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Parenthetical Citation Help

Parenthetical Citations and Works Cited 

            Whenever you do research, it is necessary to give credit to the sources you use.  When completing written assignments that involve research, the standard way of giving this credit is through a Works Cited page at the end of your paper and Parenthetical Citations throughout your paper.   While a bibliography tells the reader the sources you used, a Works Cited page and Parenthetical Citations are MUCH more specific.  They allow the reader to know on which page of which source you found a specific piece of information.   If you do not include these citations, or you do so incorrectly, you are plagiarizing.   In addition, citations used properly can strengthen your writing because they prove that you have conducted research.  If your paper has few citations, that means that your paper mostly contains information that is common knowledge- where’s the research in that?

 When Will I Need a Parenthetical Citation?

1)      Direct Quotes.  Whenever you quote a source word-for-word you need to include quotation marks and a citation at the end of the quote. 

2)      Facts that Are Not Common Knowledge.  Facts that are commonly known do not require a citation.  But unique facts do.  A good rule is that if you find the same fact in 3 or more sources, it is common knowledge and therefore does NOT require a citation.  But if you find it in 2 or less, it is not generally known and does require a citation.  Statistics almost always require a citation because they are not generally known.  A citation is required even in you put the fact in your own words. 

3)      An Author’s Original Idea or Argument.  If the author of a source you use presents an idea or argument of his own, and you include that idea, you need to give him credit.  Even if you paraphrase his idea, the wording is your own but the idea isn’t, so you still need a citation.   

 What is the Relationship Between My Works Cited Page and My Parenthetical Citations?

*  A Works Cited Page is actually a list of the sources that you cited in your paper.  Thus, if a source is listed on your Works Cited page, it must be cited in your paper.  And if a source is cited in your paper, it must be listed on your Works Cited page.

*  In addition, the Works Cited determines what goes inside the citations for that source.  Whatever piece of information comes first on your works cited (author’s last name, title, etc) is what goes inside the citation. 

 How do I Make a Citation?

            Generally, a parenthetical citation goes at the end of the sentence and includes the last name of the author and the page number on which that particular piece of information was found inside parentheses. The punctuation for the sentence goes AFTER the citation, and there is no comma inside the citation. 

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible “forces a revolution in our perception of reality” (Martin 73).   

But What If…My source has two or more authors? 

If there are two authors, list both authors separated by “and”.“Coase’s idea formed the basis of a general belief that free markets worked only if the markets were available” (Fusaro and Miller 46).

Has three authors? List all three authors in the citation as author, author, and author.

Smell and taste are considered chemical senses since they are sensitive to chemical molecules rather than light energy or sound waves (Jones, Simon, and Welch 3).

Has more than three authors? List the first author’s name followed by the words “et al.”.             

Social psychologists are interested in the interactions between groups of people (Keane et al. 94).

There is no author?  Remember, the entry for that source on your Works Cited determines what goes inside the citation.  If there’s no author, then the source will be listed by its title on the Works Cited, so that goes inside the citation instead.  Be sure to format the title as necessary (quotation marks, underline, etc).

Hemingway’s journalistic style influenced writers through the end of the century (“Hemingway” 5).

There is no page number?  The majority of web sources do not have page numbers.  In that case, you just leave that part out of the citation.  

 A recent CNN review noted that the book’s purpose was “to teach cultures that are both different from and similar to the status quo” (Allen).  

\I’m using 2 sources by the same author? You will need to include the title between the author and page number, with a comma separating the author and title.

  Animal imagery conveys the primitive, uncontrolled rage that the peasants feel.  One person “acquired a tigerish smear about the mouth” (Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities 33-34).  

 I decide to include the name of the author in my own writing?  If you include any of the necessary information in your own writing, there is no need to repeat it.

In Understanding Why the Cage Bird Sings, Megna-Wallace notes that Angelou’s biography works on two levels:  it is a personal memoir and is representative of the struggle of many African American women (10).   

I want to use a long quote? 

 If you type out a quote and it is longer than 4 lines, you need to format it differently.            

  1)  You set the entire quote apart.  Start the quote on a new line, and indent the entire quote 1 inch (2 tabs).  When you resume your own writing, do so on a new line, with no indent.          

  2)  Do not use quotation marks           

 3)  The end punctuation goes BEFORE the citation

In the novel, the character undergoes many frightening ordeals.All at once there is a sharp crack and something whizzes past her left ear.  She screams and opens her eyes just in time to see Rubin fall to the back of the wagon.  Suddenly there is blood everywhere: on his hair; on the back of his shirt; running down his arms.  For an instant Clair does not understand what has happened.  Then she realizes he has been shot. (Mackey 163)Such experiences cause her to act with much more courage than she had thought possible. 

A couple of other tips

  • If you’re ever in doubt, include a parenthetical citation just in case.  If you use one when it’s not necessary, at most you’ll lose a couple of points.  But if you don’t use one and it IS necessary, you could be accused of plagiarism. 
  • When writing a paper that used research, it is a good guideline to have at least 2 citations in each body paragraph.  That means you need to include 2 pieces of information that require a citation.
  • Be careful not to overuse citations.  You need to weave your research with your own ideas and your own writing.  If every sentence has a citation, then very little of your paper is actually yours. 
  • It is good to have citations from different sources in each body paragraph.  That ensures that you are not simply copying or summarizing someone else’s ideas.  The goal of research is to be able to synthesize information found from several sources in order to support your own ideas. 
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