MLA Formatting Quotations

How to format Quotations in MLA

The formatting of citations by other authors in the body text differs depending on the length of the quotation.

Short quotations

Short quotations are three lines of poetry (or less) or four printed lines of prose (or less). Such quotes are enclosed in quotation marks. You need to include the author and page number. If it’s a verse, include the line numbers. Periods, commas and other punctuation marks should appear after the quotation in brackets.

Question marks and exclamation marks should be inside quotes, not outside if they are part of the quote itself. If they are part of your own text, then they should be placed after the quote in brackets.

For instance:

Philip mentioned Lacan’s famous slogan, which accurately characterizes his scientific work in general and seminars in particular: “Back to Freud” (34).


The famous slogan of Lacan accurately characterizes his scientific activity in general and seminars in particular: “Back to Freud” (Philip 34).

And on the page for links, the reader will find complete information about the source:

Julien, Philippe; Simiu, Devra Beck;. Jacques Lacan’s Return to Freud: The Real, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary. — NYU Press, 1996.

If you are using short (less than 3 lines) quotes from verses, mark the breaks in the verse with a slash (/) at the end of each line of the verse. There must be spaces before and after the slash. If you find a line break while quoting, use the double slash (//).

Cullen concludes, “Of all the things that happened there / That’s all I remember” (11-12).

Long quotations

If the quote contains more than 4 lines of prose or more than 3 lines of poetry, the quote should be placed in a separate block of text and the quotes should be omitted. The quote should start with a new paragraph, indented 0.5 inches from the left margin. Be sure to stick to double line spacing. The quotation in brackets must be placed after the closing punctuation mark. While quoting poems, maintain original line breaks.

For instance:

Mr. Blood smiled and inclined his head, for he was on friendly terms with these ladies, one of whom, indeed, had been for a little while his patient. But there was no response to his greeting. Instead, the eyes gave him back a stare of cold disdain. The smile on his thin lips grew a little broader, a little less pleasant. He understood the reason of that hostility, which had been daily growing in this past week since Monmouth had come to turn the brains of women of all ages. The Misses Pitt, he apprehended, contemned him that he, a young and vigorous man, of a military training which might now be valuable to the Cause, should stand aloof; that he should placidly smoke his pipe and tend his geraniums on this evening of all evenings, when men of spirit were rallying to the Protestant Champion, offering their blood to place him on the throne where he belonged. (Sabatini 4).

If you quote more than 3 lines of verse, keep the same formatting as in the original:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same. (Robert Lee Frost 1-10).

Note that there are 2 blocks in this poem quote. There should be a blank paragraph between them.

The new line of the paragraph should be indented 0.25 inches. For instance:

In his book “Treasure Island”, Robert Louis Stevenson described Squire Trelawney as follows:

He was a tall man, over six feet high, and broad in proportion, and he had a bluff, rough-and-ready face, all roughened and reddened and lined in his long travels. 

His eyebrows were very black, and moved readily, and this gave him a look of some temper, not bad, you would say, but quick and high…

Long before it was done, Mr. Trelawney (that, you will remember, was the squire’s name) had got up from his seat and was striding about the room, and the doctor, as if to hear the better, had taken off his powdered wig and sat there looking very strange indeed with his own close-cropped black poll… (31)

Adding and excluding words from a quote

If you are adding a word or more words to a quote, put those words in parentheses. This will help the reader understand that these words are not part of the original text. For instance:

Bruman-Larsen writes in his book that “[Amundsen’s] height is 180 cm, the volume of the rib cage on exhalation is 87 cm, on inhalation — 98 cm” (28).

If you omit a word or several words from a quote, then indicate the deleted word or words using ellipsis (three dots: …) and a space. For instance:

Bruman-Larsen writes in his book that “height – 180 cm, the volume of the rib cage … 87 cm …” (28).

If you are removing words from verses, use the same standard ellipsis. If you omit one or more lines of a poem, put a few dots on the length of the full line in the verse:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,


If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;

If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim,

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same; (Rudyard Kipling, 1-2, 5-12).