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Citing Sources in MLA Style: Quotations

How to cite sources using MLA style


Short Quotations

Short quotations incorporated into your text should be enclosed in "double quotation marks."

Insert the parenthetical reference where a natural pause would occur (preferably at the end of a sentence) and prior to the final period.

Is it possible that dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184)?

According to Foulkes's study, dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (184).

According to some, dreams express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184), though others disagree.

Use ellipsis (...) to indicate any words you omitted from the original work.

In an essay on urban legends, Jan Harold Brunvand notes that "some individuals make a point of learning every recent rumor or tale . . . and in a short time a lively exchange of details occurs" (78).

Use brackets [ ] around any words you add within a quotation to make it readable or define a term.

Jan Harold Brunvand, in an essay on urban legends, states, "some individuals [who retell urban legends] make a point of learning every rumor or tale" (78).

Use a slash (/) to indicate line breaks in dialog or poetry that you incorporate into the body of your text.

Cullen concludes, "Of all the things that happened there / That's all I remember" (11-12).

Long Quotations

Quotations of more than four lines (or poetry or dialog you want to emphasize) should be set off from your text by beginning a new line, indenting one-half inch from the left and typing it double-spaced without quotation marks.

Do not indent from the right margin.

Do keep all original punctuation including double quotation marks and line breaks.

After the final punctuation mark, include a space and the appropriate parenthetical reference.

For a poetic quotation that begins in the middle of a line, begin where the original begins and do not start at the margin.

Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and dehumanizes him throughout her narration:
They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78)

Use original sources whenever possible. If you use material quoted by an someone else, note that it is "quoted in" and cite the source you have.

In his poem "My Papa's Waltz," Theodore Roethke explores his childhood with his father:
The whiskey on your breath 
Could make a small boy dizzy; 
But I hung on like death: 
Such waltzing was not easy. 
We Romped until the pans 
Slid from the kitchen shelf; 
My mother's countenance 
Could not unfrown itself. (quoted in Shrodes, Finestone, Shugrue 202)