When to Use an Author Name in the Body of a Sentence and When to Keep It in the Parenthetical Citation -->

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When to Use an Author Name in the Body of a Sentence and When to Keep It in the Parenthetical Citation

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By Tim McIndoo, Dissertation Editor

Scholarship requires acknowledgement of all sources of text or ideas not one’s own. APA style calls this an in-text citation. It is done in two ways:

Gardner’s (year) theory of multiple intelligences...
The theory of multiple intelligences... (Gardner, year)

In the first example, the author’s name appears in the body of the sentence; in the second example, it appears in the parenthetical citation. Both are correct. But why choose one over the other?

Which is more important to the sentence or paragraph: the author of the idea or the idea itself? When you are comparing authors’ ideas—which would be common in a discussion of theories, for example—readers need to know which idea belongs to which author. Thus, the author’s name (or names or et al.) should appear in the body of the sentence—that is, in the foreground. But outside of this direct comparison—when the ideas are more important than who presented them—the author’s name should be kept in the citation, that is, in the background.

By keeping ideas in the foreground (and authors in the background), you improve clarity, continuity, and thus comprehension. The sources of ideas (author names) do not get overemphasis. Readers are not forced to keep reading authors’ names, which are secondary to ideas. Relegating authors’ names to parenthetical citations also benefits you as the writer: You don’t have to find artful ways of integrating names into the text.

To recap: All sources of ideas or text not your own must be cited. Broadly speaking, when the author’s name is as important as his or her idea, include the name in the sentence; when the idea is more important than the author’s name, keep the name in the parenthetical citation.*

*See also p. 172 of The Craft of Research (Booth, Colomb, & Williams, 1995), a highly recommended guide.


  1. Hello,could you please help me out? In an annotated bibliography, when writing the summary or analysis and the author of the paper has been properly credited and cited in every possible way is it acceptable to interchange between his given name and the word "author" when there is a continued focus on one individual's work?

    1. Good Morning, Armida. Before I answer your question, please remember that each writing situation has different requirements and expectations held by the reader. What is appropriate in one course might be not as appropriate in the next course. Always scrutinize the instructions you've been given and make sure you check with your reader, faculty member, or assessor.

      That being said, in Walden annotated bibliography assignments we recommend that writers omit citations altogether. You can read an extended explanation on our AB webpage, but since you've just written the reference entry information in the lines above the annotation, there is no room for confusion in the reader.

      To answer your question directly, in my opinion, you are welcome to use the term "author" as a stand in for the author's given name.

      You can learn much more about this question on the Walden University Writing Center's web page on Formatting Annotated Bibliographies.

      Have a great day!

    2. Hey thank you for your incite, will keep your advice in mind, have a great Fourth of July and be safe everyone!!

  2. We're glad you enjoyed the post, Armida Silver, and hope you had a great Fourth of July as well!