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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

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.

  • Incorrect: The Swede feared for his life. "You are all out to get me" (Crane 97). Note that the quotation is not linked grammatically with the preceding sentence.
  • Incorrect: The Swede feared for his life, "You are all out to get me" (Crane 87). This is a comma splice, since two complete sentences are linked just by a comma.
  • Correct: The Swede feared for his life: "You are all out to get me" (Crane 97). The colon links the preceding sentence with the quotation. Because both parts of this example are complete sentences, the colon (not the comma) is the appropriate mark to link them.

2. Using an explanatory sentence to introduce the quotation.

  • Correct: The Swede showed that he feared for his life when he shouted, “You are all out to get me" (Crane 97). This example combines an explanatory sentence with the quotation.

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

  • Correct: The Swede shouted, "You are all out to get me" (Crane 97). This example uses a simple "tag" (a sentence using wrote, said, shouted, remarked, etc.) 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:

  • Indent 10 spaces. Indent the text 10 spaces from the left margin (in Word, hit the Increase Indent button twice).
  • Use a colon. Block quotations are usually introduced with a full sentence with a colon before the quotation.
  • No quotation marks. Do not use quotation marks around the quotation. The fact that it is set apart from the text shows that it is a quotation.
  • MLA. In MLA format, put the citation information (Smith 123) after the period at the end of the quotation.
  • Inside paragraphs . Block quotations are usually used within paragraphs; it is not necessary to start a new paragraph after using a block quotation.
  • Be sparing with quotations . Most important: use only as much of the quotation as you need. The reader will expect to see an analysis of the passage that is about the same length as the passage itself.

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).

  • Correct (first use in the paper) In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," the townspeople view Miss Emily as "a tradition, a duty, and a care, a sort of hereditary obligation on the town" (237).
  • Correct: Miss Emily Grierson was "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."

  • Correct: In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," the townspeople view Miss Emily as "a tradition . . .  a sort of hereditary obligation on the town" (237).

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).

  • Incorrect: For the townspeople, Miss Emily Grierson was “ . . . a hereditary obligation on the town . . .” (Faulkner 237).
  • Correct: For the townspeople, Miss Emily Grierson was “a hereditary obligation on the town” (Faulkner 237).

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.

  • Correct: In William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily," Miss Emily Grierson is an important figure to the townspeople: "Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care, a sort of hereditary obligation on the town" (237).

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.

  • Correct: For the townspeople, Miss Emily Grierson was “a hereditary obligation on the town” (Faulkner 237).
  • Incorrect: For the townspeople, Miss Emily Grierson was “a hereditary obligation on the town” (Faulkner, 237).
  • Incorrect: For the townspeople, Miss Emily Grierson was “a hereditary obligation on the town” (Faulkner, p. 237).

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.

  • Correct: For the townspeople, Miss Emily Grierson was “a hereditary obligation on the town” (Faulkner 237).
  • Incorrect: For the townspeople, Miss Emily Grierson was “a hereditary obligation on the town.” (Faulkner 237)

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.

    1. Titles of works that appear within a volume, such as short stories, poems, and essays, should be placed in quotation marks: " Araby," "The Prophecy," "Dulce et Decorum Est."

    2. Titles of works that are a volume in themselves, such as books, magazines, newspapers, plays, and movies, should be set off with underlining or italics: Hamlet, Little Women, The Awakening.

    3. Your own title should neither be underlined nor placed in quotation marks unless it contains the title of the work you're discussing. In that case, only the title of the work should be punctuated as a title.

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.

  • Incorrect: In his story, "Araby," James Joyce writes of a young boy's initiation.
  • Correct: In his story "Araby," James Joyce tells the story of a young boy's initiation.

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.

  • Works should be listed alphabetically by the author's last name.
  • The list should not be numbered.
  • The list should use a "hanging indent" style (in Word: Format -> Paragraph-> Special: Hanging).

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. Edited by Firstname Lastname, Publisher, Year, pp. Page Numbers.


