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Using Parentheses in Citations

Three common situations that determine the format...

of MLA parenthetical citations:
  • no author named in the text
  • author named in the text
  • author has more than one work in bibliography

    As a rule-of-thumb, always provide your readers with enough information in the parentheses to make it possible for them to go to your bibliography and find the exact location of the cited material. In order to trace cited material to its source, your readers need: the author(s), the title of the work, and the page number/location.

    Some examples of parenthetical use...

    No author named in text/only one work by author in bibliography...
    Mathematics frequently bring new insight into established natural sciences, and "population biology has long been a magnet for controversy anyway" (Gleick 78). Note that sentence actually concludes at the end of the parenthetical citation.

    Author named/only one work by author in bibliography...
    According to James Gleick, mathematics frequently bring new insight into established natural sciences, and "population biology has long been a magnet for controversy anyway" (78).

    Author named/multiple works by same author in the bibliography...
    According to James Gleick, mathematics frequently bring new insight into established natural sciences, and "population biology has long been a magnet for controversy anyway" (Chaos 78). Note the use of the short title in the parenthetical citation; use enough of the title to point the reader to the correct item in the bibliography.

    No author named/multiple works by the same author in the bibliography...
    Mathematics frequently bring new insight into established natural sciences, and "population biology has long been a magnet for controversy anyway" (Gleick, Chaos 78).

    See chapter 37 of Little, Brown Handbook (6th ed.) for a fuller discussion on documenting sources.
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