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IB Extended Essay: In-Text Citations

You should cite when:

  • Referring to a source and stating someone else's opinions, thoughts, ideas, or research
  • Using an image or media file that you did not create
    When in doubt, cite it

When referring to a source, you have 3 options:

  1. Directly Quoting 
  2. Summarizing 
  3. Paraphrase 

Which option you should choose depends on how much of a source you are using, how you are using it, and what kind of paper you are writing--since different fields use sources in different ways.

You do not need to cite a source for:

  • Your thoughts and your interpretations
  • Common knowledge​

What is a direct quotation? 

"Must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author."

Use it:

  • If summarizing or paraphrasing cannot capture the essence or meaning of the text 
  • To retain a specific or unique phrasing used by the source's author
  • If you are analyzing the text itself (often in English or language classes)

Be advised:

Most of the time when you cite a source, you want to summarize or paraphrase. Direct quotations should be used sparingly when the situation meets the criteria above. When you do use direct quotations:

  • Do not take the quote out of context. The author's meaning should not change.
  • Be sure to integrate multiple sources within your text. You don't want to have a paper or a passage that seems to have come only from one source, with little original text from you.
  • Use transitions to make sure your quote adds to your paper without interrupting its flow.

How to Cite a Direct Quotation:  

  • Place quotation marks around the entire word-for-word passage, whether it's a phrase or a sentence.
  • Attribute with an in-text citation; most citation styles request that you provide a page or paragraph number when directly citing.  
  • If your quotation is longer, check with your citation style guide to see if additional formatting is necessary (block quotations, for example). 

via, Otis Library

What is a Summary?

"Involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s).... Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material." 

"Similar to paraphrasing, summarizing involves using your own words and writing style to express another author's ideas. Unlike the paraphrase, which presents important details, the summary presents only the most important ideas of the passage."

Use it:

  • To provide necessary background information for your audience
  • When broad, concise information will suffice 

How to cite a summary:  

  • Attribute with an in-text citation; some citation styles request that you provide a page or paragragh number whenever available.
  • You should not be using any word-for-word quotations or language unique to the source, so you do NOT need quotation marks around your summary

via, Otis Library

What is a paraphrase? 

"A paraphrase is a detailed restatement in your own words of a written or sometimes spoken source material. Apart from the changes in organization, wording, and sentence structure, the paraphrase should be nearly identical in meaning to the original passage. It should also be near the same length as the original passage and present the details of the original."

Paraphrasing is "your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form."

When paraphrasing, you must change both the sentence structure and the language of the original text

Use it:

  • "When the wording is less important than the meaning of the source"
  • If a summary would not provide enough specific details

How to cite a paraphrase:  

  • Attribute with an in-text citation; some citation styles request that you provide a page or paragraph number whenever available.
  • When paraphrasing, you must change both the sentence structure and language of the original text.  Therefore, since you will be changing the text, you do NOT need quotation marks around your paraphrase

via, Otis Library

Common Knowledge:

It doesn't necessarily mean that most people would know it offhand. And sometimes it's a judgment call because what seems like common knowledge to one person isn't to another. Here are good rules of thumb:

  • If you can find the same information in multiple places, stated in relatively the same way, it's common knowledge (Generally, it is said that you should find the information three to five sources)
  • If most people are aware of this fact, or if it's general reference, it's common knowledge

Caution:  Opinions and unique terminology/phrasing do not qualify as common knowledge.

When in doubt, cite

via, Otis Library

How do I write an MLA parenthetical (also called "in-text") reference?

Next to each citation you create in NoodleTools, you'll find a link titled "In-text reference." Click the link to get information about how to refer to that particular entry in-text, as well as a list of rules to follow for parenthetical references in general. We've listed that information here as well for your convenience.

What is a parenthetical reference?

A parenthetical reference is a reference within the body of your paper to one of the sources listed in your Works Cited list. It indicates to your reader exactly what you derived from the source, and specifically where they can find it. You need to write a parenthetical, or "in-text" reference, whether you quote the material directly from the source, paraphrase it in your own words, or refer to an idea derived from the material.

What typically goes in an MLA-style parenthetical reference?

The information that you need to include depends on what type of source the material comes from. For printed material, you normally only need to include the author(s) (or title if there is no author) and page number(s) in your reference. For multi-volume works like encyclopedias, you may also need to include a volume number (see Rules 6 and 7 below). For Internet sources, sometimes an alternative to page numbers, such as paragraph numbers, are cited.

