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In-text Citing of a Source


Citing a source means giving credit to the person whose quote or idea you are using in your paper. You cannot claim words or ideas that belong to someone else. Consequently, the Modern Language Association (MLA) has a set of rules for making sure that everyone cites in the same way.

In-text citation means identifying the source of any borrowed material immediately as it appears, right in the text of the paper. In-text citation requires the minimum information a reader would need to find the item in the Works Cited paged of your paper or in the cited material itself. In most cases, this means giving the author and page number(s) for the source you are crediting in parenthesis at the end of the quote.

I. Samples

The following samples will show you how to use quotes and how to make in-text citations.

  1. According to Bill Gates, "computers are only the beginning of a new age of cybernetics" (113).
    Note: author's name mentioned before quote, so only page number in parenthesis.
  2. According to one computer expert, "the technological impact of the automobile industry cannot compare to the impact of computers in the last half of the twentieth century" (Gates 119).
    Note: author's name not mentioned before quote, so author's name included in parenthesis.
  3. Henry Smith, the CEO for IBM, reported that the main office in Virginia "will be recruiting more than 1,000 new computer technicians with opportunities for further training and advancement" (274).
    Note: like number 1 above, only page number necessary in parenthesis.
  4. According to Henry Smith, head of IBM, his company will be opening its doors to high numbers of new employees who will have the opportunity to rise up through the ranks to positions of management (274).
    Note: author cited with paraphrase. Often, students do not realize that even if they change the words but keep the idea, they must cite the source. Just because there are no quotes does not mean it can go uncited.

 The Following Verbs Integrate Quotes and Summaries Into the Essay:

acknowledges confirms insists
adds contends notes
admits declares observes
agrees denies points out
argues disputes reasons
asserts emphasizes refutes
believes endorses rejects
claims grants reports
comments illustrates responds
compares implies suggests

II. Plagiarism

Plagiarism means using another person's language or ideas without acknowledgment. Some plagiarism results from borrowing from a source and forgetting to acknowledge its author in the paper. At other times, plagiarism occurs because the student writer purposely wishes to take credit for the words or ideas of another.

Intentional or not, all plagiarism is theft; it is taking what belongs to someone else and using it dishonestly. To avoid plagiarism while writing your paper, remember that any time you use someone else's words, expressions, or ideas, you commit plagiarism if you do not give credit to the source (Dees 139).

Original Version:

If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists.

— Davis, Eloquent Animals, p. 26

Examples of Unacceptable Paraphrasing

  1. The existence of a signing ape unsettled linguists and startled animal behaviorists (Davis 26).
    This is plagiarism because there are more than three consecutive words from the original.
  2. If the presence of a sign-language-using chimp was disturbing for scientists studying language, it was also surprising to scientists studying animal behavior (Davis 26).
    This is plagiarism because the same sentence structure is used and synonyms are simply substituted for the author's original words.

Examples of Acceptable Paraphrasing Which Must Be Cited

  1. When they learned of an ape's ability to use sign language, both linguists and animal behaviorists were taken by surprise (Davis 26).
  2. According to Flora Davis, linguists and animal behaviorists were unprepared for the news that a chimp could communicate with its trainers through sign language (26).

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