example, the title "Milk Chocolate Is Better Than Dark, the End," would be shortened in the parentheses to "Milk Chocolate."


In-text citations and the References list

In-text citations (narrative or parenthetical) must parallel the entries on the References list. She the examples below -- parallel elements are in maroon.

In-Text Citation Type Example References
Narrative Duckworth (2018) writes that cadets with high scores are as likely to drop out of West Point as cadets with low scores. Duckworth, A. (2018).. Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. Scribener.

American Indians and Alaskan Natives are at high risk for the flu (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, January 23). People at high risk of developing flu-related complications.

Formatting narrative and parenthetical citations

Examples of Narrative and Parenthetical Formats:
One author, narrative

When referencing an author in the narrative, follow the last name with parentheses containing the year the work was published. If there is no date, use n.d. in parentheses.

Kessler (2003) found that among epidemiological samples, results varied.

Smith (n.d.) writes that rising early is particularly difficult for adolescents.

One author, parenthetical

When referencing the author in parentheses, use the last name followed by a comma and the year of publication), or n.d. if the work has no date.

Early onset results in a more persistent and severe course (Kessler, 2003).

Rising early can be particularly difficult for adolescents (Smith, n.d.).

Two authors, narrative

Refer to the authors by their last names and follow this with the year of publication (or n.d. if there is no date) in parentheses.

Smith and Jones (2007) conducted several studies on the subject.

Harrison and Leigh (n.d.) discovered that some of the samples had been contaminated.

Two authors, parenthetical

When referencing more than one author in parentheses, use an ampersand (&) before the last surname and follow that with a comma and the year of publication (or n.d.).

Some authors conducted longitudinal studies that spanned decades (Smith & Jones, 2007).

Three or more authors, narrative

Include the name of the first author, followed by et al.

Smith et al. (2010) found that...

NOTE: To avoid ambiguity, when the in-text citations of multiple works with three or more authors shorten to the same form, write out as many names as needed to distinguish the references, and use et al.


Kapoor, Bloom, Montez, Warner, and Hill (2017)

Kapoor, Bloom, Zucker, Tang, Koroglu, L'Enfant, Kim, and Daly (2017)

These two shorten to Kapoor et al. (2017), so they need modification:

Kapoor, Bloom, Montez, et al. (2017)

Kapoor, Bloom, Zucker, et al. (2017)

When only the final author is different, spell out all the names in every citation.

Three or more authors, parenthetical

Include the last name of the first author, et al., and the year of publication. To avoid ambiguity, follow the same procedure described above.

(Martin et al., 2020)

(Kapoor, Bloom, Zucker, et al., 2017)

Group author, with abbreviation, narrative

Insert the abbreviation in the parentheses, before the year.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2020)

Group author, with abbreviation, parenthetical

Insert full group author name, abbreviation (in square brackets), and year.

(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2020)

Two or more works, narrative

Place a semicolon between the references.

Good et al. (2001); Hedden and Gabrieli (2004); Raz (2000); and West (1996), indicated that recent behavioral research has revealed changes that occur with aging in the regulation and processing of emotion.

Two or more works, parenthetical

Place a semicolon between the references.

Recent behavioral research has revealed changes that occur with aging in the regulation and processing of emotion (Good et al., 2001; Hedden & Gabrieli, 2004; Raz, 2000; West, 1996).

Same author (or by the same two or more authors in the same order) with the same publication date, narrative.

When the same authors have published more than one study in the same year, and every study lists their name in the same order, identify each study with a letter after the year (1996a, 1996b, etc.)

Several studies conducted by Smith and Harrison (2005a, 2005b) indicate that increased education has reduced crime in metropolitan areas.

Same author (or by the same two or more authors in the same order) with the same publication date, parenthetical.

Same as above, but the information is placed within the parentheses.

Several studies indicate that increased education has reduced crime in metropolitan areas (Smith & Harrison, 2005a, 2005b).

Quotations that contain citations to other works

When quoting material that contains embedded citations, include these citations within the quotation. Do not include these works in the reference list unless you have used them as primary sources elsewhere in your paper. In the example below, Panero et al. (2016) would appear in the reference list, but the Stanislavski citation would not.

Actors "are encouraged to become immersed in a character's life (Stanislavski, 1936/1948,1950), an activity that calls for absorption" (Panero et al., 2016, p. 234).


Quotations that contain material already in quotation marks

If your source includes a direct quotation from another work, and you would like to use the same direct quotation in your paper, it is best to read and cite the original source directly.

If you are unable to find the original source, cite as follows:

(Smith, 1926, as cited in Bradford, 2008).

This indicates that Smith is the original source and Bradford is the source you have read. Cite the source you have read (in this case, Bradford), in the References list.

Direct quotation in narrative, under 40 words

When using a direct quotation under 40 words, use quotation marks around it followed by parentheses containing the name of the author(s), a comma, the year of publication, and the page number preceded by p. for one page, and pp. for a page range.

Confusing this issue is the overlapping nature of roles in palliative care, whereby “medical needs are met by those in the medical disciplines; nonmedical needs may be addressed by anyone on the team” (Csikai & Chaitin, 2006, p. 112).

Note: When using direct quotations, page numbers or other locators should be provided in the parenthetical citation.  For sources without page numbers, see the example below.

Direct quotation in narrative, no page numbers available

If a source does not have page numbers, use paragraph numbers. If possible, use a section heading plus the paragraph number within that section. If the section heading is very long, use an abbreviated heading (e.g. first few words of heading) with quotation marks.

“Sometimes interrogators went beyond the guidelines” (Frankel, 2004, Broad Public Support section, para. 4). 

“Unlike professional basketball and American Football, interest in baseball has not been sweeping the globe” (Lahman, 2014, “Origins of the Game,” para. 1).

Direct quotation in narrative, over 40 words (block quotation)

Omit quotation marks and start a block quotation on a new line and indent one-half inch from the left margin, double-spaced. Provide page numbers or other location markers.

Others have contradicted this view:

Co-presence does not ensure intimate interaction among all group members. Consider large-scale social gatherings in which hundreds or thousands of people gather in a location to perform a ritual or celebrate an event (Smith et al., 2007, p. 12).

Religious or classical works

To directly quote from religious or classical works, use the name of the book, chapter, verse, line, and/or canto instead of page number.

The person vowed to "set me as a seal upon thine heart" (King James Bible, 1769/2017, Song of Solomon 8:6)

In Much Ado About Nothing, Don John said, "In the meantime / let me be that I am and seek not to alter me" (Shakespeare, 1623/1995, 1.3.36-37).

NOTE: 1.3.36-37 refers to Act 1, Scene 3, Lines 36 and 37.