How to Cite Direct Quotes in MLA Format

Direct Quotes

A safe way to avoid plagiarism in essays, especially for anyone not familiar with MLA (Modern Language Association) format, is to cite material from outside sources in the form of direct quotes.  The information below will aid you in setting up your direct quotes properly in MLA format. 

Parts of a Direct Quote

The Source—this could be an article from a magazine, newspaper, journal, a book, etc.   Place quotation marks around article titles within magazines, newspapers, journals, etc.   Italicize the names of books, magazines, newspapers, journals, etc.

  • Example (article)—In the article “Living Green is Easy,”
  • Example (book)—In the book Living Green is Easy,

The Author, if there is one—Most sources have an author listed, but some do not.  Use the author’s full name if there is one.  If not, omit the author’s name and use the title of article or book.  For four or more authors, use the first author listed followed by et al.—this is French for  ”and others,”  others who helped to write the article or book.

  • Example (one author)—John Smith acknowledges,
  • Example (no author)—The article “Living Green is Easy” acknowledges,
  • Example (two authors)—John Smith and Mary Jackson acknowledge,
  • Example (four or more authors)—John Smith et al. acknowledge, 

Tag Words—Verbs used to introduce a direct quote.  The verbs used should be in present tense and use subject-verb agreement based on the number of authors. 

  • Examples of tag words:  acknowledges, adds, asserts, believes, confirms, disagrees, discusses, emphasizes, mentions, notes, points outs, refutes, says, states, suggests, thinks, wonders, etc.  
  • Example (the bold word is a tag word):  John Smith in the article “Living Green is Easy” emphasizes, “Adults, and even children, can make a difference by participating in the recycling efforts in their own community.  It just takes one step.  Get started” (Smith 14).  

The Directly Quoted Passage—This is the passage that you, the student, take from the source and add to your essay.  The passage MUST BE EXACTLY WORD-FOR-WORD AS IT IS WRITTEN IN THE SOURCE.  Add quotation marks before and after the directly quoted passage.

  • Example—“It doesn’t take a lot for people to begin living green; they can start by doing simple recycling such as recycling all paper products”

The Parenthetical Citation—This is required within the essay as a code for the reader to check the works cited page for the full bibliographic information on this source.  This is added in case someone, namely your teacher, wants to check your sources to ensure you cited the passages properly and did not plagiarize. 

  • For printed sources, the author’s last name and a page number are included within parenthesis after the direct quote.  Example:  (Smith 14)
  •  For online sources, on the author’s last name is listed without the page number.  Example:  (Smith) 
  • For printed sources with no author, use the first MAJOR keyword from the article title enclosed in quotations marks to indicate an article title has been cited and add a page number.   Example:  (“Living” 14) 
  • For online sources with no author, use the first MAJOR keyword from the article title enclosed in quotations marks to indicate an article title has been cited and no page number added.   Example:  (“Living”) 
  • For a book with no author, italicize the first MAJOR keyword(s) from the book title and add a page number.   Example:  (Living 14)   

Submitting to Literary Magazines

New and emerging writers interested in having their works published should consider submitting to literary magazines as an invaluable part of their writing goals.  Writers need to understand the importance of submitting their poetry, fiction, and short stories to literary magazines.  It is a successful method for marketing their works and for building a readership.  

But they must adhere to the specific guidelines for submitting to literary magazines to avoid having their works promptly discarded in the slush pile.  The submissions guidelines are there for a reason, and if they do not follow them, they are weeding out their chances of publication.

Before submitting work to literary magazines, writers should always check the submissions guidelines and follow them to the letter.  Not doing so could mean their work does not get published, and that is the whole point of submitting in the first place, right?  Also writers should make sure to familiarize themselves with the content and genre of works the literary magazine publishes to ensure their work fits in with the magazine’s theme. 

I write on southern-themed topics, and when I submit to literary magazines, I focus on those that accept the type of works I produce.  The few I am familiar with, either by submitting to them or having work accepted for publication, are listed below. 

Barely South Review  The new literary journal in electronic format housed in Old Dominion University’s MFA in Creative Writing program!

Charlotte Viewpoint  A magazine showcasing long-form essays,  memoirs, fiction, and poetry written by fellow citizens.

Clapboard House  A Literary Journal–Artful Short Stories and Poems

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature A webzine devoted to Southern cultural literature.

Glint Literary Journal The Literary Journal of Fayetteville State University. In print and online. The best fiction, non-fiction, essays and poetry on the web.

Meadowland Review An online literary journal comprised of a small group of writers and editors who share a commitment to providing a public space for thoughtful and original material. We welcome and encourage both emerging and established writers of short fiction and poetry.

