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Q & A: Using Quotations, Citing Sources, and Formatting the Works Cited Page

Citing Sources * Citing a course pack * Paper Format * Key to Comments * Research and Documentation Online

Using Quotations Citing Sources and Titles in the Text Works Cited
How can I integrate a quotation into my own sentence? How do I cite the quotations in my paper? Do I need a Works Cited page?
How long does the quotation have to be? Which is right: (Author 12), (Author, p. 12), or (Author, 12)? How can I cite a course pack?
What if I want to cut something out of the middle of a quotation? Where do I put the period at the end of the sentence if I'm citing something? Where can I find more information on how to set up a Works Cited page?
Do I need to use an ellipsis at the beginning and end of the quotation? How do I cite poetry? Should I number my references on the Works Cited page?
How many quotations does this paper have to have? Do I need to put commas around all the titles? How can I cite something from a discussion board or blog?
  Do I use italics or quotation marks for the title of the work?  

Q. How can I integrate a quotation into my own sentence?

1. Using a full sentence to introduce the quotation.

Quotations need to be introduced appropriately using a signal phrase or sentence rather than being "dropped" into the paragraph with no context. A dropped quotation is a quotation inserted into the text without a signal phrase. Note how the quotation in this example is "dropped" into the paragraph so that the reader is unsure who is speaking. Instead, dropped quotations must be integrated grammatically into the text through the use of a signal phrase. You can find more examples and solutions at these links: http://www.bergen.edu/faculty/ljonaitis/style_dropped_quotations.htm ; http://instructors.dwrl.utexas.edu/mitchell/node/29

2. Using an explanatory sentence to introduce the quotation.

3. Using a "tag" to introduce the quotation.

Q. How long does the quotation have to be?

Use only as much quotation as you absolutely need. There are three general types of quotations:

1. Block Quotations. Quotations comprising more than four lines of text are usually set off as block quotations. Here are a few hints for using block quotations:

2. Full Sentence Quotation. A quotation that is a full sentence in length is set off either with a signal phrase or with an introductory sentence.

Example: John F. Kennedy inspired a generation with these words: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
Example: As John F. Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

3. Partial Sentence Quotation. Use only as much of the quotation as you need. Here are some examples based on the following quotation from William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily": "Alive, she was a tradition, a duty, and a care, a sort of hereditary obligation on the town" (Faulkner 237).

Q. What if I want to cut something out of the middle of a quotation?

Ellipsis. If you need to omit material from the middle of a quotation, use an ellipsis, which is indicated by three spaced dots (. . . ). The plural of “ellipsis” is “ellipses."

Here is an example from William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily": "Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor--he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron-remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity."

Q. Do I need to use an ellipsis at the beginning and end of the quotation?

No. With few exceptions, you should not use ellipses at the beginning and end of a quotation. According to the Chicago Manual of Style , ellipses are typically not used at the beginning or end of a quotation (see 11.57 ff) unless the quotation begins "with a capitalized word (such as a proper name) that did not appear at the beginning of a sentence in the original" (11.65).

If the material you’re omitting includes the end of a sentence, you can include the period along with the ellipsis (four periods instead of three).

Q. How many quotations does this paper have to have?

There is no set number of quotations. Use as many as you need to support your argument, but be sure that you analyze and explain their significance.

Citing Sources

Q. How do I cite the quotations in my paper?

Use the author's (not the editor's) last name and the page number in parentheses.

For your first citation, include a signal phrase (the author's name and the title) when you introduce the quotation, and use the page number in parentheses after the quotation. Put the period after the page number in parentheses.

For subsequent citations, include the author's name and the page number after the quotation but before the period.

Q. Which is right: (Author 12), (Author, p. 12), or (Author, 12)?

The first one is correct. MLA style uses the author's last name and page number with no comma in between for in-text citations. The name can be omitted if it's given in the signal phrase. Do not put a comma between the author's name and the page number or use "p." in the in-text citation.

Q. Where do I put the period at the end of the sentence if I'm citing something?

Put the period after the parenthetical citation, unless you're using a block quotation.

Q. How do I cite quotations from poetry?

When citing lines of poetry, use line numbers rather than page numbers.

Correct: In "The World is Too Much With Us," Wordsworth contends that industrialization and commerce have resulted in a loss of closeness to nature:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! (lines 1-4)

Use (lines 1-4) for the first reference; after that, just use the line numbers (1-4).

