For all questions regarding style and documentation refer to your Longwood Style Manual or the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
The paper must be double-spaced in its entirety, including quotations, notes, and the list of works cited. In no case do you single-space anything.
According to MLA style, a paper does not present a title page. Begin one inch from the top of the first page and flush with the left margin and include your name, the instructor's name, the course number, and the date on separate lines. Double-space and center your title. Double-space and begin your text.
Set only left justification. Be sure that the right margin is not justified.
"While quotations are common and often effective in research papers, use them selectively. Quote only words, phrases, lines, and passages that are particularly interesting, vivid, unusual, or apt, and keep all quotations as brief as possible. Overquotation can bore your readers and might lead them to conclude that you are neither an orignal thinker nor a skillful writer" (MLA 56).
1. Quoting a passage which is shorter than four lines and is to be incorporated as part of your sentence:
Hawthorne emphasizes the prying character of Roger Chilling worth early in the novel: "The eyes of the wrinkled scholar glowed so intensely upon her, that Hester Prynne clasped her hands over her heart, dreading lest he should read the secret there at once" (Hawthorne 76).
Note the positions of the quotation marks, citation, and period at the end of the sentence. If the quotation ends with an exclamation point or question mark, that punctuation is included INSIDE the quotation mark. The period after the parenthetical reference is also retained.
2. Quoting a passage which spans two pages of the original text:
"read the secret there at once" (Hawthorne 76-77).
3. Quoting a passage which is four lines or longer in your text (this passage should be indented ten spaces from the left margin):
It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore; and which was of a splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony. (Hawthorne 54)
In practice, the offset quotation should be double-spaced and you should double-space before and after the inserted quotation too. Note that there are no punctuation marks after the closing parenthesis and there are no quotations marks around the text itself.
4. Quoting a portion of dialogue:
If you quote something a character says, use double quotation marks on the outside ends of the quotation to indicate that you are quoting a portion of the text. Use single quotation marks inside the double quotation marks to indicate that someone is speaking.
"'Thou art not my child! Thou art no Pearl of mine!'" (Hawthorne 97).
If you cite a passage of dialogue of four lines or more, follow the rule for offset quotation, but remember to use double quotation marks at the beginning and end of the spoken portion to indicate that a character is speaking.
5. When you quote a passage, you may occasionally want to alter the original text by either deleting some or by supplying your own material to make the sentence grammatically sound or to provide some explanation.
A. original: The village lay under two feet of snow, with drifts at the windy corners.
In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires.
B. added: Edith Wharton describes the village of Starkfield as "lay[ing] under two feet
of snow, with drifts at the windy corners. In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung
like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires."
C. deleted: Wharton's depiction of the hardness of environment is especially apparent
in her description of the "sky of iron [in which]. . .Orion flashes his cold fires."
D. If you quote from one sentence, skip over some text, and then quote from a later one,
you need four ellipsis points to indicate that you've quoted material from two separate sentences:
"The village lay under two feet of snow. . . .[and] the Dipper hung like icicles. . . ."
Formatting Direct Quotations Properly in MLA Format
Using direct quotations involves using the exact words of others in your paper, and under the MLA format, you must format quotations differently depending on their length.
Short quotations are less than four lines of prose or three lines of verse (poetry)
Long quotations are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse (poetry) and include multi-paragraph quotes.
In addition, you might sometimes need to add words to direct quotations for clarity, or omit words that are unnecessary from the quotation. In MLA format, certain formatting rules apply in these situations.
Short direct quotations in MLA format
Short direct quotations include prose that is no more than four lines or verse that is no more than three lines. To format these correctly in MLA format, there are a few rules you must follow.
- Enclose the direct quotation in quotation marks.
- Reference the original author or title (if no author) and page number or line number (verse).
- Place punctuation after the parenthetical citation.
- Place questions marks or exclamation points that are part of the quote inside the quotation marks; place them outside if not part of the original author’s words.
- Include complete reference to the source on Works Cited page.
- According to Spools, sustainable weight loss is only possible through “continued dieting, regular exercising and vigilant monitoring of body weight” (289).
- Sustainable weight loss is only possible through “continued dieting, regular exercising and vigilant monitoring of body weight” (Spools 289).
- Some say that sustainable weight loss is only possible through “continued dieting, regular exercising and vigilant monitoring of body weight” (Spools 289), but other researchers disagree that this level of vigilance is necessary.
- Is sustainable weight loss possible without engaging in “continued dieting, regular exercising and vigilant monitoring of body weight” (Spools 289)?
Short quotations that consist of verses from poetry are handled a little differently.
Breaks are notated with a “/,” and a space appears before and after the slash mark. In addition, the line of the verse is used instead of a page number for the parenthetical citation (unless the poem is quoted in a secondary source). Keep the capitalization of each line of verse intact after the slash mark.
- Silverstein ends with “For the children, they mark, and the children, they know / The place where the sidewalk ends” (15-16).
Long direct quotations in MLA format
Long direct quotations consists of quotations that are longer than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, and the MLA format dictates how these are presented.
- Use a free-standing block of text (block quote).
- Omit the quotation marks.
- Start the direct quotation on a new line.
- Indent one inch from the left margin.
- Indent the first word of paragraphs ONLY if quoting multiple paragraphs.
- Use double spacing in the quotation.
- Include parenthetical citation after the ending punctuation.
Fitness and health guru Jillian Michaels stresses the importance of believing in yourself.
If you are citing poetry, maintain the original formatting to the best of your ability. Use poetry line numbers unless you are quoting something quoted in another source.
In his poem “The Sphinx,” Ralph Waldo Emerson personifies the sphinx as many different pieces of nature, and this shows the transcendental ideals Emerson often touted.
Uprose the merry Sphynx,
And crouched no more in stone,
She melted into purple cloud,
She silvered in the moon,
She spired into a yellow flame,
She flowered in blossoms red,
She flowed into a foaming wave,
She stood Monadnoc’s head. (120-128)
Showing changes to direct quotations in MLA format
Sometimes when you use direct quotations, you might need to add a word or words for clarity or omit portions of the quotation to shorten it or make it work within the context of your words. When this is necessary, you must show changes with brackets [ ], and show omissions of text with an ellipsis […].
When using brackets, place the words you add between the brackets.
- According to Putz, “Some people [who are trying to lose weight] try one fad diet after another with little success because these diets do not promote sustainable or ongoing weight loss” (98).
When using an ellipsis to show the omission of words, put a space before and after it.
- According to Jillian Michaels, success is within reach when you “Have establishment in yourself; trust in the significance of your life … [because] destiny is awaiting you (285).
Direct quotations should stay a small part of your research paper. Paraphrasing and summarizing information into your words is a larger part of including information from your sources. Understanding [URL]direct quotations versus indirect quotations[/writing-resources/punctuation/direct-versus-indirect-quotations] is important in presenting information.