The information described above can be either included in the sentence that you write, or added in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

What other rules do I need to know to write a parenthetical reference?

Rule 1: Placement
The parentheses are usually placed at the end of a sentence, between the last word and the period. If you are quoting material directly, the parentheses should go between the closing quotation mark and the period:

"The chicken came before the egg" (Smith 21).

Rule 2: Sentence vs. parentheses
Only information that is not already contained in your sentence is necessary in the parenthetical reference. For example, in the following example the author's last name, Smith, is already stated, so only the page numbers are necessary within the parentheses:

Smith theorizes that the chicken came before the egg (21).

Rule 3: When author names are similar or the same
Information you provide in the parenthetical reference should distinguish exactly which work in your source list you are referring to. Add a first initial or whole first name if the last name is not unique in your source list, or add the title of the work if there is more than one work by the same author. For example:

It has been proven that the chicken came before the egg (J. Smith 21).
It has been proven that the chicken came before the egg (John Smith 21).
It has been proven that the chicken came before the egg (Smith, Eggs 21-33).

Rule 4: When there is no author
If the work is listed and alphabetized in your source list by its title (no author), then you should refer to it in the parenthetical reference by its title as well. The title may be shortened to just the first word (not including articles like "The" and "A"), and should be quoted or underlined if it is quoted or underlined in your source list. For example:

Experts believe that the chicken came before the egg (Chicken 21).
Experts believe that the chicken came before the egg ("Egg" 21).

If you have two entries with the same author (or no author) and title, find a publication fact that distinguishes the works and add it to their parenthetical references. For a nonperiodical print source or an e-book, use the date of publication if possible. For an article in a magazine, newspaper or other periodical, use the title of the periodical. For a Web page or reference database, use the title of the overall Web site.

Experts believe that the chicken came before the egg (Smith, 2006).
Experts believe that the chicken came before the egg ("Egg," ChickenWeb).

Rule 5: Page numbers and other numbering systems
Sources sometimes use alternate numbering systems like sections (sec.), chapters (ch.), books (bk.), parts (pt.), verses, lines, acts, or scenes. Content within online sources can often only be referenced by paragraph number. If an alternate numbering system is used, include that information instead of page numbers. Note that a comma is used after the author (or title) in this case.

Experts believe that the chicken came before the egg (Smith, pars. 3-4).
In "Egg Poem" Smith asks "how do we know, which came first?" (lines 5-6).

Occasionally, you may find that page numbers are available in addition to these other numbering systems. In this case, it is helpful to include both; provide the page number first, followed by a semicolon, and then the other identifying information. An example follows:

One novel reports a different theory (Smith 55; pt. 1, sec. 3, ch. 1).
In "Egg Poem" Smith asks "how do we know, which came first?" (6; lines 5-6).

An exception to this rule is that when you are citing a classic verse play or poem, it is standard to omit page numbers even if they are given, and instead cite by division (act, scene, canto, book, part) and line. Divisions and the line number(s) are separated with periods, as in the following examples:

In his classic play, Smith jokes about the egg (Egg 1.4.55-56).
In "Egg Poem" Smith asks "how do know, which came first?" (4.5-6).

Rule 6: When to cite the volume number
If you are referring to a multi-volume work like an encyclopedia AND you used more than one volume of that work in your paper, then your parenthetical reference should include the volume number you used, as in the following example where we are referring to pages 5-6 of the third volume:

Experts believe that the chicken came before the egg ("Egg" 3:5-6).

Rule 7: Referring to an entire work
If you are referring to an entire work (like an opera or an entire novel) and not a specific section of the work, state the author and/or title within the sentence, and do not add any further information in parentheses. For example:

Smith's opera "Chicken and Egg" is a light-hearted comedy.

An exception to the rule above is that if you are citing an entire volume of a multi-volume work, you should include the volume number (either within the sentence, or in parentheses as shown below). Note that we use the abbreviation vol. when page numbers are not provided, unlike the example for Rule 5.

Volume 2 of Smith's book solves the chicken and egg mystery.
Eggs solves the chicken and egg mystery (Smith, vol. 2).

Rule 8: Quoting or paraphrasing a quotation
If what you quote or paraphrase in your paper is itself a quotation in the source, add the phrase "qtd. in" to the parenthetical reference as shown here:

"I have proven that the chicken came before the egg" (qtd. in J. Smith 21).


There are several citation styles out there. SIS uses MLA 9; however, speak with your supervisor or librarian if you'd like to choose a different one. Whichever you choose, BE CONSISTENT with citions and works cited page. 

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