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MLA 8th Edition: In-text Referencing & Quotations

In-text Referencing

Direct Quotations: Poetry


If you quote part or all of a line of verse that does not require special emphasis, put it in quotation marks within your text. You may also incorporate two or three lines in this way, using a forward slash with a space on either side to include to the reader where the line breaks fall. If a stanza break occurs in the quotation, mark it with two forward slashes ( // ).

Reflecting on the "incident" in Baltimore, Cullen concludes, "Of all the things that happened there / That's all that I remember."

Verse quotations of more than three liines should be set as a block quote indented half an inch from the left margin.

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)

Direct Quotations: Prose

MLA Formatting Quotations

Quotations work best when used selectively. Ensure you keep quotes as short as possible, only quoting the most appropriate sections. It is important that your quotes are accurate. Be aware that you can paraphrase the original and quote only fragments to ensure your writing flows nicely. Please note that all pages in MLA should be double-spaced.


If a prose quotation runs no more than four lines ad requires no special emphasis, put it in quotation marks and incorporate it into the text.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," wrote Charles Dickens of the eighteenth century.

You do not need to quote the entire phrase. If a quotation ending a sentence requires a parenthetical reference, place the sentence period after the reference.

For Charles Dickens the eighteenth century was both "the best of times" and "the worst of time" (35).

A quote can be at the beginning, the end of the middle of the sentence.

Joseph Conrad writes of the company manager in Heart of Darkness, "He was obeyed, yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect."


"He was obeyed," writes Joseph Conrad of the company manager in Heart of Darkness, "yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect" (87)

If a quotation is longer than four lines, set it as a block quote indented half an inch from the left margin. Do not indent the first line an extra amount or add quotation marks not present in the original. Please note where the parenthetical reference sits in a block quote.

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

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