Musacadine Lines: A Southern Journal   A place for emerging and established writers to publish their work.

The Pedastal Magazine A webzine of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and interviews.

Storysouth A quarterly journal featuring the writings from the new south.

Umbrella Factory A small press determined to connect well-developed readers to intelligent writers and poets through virtual means, printed journals, and books. We believe in making an honest living providing the best writers and poets a forum for their work.

The Western Online The Western Online is dedicated to everything Western. We publish Western short stories, non- fiction articles and artwork. Good Reading Starts Here  is a wonderful resource for finding literary magazines, online and print, and their submissions guidelines–or links to the literary magazines’ websites, which contain the most updated submissions information.

Duotrope’s Digest is another resource that contains a listing of 2875 markets to which writers can submit their works.   The listings are categorized by genre, length, new, fledgling, paid, or unpaid, as well as many other categories.  There are a list of submissions guidelines and links to the magazines’ websites.  This is wonderful tool for a new and emerging authors to utilize, and it’s free.


Zelda Lockhart–Writing Workshop


I had the pleasure of attending a workshop Saturday with a wonderful woman, author, and speaker, Zelda Lockhart.  She is the author of Cold Running Creek and Fifth Born and the 2010 Piedmont Laureate.  She also has a new novel coming out this summer, and I am looking forward to ordering it as soon as it hits the bookshelves.

Zelda held a workshop on writing entitled “Write It & Publish It: A Publishing Guide” in Durham at the Bean Traders, a coffee shop on 9th Street.  As my husband and I walked down the wooden steps to the lower part of the coffee shop to meet Zelda, I was amazed at how tall she was.  I had seen her photo on her book cover jacket as well as on her website, and for some reason I expected her to be shorter than I.  I was surprised to find that she was a tall woman, regal in stature and appearance. 

We walked to the far end of the shop, and my husband and I greeted Zelda, and I sat down at wooden tables reminiscent of the ones I was accustomed to in elementary school, wooden tables, some painted and some stained, (shabby chic would be my best description of them), dented in places, and filled with scratches and dings that indicated they had been put to good use in a classroom. 

After greeting Zelda, my husband left us to our workshop.  I, along with a thoughtful, elderly woman who had previously attended one of Zelda’s poetry workshops, were the only participants.  I greeted her and pulled out my pen and pad to what was an informative yet relaxed workshop.  We were originally scheduled to attend the workshop in another location, but that fell through.  Zelda contacted me the night before to inform me that the workshop may have to be cancelled, but I asked if I could still meet with her individually, and she agreed.  Even though plans had fallen through at the other location, I still wanted to meet this author and gain some insight from her background and expertise as a published author. 

The atmosphere in the coffee shop was peaceful, the occasional sound of coffee being expressed upstairs and the aroma of richly brewed coffee permeating the air and the light tapping of fingers to computer keys filling the charming and quaint space.  People were seated at other tables in the coffee shop, reading a book, looking over important paperwork, working on their laptops, or as in our case, discussing writing with a published author.  Sitting with Zelda and my fellow participant, I felt like I was having coffee with two old friends (although I didn’t order any coffee—I had a cup of Java before I left for Durham). 

Zelda began with asking us participants to pitch our work to her.  I wasn’t expecting that to be a part of the workshop, but I understand why she began with that exercise.  We were given a few minutes to compose our ideas, and then we “pitched” our work to her.  I realized I had a good understanding of what my work was about and who my characters were, but I was lacking in the area of expressing what my goals were in the work and explaining how I would bring about redemption for each of the characters.  The short-story collection I pitched had many characters, so expressing how I would bring about redemption for all of them would take a while, and I needed to learn how to pitch the short-story collection in 30 seconds.  Zelda suggested I open with a brief overview of the story and then choose one story or character and briefly discuss his or her struggle and the hopeful outcome of the story.  This would give the listener a sense of what the entire collection was about.

Another exercise she gave to us was a “Jump Starter,” a way to jump start our writing at home.  She called it “Steal the Line,” choosing a line from a book—poetry books are great for this exercise—and putting your ideas down on paper.  It was a fun exercise, and it worked.  It’s amazing how a few words can inspire you to write a poem, a short story, or a personal essay.  Some other jump starters she suggested were “Photo Prompts” and “Music in the Same Vein.”  These prompts could be done individually or combined to get those writing juices flowing. 

Next to us was a young girl, I imagine a college student as she was tapping away at her computer keyboard, occasionally glancing over whenever Zelda shared one of her pearls of wisdom.  I wanted to ask the student to join us.  “You should get in on this great information,” I wanted to say, but kept quiet.  It was a paid workshop, however.

