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Using In-text Citations

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Time Estimate

50 minutes


Give students practice recognizing and using different forms of in-text citations.


One copy of the Citation Examples handout per student

Computer Lab Option Materials

Word processing software

Digital projector

  1. Elicit from students what they know about or understand in-text citations to be and what purpose they may serve.

  2. Pass out a copy of the Citation Examples handout, beginning with either the MLA or APA examples.

  3. Ask students to read to themselves the first paragraph on the handout from Ashley Montagu’s book The American Way of Life.

  4. Ask one or two volunteers to paraphrase orally the meaning of the paragraph to test students’ understanding of the gist of the paragraph.

  5. Read through each example in-text citation with students, asking them to comment on the differences among the examples as well as identify the essential information that all the examples have in common.

  6. Ask students to comment on when and why they might use one form of in-text citation versus another.

  7. Pass out an article excerpt, preferably one on a topic related to students’ research interests.

  8. Ask students to read the excerpt to themselves and then write a short paraphrase that exemplifies their understanding of the text. Review a few of their paraphrases orally to make sure students understand the main points of the text.

  9. Next have students choose three to four different styles of in-text citations and have them write citations for the article (on a transparency, if available) as exemplified in the previous handout.

  10. Either at the end of class or in the following class, anonymously project on an OHP student citation examples containing errors. Have students try to identify the errors. Sample errors may include the following:

    • Students have not referenced all of the authors.
    • Students have attributed ideas to the wrong source.
    • Students have "over cited" by referring to the author within text as well as within the parenthetical citation.
    • Students have used single and double quotation marks incorrectly.
Computer Lab Option

Have students type up their citation examples in class and e-mail them to you. Copy and paste a number of incorrect examples into a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word, project them overhead, and correct them as a class.