Academic writing styles require in-text citations to give credit to a source when a writer refers to someone else's work. Though basic guidelines are similar, citation requirements vary depending on the documentation style used. Consider which documentation style is most appropriate for your area of study. Most college assignments require either Modern Language Association or American Psychological Association style.
MLA uses the author-page method for in-text citations. Place the author's last name either in a signal phrase within the referenced sentence or in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Place the page number in parentheses after the sentence unless the work has no page number. A signal phrase citation would look like this: In his essay "Social Change," Dr. John Smith writes, "Positive social change gives people the ability to improve the future" (27). Format a parenthetical citation like this: "Positive social change gives people the ability to improve the future" (Smith 27). Always use quotation marks for direct quotes.
APA in-text citations require the author-date method. The author's last name and the year of publication appear in the text. It includes the page number when using direct quotes. Here is an example of a citation within the sentence: Smith (2010) noted in his essay, "Positive social change gives people the ability to improve the future" (p. 27). Format a parenthetical citation like this: Positive social change can improve a person's future (Smith, 2010). Here is an example of a parenthetical citation with a direct quote: "Positive social change gives people the ability to improve the future" (Smith, 2010, p. 27). Notice the formatting of the page number (p. 27) differs from MLA style.
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