MLA Direct Quotations

MLA Direct Quotations

When you quote directly from a source, enclose the quoted section in quotation marks. Add an in-text citation at the end of the quote with the appropriate information.

Source with author and page number(s)

The following examples do not mention the author within the sentence and require both the author’s last name and the page number(s) in the citation:

Writers want to avoid clutter and write in a clear way; however, this is not always easy because “[f]ighting clutter is like fighting weeds—the writer is always slightly behind” (Zinsser 13).

Details are always critical to the expression of ideas, so writers must remember that “[a] small detail…is worth bothering about” (Zinsser 15).

The following example mentions the author in the sentence and only require the page number in the citation:

William Zinsser issues an indictment when he proclaims that: “Clutter is the disease of American writing” (7).

Source without an author

When quoting from a source without an author use the first one, two, or three words from the title, in place of the author’s last name. Don’t count initial articles like “A”, “An” or “The”. You should provide enough words to make it clear which work you’re referring to from your Works Cited list.

If the title in the Works Cited list is in italics, italicize the words from the title in the in-text citation:

The cell is the fundamental unit of life, and “[f]ocusing on the cell permits a detailed understanding of the tissues and organisms that cells compose” (Cell Biology 12).

If the title in the Works Cited list is in quotation marks, put quotation marks around the words from the title in the in-text citation:

The current field is rapidly changing because “[nurses] have a unique scope of practice and can practice independently, although they also collaborate with all members of the health care team to provide the care needed by each patient as an individual” (“Nursing” 12).

Source without page numbers 

When quoting directly from electronic sources that do not provide page numbers (like Web pages), cite the author’s name only:

It is important to remember, “the three phases of the separation response are: protest, despair, and detachment” (Garelli)

Block quotations

If a quotation extends to more than four lines typed, it is a long quotation. The rules that apply to long quotations are different from regular quotations:


  1. The line before your long quotation, when you’re introducing the quote, usually ends with a colon.
  2. The long quotation is indented half an inch from the rest of the text, so it looks like a block of text.
  3. There are no quotation marks around the quotation.
  4. The period at the end of the quotation comes before your in-text citation as opposed to after, as it does with regular quotations.

Consider this example:

At the end of Lord of the Flies the boys are struck with the realization of their behavior:

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them 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 little boys began to shake and sob too. (Golding 186)


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