Author Lastname, Author Firstname. Title of Novel. Publisher, Year.

Novel with editors:

Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth. Edited by Janet Beer and Elizabeth Nolan, Broadview Press, 2005.


Fetterley, Judith. "The Resisting Reader." Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism, edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Norton, 2007, pp. 443-447.

For other examples, go to The Purdue OWL .

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 or course handouts?

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.

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

You can find examples of citation formats here: 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.

Q. How can I cite an electronic edition, such as a Kindle edition?

The medium is the type of electronic file, such as Kindle file, Nook file, EPUB file, or PDF file. If you cannot identify the file type, use Digital file. For example:

Rowley, Hazel. Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage. New York: Farrar, 2010. Kindle file.

If the work presents electronic and print publication information, the electronic information should usually be cited.

Most electronic readers include a numbering system that tells users their location in the work. Do not cite this numbering, because it may not appear consistently to other users. If the work is divided into stable numbered sections like chapters, the numbers of those sections may be cited, with a label identifying the nature of the number (6.4.2):

According to Hazel Rowley, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt began their honeymoon with a week’s stay at Hyde Park (ch. 2).

Q. How can I cite a PowerPoint or class notes?

Both the print and online versions of the MLA Handbook 7 are silent on the issue of how to cite PowerPoint presentations, a question that several of you asked about today.

In the absence of other information, cite it as you would a lecture or class notes (MLA Handbook 7 5.7.11)


In a citation of an oral presentation, give the speaker’s name; the title of the presentation (if known), in quotation marks; the meeting and the sponsoring organization (if applicable); the location; and the date. Use an appropriate descriptive label (AddressLectureKeynote speechReading), neither italicized nor enclosed in quotation marks, to indicate the form of delivery.

Alter, Robert, and Marilynne Robinson. “The Psalms: A Reading and Conversation.” 92nd Street Y, New York. 17 Dec. 2007. Reading.

Matuozzi, Robert. “Archive Trauma.” Archive Trouble. MLA Annual Convention. Hyatt Regency, Chicago. 29 Dec. 2007. Address.

Your citation for a class PowerPoint would look like this in your Works Cited:

Campbell, Donna. "Romantic and Byronic Heroes." English 372: 19th-Century British and American Global Literature. Washington State University. 16 September 2014. PowerPoint.

For in-text citation, use either the last name, or, if you're using two PowerPoints, the last name and a short title.

The Romantic hero "XXXXX" (Campbell). 

Q. How do I cite a blog post, a tweet, a YouTube video, or other online source?

Cite these as you would any web source. The Purdue OWL has a helpful guide to this at

To cite a tweet:

Citing Sources in the Text of your Paper: In-Text Citation and Notes

Each time writers use an outside source, they must give credit to the original writer or creator of that source. This strategy also allows a reader to easily and efficiently make note of the source's bibliographic entry. Just as each style guide has rules for creating a citation in a bibliography at the end of a text, each guide also has certain rules for citing the use of sources within the text of the essay.

The following are basic guidelines for citing sources in the text of your paper when using the MLA, APA, Chicago, ASA, or Turabian style guides. These guidelines may not account for every citation situation. Since citing sources is not a creative enterprise, you should consult the appropriate print version of the style guide when you have questions about citation.

MLA Style  /  APA Style  /  Chicago Style  / ASA Style / Turabian


MLA: Parenthetical In-Text Citations

MLA citation style requires that writers cite a source within the text of their essay at the end of the sentence in which the source is used.  The parenthetical reference should be inserted after the last quotation mark but before the period at the end of the sentence.

General Form:          (Author Last Name Page #)   

Example:                 (Smith 42)

If two quotations from different sources are used in the same sentence, the parenthetical reference associated with a particular quote should be placed as close to the quotation as possible without interrupting the flow of the sentence.

If a paragraph includes several quotations from a single source, a single parenthetical reference may be placed at the end of the paragraph.  Page numbers should be included for each quotation organized by placement in the paragraph.  In the following example, the first quotation from Smith appeared on page 43 of the text.  The second quotation used in the paragraph came from page 12.

