MLA Formatting Quotations

MLA Formatting Quotations
Summary: MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page. Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in MLA.
Contributors:Tony Russell, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-21 07:58:36
When you directly quote the works of others in your paper, you will format quotations differently depending on their length. Below are some basic guidelines for incorporating quotations into your paper. Please note that all pages in MLA should be double-spaced.
Short Quotations
To indicate short quotations (fewer than four typed lines of prose or three lines of verse) in your text, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks. Provide the author and specific page citation (in the case of verse, provide line numbers) in the text, and include a complete reference on the Works Cited page. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical citation. Question marks and exclamation points should appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage but after the parenthetical citation if they are a part of your text. For example:
According to some, dreams express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184), though others disagree.
According to Foulkes's study, dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (184).
Is it possible that dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184)?
Mark breaks in short quotations of verse with a slash, /, at the end of each line of verse: (a space should precede and follow the slash)
Cullen concludes, "Of all the things that happened there / That's all I remember" (11-12).
Long Quotations
For quotations that extend to more than four lines of verse or prose: place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented one inch from the left margin; maintain double-spacing. Only indent the first line of the quotation by a half inch if you are citing multiple paragraphs. Your parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark. When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.) For example:
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)
When citing long sections of poetry, keep formatting as close to the original as possible:
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)
Adding or Omitting Words In Quotations
If you add a word or words in a quotation, you should put brackets around the words to indicate that they are not part of the original text.
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).
If you omit a word or words from a quotation, you should indicate the deleted word or words by using ellipsis marks, which are three periods ( . . . ) preceded and followed by a space. For example:
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).
Please note that brackets are not needed around ellipses unless adding brackets would clarify your use of ellipses.
When omitting words from poetry quotations, use a standard three-period ellipses; however, when omitting one or more full lines of poetry, space several periods to about the length of a complete line in the poem:
These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind, With tranquil restoration. . . (22-24, 28-30)
This article originally appeared on http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/

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