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MLA: In-Text Citations

Learn how to create a paper and source citations in MLA style.

How to Cite a Direct Quotation (pp. 75-91)

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

When you incorporate a direct quotation into a sentence, you must cite the source and ensure the quote is recorded exactly (p. 75). Fit quotations within your sentences, making sure the sentences are grammatically correct:

Examples:
Gibaldi indicates, “Quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (109).
Remember that “[q]uotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” (Gibaldi 109).

If the quotation will run to more than 4 lines in your paper, use a block format in which the quotation is indented 1/2 an inch from the left margin, with no quotation marks (pp. 76-77).

How to Alter a Direct Quotation (pp. 80-86)

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed. Examples are from the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

If you need to leave out part of a quotation to make it fit grammatically or because it contains irrelevant/unnecessary information, insert ellipses (. . .) to mark the omission (pp. 80-81).

Example:
In surveying responses to plagues in the Middle Ages, Barbara W. Tuchman writes, "Medical thinking . . . stressed air as the communicator of disease, ignoring sanitation or visible carriers" (101-02).

 If you must add or slightly change words within a quotation for reasons of grammar or clarity, explain the change in parentheses after the quotation or indicate the change by using square brackets within the quotation (p. 86).

Examples:
Shaw admitted, "Nothing can extinguish my interest in Shakespear" (sic).
Milton's Satan speaks of his "study [pursuit] of revenge."

How to Paraphrase (pp. 57-58)

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

When you put information into your own words by summarizing or paraphrasing, you must still cite the original author or researcher as well as the page or paragraph number(s) (p. 57).

Example:
Within the research paper, quotations will have more impact when used judiciously (Gibaldi 109).

How to Cite Information If No Page Numbers Are Available (pp. 56-57)

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

If a source contains no page numbers, as can be the case with electronic sources, then you cannot include a page number in the parentheses. However, if the source indicates paragraph numbers, use the abbreviation “par.” or “pars.” and the relevant numbers in the parentheses.  If page, paragraph, or other kind of part numbers are not available, this information can be left out of the in-text citation.

Example:
One website describes these specific dragons (King). A solution was suggested in 1996 (Pangee, pars. 12-18).

How to Cite Poetry (pp. 77-79)

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

When citing 2-3 lines of poetry, insert a "/" (without the quotes) between the lines.

Example:
Reflecting on the "incident" in Baltimore, Cullen concludes, "Of all the things that happened there / That's all that
I remember" (11-12).

When citing more than three lines of poetry, begin the quotation on a new line and indent each of the lines 1/2 an inch from the left margin.

Example:
In "High Noon," by Andy Wainwright, the speaker concludes:

today my entire generation
is a poet
it travels in packs
& word is spreading
 
I am alone (7-11)

If the poem is published in an edition with numbered lines, you may use those instead of page numbers to indicate the original location of your quote.

How to Cite Plays (pp. 80)

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

When referencing the lines of only one character, follow the guidelines for poetry and prose.

When quoting a conversation between two or more characters in a play, start the quote on a new line, indented 1/2 an inch from the left margin. Write the name of the first speaker in capital letters, followed by a period and the speaker's line(s). Do the same for the next speaker(s) as necessary.

If the quote you are using for one of the speakers continues onto another line, it is indented an additional amount.

Example:
OTHELLO. I will deny thee nothing!

Whereon I do beseech thee grant me this,

To leave me but a little to myself.

DESDEMONA. Shall I deny you? No. Farewell, my lord. (3.3.83-85)

When citing prose plays, use the page number first, followed by a semicolon and then other identifying information (e.g. Miller 9; Act 1). When citing verse plays with line numbers provided, use those instead of page numbers, separating division numbers with a period (see example above).

How to Cite Information When You Have Not Seen the Original Source (Indirect Sources) (p. 124)

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

Sometimes an author writes about work that someone else has done, but you are unable to track down the original source. In this case, because you did not read the original source, you will include only the source you did consult in the Works Cited list. The abbreviation “qtd.” in the in-text citation indicates you have not read the original source.

Example:
Fong’s 1987 study found that older students’ memory can be as good as that of young people, but this depends on how memory is tested (qtd. in Bertram 124). [Do not include Fong (1987) in Works Cited; do include Bertram.]

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