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Parenthetical Citation

Your “Works Cited” at the end of the paper will list the sources you have used. In the body of your paper, you also must let the reader know when you are using these sources and where in the source you found the information. MLA format requires a parenthetical citation.

In a parenthetical citation, you let the reader know which source you are using within the text of your paper. You want to incorporate this citation information smoothly, being careful not to disturb the flow of your writing.

Your reference information will lead the reader to the works cited page, giving the author’s name or title of the work and the page number where you found the information. Put the reference at the end of a sentence, in parentheses, before the punctuation mark to end the sentence or, if necessary, as close to the cited material as possible and just before a natural pause in the sentence such as a comma, semicolon, or colon.


There are even more very specific rules for parenthetical citations. Look in the MLA Handbook in the library or your classroom for more details and numerous examples.

The worksheet Using Direct Quotes, Paraphrase, and Summary can help you practice using sources.

Examples of Parenthetical Citation from Miles Smaxwell’s paper “Darwin & the Galapagos: The Journey towards Evolution.” Compare the Works Cited listing to the Parenthetical Citation examples, each sentence representing the way to properly format that type of document entry.

Darwin said without satisfaction, “Nothing could be less inviting than the first appearance” (Altman 84).

He found that, “This reptile has no enemy whatever on shore, whereas at sea it must often fall a prey to the numerous sharks” (Darwin 410).

As a result, the population will continue to change over time (“Darwin”).

Darwin noticed that they always stayed close to shore (Keynes 311) and were never more than ten yards inland (Moorehead 191).

In Charles Darwin and the Evolution Revolution, Rebecca Stefoff explains that “one species had a long, sharp beak for pricking seabirds to drink their blood; another had a short thick beak for cracking seeds; a third had a sturdy beak for overturning pebbles to find food; a fourth had a curved beak for plucking insects from cacti, and so on” (68-69).

Works Cited

Altman, Linda Jacobs. Mr. Darwin’s Voyage. Parsippany, NJ: Dillan Press, 1995. Print.

Darwin, Charles. The Voyage of the Beagle. New York: Collier, 1909. Web. Sep. 7, 2009. <>.

“Darwin Developed a Theory of Evolution.” Biology: Exploring Life. Pearson Prentice Hall, 2003. Web. April 4, 2006. <>.

Keynes, Richard. Fossils, Finches and Fuegians: Darwin’s Adventures and Discoveries on the Beagle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.

Moorehead, Alan. Darwin and the Beagle. New York: Harper and Row, 1969. Print.

Stefoff, Rebecca. Charles Darwin and the Evolution Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

More Examples of Parenthetical Citations:

Purdue University Online Writing Lab:

and Citing Two or More Works by the Same Author or Authors (Harry Potter Parenthetical Example!)

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