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Citation Guide

                In-text Citations

When reading an academic paper it's important not only to know that the article was well researched but also the specific ways that research influenced the ideas being presented.  In-text citation not only signals to the reader that information so marked came from another source but their placement within a text allows the reader to see how previous arguments have led to the current claims being made.  This page provides a definition of In-text citation along with detailed instructions and reasons for their use.


What is an In-text Citation?

In academic writing, it is important to cite your information two ways: with in-text citations (brief citation) and a bibliography (i.e., Works Cited page or References page). The in-text citations and those in your Works Cited page should credit the exact same sources. The purpose of these citations is to let your reader know that the quoted or paraphrased information originated with someone else and to give your reader sufficient information so that the reader can then find the corresponding reference in your Works Cited (References) list. 

A general rule of thumb is to cite anything that is not your own idea but you will definitely cite in-text when you use the following types of information:

An exception to the citing rule regards information that is considered common knowledge or information most anyone with a common culture would know. Examples of common knowledge include:


  • Facts that are not considered to be common knowledge.
  • Statistics and Percentages.
  • Another person's ideas.
  • Direct quotes from annother person.
  • Specific reference to an obscure fact, figure, or phrase.


What about common sayings such as “haste makes waste”? It is not plagiarism if you do not find the source for such phrases. However, if you can find the origin of the saying, in this case, from Benjamin Franklin’s "Poor Richard’s Almanac”, your paper will benefit from enhanced credibility.

In trying to decide if the information you want to use constitutes “common knowledge”, it may help to ask yourself two questions:


  • George Washington is the first president of the United States.
  • The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776.
  • Did I know this information before I took this course?
  • Did this information/idea come from my own brain?

The in-text citation is used as a signal that you are citing research – using evidence you’ve found that supports or amplifies a point you wish to make in your paper. If you do not include in-text citations, there is no way to verify the resources you used in your paper, your readers may distrust your credibility as an author and you are in danger of plagiarizing.

Think of the in-text citation as a roadmap back to your Works Cited page. It directs your professor or anyone else back to the full citation on that page from which the quote, paraphrase or summarization comes.  For this reason, it is important that the first word of the in-text citation matches the first word of the full citation on the Works Cited page.

In-text citations are citations that are inserted in the main text of your paper.

Internal citations within the paper itself are necessary after a direct quote, which should always be in quotation marks, or after an idea has been paraphrased. These citations usually appear at the end of a sentence or paragraph.

All sources that are cited in the text must appear in the Works Cited (Reference) list at the end of the paper.

Works Cited:

“Understanding the Importance of Internal Citations.” WorksCited4u,,to%20protect%20you%20from%20plagiarism.

Additional Resources:

“Conducting Effective Research: In-Text Citations.” Monroe College Library,

“Introduction to Citations.” Mary Stangler Center for Academic Success,

“MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics.” Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL),