How To Cite A Quote Within An Essay Mla

Formatting Direct Quotations Properly in MLA Format

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Using direct quotations involves using the exact words of others in your paper, and under the MLA format, you must format quotations differently depending on their length.

Short quotations are less than four lines of prose or three lines of verse (poetry)
Long quotations are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse (poetry) and include multi-paragraph quotes.

In addition, you might sometimes need to add words to direct quotations for clarity, or omit words that are unnecessary from the quotation. In MLA format, certain formatting rules apply in these situations.

Short direct quotations in MLA format

Short direct quotations include prose that is no more than four lines or verse that is no more than three lines. To format these correctly in MLA format, there are a few rules you must follow.

  • Enclose the direct quotation in quotation marks.
  • Reference the original author or title (if no author) and page number or line number (verse).
  • Place punctuation after the parenthetical citation.
  • Place questions marks or exclamation points that are part of the quote inside the quotation marks; place them outside if not part of the original author’s words.
  • Include complete reference to the source on Works Cited page.

Examples:

  • According to Spools, sustainable weight loss is only possible through “continued dieting, regular exercising and vigilant monitoring of body weight” (289).
  • Sustainable weight loss is only possible through “continued dieting, regular exercising and vigilant monitoring of body weight” (Spools 289).
  • Some say that sustainable weight loss is only possible through “continued dieting, regular exercising and vigilant monitoring of body weight” (Spools 289), but other researchers disagree that this level of vigilance is necessary.
  • Is sustainable weight loss possible without engaging in “continued dieting, regular exercising and vigilant monitoring of body weight” (Spools 289)?

Short quotations that consist of verses from poetry are handled a little differently.

Breaks are notated with a “/,” and a space appears before and after the slash mark. In addition, the line of the verse is used instead of a page number for the parenthetical citation (unless the poem is quoted in a secondary source). Keep the capitalization of each line of verse intact after the slash mark.

Example:

  • Silverstein ends with “For the children, they mark, and the children, they know / The place where the sidewalk ends” (15-16).

Long direct quotations in MLA format

Long direct quotations consists of quotations that are longer than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, and the MLA format dictates how these are presented.

  • Use a free-standing block of text (block quote).
  • Omit the quotation marks.
  • Start the direct quotation on a new line.
  • Indent one inch from the left margin.
  • Indent the first word of paragraphs ONLY if quoting multiple paragraphs.
  • Use double spacing in the quotation.
  • Include parenthetical citation after the ending punctuation.

Examples:

Fitness and health guru Jillian Michaels stresses the importance of believing in yourself.

If you are citing poetry, maintain the original formatting to the best of your ability. Use poetry line numbers unless you are quoting something quoted in another source.

In his poem “The Sphinx,” Ralph Waldo Emerson personifies the sphinx as many different pieces of nature, and this shows the transcendental ideals Emerson often touted.

Uprose the merry Sphynx,

And crouched no more in stone,

She melted into purple cloud,

She silvered in the moon,

She spired into a yellow flame,

She flowered in blossoms red,

She flowed into a foaming wave,

She stood Monadnoc’s head. (120-128)

Showing changes to direct quotations in MLA format

Sometimes when you use direct quotations, you might need to add a word or words for clarity or omit portions of the quotation to shorten it or make it work within the context of your words. When this is necessary, you must show changes with brackets [ ], and show omissions of text with an ellipsis […].

When using brackets, place the words you add between the brackets.

  • According to Putz, “Some people [who are trying to lose weight] try one fad diet after another with little success because these diets do not promote sustainable or ongoing weight loss” (98).

When using an ellipsis to show the omission of words, put a space before and after it.

  • According to Jillian Michaels, success is within reach when you “Have establishment in yourself; trust in the significance of your life … [because] destiny is awaiting you (285).

Direct quotations should stay a small part of your research paper. Paraphrasing and summarizing information into your words is a larger part of including information from your sources. Understanding [URL]direct quotations versus indirect quotations[/writing-resources/punctuation/direct-versus-indirect-quotations] is important in presenting information.

Why we use parenthetical / in-text citations

Researchers place brief parenthetical descriptions to acknowledge which parts of their paper reference particular sources. Generally, you want to provide the last name of the author and the specific page numbers of the source. If such information is already given in the body of the sentence, then exclude it from the parenthetical citation.

Place the parenthetical citation where there is a pause in the sentence – normally before the end of a sentence or a comma. The in-text citation will differ depending on how much information you provide within the sentence.

Example with author’s name in text:

Johnson argues this point (12-13).

or

This point had already been argued (Johnson 12-13).


Citing sources with more than one author

If you use sources with the same author surnames, then include a first name initial. If the two sources have authors with the same initials, then include their full names:[su_spacer]

Example:

(J. Johnson 12-13).

or

(John Johnson 12-13).

If there are two or three authors of the source, include their last names in the order they appear on the source:

Example:

(Smith, Wollensky, and Johnson 45).

If there are more than three authors, you can cite all the authors with their last name, or you can cite the first author followed by “et al.” Follow what is shown the works cited list.

Example:

(Smith et al. 45).


