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Special Needs Project: Parenthetical Citations

APA Common Forms of Parenthetical Citation

Print work with one author:
(Morris, 2002, p. 483).
Print work with two authors:
(Smith & Jones, 2001, p. 72).
Website or database with no page numbers: (Morris, 2002).
Website or database with no page numbers or author use title in quotes:
("Energy," 2002).
Website or database with no page numbers, author, or date: ("Energy," n.d.).

What are Parenthetical Citations?

  • They refer to the source where you read the information.  Everything that comes before the parenthetical citation is assumed to have come from that source.
  • They match the sources at the end of your paper in the Works Cited (MLA) or References page (APA).
  • They go after direct quotations, paraphrases, and summaries.
  • They always go at the end of the sentence and the period comes after them.
  • With a direct quotation, the parenthetical citation goes after the end quote and before the period.
  • These are also called "in-text" citations.

Examples in APA Style:

Paraphrase: Last year, approximately 1.2% of seniors used illegal steroids ("Monitoring," 2012).
"Their use decreased significantly in 2005 to 1.5%, where it remained in 2010, before falling slightly more to 1.2% in 2011" ("Monitoring," 2012).

The parenthetical citations above relate to this citation from the References page:

Monitoring the future: National results on adolescent drug use overview 2011. (2012, February). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved January 10, 2013, from

Check for understanding

I have included parenthetical citations for:

__ all paraphrases.
__ all quotations.
__ all summaries.

My parenthetical citations:

__ relate to sources in my Reference page.
__ are put at the end of the sentence.
__ All the facts and information that come before the citation are from that source.

When Do I Use Parenthetical Citations?

Use them after every quotation, paraphrase, or summary.  All information before the parenthetical citation must have come from the same source. 

The only time you do not use parenthetical citation is for your thoughts and opinions, and anything considered "common knowledge."  An example of common knowledge is "George Washington was the first President of the United States."  This doesn't need a citation. 

For common knowledge, use this rule of thumb: If you didn't know it before you read it, it is probably not common knowledge.  Cite it.