How should a summarized passage or work be cited?

When summarizing a passage or work from another writer, briefly outline in your own original words the major ideas presented in the source material. As brevity is the key feature of a summary, it is essential to express the main concepts of the original passage in as concise a manner as possible. Consider using a summary—rather than a short or block quotation—when preserving the original wording of the source material is not necessary for the reader to understand the ideas under discussion.

Let’s look at an example of a cited summary:

Original text: “In their everyday life, people generally assume that they see the world around them the way it really is. When camping in Colorado, hikers believe they see the horizon as dotted with snow-covered mountaintops. When laying on the beach in North Carolina, sunbathers believe they see pelicans flying above the breaking waves. And these people would nearly always be right. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine not believing that the sights and sounds delivered to conscious awareness by perceptual systems are accurate renderings of the outside world. It would be difficult to know how to act if one could not trust one’s senses to accurately report what the world outside is like” (Balcetis, 2010, p. 77). [2]

Summary: In Social Psychology of Visual Perception, Balcetis (2010) argues that because humans rely on the sensory information received from their body, they form preconceived beliefs about their surroundings that manifest as imaginary visual occurrences (p. 77). [2]

Note: The summary maintains the ideas of the original passage while concisely expressing its main concepts. The original author is also cited properly.

How should multiple sources be cited in a single parenthetical reference?

If multiple works need to be cited in the same set of parentheses, simply arrange them in alphabetical order by the author’s last names, or the order in which they would be listed in the References page. Use a semicolon to separate each work from the next one.

Let’s look at an example of multiple authors being cited:

In the past thirty years, Parkinson’s disease has been written about extensively by recognized figures in the field (Dorros, 1989; Duvoisin, 1991; Hauser & Zesiewicz, 1996). [3][4][5]

Note: This example includes the in-text citations of three works arranged in alphabetical order by authors’ names, separated by semi-colons, and enclosed in parentheses.

See also:


[1] Pender, K. (1998). Digital colour in graphic design. Burlington, VT: Elsevier Science & Technology.

[2] Balcetis, E. (2010). Social psychology of visual perception. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis.

[3] Dorros, S. (1989). Parkinson’s: A patient’s view. Cabin John, MD: Seven Locks Press.

[4] Duvoisin, R. C. (1991). Parkinson’s disease: A guide for patient and family. New York, NY: Raven Press.

[5] Hauser, R. A., & Zesiewicz, T. A. (1996). Parkinson’s disease: Questions and answers. Coral Springs, FL: Merit.