MLA Style and Quotation Information

For all questions regarding style and documentation refer to your Longwood Style Manual or the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.


The paper must be double-spaced in its entirety, including quotations, notes, and the list of works cited. In no case do you single-space anything.


According to MLA style, a paper does not present a title page. Begin one inch from the top of the first page and flush with the left margin and include your name, the instructor's name, the course number, and the date on separate lines. Double-space and center your title. Double-space and begin your text.


Set only left justification. Be sure that the right margin is not justified.


"While quotations are common and often effective in research papers, use them selectively. Quote only words, phrases, lines, and passages that are particularly interesting, vivid, unusual, or apt, and keep all quotations as brief as possible. Overquotation can bore your readers and might lead them to conclude that you are neither an orignal thinker nor a skillful writer" (MLA 56).

1. Quoting a passage which is shorter than four lines and is to be incorporated as part of your sentence:

Hawthorne emphasizes the prying character of Roger Chilling worth early in the novel: "The eyes of the wrinkled scholar glowed so intensely upon her, that Hester Prynne clasped her hands over her heart, dreading lest he should read the secret there at once" (Hawthorne 76).

Note the positions of the quotation marks, citation, and period at the end of the sentence. If the quotation ends with an exclamation point or question mark, that punctuation is included INSIDE the quotation mark. The period after the parenthetical reference is also retained.

2. Quoting a passage which spans two pages of the original text:

"read the secret there at once" (Hawthorne 76-77).

3. Quoting a passage which is four lines or longer in your text (this passage should be indented ten spaces from the left margin):

It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore; and which was of a splendor in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony. (Hawthorne 54)

In practice, the offset quotation should be double-spaced and you should double-space before and after the inserted quotation too. Note that there are no punctuation marks after the closing parenthesis and there are no quotations marks around the text itself.

4. Quoting a portion of dialogue:

If you quote something a character says, use double quotation marks on the outside ends of the quotation to indicate that you are quoting a portion of the text. Use single quotation marks inside the double quotation marks to indicate that someone is speaking.

"'Thou art not my child! Thou art no Pearl of mine!'" (Hawthorne 97).

If you cite a passage of dialogue of four lines or more, follow the rule for offset quotation, but remember to use double quotation marks at the beginning and end of the spoken portion to indicate that a character is speaking.

5. When you quote a passage, you may occasionally want to alter the original text by either deleting some or by supplying your own material to make the sentence grammatically sound or to provide some explanation.

A. original: The village lay under two feet of snow, with drifts at the windy corners.

In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires.

B. added: Edith Wharton describes the village of Starkfield as "lay[ing] under two feet

of snow, with drifts at the windy corners. In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung

like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires."

C. deleted: Wharton's depiction of the hardness of environment is especially apparent

in her description of the "sky of iron [in which]. . .Orion flashes his cold fires."

D. If you quote from one sentence, skip over some text, and then quote from a later one,

you need four ellipsis points to indicate that you've quoted material from two separate sentences:

"The village lay under two feet of snow. . . .[and] the Dipper hung like icicles. . . ."