How to Cite (Quote) In Your Paper

The purpose of in-text citations is to point the reader easily to the detailed information on the Works Cited page.  MLA format uses the author-page method of citation. This means that normally the author’s last name and the page number/numbers from which the quotation is taken appear in the body of your paper. 

Short Quotations (basic citations)

MLA defines short quotations as less than four typed lines of prose (in your paper) or three lines of verse. Always use double quotation marks to enclose the author's exact words.

• One author with page listing:

Citation information is always placed inside parentheses after the quotation or referenced material. If you use the author's name in the introductory sentence, all that needs to be listed is the page number in parentheses after the quote. 

Example: Freud states that "a dream is the fulfillment of a wish" (154).

If the author's name is not listed in introducing the quote, it needs to appear in the parenthetical citation with the page number.

Example: Some argue that "a dream is the fulfillment of a wish" (Freud 154).

Notice the punctuation carefully! The quotation marks end before the beginning of the parentheses. There is a single space between the closing quotation mark and the beginning of the parentheses. There  is no comma between the author's name and the page number. Periods, commas, and semicolons are placed after the parentheses. Question marks and exclamation points should appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage, but after the parenthetical citation if they are a part of your text.


To some, dreams express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184), though others disagree.

Is it possible that dreams express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184)?

Cullen asserts, "Of everything that happened there/That’s all I remember" (11-12).
The slash is used to mark the lines of poetic verse!
• Two authors with page listing: 

If the source you are citing has two authors, include both last names joined by the word "and."

Example: Some argue this is "only a subordinate issue" (Cortez and Jones 156).

• More than two authors with page listing: 

If the source you are citing has more than two authors, include the first author's last name and then the Latin abbreviation "et al." which means "and others."

Example: Some argue this is "only a subordinate issue" (Cortez et al. 156).

• Web sites:

Web sites are treated very much the same as print sources when publication information
such as author, date, etc. are available.  Unfortunately, this is not often the case. Often no
author is listed.  If you only have a web site title and there are no page numbers, you may use 
the title of the web site either in the introductory sentence or as a reference after the quotation.  
If you have multiple sites with the same title, you list the home page web address, such as Note that the title should be punctuated as the title of the original 
work -- underlined, italics, or in quotations marks.  Also note that this title or address should be 
easily matched or identifiable on your Works Cited page.
Example #1:  The "Ben Hur" website claims Heston was a "crazed chariot driver."
Example #2:  The namesake of the tale was a "crazed chariot driver" ("Ben Hur").

Short Quotations (advanced citations)
Sometimes simply using the author and page number doesn't give the reader enough information to get to the correct information on the Works Cited page.  This happens when you use more than one work by the same author or have authors with the same last names or other unusual situations. Check below for help with these situations . . . 

• Two authors with the same last name:

If two authors have the same last name, provide both authors’ initials or even the full name if the authors share the same initials. 

Example #1:  Although some medical ethicists claim that cloning will lead to designer

children (Miller, R.), others note that the advantages for medical research outweigh this
consideration (Miller, A.).

Example #2:  "Orwell's ambition as a political author was to 'make political writing into an

art'" (Williams, Ray); however, he was deeply troubled because of the "political system in

which he could no longer believe" (Williams, Rhodri).

• Two or more works by the same author:

It is common to use a number of works by the same author. To make proper citations, use the author's name, a shortened title of the work, and the page number in your citation. Notice you will add a comma between the author and title, but not the page!  Also notice that you can shorten your citation by including more information as you introduce the quote.

Example #1:  Pearl is called a "demon child" (Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter 89).

Example #2:  Hawthorne calls Pearl a "demon child" (Scarlet Letter 89).

Example #3:  In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne calls Pearl "demon child" (89).

• Indirect quotations or "a source within a source":

It is best to be able to always cite original sources if at all possible.  Sometimes, however, you will find quotes that you need to use in secondary sources. To correctly cite these sources use the abbreviation "qtd. in." An example would be a personal letter published in a biography.

Example:  Samuel Johnson once even admitted that Edmund Burke was an "extraordinary

                man" (qtd. in Boswell 43).

Long Quotations

Place quotations longer than four typed lines in a free-standing block and omit the quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented one inch from the left margin, and maintain double-spacing. Quotation marks are not used. Often a long quote is introduced by a colon ending the sentence that introduces the quotation. (Be sure to clearly introduce the reason for the long quote in your introductory line. It is also good writing practice to share concluding remarks after the quote to explain/justify your use of this extended quotation.)

The parenthetical citation of page/author should come after the closing punctuation mark. (This is different than most MLA citations!) When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. Use long quotes judiciously, not as filler. Normally no more than one or two long quotations are used in a research paper.


               Ralph and the other boys finally realize the horror of their actions:

               The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up now for 

               the first time on the island; great shuddering spasms of grief that seemed 

               to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the 

               burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other 

               boys began to shake and sob too. (Golding 186)

       Elizabeth Bishop’s "In the Waiting Room" is rich in evocative detail:

               It was winter. It got dark

               early. The waiting room

               was full of grown-up people,

               arctics and overcoats,

               lamps and magazines. (6-10)

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