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MLA Citation Style

Page history last edited by Katie Denton 9 years, 11 months ago




MLA Citation Style


In Text Citations


1. Quotation w/ Signal Phrase:

A signal phrase can be defined as a phrase, clause, or even a sentence which provides an introduction to the necessary information for a quotation or statistic. Usually, these phrases include the author’s name (full name when first introduced), and a rationalization as to why his or her work is important to the argument (ethos, credibility). Furthermore, a signal phrase can help provide the appropriate context for the quotation, and will also aid in guiding the reader through the evidence.




In 2000, the legislature of Santa Fe passed a law restricting drivers’ use of handheld phones. According to journalist Tina Kelley, “The bill prohibits the use of a cell phone while driving unless it is equipped with an earpiece or can act like a speakerphone, leaving the drivers’ hands free” (24). (Notice the period goes outside parenthesis)


Common helpers for signal phrases:


Addresses          Illustrates     Suggests

Argues               Implies        Thinks

Believes             Notes           Writes

Comments         Observes

Declares             Reasons

Emphasizes        Responds



2. Quotation w/ Ellipsis Mark:


An ellipsis is a series of three marks (…) that indicates an intentional omission of words, sentences, or a whole section of the text being quoted. In addition, an ellipsis can indicate an unfinished thought, or a trailing off into silence. One would use the ellipsis when they want to omit information from the quote that is not relevant or directly pertains to the main point of the topic at hand.





The University of New Mexico Highway Safety Research Center began a study which assesses a variety of driver distractions. According to Ms. Wood, “The research… is intended to inject some empirical evidence into the debate over whether talking on wireless phones while driving leads to accidents” (32).


(Notice that you do not use an ellipsis mark at the beginning or at the end of a quotation)


3. Quotation w/ Brackets (square parenthesis) to Insert Your Own Words:


Brackets are squared parenthesis [ ] that are used to interject or set apart additional words or phrases within a quote. In other words, brackets can be used to replace words within quotes to provide the proper context and clarify the subject or object that is arbitrary found in the original statement.




According to economists Robert Castillo and Douglas Crill, “Some studies say [hands-free phones] would have no impact on accidents, while others suggest the reductions could be sizable” (56).


What NOT to do:


According to economists Robert Castillo and Douglas Crill, “Some studies say they [hands-free phones] would have no impact on accidents, while others suggest the reductions could be sizable” (56).


In the first example, the subject (they) is replaced with “hands free phones” (renaming and clarifying what “they” refers to) in order to make the sentence grammatically correct, and to make the quote clear to the reader.


4. Setting off Long Quotations within a Paragraph:


For quotations that extend more than four lines (if/when words continue onto the fifth line) the entire quote should be set apart with a 1” indent from the left margin and should also omit quotation marks. Also, be sure to maintain double-spacing, and place the closing punctuation mark before the parenthetical citation. Although useful, one should limit the usage of long-quotes, because over burdening a paper with these may appear to be taking up space to an instructor, instead of functioning as pertinent evidence for the paper.




He further argued that this knowledge could be translated into behavior, by which he meant that those who are more educated are better able to understand the world around them.  In addition, they can continue to broaden their horizons to become better-rounded people.  In his essay, What is Enlightenment?, Kant states that:

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage.  Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance.  This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one’s own mind with another’s guidance.  Dare to know! (Sapere aude.)  ‘Have courage to use your own understanding,” is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.

These ideas are important since they encourage people to leave their comfort zone and explore the world around them in order to become more knowledgeable.  It is up to individuals to have the courage to break out of their shells.  They must attempt to use their own minds to discover the world and their society and everything that they include.   


5. Setting up Quotation (Poem):


Short Poem Quotation:


When quoting a poem and it is three lines or fewer, one should separate the lines of the poem with a forward slash mark, ( / ) and cite the poem as one would cite any other short quotation. 


Marvell’s poem, “To His Coy Mistress,” says much about fleeting time and death as it does about sexual passion. The poem’s most powerful lines are “But at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near” (21-22).


Long Poem Quotation:


When quoting a poem that exceeds three lines, one should present the stanza or whole poem in its original format, keeping the poem as close to the original format as possible.


6. Paraphrasing Statistics and Facts:


Paraphrasing can be useful when expressing ideas presented by someone else, but written in your own words. Thus, the pertinent information is presented in a new form or new way to the reader. Paraphrasing is a justifiable way to borrow information from sources, but only when cited properly within the text or parenthetically at the end of the sentence. Paraphrasing is a very valuable skill because it will deter the writer from using an abundance of quotations that will surely overburden the paper and overwhelm the reader.    


Direct quote:

In Gerda Lerner’s book, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness, she defines the roots of feminism and the feminist consciousness as

 …the awareness of women that they belong to a subordinate group; that they have suffered wrongs as a group; that their condition of subordination is not natural, but is societally determined; that they must join with other women to remedy these wrongs; and finally, that they must and can provide an alternate vision of societal organization in which women as well as men will enjoy autonomy and self-determination (14).


Paraphrased version of the above quote:

In Gerda Lerner’s book, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness, she defines the roots of feminism and the feminist consciousness as women’s understanding that their inferior position to that of men in society is not an organic development, but one that has been implemented over time. She goes on to state that women should rally together to affect this wrongfully imposed status in order to become independent, and to be able to control their own future direction (14).


Transforming this long quote into paraphrased information shows that the writer can successfully use a variety of ways in which to critically engage with the outside sources. Furthermore, paraphrasing displays the writer’s comprehension of the subject matter and the arguments related to it.


Works Cited Rules:


  1. Alphabetize entries by authors’ last names - if a work has no author, alphabetize by title
  2. Indent second line, and any subsequent lines, of citation 5 spaces (tab default) (When using the Microsoft Word program, one can highlight all citations, and then go into line spacing options, and select “hanging indent” from the drop-down list, and it will automatically format all citations).
  3. Put quotation marks around article titles and italicize book, magazine, and journal titles
  4. Notice all punctuation marks and their positions in the citations



Works Cited Page


Basic Format for Book:


Tan, Amy. The Bonesetter’s Daughter. New York: Putnam, 2001.


          Lerner, Gerda. The Creation of Feminist Consciousness. New York: U of Oxford P, 1993. Print.


          Multiple Authors:


Sloan, Frank A., Keith Campbell, and Colin Tudge. Signifiers of Language. Boston:

      Boston University Press, 2003.


Author with Editor:


Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. Ed. Paul Marion. New York: Penguin, 2000.


Two or More Works by Same Author:


Atwood, Margaret. Alias Grace: A Novel. New York: Doubleday, 1996.


The Robber Bride. New York: Doubleday, 1993.


Forward, Introduction, Preface, or Afterword:


Morris, Jan. Introduction. Letters from the Field, 1925-1975. By Margaret Mead.

      New York: Perennial-Harper, 2001. xix-xxiii.


Work in Anthology:


Desai, Anita. “Scholar and Gypsy.” The Oxford Book of Travel Stories.

      Ed. Patricia Craig. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. 251-73.


Article in Magazine:


Kaplan, Robert D. “History Moving North.” US News World Report 19 Feb. 2001: 53.


Article in Journal with Volume and Issue:


Wood, Michael. “Broken Dates: Fiction and the Century.” Kenyon Review 22.3

      (2000): 50-64.




Peterson, Susan Lynn. The Life of Martin Luther. 25 May 1999. 9 Mar. 2001



(Notice the second date is the date you accessed the article on-line)


Organization as Author:


American Automobile Association. “Traffic Jams.” 3 Jan. 2006. 17 Feb. 2007



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