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MLA Style (8th/9th Ed.)


Short Quotations

·      If a quotation runs no more than four lines, put it in double quotation marks and incorporate it into the text.  Put single quotation marks around quotations that appear within those quotations.

·      Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical reference.  Other punctuation such as question marks and exclamation marks should appear within the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted passage, but after the parentheses if they are part of your text. (MLA Handbook, 8th ed. pp. 75-76)


Shelley thought poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the World” (794).

Dorothea responds to her sister, “what a wonderful little almanac you are, Celia!” (7).

Long Quotations 

If a quotation runs to more than four lines in your paper, set it off from your text by beginning a new line, indenting half an inch from the left margin.  For a single paragraph or part of a paragraph, do not indent the first line more than the rest of the quotation.

  • Do not use opening and closing quotation marks.
  • For long quotations, a period at the end of a quotation is placed before the parentheses.
  • If starting a new paragraph within the block quotation, indent its first line.


At the conclusion of Lord of the Flies, Ralph, realizing the horror of his actions, is overcome by

great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body.  His voice rose under

the back smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the

other little boys began to shake and sob too. (186)

(MLA Handbook, 8th ed. p. 77)


Quoting and Paraphrasing--Signal Phrases

Signal phrases are ways to lead into or introduce a source or quote. A signal phrase often names the author of the source and provides context. 

Try one of these signal phrases to create a smooth transition from your words to the quotation:

  • According to Flynn ". . ." (98).
  • Pappas and Murray report ". . ."  (67).
  • Jones says ". . ."  (453).
  • Research suggests ". . ." (Smith 19).

Other signal words include:

  • demonstrates
  • contends
  • implies
  • argues
  • shows that
  • supports

When introducing your sources, MLA style uses verbs in the present tense (argues) or present perfect tense (has argued).

Adapted from:

Hacker, Diana, and Nancy Sommers.  A Canadian Writer's Reference. 5th

          ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012.

 For more comprehensive information, see pages 406-422.