MLA Cheat Sheet for Quotes

MLA Format: Citation “Cheat Sheet”
In-text Citations:
Any time you reference information that is not reflective of your own original thoughts, be it by direct
quote, paraphrase, or summary, you must include an in-text or parenthetical citation. Refer to the
following guidelines to ensure that you are citing your information correctly.
Author-Page Method:
According to the OWL at Purdue, the author’s last name and the page number(s) from which the
quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on
your Works Cited page. The author’s last name may appear in the sentence itself or in parentheses
following the quotation or paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always appear in the
parentheses, not in the text of your sentence. Please note that the author and page number is
underlined in the examples below to aid you in locating the information.
a. If you mention the author in the sentence itself, you do not need to include the
author in the parentheses. You must always include the page number in the parentheses.
Example from the OWL at Purdue:
Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a “spontaneous
overflow of powerful feelings” (263).
b. If you do not mention the author in the sentence itself, you must include the author
in the parentheses. You must always include the page number in the parentheses.
Example from the OWL at Purdue:
Romantic poetry is characterized by the “spontaneous overflow of powerful
feelings” (Wordsworth 263).
c. If you paraphrase information, you must include a parenthetical citation just as you
would with a direct quote.
Example from the OWL at Purdue:
Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).
All examples above allow readers to locate the author in the writer’s Works Cited page. If readers turn
to the Works Cited page for any of the above citations, under the name of Wordsworth, they would
find the following information:
Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. London: Oxford U.P., 1967. Print.
Mid-Sentence Quotations:
According to the Modern Language Association, if you have a quotation in the middle of your sentence
place the parenthetical reference where a pause would naturally occur (preferably at the end of a
sentence), as near as possible to the material documented. The parenthetical reference precedes the
punctuation mark that concludes the sentence, clause, or phrase containing the borrowed material.
Ultimately, you should put the parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence like this:
Saussure, “the founder of modern linguistics”, called for a reassessment of the field (Cullers 15).
Periods and commas should come after the citation, a reference to your source. Question marks and
explanation marks may go inside or outside quotation marks depending on whether they belong to
your sentence or to the quote.
Example: Quotation/explanation mark belongs to the student’s sentence
Does Cullers believe that Saussure was “the founder of modern linguistics” (Cullers 15)?
1. To indicate that the quotation mark or explanation mark belongs to the student’s sentence and
not to the quote, it is placed after the citation
Example: Quotation/explanation mark belongs to the quote
Stewart finally asks, “Where is our society heading?” (Cullers 41).
1. To indicate that a quotation mark or explanation mark belong to the same sentence that you
are quoting, place the question mark or exclamation mark inside the quotation marks and place a
period outside the citation
2. PLEASE NOTE: There is a comma before the quote above because the structure of the student’s
sentence requires one. Unless the structure of a sentence requires a comma, you SHOULD NOT use a
comma prior to a quotation mark.
The portion of the quote that you are citing and the structure of the quote in your sentence will
dictate whether or not the first letter of your direct quote should be capitalized.
1. Capitalize the first letter of a direct quote when the quoted material is a complete sentence.
Mr. Johnston, who was working in his field that morning, said, “The alien spaceship
appeared right before my own two eyes.”
2. Do not use a capital letter when the quoted material is a fragment or only a piece of the original
material’s complete sentence.
Although Mr. Johnston has seen odd happenings on the farm, he stated that the
spaceship “certainly takes the cake” when it comes to unexplainable activity.
3. If a direct quotation is interrupted mid-sentence, do not capitalize the second part of the quotation.
Though many claim Mr. Johnston spotted extraterrestrial life, “[he]
didn’t see an actual alien being,” but he asserts that “[he] sure wish [he] had.”
Adding or Omitting Words in Quotations
If a quote substantiates your thesis, but it does not fit grammatically with the rest of your sentence,
you may add or omit words so long as you format the change correctly. Any additions or omissions
must not alter the original meaning and intent of the quotation.
1. 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).
2. 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.
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).
MLA Cheat Sheet Chart
Citing Situation
When you DO NOT mention the author’s name in your
sentence, the author’s name and page number are placed in
the parentheses at the end of your sentence:
One researcher has found that dreams move
backward in time as the night progresses (Dement
When you mention the author’s name in your sentence, the
page number is placed in parentheses at the end of the
Freud states that “a dream is the fulfillment of a
wish” (154).
When you cite more than one work by the same author, you
must cite the author’s last name, the page number and the
name of the piece:
One current theory emphasizes the principle that
dreams express “profound aspects of personality”
(Foulkes, “Sleep” 184).
Investigation shows that young children’s dreams
are “rather simple and unemotional” (Foulkes,
“Dreams” 78).
When the work has two or three authors:
When the work has more than three authors, use the Latin
term “et al” which means “and others” after the first author’s
last name:
Psychologists hold that no two children are alike
(Gesell, Brear, and Ilg 68).
Child psychology is not a new field, but it is a
difficult one due to the nature of the subjects
(Rosenberg et al. 14).
When the work has NO AUTHOR, begin with the first few
words of the citation as it will appear alphabetized in your
Works Cited page at the end of your paper:
Random testing for use of steroids by athletes is
facing strong opposition by owners of several of
these teams (“Steroids” 22).
When you quote or paraphrase a quotation from a book or
article that appeared somewhere else:
Bacon observed that “it is hardly possible at once
to admire an author and to go beyond him” (qtd. in
Guibroy 113).