Academic Citations for Beginners, Part Two: In-Text Citations

Last week we discussed the difference a style guide makes in assisting the writing process, and the importance of adhering to a consistent style. This week we will be focusing on a small aspect of referencing other scholarly works in your own writing: in-text citation. Typically, all in-text citation follows the “author-date” system, meaning that some combination of author and date of publication will directly follow the quotation within the body of text. It may look something like this:

According to Johnson and Brown, “the difference between single and multicellular organisms varies beyond superficial characteristics” (Johnson and Brown 1997, 9).

Generally, quotation marks only bracket the cited text, and the in-text citation is placed in parenthesis before a period, like so: …” (author-date). Depending on the preferences of the publisher or intended audience, the author-date might be included in a footnote or reference list rather than in-line. Instead of parenthesis, the citation will appear in its longer form (author/date/page number) and then revert to author-date style in all subsequent incarnations:
Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 10.21.16 AM
It is best to consult your publisher or advisor for which format to use. But the key point here is consistency: do not use both in-text citations or footnote citations haphazardly.

Furthermore, depending on the particular style guide or house style you are using, there are subtle variations in comma placement and treatment of multiple authors. Here’s another example:

APA requires a comma after the surname in a parenthetical citation, while Chicago and CSE do not:
APA: (Johnson, 1997)

Chicago/CSE: (Johnson 1997)
If you are referencing specific pages, versus a whole work, then you must include page numbers:

Chicago/CSE: (Johnson 1997, 9-14)

APA: (Johnson, 1997 pp. 9-14)* Note “pp.” here is used to indicated a page range, if citing a singular page, use “p.”

Other instances which require variation on the author-date system:

  • Reference to specific pages within a volume
  • Reference to a work that is in press
  • Reference to an undated work
  • Multiple citations
  • Multiple authors
  • Institutional author
  • Personal communications
  • Unattributed book or article

Using Your Style Guide

Let’s use Chicago Manual of Style as an example. The table of contents is divided into three sections: the publishing process, style and usage, and documentation. Documentation, which includes notes, bibliography, references, and indexes will obviously be used the most, but it’s a good idea to skim through the first two in case we will need them later. The author-date references are listed towards the back, on page 785, of the sixteenth edition.

Here, Chicago provides us with an overview and visual examples of the final product in a book, individual chapter, or journal article. Then, it breaks down the specific format for individual citations in the reference list, and their in-text abbreviations. If you are editing your own work, this section should answer all of your questions concerning in-text queries, including non-traditional forms of media, such as audio-visual or blog posts.

Stick around next week for the third installment of our style-guide post series: the all-important reference list. Happy writing!