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In-text citations

What is an in-text citation?

An in-text citation is an acknowledgment of the source material you have used when you quote someone directly, or summarise someone else’s ideas. You must include an in-text citation every time you refer to someone else’s work.

What does it look like?

Here are some examples of where an in-text citation has been used to acknowledge someone else’s ideas in an essay:

Vladimir Propp’s studies into one-hundred Russian folktales caused him to theorise that most shared the same structure (Orenstein, 2002, p.227).

McKee (1997, p.317) states ‘the more powerful and complex the forces of antagonism opposing the character, the more completely realised character and story MUST become’.

What do I include in my in-text citation?

An in-text citation contains only two or three pieces of information, always in the same order:

  1. Author’s surname(s)
  2. Publication date (or copyright date)
  3. Page number(s) – where applicable

You do not need to include any more information than this in your essay (so don’t add in URLs for instance) That is because your in-text citation will refer to a source in your bibliography where you will include the full information of the source.

For example, the bold in-text citation here…

Working without set rules and ‘freed from concrete restraints’ (Victore, 2019, p.3) allows an artist to develop their ideas more freely.

…corresponds directly to the full reference in the bibliography here:

Victore, J. (2019) Feck perfuction: dangerous ideas on the business of life. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Where in my sentence should I put my in-text citation?

This is entirely up to you, choose whichever makes your sentence or paragraph flow well.

You can tag it onto the end of your sentence:

‘Freed from concrete restraints, we can enter a creative state of not knowing, open to all opportunities’ (Victore, 2019, p.20)

or you can put it within your sentence:

Working without set rules and ‘freed from concrete restraints’ (Victore, 2019, p.3), allows an artist to develop their ideas more freely.

If you have already mentioned the author’s name in your own sentence, you do not need to include the author’s name again in your in-text citation:

As explained by Victore in his exploration of creativity, ‘Admitting you don’t know is the path to knowledge and even wisdom’ (2019, p.20).

Note how it is clear in the example above that the quotation has come from Victore, so there is no need to include his name again in the in-text citation. Also, note that the elements of the in-text citation are still in the same order, i.e. Surname, Date, Page number.

In-text citation examples

How to cite when there is just one author:

(Smith, 2019) is used when referring to the whole resource (rather than a particular page or pages)
(Smith, 2019, p.3) is used when you are referring to a specific page
(Smith, 2019, pp. 3-5) is used when referring to multiple pages

How to cite two authors:

(Smith and Jones, 2019, pp. 3-5)

How to cite three authors:

(Smith, Jones and Davies, 2019, pp. 3-5)

How to cite four or more authors:

(Smith et al., 2019, pp. 3-5)

Corporate authors:

(Tate, 2019)
Used when no individual author / artist is named, very common with websites.


(Martinéz, S. (ed)., 2018, p.3) is used for a single editor
(Dry, T. and Murphy, S. (eds)., 2017, p.4) is used for multiple editors

Secondary referencing (where one author quotes another author):

(Becker, 1971, quoted in Ilyin, 2006, p.35)
In this example, Ilyin’s 2006 book included a quote from Becker’s 1971 book.

Only Ilyin’s 2006 book would appear in your bibliography because you haven’t read Becker’s book.

Two or more resources written by the same author in the same year:

(Thomas, 2019a)
(Thomas, 2019b)

Use a, b, c etc to make it clear which resource you’re talking about.
Make sure that your bibliography also has a matching a, b, c next to the date so that your lecturer can tell which resource is which.