It sounds painful, but it doesn’t have to be! Basically parenthetical documentation or in-text citations means that you are telling the reader where you got any and all information that did not come from inside your own head. This is more obvious when you are directly quoting from a source, but it is also needed when you have summarized or paraphrased from a source and even if you got an idea from somewhere else.
So how do you do it? As the names imply, you are going to put the information about the source in parentheses in the text of your paper as opposed to a footnote where the source information is at the bottom of the page or an endnote where it goes at the end of your paper. There are slight differences depending on which style you are using – APA or MLA.
Basically you only need to list the author’s last name either in the text of the paper or in parentheses at the end of the sentence and the page number(s) where you got your information. Please see the examples below for options on how this could work in your writing. Also refer to your professor and how the discipline for which you are writing uses parenthetical notation as it can differ.
Special note for literary studies students:
If your quote is longer than forty words, set it off in a block text by beginning a new line, indenting one inch, and do not add quotation marks. At the end of the quote put the period after the last word of the sentence followed by the parentheses.
**Note that the punctuation for the sentence goes AFTER the parenthesis.
Take home message: In order to avoid plagiarism, it is extremely important that you cite all words and ideas that you got from somewhere else.
Please see the following handbook on reserve in the Library for more information: MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association, 2016.