Sep 1, 2022

Parenthetical Citations: APA & MLA Examples

Wordvice KH

From scholarly writers and researchers to university and graduate students, every academic writer needs to understand how to use parenthetical citations correctly. Parenthetical citations are commonly used to credit sources when quoting directly or paraphrasing another author’s ideas or statements in your academic work.

In this article, we explain how to correctly cite your sources using parenthetical citations in your research article, dissertation, or college essay. Specifically, you will learn crucial information about how to use parenthetical citations using MLA, APA, and Vancouver style Works Cited and Reference formats, along with best practices for in-text citations.

parenthetical citation rules overview

What are parenthetical citations?

Citing original sources within parentheses in your text is known as parenthetical citation or in-text citation. As the terms indicate, parenthetical citations use parentheses ( ) within the text itself to cite the source listed in the Works Cited or References section. Readers should be able to immediately see where your information comes from, without referring to footnotes or endnotes. Parenthetical citations are used in MLA format, APA format, and many other academic styles.

What is the purpose of parenthetical citations?

Parenthetical citations are useful because they give credit to the original author or speaker’s message or research within the text. This allows the reader to understand the cited author’s voice, the date of publication, and the source of the information. 

With the reference placed directly in-text, the reader does not have to check footnotes at the bottom of each page or the citation list at the end of the paper. This helps the reader stay focused while being able to view the relevant sources.

When to Include Parenthetical Citations

Citing your sources assures that you are not plagiarizing other writers’ work. Therefore, you include a parenthetical citation when you:

  • Reference another author’s work
  • Include a quotation from a cited source
  • Summarize or paraphrase another work

Parenthetical citations are often used in formal research papers and journal manuscripts to show where information was found. Proper citations can hugely impact the credibility of a paper.

The benefits of using parenthetical citations are that they provide readers with more detailed information about how you discovered certain content or information, which may be helpful for future research. Using these citations correctly also demonstrates to readers–whether a professor or a fellow researcher–that your work is deliberate and credible with sourcing. When submitting to a journal, it is important to check their “Guide for Authors” section to understand the specific formatting and citation guidelines.

Parenthetical vs. Narrative In-text Citations

When using in-text citations in any style format, there are two methods: parenthetical and narrative.

In parenthetical format, citations include all relevant information (author’s last name, publication year, page number) within the in-text citation, which is located at the end of the sentence.

The Korean War technically ended in an armistice, not a treaty (Kim, 2019) or (Kim, 2019, p. 12).

In narrative citation format, the author of the cited work is referenced as part of the written sentence itself. Write the first or lead author’s name along with “et al.”, followed by the year in parentheses. This is especially useful when you want to append your own commentary or criticism.

According to Kim et al. (2019), the Korean diaspora can be broken down into several economic and cultural factors.

Read More: A Researcher’s Guide to Citations: listing authors and using et al.

parenthetical citation rules, apa format

How to Use Parenthetical Citations in APA

A parenthetical citation in APA format consists of the following parts:

  • Author’s name
  • Year of publication
  • Page number

Parenthetical format:

Modern economics in South Korea has grown as a discipline since 1960 (Kim, 2019).

Narrative format:

Kim et al. (2019) recently found in a survey of East Asian economists that modern economics in South Korea has grown as a discipline since 1960.

Tips for APA in-text parenthetical citations

When using parenthetical citations, there are a few situations to be aware of, such as if there is no author name provided.

When no author can be found, the title of the work and year of publication need to be included following the format shown above. If the title within the quotation marks is exceptionally long, it can be shortened in the in-text citation.

APA Style Resources

parenthetical citation rules, mla format

How to Use Parenthetical Citations in MLA

Parenthetical citations are used in MLA format and closely resemble those in APA format. However, there are two main differences between MLA and APA formats: 

  1. Cite the page number rather than the date of publication.
  2. There is no comma separating the page number from the author’s last name.

Include the first few words in the title of the work or website if there is no author. Do not use “p.” or “pp.” to denote pages, and do not apply commas, even if there are multiple authors:

The tourism industry is one of the main components of Korea’s GDP (Kim 15)…(Kim and Lee 15)…(Kim et al. 15)

MLA Style Resources

parenthetical citation rules, vancouver format

How to Use Parenthetical Citations in Vancouver Style

Parenthetical citations in Vancouver style should have numbering (either superscript or in brackets) on either side of the name of an author or study. A unique number should be assigned to each citation, which is then listed at the end of the manuscript in the bibliography. If you cite a source multiple times, use the same citation number from the first work in subsequent parenthetical citations.

Park et al. (4) reported that over 90% of all Korean citizens own a smartphone (p. 552)

Vancouver Style Resources

Parenthetical Citations Examples

Let’s look at some specific examples of what parenthetical citations look like in the context of a sentence within an academic document. Remember that sources cited in the text MUST be listed in the Works Cited (in MLA) or References section (in APA).

APA parenthetical citation example (author-date-page style)

These three examples are from the same source, but as you can see, they are formulated differently. The first example uses a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name and then the date of publication in parentheses. The second example introduces the source with only a name. And the third example does not include any information about the author in the text and therefore includes the name, date, and publication year in one set of parentheses.

In-text citation examples APA
According to Kim (2005), “authors often experience difficulty using APA style, especially in their first courses” (p. 324).
Kim (2005), “found that “authors often experience difficulty using APA style” (p. 324); she does not, however, predict what this means for the future of journal publication.
She argued, “Authors often experience difficulty using APA style, especially in their first courses” (Kim, 2005, p. 324), but she offered no predictions about how this might impact publications.

MLA parenthetical citation examples (author-page style)

As mentioned previously in this article, MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation. It is quite similar to APA style, except that the citation only includes the author’s last name and page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken. No comma or other punctuation marks are included in the parenthetical citation, and the citation appears at the end of the sentence. The author’s name may appear either in the sentence or in parentheses, but the page number or range must always appear in parentheses, not in the text. See these three parenthetical citations of the same source.

In-text citation examples MLA
Gaiman and Pratchett further elaborate by sharing their creepy reminder that “just because it’s a mild night doesn’t mean that dark forces aren’t abroad. They’re abroad all of the time. They’re everywhere” (15).
Don’t forget that “just because it’s a mild night doesn’t mean that dark forces aren’t abroad. They’re abroad all of the time. They’re everywhere” (Gaiman and Pratchett 15).
Gaiman and Pratchett elaborate on the ubiquity of dark forces in the night, regardless of the eeriness of the weather (15).

Editing and Formatting Your Academic Papers

As you have probably figured out by now, learning how to use citations and references is a bit tedious and there is always the risk of making mistakes. Before you submit your academic work to professors or journals, be sure to get professional English proofreading services–including paper editing and manuscript editing–to make sure your work is completely free of errors, including mistakes in citation and reference formatting. Wordvice provides all-in language editing services that include a review of your citations.

And be sure to use our APA citation generator, MLA citation generator, Chicago citation generator, or Vancouver citation generator (depending on your style guide) to prepare your paper’s reference list or works cited.

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