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Essay writing help: how to use in-text citations
Essay writing help

Essay writing help: how to use in-text citations

Oct 31, 2012
Many authors rely on various sources of information and refer a number of books and resources to get an in-depth knowledge about the subject of their academic writing. This is a common practice while working on academic essays, research papers, critical essays etc., where the author is required to analyze various facts and statistics in order to arrive to a specific opinion which forms the basis of the essay or paper. And mentioning the source such as the book or the author in support of the facts used in the essay is called citation.
Citation is a very significant part of any academic writing, especially as it tells the readers that you are being honest in accrediting the work of other writers, and also helps the reader to directly check the referenced material to get more information on the subject. Needless to mention, citation also emphasizes on the fact that your work is well researched.

Different Styles of Citation

Over the period of time, many styles of citation have been developed by various organizations across the globe. Most popular of these styles are American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association of America (MLA), American Sociological Association (ASA), The Chicago Manual of style, Harvard referencing, etc. All these styles follow either of the two citation systems; very few styles are flexible and follow both the citation systems. The APA style and MLA style of citation are widely used in essays and research papers.

The Two Citation Systems

Note system and parenthetical systems are the two different citation systems followed by the different citation styles.
A note system of citation usually requires a note listing the source details either at the bottom of the page, called the footnotes, or in the last page called the endnotes. The numbers used to list the source details in the note are then used in the essay or the paper wherever citation is needed, telling the reader to refer to that particular number on the footnote or endnote to get the reference details.
The parenthetical system of citation, unlike note system would have the references mentioned within the body of the essay or the research paper, and hence are also referred to as in-text citations. As the name suggests, the citations or references are enclosed in parentheses and then included in the body of the essay and complete bibliographical details of the references have to be provided at the end.

Tips on how to use in-text citations:

  • You can use the APA style of citation that would require just the name of the author and year of the publication to be included in the parentheses or simply use the author's name in the body of your essay and the publication year in the parentheses.
    Example: The FDI policy saw a rise in the economy (Jones, 2012)
    Jones (2012) reported that the FDI policy helped the economy rise.
  • Always use only the last name of the author in citations, and do not use the author's initials. However, the initials and full name of the author can be used in the references list at the end of the essay.
  • Use only the year of publication in the citation and do not try to include the date and the month if you are citing a magazine or a newspaper.
  • You can use the page number in the citation along with the author's name and year of publication as (Jones, 2012, p13) or Jones (2012, p13) to specifically direct the reader to that page.
  • If you have to mention more than two authors, then for the first time mention all the names in the citation and thereafter you can use one name followed by ''
    Example: (Brown 2012, p13)
  • Whenever there is no author to the work of your reference, you can simply use the title and date in the citation. And if there is no specific date available for the reference then just use 'n.d'
  • If you are trying to cite a website as your source of information, then simply use the URL as ( However if you want to point to a specific article of document of a website then your citation should look like, Author (date) Title. (
  • In the event you have to cite more than one publication of a particular author published in the same year, then differentiate the date by letters and point them to the right reference in the source list at the end.
    Example: Jones (2012a, 2012b)
  • You can integrate the citations into the body of your essay by using common verbs like, added, admitted, concluded, suggested etc.
    Example: Jones (2012) suggested that the economy would rise by the introduction of the FDI policy.
    Or, Jones (2011) added that...
  • The use of common verbs plays an important role when you are citing a quotation by a different author, so be careful while choosing these verbs and avoid using words as "says" or "claims".
  • In text citations should never confuse the reader, as the main aim is to make the reader understand where the content is researched from, and thereby imply that there is no plagiarism in the work done by you. So, follow a particular style of citation and continue in the same style throughout.
  • Remember, in text citations are just to direct the reader to the work of an author or authors, and hence keep them simple and clear.
  • Do review the bibliography section of your work, to make sure that the citations that you made in the essay or article are pointing towards the correct references in the source list or the bibliography.
  • Well known quotations, proverbs when used in your essay, need not be cited, as the audience is aware of these on a larger scale. However, if you think that your audience would not have an idea of these proverbs or quotes then you might want to cite them as well.
As you know how important it is to use facts, statistics and examples in your essay to support your opinion, it is also important to cite the sources of such facts and examples that would make the essay look more organized. Needless to mention, it also helps you in developing a strong argument on the subject. So, use as many sources or references as you can to refer, but make sure you cite them properly.
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