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Quotation and Citation

Page history last edited by Eric Leonidas 1 year, 9 months ago



In our class I would like you to use “MLA” citation.  This consists of three parts:


1. Quotations, properly introduced with signal phrases.

2. Parenthetical notation wherever you cite an outside text (whether quoting or not)

3. A “Works Cited” list.


Integrating Quotations:  There are two ways to bring quotations into your writing (but be aware that paraphrase also needs to be cited).  You can “run in” a quote (the first and second examples below) or format the quote in a block (the near the bottom—only do this if you have at least 3 lines of prose or poetry).  In either case, you need to begin with a “signal phrase,” something to introduce your quote.  If you’re working with fiction, the signal phrase can tell us whether the narrator or a character is speaking.  The more you give your reader before the quotation the better.  Compare these two examples (signal phrases are underlined):


In “Bright and Morning Star,” Wright describes an airport beacon as “a bright shaft of yellow” (179).  [Note punctuation outside parentheses]


In “Bright and Morning Star, Wright presents an airport beacon as a weapon, “a bright shaft of yellow” that looks to Sue “like a gleaming sword above her head” (179).


MLA citation calls for the author’s name and the page number to go into the parentheses.  So, (Wright 179) [no comma between name and number].  However, in the example above it’s clear that I’m citing Wright’s text, thus putting his name in the parentheses would be redundant.


Generally speaking, you’ll use a comma or a colon to introduce a quotation.  The exceptions are “that,” as in:  Booker comforts Sue and tells her that JB “didn’t have a chance t tell the others” (196).  And if you look at my examples above, you’ll see I’ve worked the quotations into the grammar of the sentences, avoiding commas in a couple of cases.  When in doubt, though, go with a colon.


One can isolate longer quotes in blocks:


Sue recalls herself initially as energized by her sons’ new faith, their “terrible vision” (182).  But laboring in the party’s cause of resistance, she no longer has her earlier faith to lighten her load.  As time passes, Wright writes, “things were becoming heavier”:


The tubs of water and the smoothing iron and the bundle of clothes were becoming larder to lift, herwith her back aching so, and her work was taking longer, all because Sug was gone and she didn’t know just when Johnny-Boy would be taken too. (181)


Generally, it’s better to run quotes in, but be sure the grammar matches up.  Also, outside of politicians, people rarely “state” anything.  They say, comment, argue, write, observe, etc. 


Works Cited:  The list should be a separate page entitled Works Cited.  Entries are listed alphabetically by author, and turnovers are indented.  Our stories and poems all come from an anthology, thus you begin with the author and title, but then give the title and editor of the anthology.  In your parenthetical citations, you always use the author of the story or the poet’s name, not the name of the editors (unless you quote material written by the editors in an introduction or analyses of the story or poem).


Works Cited


Bishop, Elizabeth.  “Casabianca.” The Norton Introduction to Poetry, edited by J. Paul Hunter, Allison Booth and Kelly J. Mays,  9th edition, Norton, 2007, page 290.


Wright, Richard.  “Bright and Morning Star.” The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike and Katrina Kenison, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, pages179-210.

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