Addressing Common Complications
When creating in-text citations, a few complications tend to arise fairly often.
- What if my source is quoting someone else?
- What if there are quotation marks in the material I am are quoting for your essay?
- What if a source doesn’t have a listed author?
- What if I need to change something inside a direct quotation?
These common complications happen often enough that there are rules for how to deal with them.
What if my source is quoting someone else?
If you are citing a research source that in turn cites from another source, follow the same rules as above.
Also, be clear in assigning attribution to the person responsible for the original idea and be clear in indicating what source you are citing.
Kirk Douglas, a preeminent scholar in the Hemingway studies, has argued that “Hemingway’s subtlety is a direct result of his editing methods” (qtd. in Cartwright).
If the original source you are citing for your paper is being paraphrased in the source you have located (instead of directly quoted), we’ll use “ctd. in ” instead of “qtd. in” but the rest is the same.
Note: In this situation, the Cartwright article is the one listed in our Works Cited section.
What if there are quotation marks in the material you are quoting for your essay?
When this comes up, we change the original “double quotation marks” into ‘single quotation marks.’
Let’s say you want to quote this line from an article:
It turns out that “discourse analysis” and “cultural criticism” are very similar critical approaches.
In your essay, we will change the original double quotes around “discourse analysis” and “cultural criticism” into single quotes.
Scholars working in the field of critical studies have said, “It turns out that ‘discourse analysis’ and ‘cultural criticism’ are very similar critical approaches” (Gigagon).
What if a source doesn’t have a listed author?
This is a fairly common complication when it comes to citing in academic writing. If a source does not have a listed author, you can still cite from that source (as long as it’s a credible source).
The rule of thumb is to use the article title as the primary reference in this situation.
As stated in “Climate and Health Adaptation in Action,” “Disadvantaged communities can face increased risk for climate-related morbidity ” (CDC).
We can also reference the name of the “corporate author” (i.e., the name of the group responsible for writing and producing the content).
The CDC reports that “Disadvantaged communities can face increased risk for climate-related morbidity” (“Climate and Health Adaptation in Action”).
Note that in both of these examples we can also leave off the parenthetical information at the end of the sentence if we choose to.
The CDC reports that “Disadvantaged communities can face increased risk for climate-related morbidity.”
(This last example works as long as our essay is only citing from one article from the same corporate author. Think about it and you will see why that makes sense.)
What if we need to change something inside a direct quotation?
The general rule for direct quotations: Use quotation marks to indicate that everything between the Open Quote and the Close Quote is presented exactly as it appeared in the original source.
Do not change anything.
That is the general rule. However, some exceptions exist. There are times when we are forced to make some adjustments. As you probably guessed, there are official conventions for dealing with these exceptions.
Exception 1: If you need to eliminate some words, you can use an ellipsis.
Seidman goes on to say, “participants’ total narcissism scores […] were positively correlated with selfie-posting.”
Exception 2: If you need to make a change for clarity, verb tense or capitalization, you can make those changes inside brackets.
Original: The scientists behind the study looked at “how many selfies they had taken and posted on social media in the last week, as well as how many other photos they had posted and how much time they spent on social media sites” (Seidman).
Adjusted: The scientists behind the study investigated as to “how many selfies [participants] had taken and posted on social media in the last week, as well as how many other photos they had posted and how much time they spent on social media sites” (Seidman).
The adjustment here clarifies the uncertainty around the pronoun “they” in the original.
The take-away here is that whenever we make a change to a direct quotation, we indicate the change with brackets.