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Wednesday, November 16, 2016 Citations in Every Style

If you’re like most humans on this beautiful blue and green ball we call earth, you probably have a bit of trouble keeping track of all the different ways you’re supposed to cite sources. It doesn’t help that there are multiple citation styles either, because MLA, APA, and Turabian (not to mention Bluebook and the other lesser-known styles) all want you to include different stuff. While it would be impossible for me to lay out all the ways to cite all the different types of sources in all the styles, a good starting point is looking at what each of the styles wants you to include in your in-text citations. So let’s take a look, style by style.


This style uses a type of in-text citation called a parenthetical citation. Basically, you throw a little information about the source you’re referencing in between parentheses at the end of the sentence – make sure to put the sentence’s period after the parenthetical citation! In general, MLA wants two pieces of information in these citations: the author’s last name and the page number you got the information you’re referencing. So ideally, it’ll look something like this:

  • “I like chocolate” (Everyone 564).

Don’t have an author? No need to panic! Replace the author’s last name with an abbreviated version of the source’s title, and you’re golden. If you need more guidance, pick up an MLA Manual (8th edition)!


APA also uses parenthetical citations, but this style only wants the page number you got the information from if you’re directly quoting it. Instead of always including the author’s last name and the page number, you’re going to include the author’s last name and the year the source was published. Take a look at this example of an APA parenthetical citation for something that’s not a direct quote:

  • Cows are fairly cool animals (Everyone, 2009).

And now for a direct quote:

  • “Cows are not sheep” (Everyone, 2009, p. 43).

APA works the same as MLA if you don’t have an author’s name; you replace it with an abbreviated version of the source’s title. Still have questions? Don’t fear! I’ve got an APA Manual (6th edition) with your name on it! Well, not me personally, obviously, but like a library or something would have one.


Ah, Turabian. Because Turabian has to be different, it doesn’t do parenthetical citations like MLA and APA; it does footnotes, which require you to put in all the information you include in the bibliographical entry, just in a different order. Why? Good question for a different time. For now, you should know that we actually have a Turabian directory to help you with all your Turabian needs!

So there are some basic tips on how to do in-text citations. Formatting your paper can be overwhelming, but learning to use the formatting style that your discipline uses is an important part of being able to express yourself effectively in a way that causes people to listen. For more information on how to use the styles, check out some of our other blog posts, or better yet, stop by the writing center #shamelessplug! And if you’re feeling stressed out by all this citation talk, check out this video of pandas inconveniencing someone trying to rake some leaves! You’re welcome.

Sam Myers is a Biblical studies major and a writing coach at Liberty University's Undergraduate Writing Center. 

Posted at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)
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