A Tale of Two Citations


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In the 7th edition, APA Style differentiates between two types of in-text citations: parenthetical and narrative. With the author-date citation system, sometimes both the author and date appear in parenthesis separated by a comma–thus, a parenthetical citation–and sometimes only the date appears in parenthesis, and the author’s name is used in the sentence as part of the narrative–hence narrative citation. 

A sentence with a narrative citation, for example, would include some kind of signal phrase, the date of publication in parentheses, and the rest of the sentence like this: Clements (2020) (in parentheses) explained the difference between a parenthetical in-text citation and narrative in-text citation.

As should be evident, all a signal phrase is is some introductory text that precedes (and sometimes splits or follows) information that comes from a source whether that information is a direct quote, a paraphrase, or a summary. A signal phrase is a natural part of a narrative in-text citation as it attributes information to a particular author like this: Clements (date of publication in parentheses) explained signal phrases in a recent fabulous podcast. Common signal phrases include such phrasing as According to X, As noted by X, As X argued, stated, reported, or some other past tense verb, and other similar constructs. 

Using signal phrases and narrative citations are not new in APA Style 7th edition, but the language “narrative citation” is used more prominently than the previous edition. You will find examples of narrative and parenthetical citations for common sources in the Academic Success & Writing Resource Center & Blog’s popular resource Common Citations and References in APA Style (7th ed.).

Until next week–

Kurtis Clements

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