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How to Attribute Quotes Using MLA Style

by J.M. Willhite, Demand Media

    Attributing quotes using MLA (Modern Language Association) style is not as intimidating as it seems. Secondary-school and college students will enjoy a much-needed sigh of relief once they familiarize themselves with the format. There are just a few rules to keep in mind when quoting your sources.

    Items you will need

    • MLA Stylebook (optional)
    Step 1

    Use quotation marks for all words and phrases you take from a source. Appropriating single words or phrases qualifies as limited attribution. Limited attribution comes in handy when reprinting the entire quote is not necessary. As you are still quoting, cite the source at the end of the sentence, using parentheses, with the last name of the author and the page number(s). Follow this style: author, pg. # -- (Plath, 68)

    Step 2

    Introduce quotes using the author's name, followed by a verb (like "said," "writes" or "comments") that denotes it came from that source. For example: In his recent book, White says "_______quotation_____" (pg. #).

    Step 3

    Incorporate a full quote in your work, which is the more traditional form of attribution. When you use this method, simply provide the author's name and the relevant page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. For example, "_____quotation_____" (author, pg. #).

    Step 4

    Use several quotes from a single author in one paragraph, if you want or need to; however, it is unnecessary to cite the author every time. As long as all the quotes are from the same author, cite him and the relevant page numbers at the end of the paragraph. For example: "_______quotation_______." Your own words to support quotation. "______quotation_____." Further examples in your own words. "________quotation______" (Johnson, 184).

    Step 5

    Include attribution when you paraphrase. The quote is not direct, but the meaning is still the same; therefore, you should tell your reader where this information can be found. Include the proper attribution (as discussed above) at the end of the sentence. For example: In her latest book, White writes that society's recent issues with public education are not unfounded (White, 179).

    Step 6

    Quote a work that has more than one author, which is easy. Use appropriate punctuation for the quote, and in the parentheses, simply list the first author's last name (as it will appear in your bibliography) and the page number. There is no need to list all of the authors.

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    Tip

    • Always place the ending punctuation of a sentence AFTER the attribution.

    Resources

    About the Author

    Jennifer Willhite has published works of fiction, poetry, literary analysis, and articles. The Indiana University alumna graduated with Dean's List honors from the School of Journalism and is a regular contributor to several Columbus-area magazines including "Enjoy!," "Columbus Parent," "Prime Time," and "She." Willhite has been writing professionally since 1997 and also holds degrees in English and comparative literature from Indiana University.

    Photo Credits

    • Valueline/Valueline/Getty Images

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