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Punctuation with Parenthetical Citation

The rules for punctuation are fairly simple when you are using parenthetical citation. Put parenthetical citations close to the material cited and before natural pauses like periods, commas, or semicolons. Just remember that in almost all cases, the punctuation follows the parenthetical citation, regardless of whether the cited material is a direct quote or a paraphrase.

With a paraphrase, the rule is clear. After the complete sentence comes the parenthetical citation, then the period to end the sentence. This makes it clear to the reader that the parenthetical citation goes with the material in the sentence. For example, David Wilkinson writes:

The new technology, when first released, is overpriced because it is not yet being mass produced (Passman 172).

With a quote, things are a little more complicated, because you will not include punctuation inside the quotes at the end of the quoted material. For example, in the original source the sentence is: “In a relatively short period of time, automotive manufacturers have seen the cartridge playback emerge as one of its strongest selling accessories.” This is a complete sentence ending with a period. If you were simply quoting dialogue, as you might do in a narrative or a work of fiction, the punctuation would stay inside the quotes.

But in order to make clear to your reader that the parenthetical citation goes with the quoted material in a specific sentence, you must move the punctuation. The final sentence as it appears in your paper would look like this:

Their rapid growth began with car manufacturers citing “the cartridge playback… as one of [the automobile industry’s] strongest selling accessories” (Shemel 92).

The only exception to putting the period after the parenthetical is with the block quotation, which we discussed here. You will notice that at the end of the block quotation, there is a period followed by the parenthetical citation. This is a special rule for formatting block quotes.

Despite the invention’s longevity up to that point, its reign was soon to expire:

In fact, the record player of 1977 was based on exactly the same technology as the phonograph of 1877. The quality had improved, but the basic principle of mechanical recording was the same. In the history of inventions the gramophone record had long since passed maturity. (Gronow 187)

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