Mla Referencing Example Essay About My Mother

MLA Formatting Quotations


MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2018-01-06 01:54:24

When you directly quote the works of others in your paper, you will format quotations differently depending on their length. Below are some basic guidelines for incorporating quotations into your paper. Please note that all pages in MLA should be double-spaced.

Short quotations

To indicate short quotations (four typed lines or fewer of prose or three lines of verse) in your text, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks. Provide the author and specific page citation (in the case of verse, provide line numbers) in the text, and include a complete reference on the Works Cited page. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical citation. 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.

For example, when quoting short passages of prose, use the following examples:

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

According to Foulkes's study, dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (184).

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

When short (fewer than three lines of verse) quotations from poetry, mark breaks in short quotations of verse with a slash, ( / ), at the end of each line of verse (a space should precede and follow the slash).

Cullen concludes, "Of all the things that happened there / That's all I remember" (11-12).

Long quotations

For quotations that are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented ½ inch from the left margin; maintain double-spacing. Only indent the first line of the quotation by an additional quarter inch if you are citing multiple paragraphs. Your parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark. When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.)

For example, when citing more than four lines of prose, use the following examples:

Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and dehumanizes him throughout her narration:

They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78)

When citing long sections (more than three lines) of poetry, keep formatting as close to the original as possible.

In his poem "My Papa's Waltz," Theodore Roethke explores his childhood with his father:

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
We Romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself. (qtd. in Shrodes, Finestone, Shugrue 202)

When citing two or more paragraphs, use block quotation format, even if the passage from the paragraphs is less than four lines. Indent the first line of each quoted paragraph an extra quarter inch.

In "American Origins of the Writing-across-the-Curriculum Movement," David Russell argues,

   Writing has been an issue in American secondary and higher education since papers and examinations came into wide use in the 1870s, eventually driving out formal recitation and oral examination. . . .
   From its birth in the late nineteenth century, progressive education has wrestled with the conflict within industrial society between pressure to increase specialization of knowledge and of professional work (upholding disciplinary standards) and pressure to integrate more fully an ever-widerning number of citizens into intellectually meaningful activity within mass society (promoting social equity). . . . (3)

Adding or omitting words in quotations

If you add a word or words in a quotation, you should put brackets around the words to indicate that they are not part of the original text.

Jan Harold Brunvand, in an essay on urban legends, states, "some individuals [who retell urban legends] make a point of learning every rumor or tale" (78).

If you omit a word or words from a quotation, you should indicate the deleted word or words by using ellipsis marks, which are three periods ( . . . ) preceded and followed by a space. For example:

In an essay on urban legends, Jan Harold Brunvand notes that "some individuals make a point of learning every recent rumor or tale . . . and in a short time a lively exchange of details occurs" (78).

Please note that brackets are not needed around ellipses unless adding brackets would clarify your use of ellipses.

When omitting words from poetry quotations, use a standard three-period ellipses; however, when omitting one or more full lines of poetry, space several periods to about the length of a complete line in the poem:

                      These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration . . . (22-24, 28-30)

The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook (REF LB 2369 .G53 2016) provides guidelines for citing sources across all format types.

Information should be included for these elements, when available, in the following order:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of Source.
  3. Title of Container,
  4. Other Contributors,
  5. Version,
  6. Number,
  7. Publisher,
  8. Publication date,
  9. Location.


  • Include as many elements as are available.
  • Elements 3-9 may be repeated if your source is part of a larger source or "container." 
  • Use quotation marks for titles of sources contained in larger sources (essay, short story, poem, or article).
  • Use italics for titles of larger sources (books, periodical titles, websites, etc.).
  • Include a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or permalink for journal articles when available.
  • Remove http:// or https:// from URLs in citations.
  • Remove any hyperlinks.
  • When no date is given on a website, end your citation with an access date in the format: Accessed Day Month Year.

Download an MLA Practice Template


Lamb, Robert P. The Hemingway Short Story: A Study in Craft for Writers and Readers. Louisiana State UP, 2013.