Example:                           (Smith 43, 12)

If the author is included more than once on the Works Cited page, the following form should be used.  Note that the format of the title on the Works Cited sheet should be mirrored in the parenthetical reference (i.e., if the title is underlined on the Works Cited page, then the title fragment should be underlined in the parenthetical reference).

General Form:          (Author Last, "Title Fragment" Page #)  or (Author Last, Title Fragment Page #)

Examples:               (Smith, "Who Moved" 42)   or   (Smith, Big Changes 172)

The following are examples of parenthetical citations for text with more than one author:

(Brown and Sullivan 42)

(Brown, Sullivan, and Grayson 158)

(Brown, et al. 38)

If there is no author, a title fragment should be used to make a connection between the use of the source and the citation for the source on the Works Cited page.

General Form:          ("Title Fragment" Page #)  or  (Title Fragment Page #)

Examples:               ("Library Links" 13)   or   (Building a Bookshelf  42)

For other considerations related to MLA parenthetical citations, see the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed. (pages 238-60).


APA:  Parenthetical In-Text Citations

To cite the use of a source in the text of an essay, APA advocates two methods:  parenthetical citation and attribution within the essay's content. Parenthetical references should be included immediately after the quotation marks used in direct quotations or immediately after the use of the source, even if these means including the parenthetical reference in the middle of the sentence.  The following is the general form for parenthetical citations in APA style:

Parenthetical Citation:           (Author Last Name, Year of Publication)
Example:                             (Smith, 1988)

To make the citation of the source less distracting, the APA also suggests mentioning the author in the essay's content so that only the year of publication and page number may be required in the parenthetical reference.

Attribution in text:                 Author Last Name (Year of Publication) has argued this point.
Example:                             Smith (1988) has argued this point.

Page numbers are not required in APA in-text citation. However, it is highly suggested that these be included.  To include references to a specific part of the text, add the page number or chapter number after the year.

Examples:               Smith (1988, p. 244) has written that...    or     Smith (1988, chap. 5) has written that...

When a work has two authors, both names should be cited every time the reference is required.  Use an ampersand (&) to separate the names of authors.  If a text has been authored by more than five individuals, the full listing of authors is not required in the first reference or any subsequent in-text references.

First mention of the reference:       Johnson, Smith, and Brown (1999) agree that...
Subsequent mention:                    Johnson et al. (1999) agree that...

If a group or corporation is the author, the full name of the group or corporation should be included in place of an author's name.  If an organization has a recognizable abbreviation, this may be used in subsequent references.

First mention of the reference:     (American Medical Association, 2002)
Subsequent mention:                  (AMA, 2002)

If no author is given for a specific text, use the first couple of word of the title in place of the author's last name.  Title fragments should be formatted using the same punctuation as titles on the References page.

Examples of attribution in the text:

The recent publication Plagiarism and You (2002) offers some explanation...

In "Five Ways to Protect Yourself" (2000) one can find...

Examples of parenthetical attribution:    (Plagiarism and You, 2002)  or  ("Five Ways to Protect Yourself," 2000)

When no date is given for the publication of a text (as is the case with many websites), include the abbreviation "n.d." in place of the year of publication.

For other considerations related to in-text referencing using the APA format, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed. (pages 207-14).


Chicago: Notes Style

In Chicago's Documentation Style 1, also known as notes form, the use of research sources is indicated in the text with a numerical subscript that corresponds to an entry at the end of the paper. These are called endnotes.  Although footnotes (or notes at the bottom of the page) are sometimes required, endnotes have become the predominant form of notes citations.

When using endnotes to indicate the use of research sources, writers must also include a bibliography at the end of the essay.  The note and the bibliographic entry include almost identical information but in a different format. 

As the formats for notes are contingent on the format of the source for which the note is written, examples of note formats are included with the bibliographic examples available through the Citing Sources at the End of a Paper link.  The B: entry would be included in the Bibliography at the end of the paper, while the N: entry gives examples to be used in footnotes or endnotes.

