In-Text Citations: MLA and APA

Picture this: you’re writing something for a class and you need to look at outside sources for it. Finding the sources was easy, but your teacher wants you to cite those sources—not just in a bibliography or reference page, but in an in-text citation. You might be wondering, How do I do that? Well, that’s why for this week’s post, we’re going to talk about the in-text citations and how they work for two common citation styles. Let’s get into it!

First, a definition: an in-text citation is when you use an outside source to directly support a claim in your essay. They lead readers to sources that’ll help them understand whatever is being talked about in the text. In-text citations are less tricky than most people think, but the hard part is figuring out how to format them for a specific citation style.

The two citation styles that use in-text citations the most are MLA and APA format. MLA format is popular in English and other humanities courses. When you have an in-text citation for MLA, you want to cite your source by listing the name of the author in parentheses after the claim or quote, and then following it with a page number. Of course, that’s assuming you haven’t mentioned the author already. Here are a couple of examples of this in action:

And if you’re doing a quote that is four lines or longer, you want to give it its own paragraph:

APA format, on the other hand, is used for courses in the social sciences like psychology and social work (which makes sense, because it was created by the American Psychological Association). APA format works similarly to MLA format, except instead of listing the page number after the author/title, you want add a comma and list the date of publication:

Of course, that’s only if you’re not directly quoting the source. If you are, you also need to include the page number. Also, the date needs to go after the person who said it:

And just like last time, if you’re doing a quote that is four lines or longer, it gets its own paragraph:

And that’s how you do an in-text citation! Including them will only make your project stronger and your research more credible. Not to mention, it automatically makes you the coolest person in the classroom (Vitti 5). 

Joking aside—good luck, and happy writing!