Guide to Quotations and In-Text Citations (mla)



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A Quick Guide to Quotations


A Quick Guide to Quotations and In-Text Citations (MLA)
Some of this information is taken from the Purdue Online Writing Lab: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_quotations.html


General Guidelines
When quoting, always make sure you introduce, integrate, and attribute. Never (or only in the rarest occasion) begin a paragraph with a quote, and never let the quote speak for itself. Often the introduction, integration, and attribution can be managed all at once—in a single statement—but regardless of how you accomplish it, all three objectives must be realized before you drop in the quote.


Introduce—Tell your reader what to expect in the quote. A quote supports your purpose, so you need to relay your intentions to your reader before asking them to look at the quote.
Integrate—Quotation marks already set off a quote as an interruption to your writing, so you need to make sure that the quote fits logically were you put it.
Attribute—Think about why you are bothering to include a word-for-word quotation. Presumably, you are doing it because your audience cares about what your source has to say. So, make sure your readers know what they need to know about the source.

Short Quotations
A short quotation is defined as four or fewer typed lines of prose or three or fewer lines of poetry.
When marking a short quotation of prose in your text, do the following:

  • Begin and end the quotations with quotation marks, “…”

  • At the end of the quotation, indicate your source with a parenthetical citation that includes the author’s last name and the page number—e.g. (Williams 78)1

  • End your sentence with appropriate punctuation after the parentheses—e.g. “…time” (Williams 78).2

When quoting poetry3, you must preserve the original line divisions. Follow these guidelines:

  • Begin and end the quotations with quotation marks, “…”

  • Instead of the page number, indicate the line numbers in the parenthetical citation.

  • Indicate a line break in the middle of your quotation with a forward slash ( / ).

  • Indicate a stanza break with a double slash ( / ).

The following examples represent different ways of integrating shorter quotations into your own writing:

  1. Short Quotation Using a Comma

  • Offering her own perspective of driving on Long Island, she writes, “Never have I seen so many vulgar hand gestures outside of English football stadium” (Lowe 32).

  • Without saying so directly, the poet simultaneously invokes and rejects the epic tradition in the opening lines of Leaves of Grass. He writes, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself” (Whitman 1).

  1. Short Quotation Using a Colon

  • Whether she finds it amusing or disgusting, the author compares her fellow commuters to rabid soccer fans: “Never have I seen so many vulgar hand gestures outside of English football stadium” (Lowe 32).

  • Whitman alludes to the opening lines of the classic epics, simultaneously signaling his departure from those traditions by ignoring the muse and making himself the subject of his poem: “I celebrate myself, and sing myself” (Whitman 1).

  1. Short Quotation without Signaling Punctuation

  • The author describes aggressive commuters by comparing the frequency of “vulgar hand gestures” to the antics of soccer fans (Lowe 32).

  • Whitman makes himself the center of attention, beginning his new American poem with the promise that he will “celebrate” and “sing [himself]” (Leaves of Grass 1).4


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