Introduction to parenthetical citations

Use the menu at the right to review more specific guidelines.

Definition of parenthetical citations

This section provides guidelines on how to use parenthetical citations to cite original sources in the text of your paper. These guidelines will help you learn the essential information needed in parenthetical citations, and teach you how to format them correctly.

Parenthetical citations are citations to original sources that appear in the text of your paper. This allows the reader to see immediately where your information comes from, and it saves you the trouble of having to make footnotes or endnotes.

The APA style calls for three kinds of information to be included in in-text citations. The author’s last name and the work’s date of publication must always appear, and these items must match exactly the corresponding entry in the references list. The third kind of information, the page number, appears only in a citation to a direct quotation.

Additional Information

See the Publication Manual, available for consultation at the UW-Madison Writing Center, in many libraries, and bookstores. You can also visit the APA web site, where you can purchase the Manual online.

If you are a registered UW-Madison student, you can attend the Writing Center class “The Basics of APA Documentation.”

Check the APA website (, where you will find links to the following:

  • “Tip of the Week” and archived tips
  • Information on bias in language
  • “Ask the Expert”–an e-mail form that allows you to ask questions about APA style
  • A form for requesting e-mail updates of APA style
  • A chapter-by-chapter description of changes made in the 6th edition