In academic writing, an in-text citation is a brief acknowledgement you include anytime you quote or take information from a source. It directs the reader to the source of your information so they can see where you received it.

Short parenthetical lines noting the author and publication year of the source, as well as the page number if applicable, are the most typical in-text citations.

In-text citations in APA style, for example (Jackson, 2005, p. 16)

We also provide a free citation generator as well as comprehensive instructions to the most common citation formats.

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Visit the APA examples page.

Examples of MLA Format

See examples from Chicago.

What are the purposes of in-text citations?

An in-text citation’s purpose is to show the reader where your information came from. Citations are included:

• Avoids plagiarism by acknowledging the contribution of the original author.

• Allows readers to double-check your claims and conduct additional research.

• Demonstrates that you are familiar with your field’s literature.

Academic writing is viewed as an ongoing dialogue among scholars, both within and across disciplines. To keep this debate continuing, you must demonstrate how your own research draws on and interacts with previous sources.

When is an in-text reference required?

When you quote or paraphrase a source in your text, you should include an in-text citation.

Quoting involves using the words of the original author directly in your text. Quotes should always be cited (and marked with quotation marks), and a page number should be included to indicate where the quote can be found in the source.

In-text citation in APA style, for example. Evolution is a slow, steady process that “can only act in very little, sluggish steps” (Darwin, 1859, p. 510).

Putting information from a source into your own words is known as paraphrasing. To avoid the appearance of taking credit for someone else’s ideas, in-text citations are equally as crucial as quotes. Wherever possible, include page numbers to show where the material can be accessed.

In-text citations in APA style, for example.

Over a long period of time, the evolutionary process consists of a series of incremental changes (Darwin, 1859, p. 510).

However, keep in mind that certain material is considered general knowledge and hence does not require citation. For example, proving that Paris is the capital of France does not require a citation, and having one would be distracting.

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Different types of in-text citations

Different citation styles employ various sorts of in-text citations. They always refer the reader to a reference list that contains more detailed information about each source.

The author’s last name, the year of publication, and, if available, a page number are included in author-date citations (used in APA, Harvard, and Chicago author-date). The only difference between author-page and MLA citations is that the year is not included.

Parenthetical and narrative citations are the two forms of citations. The author’s name appears in parentheses alongside the rest of the information in a parenthetical citation. The author’s name appears in parenthesis in a narrative citation, not as part of the text.

Different forms of in-text citation examples

citation in parentheses

citation in narrative

Author-year (APA)

The treatment was really successful (Smith, 2018, p. 11).

According to Smith, the treatment was extremely effective (2018, p. 11).

Page of the author (MLA)

The treatment was really successful (Smith 11).

According to Smith, the treatment was extremely effective (11).

Note: In-text citations, such as those found in Chicago notes and bibliography, are frequently referred to as footnote citations, but the citation appears in a separate note from the text.