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How to Cite a Quotation


These step-by-step instructions will guide you through the simple process of citing a quotation using MLA documentation style. This method will apply to citing quotes from books written by one author.

Smoothly incorporate the quote into your document. Try using a compound or complex sentence in which at least one entire clause includes only your original ideas. The other clause is the quote.

For example:

Because Lenina is incapable of real love, she misunderstands John's emotion when he tells her, "I love you more than anything in the world."

Use parentheses at the end of the sentence to indicate the author and original page number where the quote appears. Use one space between the author's last name and the page number. Do not include any other punctuation inside the parentheses, and do not use the p. or pp. notation. Move the period from the end of the sentence, and place it after the closing parenthesis. This placement binds the citation to the quote.

For example:

Because Lenina is incapable of real love, she misunderstands John's emotion when he tells her, "I love you more than anything in the world" (Huxley 192).

Cite the source on the Works Cited page, which should be the last separate page of your paper. At the top of this page, center the words "Works Cited" without quotation marks. Next, include your entries in alphabetical order according to the first word in the entry, usually the author's last name.

To create a works cited entry for a book by one author, you will need to include first the author's full name, last name first, then the title of the book capitalized and underlined, then the city of publication nearest your geographic location, then the publishing company and the most recent copyright year. Be sure to punctuate exactly as indicated. Use a period after the author and after the title, use a colon after the city, and use a comma after the publishing company. Use a period after the year.

For example:

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Perennial Classics, 1946.

Use the hanging indent format to separate your cite from other entries if you must use more than one line. Do not number your entries or use extra spaces between them. Within the entry, any line after the first should be indented five full spaces.

For example:

Masters, Edgar Lee. Spoon River Anthology. New York: Dover

       Publications, Inc, 1992.

Tip
  • To double check your documentation before submitting your work, make sure that each citation within your paper matches an entry on your works cited. Each last name in your parenthetical citations should have a corresponding entry that begins with that last name on the Works Cited page. If you have an entry on your works cited without a corresponding citation, you may have missed a quote. If you have a citation within your paper without a corresponding entry, you may have left out a citation, or you may have cited incorrectly. These errors can significantly impact evaluation of your work.
Warnings
  • These steps apply only to quotes taken from books by one author.
  • Other types of sources, such as scholarly journals, encyclopedias, and books by more than one author, require changes in format.
  • Always check the MLA handbook when in doubt.
About the Author

Beth Ebersbaker taught high school English for 9 years before resigning to begin a freelance writing career. She earned both her Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree in English at the University of Houston. She teaches English classes part time at the local community college.

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