How to Cite Questions

With all of the different formatting rules for MLA style, knowing how to format some of the less-used rules can be difficult. Fortunately, Modern Language Association editors anticipate formatting quirks. Creating an in-text citation for a question may feel like a jumble of different punctuation marks, but there is a sense to the seeming madness. Before beginning the citation process, be aware of the citation formatting that is required from your instructor.

MLA Formatting

Properly quote the question. An in-text citation can be introduced by a complete sentence or an introductory phrase. If introducing the quote with a complete sentence, a colon should be placed before the initial quotation mark; if introducing the quote with an introductory phrase, a comma is placed before the initial quotation mark. However, if the question is meant to complete the sentence without a pause, no punctuation is placed before the first quotation mark.

Type the question after the initial quotation mark. According to MLA 7th edition rules, "Question marks and exclamation points should appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage." Therefore, before the second quotation mark is put into place, type in the question mark.

Close the quote with a second quotation mark. Type the in-text citation as needed, using parentheses to enclose the information. Somewhere in the quote, the author's last name and the page number must be indicated. This can be done by placing the author's name in the introduction to the quote or in the parenthetical citation following the quote. Page numbers "should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence."

Place a period after the second parenthesis. The in-text citation is complete once the period is in place.

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