Cathy Aranda
Cathy Aranda

Parenthetical Citation Guide: Common Formats & Examples

12 min read

Published on: Jun 3, 2024

Last updated on: Jun 3, 2024

Parenthetical Citations

Discover the ins and outs of parenthetical citations – a critical aspect of scholarly writing.

This guide outlines what parenthetical citations are, when to use them, and the specific formats for MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and ASA. We'll also highlight the distinctions between parenthetical and narrative citation styles.

Let’s get started.

What is Parenthetical Citation?

A parenthetical citation is used to acknowledge a source within parentheses when you quote or paraphrase it. This citation includes details such as the author's name, publication date, and the relevant page numbers. 

Parenthetical citations are used across citation styles such as MLA, APA, and Chicago. These citations are usually placed at the end of the sentence, before the closing punctuation. You can also place them at the end of a clause that contains the material you’re citing. 

Every parenthetical citation corresponds to a reference list entry at the end of the manuscript.

Here is an example

The concept of artificial intelligence has rapidly evolved in recent years (Maxwell 23), leading to groundbreaking advancements in various industries.

Citation Formats that Use Parenthetical Citation

A number of popular citation formats allow for the use of parenthetical citations, such as:

  • APA (American Psychological Associtation) 
  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • Chicago
  • Harvard
  • ASA (American Sociological Association)

The next section contains detailed information about the specific parenthetical citation format for the above formatting styles, along with examples. Read on, and you will understand how to do a parenthetical citation in various citation styles. 

Parenthetical Citation MLA

In MLA format, parenthetical citations include the author's last name and the page number where the information was found, separated by a space and enclosed within parentheses.

Two Authors

In MLA parenthetical citation format, when citing a source with two authors, include both last names joined by “and,” like:

Previous studies have shown conflicting results regarding the effects of caffeine on cognitive function (Jones and Brown 28).

Three or More Authors

For sources with three or more authors, include the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” and the page number. 

For example: 

The environmental impact of deforestation is a topic of ongoing debate (Johnson et al. 15).

No Page Number

If a source does not have page numbers, omit the page number from the citation.

The importance of biodiversity in maintaining ecosystem balance cannot be overstated (Smith).

No Author

If a source does not have an identifiable author, use a shortened version of the title of the work.

The Role of Technology in Modern Education” highlights the integration of digital tools in the classroom (“Role of Technology”).

Direct Quotations

When directly quoting a source, include the author's last name and the page number from where the quote is taken within parentheses.

According to Johnson, “The first step towards change is awareness” (35).

Multiple Works by the Same Author

Differentiate between multiple works by the same author by adding a shortened version of the title followed by a shortened version of the title and the page number, if applicable.

In her exploration of suspense and psychological depth, Shirley Jackson captivates readers with tales of enigmatic rituals (“The Lottery” 25) and haunted houses (“The Haunting of Hill House” 67).

Parenthetical Citation APA

In APA format, parenthetical citation format typically includes the author's last name and the publication year, separated by a comma. The citation is enclosed within parentheses. 

Below are some parenthetical citation APA examples.

Two Authors

When citing sources with two authors, include both authors' last names joined by an ampersand (&), followed by the publication year, all enclosed within parentheses.

For example: 

Previous research suggests that climate change is a pressing issue that requires immediate attention (Jones & Brown, 2018).

Three or More Authors

In case of APA parenthetical citation of multiple authors (three or more), include the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” (Latin for “and others”) and the publication year, enclosed within parentheses.

For example: 

The study conducted by Johnson et al. (2016) revealed significant correlations between diet and cardiovascular health.

 No Author

When a source does not have an identifiable author, use the title of the work in quotation marks followed by the publication year, enclosed within parentheses.

For example: 

The effects of social media on mental health have been widely debated ("Social Media and Mental Health," 2017).

Direct Quotations

When directly quoting a source, include the author's last name, publication year, and the specific page number from which the quote was taken, separated by commas and enclosed within parentheses.

For example: 

“The first step towards success is taking action” (Johnson, 2016, p. 35).

Multiple Works by the Same Author

Differentiate between multiple works by the same author published in the same year by adding lowercase letters after the year within parentheses.

For example: 

In his 2018 studies, Johnson delved into various aspects of environmental sustainability (Johnson, 2018a, 2018b).

Chicago Parenthetical Citation

Unlike MLA and APA styles, the Chicago style offers two main systems of citation: the author-date system and the notes-bibliography system. 

In the author-date style, parenthetical citations include the author's last name and the publication year, while the notes-bibliography system utilizes superscript numbers in the text that correspond to footnotes or endnotes.

In the author-date system, parenthetical citations typically follow the format of (Author's Last Name Year).

The impact of urbanization on wildlife habitats is a topic of concern (Smith 2018).

Two Authors

When citing a source with two authors, include both last names separated by “and” within parentheses.

Previous research has explored the dynamics of interpersonal relationships (Jones and Brown 2015).

Three or More Authors

For sources with three or more authors, include the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” and the publication year.

The study by Johnson et al. (2019) provides valuable insights into climate change.

The Chicago notes-bibliography system typically includes the author's last name, publication year (if available), and page number.

(Smith 2010, 45).

If you're referencing a work by multiple authors, you would list all the authors' last names in the citation, separated by commas.

