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Citation Style: MLA

Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Quoting Sources:

When you quote a source, you include the author's exact words in your text. Use "quotation marks" around the author's words. Include signal phrases and an in-text citation to show where the quote is from.

Paraphrasing & Summarizing Sources:

When you paraphrase or summarize a source, you restate the source's ideas in your own words and sentence structure. Select what is relevant to your topic, and restate only that. Changing only a few words is not sufficient in paraphrasing/ summarizing. Instead, you need to completely rephrase the author's ideas in your own words. You do not need to use quotation marks.

Always use in-text citations when you paraphrase or summarize, to let the reader know that the information comes from another source. Continue to use signal phrases as well.

Signal Phrases

Signal phrases let your reader know that you are quoting or summarizing from another source.


In the words of researchers Redelmeier and Tibshirani, " . . . "

As Matt Sundeen has noted, " . . . "

Patti Pena, mother of a child killed by a driver distracted by a cell phone, points out that " . . . "

" . . . " writes Christine Haughtney.

" . . . " claims wireless spokesperson Annette Jacobs.

Taken from the Bedford Handbook (583)

Verbs in Signal Phrases

points out

In-text / parenthetical citation examples

One author in text

Johnson has argued that both interpretations of the story are valued (178).

Note: Location information, such as page numbers, must be given if available, both when quoting directly and with paraphrases.

One author in reference Between 1968 and 1988, television coverage of presidential elections changed dramatically (Hallin 5).
Two authors in text Others, like Jakobson and Waugh (210-11), hold the opposite point of view.
Multiple authors in reference The dystopian concept resonates deeply with readers (Rabkin, Greenberg, and Olander vii).
Multivolume work

When referring to a specific page reference in a multivolume work, follow this format: (Author Last name Volume number: page numbers)

Some believe this stance to be antiquated (Greene 2: 1-10).

When referring to an entire volume of a multivolume work, follow this format: (Author Last name, vol. number)

Between 1945 and 1972, the political party system underwent profound changes (Schelsinger, vol. 4, 3-7).

Work with no author in reference

Give the full title or an abbreviated version of the title:

International espionage was as prevalent as ever in the 1990s ("Decade" 27).

Note: In this example, "Decade" is an abbreviated form of the full title, "Decade of the Spy."

Corporate author

Preferred form (include the corporate author in text):

According to a study sponsored by the National Research Council, the population of China around 1990 was increasing by more than fifteen million annually (15).

Alternate form (corporate author in reference, may abbreviate):

Around 1990, the population of China was increasing by more than fifteen million annually (Natl. Research Council 15).

Two or more works by the same author, in reference

(Author's Last name, Title of Work page numbers)

Shakespeare's King Lear has been called "a comedy of the grotesque" (Frye, Anatomy 237).

Two or more works by the same author, in text Northrop Frye considers Shakespeare's King Lear a "comedy of the grotesque" (Anatomy 237).
Indirect source in reference

Use this format when citing material obtained secondhand and not directly from a source:

Samuel Johnson admitted that Edmund Burke was an "extraordinary man" (qtd. in Boswell 2:450).

Multiple works in a single reference

Use a semicolon to separate multiple works cited in a single parenthetical reference,

(First work Author Last name page number; Second work Author Last name page number)

Longitudinal studies show these findings are valid (Fukuyama 42; McRae 101-03).

Digital media enhances creativity (Craner 308-11; Moulthrop, pars. 39-53).

Direct quotation in text, under 4 lines

If a direct quotation is under 4 lines, incorporate it into the text, placing the quotation between quotation marks. Include the page number in parentheses at the end of the quotation, before the period.

Riedling writes that “students who are information literate operate comfortably in situations where there are multiple answers” (5).

Direct quotation in text, 4 lines or more.

Quotations of 4 lines or more must be set off from the text and should begin on a new line. Indent the quotation one inch from the left margin, and type it double-spaced. Do not use quotation marks. Include the page number in parentheses at the end of the quotation, after the period.

In reference to the Kerala tradition, Blackburn writes that:
The Kerala tradition, however, seldom honors our expectations: it lives in performance but holds no interactive audience; it presents one of the most popular stories in Indian literature but is not primarily a narrative tradition; and the interminable, chaotic War Book, rather than one of the tightly plotted, earlier books, occupies center stage. (134)

Citing a work without page numbers

If a source does not include page numbers, but does provide explicit paragraph or section numbers, cite these. In these situations, include a comma after the author’s name.

“Eagleton has belittled the gains of postmodernism” (Chan, par. 41).

When a source has no page numbers or any other kind of reference numbers, no number is given in the parenthetical citation.

The utilitarianism of the Victorians “attempted to reduce decision-making about human actions to a ‘felicific calculus’” (Everett).

Bible, Qu'ran, or other common source

Add edition information to the first parenthetical citation for a common source such as The Bible.

In one of the most vivid prophetic visions in the Bible, Ezekiel saw “what seemed to be four living creatures,” each with the faces of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (New Jerusalem Bible, Ezek. 1.5-10).

Common literature source

Add information (such as chapter and section numbers) that would help a reader locate the quotation in any edition of the work.

In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft recollects many “women who, not led by degrees to proper studies, and not permitted to choose for themselves, have indeed been overgrown children” (185; ch. 13, sec. 2).