A quote should NEVER function as an independent sentence in your essay. Your own thoughts must either precede or follow the quote.
There are three ways to do so:
1. Your own words, “Quote” ( ).
2. “Quote” ( ), your own words.
3. Your words, “Quote” ( ), your words
1. When the quote is the final part of your sentence, you can introduce the quote one of three ways: with a signal phrase like he says, or she says; with a colon (:); or as an extension of your own words.
He says / She says:
Atticus metaphorically explains the reason people should leave Boo Radley alone when he says, “remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 86).
Atticus metaphorically explains why a man like Boo Radley should be left alone: “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 86).
Extension of your own words:
The children learn to leave Boo Radley alone due to their father’s lesson “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 86).
2. When the quote is the first part of your sentence, you must make sure to blend it with your own words to make a seamless sentence. When you use this technique, the parenthetical citation is at the end of the sentence. Again, you can integrate the quote as an extension of your own words, with a comma, or with a colon. Typically, this technique is only used with a quote that also begins a sentence
Your own words:
“Standing on the Radley porch was enough” for Scout to fully empathize with Boo’s position within her own life (Lee 234).
“Standing on the Radley porch was enough” (Lee 234), both as an epiphany and as a realization of a childhood goal, for Scout to fully empathize with Boo’s position within her own life.
“Standing on the Radley porch was enough” (Lee 234): Scout now has attained the empathy for Boo’s position that she lacked throughout the text.
3. Placing a quote in the middle of a sentence is usually achieved through commas, or a combination of commas and extending your own words. Thus the techniques of the first two points are present. The parenthetical citation is once again at the end of the sentence or before a major piece of punctuation.
When Scout says, “Boo’s children needed him” (Lee 233), she ultimately gives Boo the responsibility for her welfare.
Extending your words (initially):
Because Scout acknowledges that “Boo’s children needed him,” she ultimately gives Boo the responsibility for her welfare (Lee 233).
Extending your words (ultimately):
As Scout says, “Boo’s children needed him” to take on the responsibility of their welfare (Lee 233).
Extending your own words (both places)
Scout’s acknowledgement that “Boo’s children needed him” reveals that she ultimately gives Boo the responsibility for her welfare (Lee 233).
Follow the same rules as above. However, the line structure of poetry is slightly different.
Three lines or less: Each line is separated by a slash ( / ), all punctuation and capitalization is retained (except for the final punctuation of the quote), and the parenthetical citation of the author’s name and lines numbers is at the end of the sentence.
When Juliet says, “Deny thy father and refuse thy name; / Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, / And I’ll no longer be a Capulet,” she reveals the immediate love she has for Romeo (Shakespeare 2.2.36-38).
Four Lines or more: This is what we refer to as a “block quote.” The poem is typed exactly as is appears on the page, and each line is indented 1 inch from the left margin (see MLA 3.7.2 for more detail). One major change to the parenthetical citation: the terminal punctuation follows the line, then the parenthesis follow. There is no punctuation after the parenthesis.
Juliet’s words reveal her immediate love for Romeo:
O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I'll no longer be a Capulet. (Shakespeare 2.2.35-38)
The rest of the paragraph continues with normal margins; no further indentation is needed.
The format for a prose quote:
“Quote” (author’s last name page number).
“Roses are red and violets are blue” (Ski 2).
The only time punctuation is at the end of the quote is when a question mark or an exclamation point is present:
When Susie says, “I’m so glad you came!” she reveals her excitement (Ski 2).
When Susie asks, “Why didn’t you come?” she reveals her bewilderment (Ski 2).
The same thing applies to poetry. The only difference is that the parentheses contain both the author’s last name and the line numbers you are citing:
“Quote / quote / quote” (Bottoms 4-6).
If you would like to omit any part of a quote, simply insert spaced ellipses, or brackets and spaced ellipses (whichever your professor prefers – ask them!):
“It’s so hot [. . .] I feel like I could melt” (Ski 36). Please note that the SPACE BAR has been pressed between each period, but not between the period and the bracket.
“Roses are red / . . . / sugar is sweet and so are you” (Ski 1,3).
If pronouns in a quote are unclear (he, her, them, etc), you may add identification in your quote. Just insert brackets so that we know what you have added.
The quote: “If it would please her [Janet], I would propose immediately” (Ski 1).
If you are quoting dialogue within your quote, use single quotation marks to denote it.
“When Jake said ‘I have a great idea,’ we all knew trouble was coming” (Ski 1).
Written by Denise Slavinski, 9/6/2007