(Smith, Johnson, and Brown 2015, 23)

Harvard Parenthetical Citation

In the Harvard citation style, parenthetical citations are designed to provide brief, in-text references, primarily consisting of the author's last name and the publication year.

This method aids in locating the corresponding full citation in the reference list. Here's how Harvard parenthetical citations work, along with examples:

Author's Last Name and Year of Publication

In-text citations in Harvard style generally follow the format of (Author's Last Name Year).

The concept of sustainable development is crucial for addressing environmental challenges (Smith 2017).

Two Authors

When citing a source with two authors, include both last names separated by an ampersand (&) within parentheses.

Previous studies have highlighted the importance of teamwork in organizational success (Jones & Brown 2016).

Three or More Authors

For sources with three or more authors, include the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” and the publication year.

The research conducted by Johnson et al. (2018) underscores the significance of community engagement.

Multiple Works by the Same Author

Differentiate between multiple works by the same author by adding lowercase letters after the year within parentheses.

Smith's contributions to environmental science are evident in his various publications (Smith 2015a, 2015b).

ASA Parenthetical Citation

In the ASA style, parenthetical citations serve to briefly reference sources within the text, providing the author's last name and the publication year. 

Here's a breakdown of ASA parenthetical citations with examples:

Author's Last Name and Publication Year

In-text citations in ASA style generally follow the format of (Author's Last Name Year).

The impact of social inequality on educational outcomes is a topic of ongoing research (Smith 2016).

Two Authors

When citing a source with two authors, include both last names separated by an ampersand (&) within parentheses.

Previous studies have explored the correlation between economic factors and political participation (Jones & Brown 2017).

Three or More Authors

For sources with three or more authors, include the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” and the publication year.

The study by Johnson et al. (2019) investigates the dynamics of family structures in urban settings.

No Author

If a source does not have an identifiable author, use a shortened version of the title and the publication year.

The analysis of global economic trends reveals significant patterns ("Global Economic Trends" 2020).

Direct Quotations

When directly quoting a source, include the page number after the author's last name and year, separated by a colon.

According to recent research (Johnson 2022:78), “the impact of social media on interpersonal relationships is profound.”

When Should You Use Parenthetical Citation

Here are scenarios where you will need parenthetical citations within the text of your manuscript:

  • Quoting: Whenever you directly quote someone else's words in your writing
  • Paraphrasing: When you rephrase someone else's ideas or information in your own words
  • Summarizing: If you condense a large portion of information or ideas from a source into a concise form
  • Incorporating Data: When you include statistical data, findings, or results from a specific source
  • Referring to Specific Information: Anytime you refer to specific facts, figures, or details from another source to support your argument or analysis
  • Using Visual Materials: When you incorporate images, graphs, charts, or diagrams from a source
  • Citing Indirect Sources: If you cite a source indirectly, meaning you obtained the information from a secondary source.

Parenthetical Citation vs. Narrative Citation

Take a look at the table below that briefly compares both parenthetical and narrative citation styles: 

Aspect

Parenthetical Citation

Narrative Citation

Format

In-text citations within parentheses.

Citations integrated into the text.

Placement

Typically placed at the end of the sentence or clause.

Incorporated seamlessly into the sentence structure.

Content

Usually includes author's last name and publication year (and page number for direct quotes).

Provides the author's name and relevant information as part of the sentence.

Clarity

Offers a concise and straightforward citation style.

Requires a clear and smooth integration of citations within the text.

Visibility

Parenthetical citations may interrupt the flow of reading.

Narrative citations blend smoothly with the text.

Usage

Commonly used in academic writing, especially in scientific and social science fields.

Preferred in some humanities disciplines and creative writing where the citation is integrated as part of the narrative.

Examples

(Smith, 2019)

According to Smith (2019), ...

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are parenthetical citations the same as in-text citations?

Parenthetical citations and in-text citations are closely related, but they are not exactly the same. In-text citations refer to any citation within the body of your text. This could include both parenthetical citations (those enclosed within parentheses) and citations presented within the text without parentheses.

Can I use parenthetical citations for online sources with no page numbers?

Yes, you can use parenthetical citations for online sources with no page numbers by including the author's name (if available) or the title of the source. If there's no author, use the title in the citation. If no page numbers are available, omit them from the citation. For example: (Author's Last Name, Year) or (Title of Source, Year).

What's the difference between parenthetical citations and footnotes/endnotes?

Parenthetical citations are brief references within the text, while footnotes/endnotes provide additional information at the bottom of the page or end of the document. Parenthetical citations integrate citation details directly into the text, while footnotes/endnotes offer supplementary information without disrupting the flow of the main text.

Cathy Aranda

WRITTEN BY

Cathy Aranda (Mass communication)

Cathy is a highly dedicated author who has been writing for the platform for over five years. With a Master's degree in Mass Communication, she is well-versed in various forms of writing such as articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As an essay writing guide author at PerfectEssayWriter.ai, she has been helping students and professionals improve their writing skills by offering practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style.

Cathy is a highly dedicated author who has been writing for the platform for over five years. With a Master's degree in Mass Communication, she is well-versed in various forms of writing such as articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As an essay writing guide author at PerfectEssayWriter.ai, she has been helping students and professionals improve their writing skills by offering practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style.

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