HIGH SCHOOL PROMPTS

citation imageYou’re writing your essay and everything’s going great until you realize you need to let readers know where you got a certain fact. You aren’t using a bibliography, footnotes, or works cited page because this is just an essay, not a report or research paper.

You don’t want to plagiarize. Putting someone else’s fact or idea in your essay without any citation would definitely be plagiarism.

What are you going to do?

Welcome to this tutorial on in-text citations, the answer to all of your problems!

 

A definition of “in-text citation”

An in-text citation means that you are showing the source of your fact or idea , and you are putting it into your sentence, not into a bibliography or works cited page.

 

Examples of in-text citations

The following sentences are examples of how to cite your sources (in-text citations are underlined here for your reference):

Dr. Acumen reveals in his new book I Know it All, “When it comes to facts, I can never know too many. I’m great at trivia parties. Everyone wants me on their team.”

According to www.idontcare.edu, 79 percent of students are apathetic about persuasive appeals.

These are called in-text citations. Instead of using a footnote or endnote, the information about the source appears in the sentence. Newspaper and magazine writers call this an attribution; research writers call it an in-text citation.

 

How to write in-text citations

An in-text citation can be summed up as a mathematical equation like this:

In-text citation = signal phrase + person or source + credentials

Signal phrases? Just as blinking lights at a railroad crossing signal a train’s approach, a signal phrase alerts readers that a quote or borrowed fact is coming. They are most often written in the present tense (“says”) or present perfect tense (“has said”), even if the person is long dead.

 

In-text Citations

Here is a quotation without an in-text citation. No one knows who said the quotation, so there is no feeling of authority behind it:

Despite the new health guidelines stating that pickles should not be eaten with applesauce, students continue to practice this dangerous habit. “I’m not going to give up eating pickles with applesauce just because someone says it’s going to give me heartburn.”

And here’s the same quotation with an in-text citation:

Despite the new health guidelines stating that pickles should not be eaten with applesauce, students continue to practice this dangerous habit. Jesse Dillman, president of Students for Lunchtime Liberation, admits, “I’m not going to give up eating pickles with applesauce just because someone says it’s going to give me heartburn.”

Ah, now we have a name of a person and the organization he belongs to. This gives more credence to the quotation.

 

Examples of in-text citations written by real students (underlined for reference):

1. As a result, there are 40 percent fewer collisions, 80 percent fewer injuries, and 90 percent fewer fatal injuries and deaths when using a roundabout, according to the United States Department of Transportation.

2. If you live with a pack-a-day smoker who smokes inside the house, you inhale about three cigarette’s worth of smoke a day, 21 a week, and 1092 a year, states www.whitelies.tv.

3. A 1998 University of California, San Francisco, study done of bar workers in California shows that after two smoke-free months, 59 percent of workers who had complained of respiratory problems no longer had any symptoms.

4. As for expense, Wikipedia.org claims that one can buy a satisfactory hybrid car for $30,000 or less.

 

Notice the signal phrases that accompany the facts and in-text citations: according to, states, shows that, and claims that. Also note that the in-text citation can appear at the beginning of your sentence, the middle, or the end. It’s up to you to put it where it seems best.

Also notice that you’ll cite the home page address of a Website. So, instead of using http://www.thisisgoingtobelongandboring.com/havent-you-had-enough-yet/no-really/, you’ll use www.thisisgoingtobelongandboring.com.

When using a Web address, turn off your hyperlink by right clicking on the Website address. Then left click on “hyperlink” or “remove hyperlink.” That way, the address won’t be blue in your essay.

In addition to a signal phrase, add a short credential to show how credible your source is and to give a context to the quote or fact:

• Dr. James C. Dobson, a noted expert on child rearing, claims that . . .
• The actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson reveals . . .
• . . . writes Ravi Zacharias, a famous Christian apologist.
• ConAgra Foods, a multi-billion dollar parent company for many food products, insists…
• According to the creation science website answersingenesis.org, , . . .
• Historian David G. McCullough notes in his book 1776 that . . .
• C. S. Lewis, after losing his wife to cancer just a few years into their marriage, writes . . .

C. S. Lewis’s credential could have been his books, but because that quotation is about his personal life, it makes sense to mention his loss. The quotation gains authority because of the painful experience Lewis had.

 

The logistics of the quote

Example of a complete sentence taken from the original source and quoted.

In Evenings with Cary Grant, the actor reveals, “I was not to se my mother again for more than twenty years, by which time my name was changed and I was a full-grown man living in America.”

