Writing Refresh: In-text versus Parenthetical Citations -->

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Writing Refresh: In-text versus Parenthetical Citations

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Today let’s go over some resources for in-text versus parenthetical citations. Although both important, in-text and parenthetical citations aren’t fully interchangeable. Sometimes just sticking that parenthetical citation at the end of a sentence can be confusing and unclear to your reader. Read on for this writing refresher to achieve clear citations and review some of our great resources to assist you with citation formatting! 
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Sometimes a parenthetical citation (read more about parenthetical citations here) might look like this:

This educational plan will enhance the nurses’ patient care and ability to communicate more effectively with patients (Helakoski, 2016).

After implementing these changes, Woodward Elementary can engage ELL students more effectively (Helakoski, 2016).

So what’s the problem?  Helakoski didn’t specifically write about the writer’s educational plan for a specific hospital’s group of nurses, right? Or about Woodward Elementary and its ELL students. What’s more likely in both of these cases is that Helakoski’s ideas influenced the specific plans the student has made or changes they’d like to implement—but the reader can’t tell that from the citation.

So how do we fix this? Simple! Switch to an in-text citation for clarity (read more about the trouble with these citations and more examples and solutions here).

This educational plan will enhance the nurses’ patient care and ability to communicate more effectively with patients as described by Helakoski (2016).

After implementing these changes, Woodward Elementary can engage ELL students more effectively, similar to Helakoski’s (2016) study.

And there are lots of options!

Using Helakoski’s (2016) methods, this education plan will enhance…

After implementing these changes, modeled after Helakoski’s (2016) intervention, …
For more about when to cite in the sentence versus in parentheses, check out these additional resources!
So next time you cite an author concerning a method or idea specific to your paper’s topic, be sure to make it clear to the reader where the line is by citing in-text rather than in parentheses



The Walden Writing Center provides information and assistance to students with services like live chat, webinars, course visits, paper reviews, podcasts, modules, and the writing center webpages. Through these services they provide students assistance with APA, scholarly writing, and help students gain skills and confidence to enhance their scholarly work.


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