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MLA Style Guide - From 7th to 8th edition: Update and changes: Quotations, Citations and more

MLA Quotes and Citations Informational Video

Quotation Basics

Whenever you directly quote something from a source in your research papers, it is important to have it in the proper format. It depends on the length of the quote that will give you a hint as to how it should be properly formatted.  Here are some basic tips and guides to help you include quotations into your papers. One thing to remember for sure is that all pages are to be double spaced in MLA format!

The MLA Style of parenthetical citation includes the author's last name and page number(s).  They do not include the word "page" or "pages" or the abbreviations "p." or "pp." They only have the page numbers. 

The page number is always included, whether the material is copied word for word (with quotation marks around it) or paraphrased (in your own words, no quotation marks) from a source. 

At least one scientist is optimistic. Mike Stefan, a USDA botanist says that eradication is "tougher than rocket science, because with a biological pest there are a lot of gray areas. But if we keep going, I think we can get rid of it" (Raver 49).

Rules to Remember

  • Quotes from less than four (4) lines of prose or three (3) lines of poetry are considerd short quotations. 
  • Quotes with more than four lines of prose or more than three lines of poetry must be set apart from the rest of the text in a block quotation. 
  • The quote should begin with an introductory phrase. Quotation marks should surround the quote and then be followed by the parenthetical (in-text) citation and then the sentence punctuation.
  • When you are using the author's name in the sentence, be sure to omit the name from the in-text citation. You would just cite the pages. 
  • If there is more than one work from the same author, then the in-text citation will require the author's name, title of the work, and page number. 

Quotation Examples

Author's name in the introductory phrase:
In The Glass Menagerie, Williams pens Amanda as a Southern belle, and she recalls, "Among my callers were some of the most prominent young planters of the Mississippi delta" (981). 

Author is not in the introductory phrase
In The Glass Menagerie, the mother, Amanda, is a true Southern bell, and she recalls, "Among my callers were some of the most prominent young planters in the Mississippi delta" (Williams 981). 

Author with more than one work cited
Tom says that Laura is "terribly shy and lives in a world of her own and those things make her seem a little peculiar" (Williams, The Glass Menagerie 999).

Block Quotation
These have to be set apart from the rest of the text by indenting the entire quote one inch (1") from the left margin and omitting the quotation marks.  The introductory phrase is followed by a colon. 

Tom sails from port to port in the Merchant Marines searching for some way to ease his guilt. In his essay "Entering the Glass Menagerie," C.W.E. Bigsby comments:

[Tom Wingfield] revisits the past because he knows that his own freedom, such as it is, has been purchased at the price of abandoning others, as Williams had abandoned his mother and, more poignantly, his sister. He "writes" the play, more significantly, perhaps, because he has not affected that escape from the past which had been his primary motive for leaving. (37)

Tom's memories of his life with his mother and sister are all the more painful because they are the incarnation of Williams' real-life experiences. 

Citing Secondary sources

There will be some situations where the information that you are using in one source is actually quoted from another source.  When this happens, both the originator of the quote and the source that you are looking at must receive proper credit within the text. 

For example, you are reading Jackson's article and in the article, Jackson quotes Nelson's work.  If you want to use Nelson's ideas, you will have to give credit for the idea (Nelson) and where you found the information (Jackson's article).  On the Works Cited page you should ONLY cite Jackson's article because it is the source you found and read.  There are two options for the in-text citation:

With Nelson's name in the introductory phrase:
In his book Conversations with Tennessee Williams, Robert Nelson quotes Williams as saying, "the glass animals came to represent the fragile delicate ties that must be broken, that you inevitably break, when you try to fulfill yourself" (qtd. in Jackson 37).

Without Nelson's name in the introductory phrase:
One author recalls Williams as saying, "the glass animals came to represent the fragile delicate ties that must be broken, that you inevitably break, when you try to fulfill yourself" (Nelson as qtd. in Jackson 37). 

Works Cited Page

Core Elements

Each Entry in the Works Cited List is composed of facts common to most works - the MLA core elements that are assembled in specific order.  This image displays the proper order. 

Basic Tips

  • Continue the page numbering sequence from the main body of the paper.
  • Label the page Works Cited (do not italicize the words Works Cited or put them in quotation marks) and the words "Works Cited" should be at the top of the page and centered. 
  • Center the words "Works Cited" one inch (1") from the top of the page.
  • Continue double spacing​
  • Double space all citations, but do not skip spaces between entries.
  • If your citation takes up more than one line of the page, you must indent the remaining line(s) one-half inch (1/2") from the left margin.
  • Reverse the name of the author, in other words, the last name goes first, followed by a comma and then the author's first name. ​
    Example: Bob Stein would be Stein, Bob. ​​​​
  • Your list must be alphabetized by the author's last name. IF there is no author, then you alphabetize by the first word in the title of the work other than A, An, or The. 

New to MLA regarding Works Cited Lists

  • Online Sources: You should include a location to show readers where you found the source.  Many databases use a DOI (Digital Object Identifier). Use a DOI in your citation if you can;otherwise use a URL. Be sure to delete "http://" from the URLs.  The DOI or URL is generally the last element in a citation and must be followed by a period. 
  • All works cited entries end with a period.

Should you need more information with Works Cited, please refer to this article in Purdue Owl or you can refer to the Modern Language Association's article from their website called, "What's New in the Eighth Edition." 

Practice the Core Element standard for Works Cited by following along this tutorial from the Modern Language Association. 

Works without an Author

When there isn't an author associated with the work that is to be cited, the first thing that should appear on the Works Cited page, i.e., the title of the work is to be used in place of the author's name. 

Please Note: A long title may be shortened within the citation, but the first words of the title must be used to signal the correct source on the Works Cited page. 

The three storms that raged across the mid-west in January and February of 1978 are "collectively known as the Blizzard of 1978" ("1978 Ohio").