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CRLS Research Guide

Citing Sources: Parenthetical Documentation

Tip Sheet 16

Ask these questions:

What in the world is that?

  • It is way to let people know where your information comes from.
  • Whenever you use material that you got from another source in your research project, you must let your audience know immediately where it came from, right after you use it.


Why should I do it?

  • It lets your reader know that you want to make clear to them which are your ideas/words/pictures, etc. and which are someone else's. If you do not cite your sources, you are committing plagiarism (Plagiarism is an unlawful act in which you use someone else's work as if it is your own. It can get you in big trouble. Avoid it.).


  • It gives your Thesis Statement a lot more credibility because you obviously didn't just make up what you are claiming. You did your research!


  • Your reader can check the original source for more information or for accuracy if they want to challenge you.


When do I have to do it?

You must cite your sources when using the following kinds of materials, in whole or in part:
  • Direct quotations whether in written or oral formats (includes stories, speeches, fiction and nonfiction)
  • Paraphrased quotations (these are quotes whose words you have changed somewhat)
  • Statistical Data (numbers about things)
  • Images that are attributed to someone (includes cartoons, photos, maps, artwork, computer graphics-but not free "clip art")
  • Song lyrics
  • Original ideas that are attributed to someone else, even if you put them in your own words


How do I do it?

Citing your sources can be done as "footnotes" or "endnotes" but they are a pain to do.

Now you can use "parenthetical documentation" and it is very easy. The word "parenthetical" is a clue to the meaning. It means "within parentheses".

There are two main ways to do this type of citing or "documentation".

One way to do it is this:

At the end of the borrowed material, put in parentheses the author's last name and the page(s) where the material is found within the source.

It looks like this:
"No nation in the world has so many drastic problems squeezed into so small a place, under such urgent pressure of time and heavy burden of history, as Israel"  (Tuchman 123).
Tuchman is the author's last name and the quote is on page 123 of a book you will list in your Works Cited at the end of your project. Therefore the reader can get that book immediately if they want to and check that you have copied the quote correctly, or simply read the book, if they have the interest. The quote is in quotation marks because it is used directly as found within the source. If you paraphrase you don't have to use quotation marks.

Another way to do it is this:

Use the author's name in the text that you write and put the page number(s) in parentheses at the end of the borrowed material.

That way looks like this:

Barbara Tuchman said,"No nation in the world has so many drastic problems squeezed into so small a place, under such urgent pressure of time and heavy burden of history, as Israel" (123).
Although it looks pretty straightforward, you will run into some unusual cases, like books with more than one author, books with no author, websites, interviews, etc. So I will direct you to two places to find out how to cite different kinds of sources. The first is Tip Sheet #19: Making a Works Cited. The second is the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, fifth edition (Gibaldi) which can be found in most libraries including CRLS. Go to the section on "Documentation: Citing sources in the Text". These 2 resources will give you the many variations of citation formats. Or, you can ask a librarian!


Copyright © 2004 Holly Samuels All Rights Reserved