Citing sources without an author

Some sources do not have authors or contributors – for instance, when you cite some websites. Instead, refer to the name of the source in your parenthetical citation in place of the author. Shorten / abbreviate the name of the source but ensure that your reader can easily identify it in your works cited (abbreviate the title starting with the same word in which it is alphabetized). Punctuate with quotations or italicize as you would in its works cited form (a book is italicized; an article is in quotes).

Examples:

Double agents are still widely in use (Spies 12-15, 17).

With prices of energy at new highs, bikes have been increasingly used (“Alternative Transportation” 89).


Citing part of a work

When citing a specific part of a work, provide the relevant page or section identifier. This can include specific pages, sections, paragraphs or volumes. When the identifier is preceded by an abbreviation or word, place a comma between the identifier and the source reference.


Part of a multivolume work

Example:

It is arguably the most innovative period in history (Webster, vol 4).


Chapter within a book (if no specific numbers can be referenced)

Example:

The electoral college undermines democracy (Sanders, “Government Injustices”).


Article in a periodical

Example:

Allen claims there is an inverse correlation between higher taxes and patriotic feelings worldwide (B2).

When citing a specific page(s) of a multivolume work, precede the page number by the volume number and a colon. Do not separate by a comma.

It was arguably the most innovative period in history (Webster 4:12-15).

Use “par.” or “pars.” when referring to specific paragraphs.

The marketing dollars of big studio films has overshadowed good indie movies (Anderson, pars. 12-34).


Citing group or corporate authors

In your parenthetical citation, cite a corporate author like you would a normal author. Preferably, incorporate the corporate author in your text instead of the parenthetical citation.

Example:

Facial transplants pose significant risk to the autoimmune system (American Medical Association 12-43).

As noted by the American Medical Association, facial transplants pose significant risk to the autoimmune system (12-43).


Citing an entire source

When citing an entire work, there are no specific page numbers to refer to. Therefore it is preferable to refer to the source within the text itself with either the author or the title of the source.

Example:

Hartford suggests the Internet provides more distractions than it does information.


Citing multiple works by the same author

If you reference more than one source by the same author, distinguish the parenthetical citations by including the name of the source. Use a comma to separate the author from the source.

Example:

Wars can be economic catalysts (Friedman, World 77-80).

Industrialized nations are better equipped to rebound from recessions (Friedman, “High Tides” 56).


Citing indirect sources

When an original source is unavailable, then cite the secondhand source – for instance, a lecture in a conference proceedings. When quoting or paraphrasing a quote, write “qtd. in” before the author and pages.

Example:

John Murray calls Tim Smith “interesting but egotistical” (qtd. in Jesrani 34).


Citing literary / classic and religious works

For works such as novels, plays and other classic works, it’s helpful to provide further identifying information along with the page information. Do this by adding a semicolon and then the identifying information following the page number.

Example:

(Tolstoy 5; pt. 2, ch. 3).

When citing classic poems and plays, replace page numbers with division numbers (part, book, scene, act). The below refers to book 10 line 5. Bear in mind the divisions and the way they are written can vary by source.

Example:

Fear plays a role in Homer’s Odyssey (10.5).

The title of books in the Bible and other famous literary works should be abbreviated.

(New Jerusalem Bible, Gen. 2.6-9).


Placing parenthetical citations in direct quotations

When directly quoting a source, place the parenthetical citation after the quote.

Example:

Sanders explains that economic woes are due to “the mortgage crisis and poor risk assessment” (20).

Place the parenthetical citation at the end of an indented quotation. There should be no period after the parenthetical citation. The last sentence of the indented quote should look like:

Example:

It’s unclear whether multilateral tariffs are disruptive to bilateral talks. (Evert 30-31)


Citing online sources

Generally, follow the same principals of parenthetical citations to cite online sources. Refer to the author, and if possible, a permanent identifier that would be the same for any reader.

Examples:

The economy will rebound with the new monetary policies (Smith).

Solar power will become the primary source of energy (Williams 2).


Citing online sources with no author

If there is no author, use the title that begins the citation, either the article or website title. Be sure it also takes the same formatting, i.e. articles are in quotes and website titles are italicized. Shorten / abbreviate the name of the source but ensure that your reader can easily identify it in your works cited (abbreviate the title starting with the same word in which it is alphabetized).

Examples:

Elephants are thought to be one of the smartest mammals (“Smart Elephants”).

Nineteen men and women were convicted (Salem Witchcraft Trials).

Note: Ideally, when citing online sources, try to reference the source within your sentence, with either the author or the title to avoid writing a parenthetical citation.


Where to put the parenthetical citations:

  • Place parenthetical citations at the end of the sentence you are paraphrasing and quoting. For example: The destruction of the argentine is due to many socioeconomic factors (Taylor 33).
  • Even when quoting, place the parenthetical citations after the quotations.

Example:

“Mamma always said stupid is as stupid does” (Gump 89).


Long quotes:

When quoting four lines or more, indent every line you are quoting by one inch (or 10 spaces) and do not use quotes.

Example:

The use of nuclear weapons in today’s society is strikingly alarming. Though the United States is the only country to employ it in the past, they are at the same time the country that condemns its use the most. While this may seem hypocritical, is it the most proper action for the United States to make as the global leader. (Taparia 9)


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