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In-text Citations: What is an In-text Citation and How to Cite within Text

In-Text Citations: The Basics

In-text citation or in-text referencing is a fundamental aspect of academic writing that involves acknowledging and referencing the sources from which information is derived.

What is an in-text citation: Meaning and Definition

In academic writing, an in-text citation is a reference made within the body of an article. It is commonly presented as short parenthetical statements or numbers indicating the source information such as author name, publication year, and page number wherever necessary.

Proper in-text referencing is crucial for upholding academic integrity and adding credibility to your work. This can be achieved through “in-text citation generator” tools, such as Mendeley, EndNote, and RefWorks that generate citations and references in various citation styles (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). These tools especially help researchers to ensure proper formatting when creating bibliographies.

How to do an in-text citation:

The specific format for in-text citations varies depending on the chosen style guide. Below are some tips to write proper in-text citations:

  • Include the author’s name and the publication year either enclosed in parentheses or integrated into the text. Include page numbers wherever required especially when quoting directly from a page.
  • Use signal phrases or smoothly integrate citations into your sentences.
  • Ensure that the in-text citations correspond with the reference list to maintain accuracy throughout your work.

There are various citation formats, each with its own set of rules and guidelines. The type of citation style depends on the study discipline and the preference of the chosen publication or institution. Some of the commonly used citation styles are:

APA Style In-Text Citation Example:

The APA 7 Style, also known as the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the APA, uses the author-date citation system, where the in-text citations include the author’s last name and the publication year.


“The sky is blue” (Smith, 2020, p. 15).

According to Smith (2020), the color of the sky is often blue.

MLA In-text Citation Example:

In the MLA style, in-text citations include the author’s last name and page number.

When citing a website, the author’s name or the title of the web page (if no author is available) is typically used.

For example,


“The sky is blue” (Smith 15).

According to Smith, the sky’s color is often blue.

Chicago In-Text Citation Example

In CMS style, the in-text citations are presented in two ways:

Notes-Bibliography style: uses footnotes or endnotes for in-text citations and a bibliography.


“The theory has gained widespread acceptance” (Brown 2017, 104).

Brown’s article (2017) discusses the theory’s widespread acceptance (104).

Author-Date style: uses parenthetical in-text citations and a reference list.


“The theory has gained widespread acceptance” (Brown 2017).

Brown’s article (2017) discusses the theory’s widespread acceptance.

Do’s and Don’ts of In-text Citations


  1. Cite and reference all sources within the text. Acknowledge someone else’s ideas, words, and data, even if you paraphrase them.
  2. Adhere to the appropriate style guides as per the requirement (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).


  1. Never use someone else’s work without proper acknowledgement as it accounts for plagiarism.
  2. Do not overuse direct quotes or phrases from other sources. Try to paraphrase or summarize and use direct quotes only when the exact wording is crucial.
  3. Do not alter direct quotes or change their wording or meaning.
  4. Avoid citing unreliable sources.


NSK is a project manager with a Ph.D. in Plant Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering from University of Madras and has published articles in the fields of plant genetic engineering and molecular biology. In her current role as Manager, Scientific Editing and Journal Services, NSK plays a pivotal role in facilitating communication between journals and authors, ensuring a seamless publication process.

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