Notice that if you run up to your quote with the word that, no comma is needed before the quote:

Actor Cary Grant reveals in Evenings with Cary Grant that “I was not to see my mother again for more than twenty years, by which time my name was changed and I was a full-grown man living in America.”

Example of a partial quotation with the word that:

Actor Cary Grant reveals in Evenings with Cary Grant that “I was not to see my mother again for more than twenty years.”

 

Example of part of an original quotation with words deleted from the middle. An ellipsis (those three dots) takes the place of the missing words:

Actor Cary Grant reveals in Evenings with Cary Grant that “I was not to see my mother again for more than twenty years, by which time . . .  I was . . .  living in America.”

 

Now it’s your turn: There are two exercises today. The first one is about creating in-text citations; the second one concerns correct punctuation for citations.

Exercise 1

Directions: Below are a few quotes or facts, along with the source information. Decide whether to quote, use a partial quote, or paraphrase the information, and then create one in-text citation for each of the four sources. There are a number of right ways to do this, so be creative. Click here for a PDF of this exercise.

 

Source #1: Mr. Kurtz

Quote: “Severed heads on poles will accomplish much in the way of keeping order and creating respect for authority when one lives in a dark jungle.”

Credentials: Runs a trading post in Africa that deals with ivory

 

Source #2: Henry (Indiana) Jones Jr.

Quote: “Using a whip is not necessary when discovering the buried and hidden past, but it is fun.”

Credentials: an archaeology professor at Marshall College, New Britain, Connecticut, and a world-renown archaeologist

 

Source #3: www.ayankeein.sci

Quote: “Time travel is possible, but only to castles.”

Credentials: a respected time travel Web site

 

Source #4: LOTFlies organization

Fact: “Six out of ten boys would rather hunt wild boar than go hungry.”

Credentials: specializes in spear making

 

 

Exercise 2

Directions: Add the correct punctuation for each quotation or sentence below. Click here for a PDF of this exercise.

 

  1. Complete sentence quoted: In Experiment in Autobiography, H. G. Wells recounts the time when he contracted tuberculosis and thought he was going to die. He states  I was exasperated not to have become famous; not to have seen the world.
  2. Partial sentence quoted: In Experiment in Autobiography, H. G. Wells writes that when he contracted tuberculosis and thought he was going to die, he  was exasperated not to have become famous; not to have seen the world.
  3. Partial sentence quoted with a break in the middle: In Experiment in Autobiography, H. G. Wells writes that when he contracted tuberculosis and thought he was going to die, he was exasperated not to have      seen the world.
  4. A paraphrase of the original quotation: In Experiment in Autobiography, H. G. Wells remembers contracting tuberculosis and facing the possibility of death. He writes that he was disappointed to die so young, not having expanded his horizons or achieved fame.

 

Answers to Exercise 1. These are possibilities:

  1. Mr. Kurtz, who runs a trading post in Africa that specializes in ivory, says that “severed heads on poles will accomplish much in the way of keeping order and creating respect for authority when one lives in a dark jungle.”
  2. “Using a whip is not necessary when discovering the buried and hidden past,” reveals Henry (Indiana) Jones Jr., archaeology professor at Marshall College, New Britain, Connecticut, and a world-renown archaeologist, “but it is fun.”
  3. According to www.ayankeein.sci, time travelers should expect to arrive only at castles.
  4. LOTFlies, an organization that specializes in spear making, maintains that sixty percent of boys “would rather hunt wild boar than go hungry.”

Answers to Exercise 2:

  1. Complete sentence quoted: In Experiment in Autobiography, H. G. Wells recounts the time when he contracted tuberculosis and thought he was going to die. He states, “I was exasperated not to have become famous; not to have seen the world.”
  2. Partial sentence quoted: In Experiment in Autobiography, H. G. Wells writes that when he contracted tuberculosis and thought he was going to die, he was exasperated not to have become famous; not to have seen the world.”
  3. Partial sentence quoted with a break in the middle: In Experiment in Autobiography, H. G. Wells writes that when he contracted tuberculosis and thought he was going to die, he was exasperated not to have . . .  seen the world.”
  4. A paraphrase of the original quotation: In Experiment in Autobiography, H. G. Wells remembers contracting tuberculosis and facing the possibility of death. He writes that he was disappointed to die so young, not having expanded his horizons or achieved fame. [Correct as stands. No change in punctuation.]

 

For a tutorial on in-text citations for middle school students, click here.

Here’s more information on how to avoid plagiarism.

Much of this tutorial is taken from The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School.

Copyright © 2012-2015 by Sharon Watson
Image credit: Sharon Watson

 

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