For further information on note format or other issues related to citing sources using the Chicago style, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed.

Chicago: Author/Date Style

Documentation 2, also called the Author-Date style, requires the use of parenthetical references in the text of the essay as well as a list of References. 

Parenthetical references should be placed at the end of the sentence, before the period, when a resource has been used.  If the sentence is either long enough or complex enough so that the cited portion of the sentence is not obvious, the parenthetical reference may instead be inserted immediately after the use of information from the source.  Page numbers should be included whenever possible.

General Form:  (Author Last Name Year of Publication, Page #)

Example:  (Smith 1992, 142)

The following examples illustrate parenthetical reference formats for works with more than one author.

(Smith and Johnson 1998, 14)

(Smith, Johnson, and White 2001, 42)

(Smith et al. 1998, 203)

(National Alliance for Social Consideration 1932, 11)

When organizations or corporate authors are the author of a text, the name of the organization may be shortened to its most basic title.  Abbreviations for the organization are not encouraged.

In the Chicago style, daily newspapers are rarely included in a list of References.  Instead, attribution may be given to information from a daily newspaper in a parenthetical reference. 

General Form:   (Newspaper Name, Day Month Year of Publication, Section and Page #)

Examples:        (San Antonio Express-News, 2 June 2005, B2)

                           (New York Times, 2 June 2005, A2)

                           (Durant Daily Democrat, 2 June 2005, 3)

The Chicago style guide does not offer examples for creating parenthetical references when there is no given author.  Standard practice has been to include the title of the work in place of the author.  The title should be formatted in the same manner as the formatting in the References list entry. 

(Plagiarism and You 2002, 142)   

("Five Ways to Protect Yourself" 2000, 33)

Electronic sources commonly lack a date of publication, as do other sources.  When there is no date of publication listed for a source, include the abbreviation "n.d." in place of the date. 

(Statistics for Water Rights n.d.)

For further information on citing sources using the Chicago style, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed.


If the author's name is mentioned in the text, use a parenthetical reference to show the year of publication at the end of the sentence.  Example:

...Welch contends that this is not the case (1991).

If the author's name is not mentioned in the text, it should be included with the year of publication within parentheses.  Example:

...but it has been argued that this was not the case (Welch 1991).

Page numbers should be included within parentheses after the year of publication. These are separated by a colon and no spaces.  Example:

...but it has been argued that this was not the case (Welch 1991:136).

The following forms should be used for multiple authors:

A recent study confirmed her belief (Johnson and Smith 1995:34).

This was reinforced by recent research on the topic (Johnson, Smith, and Marcus 1999)

If a text has more than three authors, the term "et al." with no additional punctuation marks may be used after the first author listed in the publication credits. 

This was not accurate according to a recent study (Johnson et al. 2003).

If multiple sources are cited for the same statement, the author and publication year should be distinguished from other texts with a colon. Cited texts should be arranged by author name or by date; arrangement should be consistent throughout the paper.  Example:

Some studies have refuted these arguments (Benson 1993; Nguyen 1999; Brown and Goggans 2000).

For additional information on in-text citation using the ASA style, see the American Sociological Association Style Guide, Third ed., pp. 45-47.


In the Turabian citation style, writers may use one of two forms in citing their resources: endnotes or author/date parenthetical references.  Writers using the Turabian style may use the Chicago formats for both endnotes as references and for parenthetical references.  Refer to Kate L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers, 7th ed., pp. 143-145 (notes style) and pp. 217-220 (author-date style) for more information.

RefWorks is also capable of creating in-text citations.  You may utilize the "Help" options available in RefWorksor visit the library's help desk to learn how to format in-text citations using RefWorks.

If you have questions about citing your use of a source within the text of your writing, please consult the print version of the citation style manuals.  You may also set up a research appointment with a librarian to learn how to accurately and appropriate cite your sources.