How to Cite Quotes Using MLA Style

Citation StylesMLA
Jun 21, 2018

Whether you are writing an essay, a research paper , or any other type of academic paper, citing information from good sources such as books and journals will enhance the quality and credibility of your work. While most of the time you will only paraphrase, there are also times when it's more effective to cite quotes. But putting quotes in your paper is not just a matter of copying and pasting what your sources say. Rather, there are standards to follow. Here are a few tips you can follow to learn how to cite quotes.

When to cite a quote

Writing an academic paper is a bit tricky because at one point you have to base your writing on your own knowledge, the next you have to cite quotes, and sometimes you solely depend on your own data. The first question you have to ask is: when should you cite a quote? Here are some tips:

  • If the quote is relevant . Keep in mind that you should not include quotes just to meet a requirement or to make your paper look good. Instead, citing quotes should serve the higher purpose of enhancing the quality of your paper. The quote should be meaningful and should add something to your discussion, such as by offering important insight or providing evidence that strengthens your point.
  • If the quote is short enough or just the right length . In general, avoid quotes that are too long since it will take up a lot of space. Professors also often frown upon including very long quotes, since this decreases the originality of your paper. Over-using long quotes will make your professor question the content of your paper as it may appear that you are only using quotes to make your paper appear text-heavy. If the quote is too long, you are better off paraphrasing it.
  • If the quote effectively expresses the thought . Sometimes, you will encounter quotes that are written so well that there is just no other way to say them. If you feel that paraphrasing the quote will only lessen its impact, then keep it as it is. When you find a quote that solidifies your paper, leave it untouched and squeeze it in between sentences that will support your paper.

How to Cite Quotes

How to cite quotes

Once you’ve chosen the quote, then you can go ahead in including it in your paper. Here are important reminders for properly citing quotes:

  • Enclose the quote in quotation marks . This is the most obvious requirement. A quote basically has to be enclosed in quotation marks. In academic writing, quotes are usually enclosed in double quotation marks.
  • Use block formatting for long quotes . If the quote is longer than three or four lines, you should remove quotation marks and use a block quote format instead. This is done by starting the quote in a new line, removing the quotation marks, and indenting the entire quote by half an inch (0.5).
  • Introduce the quote . Do not forget to introduce the quote. A quote that suddenly appears is distracting and confusing. On the other hand, introducing a quote signals to the reader that you are about to present information from your source.
  • Give due credit . Of course, you have to show where you took the quote by citing your source. In other words, you have to create a citation for your quote. Failure to indicate your source can be considered as plagiarism . Also, citing your source is a way of showing respect to the person who wrote it and acknowledging their written work. 

How to create a citation

There are three common ways of creating a citation:

  • In-text citation . The first is the in-text citation, which is when you state in the sentence the name of the author (person or organization) of your source. See this example: According to Author X, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.” See how the example states the actual name of the author.
  • Parenthetical c itation. A parenthetical citation is when you enclose the name of the author in parentheses along with the date or page number or both. A parenthetical citation is usually placed after the quote. In most cases, you are required to include the page number of it is available. For example: According to one expert in the field, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet” (Author X 123). See how the author’s name and the page number are both enclosed by the parentheses.
  • Footnote or Endnote . Unlike in-text and parenthetical citations, a footnote or endnote does not state the name of the author, year, or page number. Instead, the quote is followed by a small number at the end. This number is also listed at the bottom of the page or the end of the paper. Next to the number are the details of your source such as the author's name, the title of the source, date of publication, etc. See this example: According to Author X, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.”1 Notice how the number follows the quote.
  • Now, these are just the basics of proper citation of quotes. Different citation styles have different guidelines, and some can be complex. But as you gain more experience in writing, you will become more familiar with citing quotations. It also helps to ask advice from experts in writing, since they can guide you on how to effectively cite quotes in your paper. 

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