If you are quoting up to three lines of poetry, put them in the text (rather than as a block quotation) and use a slash (/) to separate the lines

Q. Do I use quotation marks or italics for the titles?

It depends on the type of work: is it short (essay, poem, short story) or long, like a book (play, movie, book, novel)?

Titles should be marked with italics (underlining) or quotation marks, depending on the work being discussed.

Q. Do I need to put commas around all the titles?

Usually no. It depends on whether the title is a restrictive or nonrestrictive element. (Note: For some good examples, go to Ben Yagoda's explanation in the New York Times.)

Nonrestrictive clauses and phrases are "extra information"; if they are removed, the meaning of the sentence remains the same. Memory tip: Try putting your thumb over the information within the commas. If the sentence changes without that information, the information restricts the meaning of the sentence, and you don't need the commas.

Incorrect example: In Louisa May Alcott's novel, Work, Christie Devon declares her independence from convention.

This is incorrect because the commas imply that Alcott wrote only one novel, which isn't true. If you put your thumb over what's between the commas (the "extra information"), the sentence would read like this: In Louisa May Alcott's novel, Christie Devon declares her independence from convention. That doesn't have the same meaning, and anyway, we know that Louisa May Alcott wrote more than one novel.

Correct: In Louisa May Alcott's novel Work, Christie Devon declares her independence from convention.

The comma is there because of the introductory phrase.

Q. Do I need a Works Cited page?

Yes, you do. All papers must have a Works Cited page, even if you're using your textbook as the source for the works you'll be discussing. The Works Cited page is a list of the references you actually discussed in your paper, not a list of all the sources consulted.

The general format for entries is as follows:

Short story, poem, or essay:

Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Title of Poem, Essay, or Story." Title of Volume. Ed. Firstname Lastname. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page Numbers. Print.

Novel:

Author lastname, Author Firstname. Title of Novel. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page Numbers. Print.

Novel with editors:

Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth. Ed. Janet Beer and Elizabeth Nolan. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2005. Print.

For other examples, go to Research and Documentation Online and at http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch08_s1-0011.htm.

Q. Should I number the references in my Works Cited Page?

No. Although some scientific citation formats do this, MLA does not.

Q. How do I cite the course pack?

Here is some information on citing the course pack:

Author. “Title of Part.” Title of Original Book/Periodical. Original Publication Information. Rpt. in Title of Course Reader. Comp. Instructor’s Name. Publication Information of Reader. Pages in Reader. Medium of Publication.

Note: For this paper you only need to cite the course pack version.

For English 372:

Wordsworth, William. “Resolution and Independence.” 1807. Rpt. in English 372: 19th-Century Literature of the British Empire and the Americas. Comp. Donna Campbell. Pullman, WA: Cougar Copies, 2012. 4-6. Print.

For English 302:

Owen, Wilfred. "Dulce et Decorum Est." Rpt. in English 302: Week 2 Readings.  Comp. Donna Campbell. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, 2013. 1. Print.

Wharton, Edith. “Roman Fever.”  Rpt. in English 302: Week 3 Readings.  Comp. Donna Campbell. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, 2013. 4-10. Print.

From http://www.lib.uoguelph.ca/assistance/writing_services/resources/how_to_cite.cfm.

Here is the closest example from the MLA Handbook:

Page numbers of the cited piece. Give the inclusive page numbers of the piece you are citing. Be sure to provide the page numbers for the entire piece, not just for the material you used. Inclusive page numbers follow the publication date and a period (on writing inclusive numbers, see 3.5.6). (If the book has no page numbers, see 5.5.24.) The entry concludes with the medium of publication consulted.

Examples:

More, Hannah. “The Black Slave Trade: A Poem.” British Women Poets of the Romantic Era. Ed. Paula R. Feldman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. 472-82. Print.

“A Witchcraft Story.” The Hopi Way: Tales from a Vanishing Culture. Comp. Mando Sevillano. Flagstaff: Northland, 1986. 33-42. Print.

Q. Where can I find more information on how to set up a Works Cited page?

You can find examples of citation formats here: Research and Documentation Online and at http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch08_s1-0011.html. Newer versions of Word also have built-in citation managers.

If you're using a reference manager (Zotero, Endnote, Mendeley, etc.), you can automatically generate a Works Cited page and correct in-text citations. Other resources to help you format your references in MLA style include the following: EasyBib, WorksCited4U, and Word 2007 and 2010.