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A Guide on Using Parenthetical Citations in Various Citation Styles

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A parenthetical citation is a referencing system in which in-text citations are made using parentheses. These citations follow a complete alphabetized list of citations in references. It also contains information such as the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number(s) if relevant. Such citations are used in a few referencing styles, including Harvard referencing, Chicago, APA style, and MLA style.

Unlike the other citation formats, a parenthetical citation follows simple orders, quotations, and lists to write the citations. However, these aren’t the only essentials you need to follow for the parenthetical citation. There’s more to it! 

Now, if you think you do not know how to do a parenthetical citation on different referencing stylesread on to find out more about it!

What is the Purpose of Using Parenthetical Citations?

Whether a student or professional writer, it can be tough to figure out exactly how the citation works within your paper or essay. From correcting grammar to figuring out the formatting, you must take the time to attribute ideas and quotes to sources correctly. The general format for parenthetical citations is (Metz, 1976).

 Such parenthetical citations allow readers to locate the sources quickly. Moreover, it helps the experts and professors to ensure correct information in academic settings. 

When to Use Parenthetical Citations?

Usually, when you’re writing a paper that sticks to one referencing style, you must use it to show the readers where you got quotes and ideas. In most cases, you have to include the author’s last name and page numbers. So when can you use such citation within an essay? Here are the instances –

  • Summaries: If you’re required to write summaries of another author’s work, you must state where the summary came from. As a result, it requires an in-text citation which makes it easy for the readers to find the sources.  Example: Jung (2010) argues that each individual is influenced by aspects of a universal “collective unconscious” known as “archetypes” (p. 4).
  • Paraphrasing: If you paraphrase someone else’s idea, you must add an appropriate citation. It is almost similar to writing summaries.
  • Quotations: Any quoted material must be cited following the rules of the citation style for the project. When quoting, you must place quotation marks around the selected passage to show where the quote begins and where it ends. 
  •  For example – Brown (2011) explains that mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Fallon found that “children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development” (p. 358).

Parenthetical Citations in MLA Style

In the case of MLA referencing style, the format for parenthetical citations is used in in-text citations. It is described as author-page citations as it contains the author’s last name and page number or page ranges. Here’s an MLA parenthetical citation example –

  • For a single author: “Art has been deeply impacted by technological advances which play a significant role in the reproduction of artworks. (Benjamin 19).”
  • For multiple authors: When a source has two authors, you must include both names and put “and” between them. For sources with more than two authors, include only the first author’s name, followed by “et al.” Here are some parenthetical citation examples  –Two authors: (Bowen and Wallace 88-98)

Three+ authors: (Bowen et al. 23-56)

Parenthetical Citations in APA

Are you wondering, “What is a parenthetical citation in APA referencing style?” Just like in MLA referencing style, APA referencing too follows parenthetical citations as author-date citations. However, the only difference between the two styles is that APA citation requires a publication date along with the author’s last name and the page number. These elements should be separated by commas. 

Here’s an APA parenthetical citations example on a single author –

Each individual is influenced by aspect of a universal “collective unconscious” called “archetypes” (Jung, 2010, p.4)

When a source has two authors, include both names and separate them using an ampersand (&). For a source with more than two authors, you must include only the first author’s name followed by “et al.” While citing specific pages, write “p” before a sing page number; and “pp” before a page range or series of non-consecutive pages. 

Some examples of multiple authors’ parenthetical citations: 

  • 2  authors: (Smart & Mills, 2002, pp. 41-42)
  • 3+ or more authors: (Smart et al., 2010, pp. 17,33)
  • For citing more than one sourceIf you would like to cite more than once within the same in-text citation, you can simply record the in-text citations as usual and separate them with a semi-colon. You must list them alphabetically by author’s last name or first word from the title if no author is mentioned. For example – 
  • A source from two different authors – (Jones, 2015; Smith, 2014)
  • A source from an author and anonymous work – ( Beckworth, 2016; “Nursing,” 2015)

Parenthetical Citations in Chicago Referencing Style

In Chicago Referencing Style, the in-text citation follows the similar author-date style followed by the author’s last name, publication date, and page number. However, you need to include commas after the year but not after the author’s name. 

 Now, how to cite parenthetically for a single author? Here’s an example – Systems made of meaningless elements acquire meaning through self-reference (Hofstadter 1999, 3). 

When a source has two or three authors, include each of their names in your in-text citation. For more than four authors, you have to include the name of the first author only, followed by “et al.” Follow these examples to know parenthetical citations:

  • For 3 authors – (Watson, Berry, and Davies 2012, 30-32)
  • For 4+ authors – (Watson et al. 2013, 55, 76)

So, bookmark this guide and follow it while using parenthetical citations in your writing!

Learn How to Use Parenthetical Citations from Our Experts

Parenthetical citations can be a little confusing. However, our experts are familiar with the quintessential factors of writing citations with parenthetical examples. Furthermore, our experts provide valuable tips and free citation tools to make it easier. 

 So, if you’re looking for APA, MLA, or Chicago format for parenthetical citations, we have got you covered with our instant services along with free citation generator tools. So, feel free to connect and sign up today!

Jacob Thompson

Hi, my name is Jacob Thompson. I am a PhD in English Literature, I started writing and blogging from a young age, and most of my write-ups are based on real experiences. As far as my blogs are concerned, I write blogs on English writing and Literature writing. I have been working part-time as a writing expert for for 7+years now. Helping students overcome English writing hurdles and get steps closer to their academic goals makes me as happy as playing with my kitty “Alice”. Yes, I am a cat-lover if you are still wondering! 

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