Book with two authors

Roskie, David G., and Naomi Diamant. Holocaust Literature: A History and Guide. Brandeis UP, 2012.

Book with three or more authors

Feltus, William J., et al. Inside Campaigns: Elections through the Eyes of Political Professionals. SAGE, 2017.

Book with a corporate author that is also the publisher

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

Essay from an Anthology

Carr, Nicholas. "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction, edited by Melissa A. Goldthwaite et al., 14th ed., W. W. Norton, 2016, pp. 572-80.


Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See. Nook ed., Scribner, 2014.

Lipking, Lawrence. What Galileo Saw: Imagining the Scientific Revolution. Cornell UP, 2014.  eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=818909&site=ehost-live.

Longerich, Peter. Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford UP, 2010.  ProQuest Bbook Central,

Article from a Popular Magazine

Christakis, Erika. "How the New Preschool is Crushing Kids." The Atlantic, vol. 137, no. 1,Jan.-Feb. 2016, pp. 17-20.

Article from a Popular Magazinein a Library Database (Permalink available)

Le Page, Michael. "Low Oil Prices Are Bad for Climate Change." New Scientist, 16 Jan. 2016, p. 10. Academic Search Complete,

Article from a Scholarly Journal in a Library Database (DOI available)

Cristia, Alejandrina, and Amanda Seidl. "Parental Reports on Touch Screen Use in Early Childhood." PLOS ONE, vol. 10, no. 6, June 2015, pp. 1-20. Academic Search Complete, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128338.

Article from a Scholarly Journal in a Library Database (Permalink available)

Price, Amy. "Autism and iPads." Teacher Librarian, vol. 41, no. 3, Feb. 2014, pp. 40-41. Academic Search Complete,

Newspaper article

Rutenberg, Jim. “Journalism’s Next Challenge: Overcoming the Threat of Fake News.” The New York Times, late ed., 7 Nov. 2016, pp. B1+.

Newspaper Editorial from a Library Database (Permalink available)

"Time to Move the Standing Rock Pipeline." The New York Times, 4 Nov. 2016, p. A28. Editorial. ProQuest,

Web Page

Brigham, Robert. "Battlefield Vietnam: A Brief History." PBS, Accessed 18 Oct. 2016.

"New Data on Autism: Five Important Facts to Know."  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 Mar. 2016,


Angelou, Maya. “Listen: Dr. Maya Angelou Recites Her Poem ‘Phenomenal Woman.'”  YouTube, 12 May 2013,

Food, Inc. Directed and produced by Robert Kenner, Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2009.

Miss Representation. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsome, Kanopy, 2015,

In-Text Citations

A writer must document all information and ideas taken from others, whether quoting that source or putting it in your own words. To do this, you can use in-text citations which point your reader to the exact source on your Works Cited list, as well as the location within that source. For the following example, this usually means citing the author and page (Tan 40). 


Tan, Amy. "Mother Tongue." Dreams and Inward Journeys: A Rhetoric and Reader for Writers, edited by Marjorie Ford and Jon Ford, 7th ed., Pearson, 2010, pp. 34-44. 

If the author’s name is included in a signal phrase, you only need to cite the page number in parentheses: Tan describes her mother’s English as “broken” or “fractured” (40).

For long quotations (more than four typed lines), indent half an inch from the left margin, double space the lines, do not use quotation marks, and cite as above, placing the parentheses after the final punctuation.

Children of immigrants can have mixed feelings about their parents' difficulties with the English language:

Lately, I have been giving more thought to the kind of English my mother speaks. Like others, I have described it to people as “broken” or “fractured” English. But I wince when I say that. It has always bothered me that I can think of no way to describe it other than “broken,” as if it were damaged and needed to be fixed, as if it lacked a certain wholeness and soundness. (Tan 40).

More Examples

For works with two authors, include both names (Cristia and Seidl 13-14).

For works with more than two authors, cite the first author et al. (Felton et al. 5).

For a source with no author, give a shortened version of the title (“Money” A28). 

For a source with no pagination, cite the author(s) or shortened title ("New Data").

Links to Other Resources 

K. Pitcher  11/27/2017

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