Zelda shared with us her insight on the publishing industry.  She clarified the differences between subsidy or vanity presses, commercial presses, and self-publishing.  She indicated that many new authors are not familiar with the differences and often fall into the trap of publishing their work with subsidy or vanity presses.  She noted that authors should never pay a publisher to publish their work.  If a publisher charges you to publish your book, you need to run like your house is on fire. 

Subsidy or vanity presses tend to get grouped in with the term “self-publishing.”  Zelda pointed out that the term needs to be changed because “it is a misnomer.”  Even though you are paying to have your book printed when self-publishing, she mentioned that you should make sure you are not paying too much for the printing that you cannot recoup the costs.  And she noted that if you want to self-publish, you should always go into it as if it were a business and as if you were the business owners.  You should follow the same steps as commercial presses, replicating the process they use (ie. obtaining ISBN numbers, contracting book designers, typesetters, and book manufacturers, securing distributers, etc.).   In essence, publishing a book, either through a commercial press or by self-publishing, is a business, and many first-time authors don’t go into the publishing industry with that sentiment in mind.

One more important piece of information she pointed out was even in self-publishing, you should make sure you know the total costs, not only the cost of printing the book, but also shipping costs, returned book fees, etc.  All of these costs need to be calculated in the pricing of the book so that you can recoup your investment as well as make a profit.

Zelda discussed submitting works to literary magazines, journals, and online literary websites for the purposes of getting your work published, especially if you want to get it noticed by agents and book publishers. She emphasized the importance of the “Author’s Bio” as bait for agents.  It is a calling card, a mini advertisement of your accomplishments, so you want to use it to your advantage.  Include only pertinent information that relates to your writing and publishing accomplishments. 

That last part of the workshop was a walk-through of the bookstore next door to us.  We went into the bookstore, taking our notepads, and looked for works that were similar to the works we wanted to publish.  I was focusing on historical fiction as that is the genre of my short-story collection.  Once we found works similar to ours, we were to look for information in the books that would help us find an agent who would sell works like ours, who would have a relationship with the press in which we were interested in getting our work published, and who would be associated with the editor.

This exercise was extremely helpful as we would be finding the most current publishers, agents, and editors.  Zelda suggested we research them also to ensure they are still in business and to find the correct contact person as some editors and agents may not be in business anymore or may have moved into different positions within the industry.

The workshop ended, and we two participants were left to explore the bookstore on our own.  I thoroughly enjoyed spending those few hours with Zelda Lockhart.  I learned a lot about the publishing industry and plan to utilize the techniques from workshop in my daily writings.

Of course, as with any workshop, you always think of questions afterwards that you wished you had asked during the workshop, but they didn’t come to you at that time.  Zelda informed us participants that we could email her and keep her abreast of our work.  I took her up on that and emailed her with a few more questions about things that came to me after the workshop. 

Zelda Lockhart is a great resource for information on writing and the publishing industry.  She has several upcoming workshops that I know will be informative to any writer at any stage of the writing and publishing process. 

  • Zelda will be facilitating an “Elders Writing Memoir” workshop at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham on May 1, 2010. 
  • Zelda will be hosting a workshop entitled “Adding Color to the Cheeks of Historical Characters” at the Writing and Visual Arts Workshops at Moorefields in Hillsborough on May 22, 2010 and May 23, 2010. 

You can find out more about Zelda Lockhart, her works,  Fifth Born and Cold Running Creek, and upcoming workshops at her website:

Suzy Barile Book Reading

It is always a treat to meet an author in person, especially one with which you have had only email contact for approximately five months.  I discovered Suzy Barile’s book Undaunted Heart: The True Story of a Southern Belle and a Yankee General on the North Carolina Writer’s Network, where both of us are members.  I emailed and asked if she would like to come to our community college to give a book reading as well as be the judge of our literary magazine, the Wilson Literary Review.  She graciously agreed to do both, and we began planning those events through only email communication. 

One thing I must say about Suzy is she is the consummate professional.  I have never worked with a person who is so dedicated to her craft and has the time to respond to every email within 24 hours or less–I never have.  This woman is also a community college teacher and is in the middle of moving into and renovating her new home, as well as traveling the state of North Carolina giving book readings.  Where does she find the time to do it all?  And the energy!

Suzy Barile held a book reading at our community college on March 18, 2010, discussing Undaunted Heart.   She is the great great granddaughter of Union General Smith Dykins Adkins and Ella Swain, daughter of David Lowry Swain, state governor and University of North Carolina President. 

According to Gita Schonfeld, Suzy Barile’s publicist, she says Barile refers to Undaunted Heart as an historic book, not a novel:  “Undaunted Heart is a non-fiction book (not a novel–though we hope it reads almost like one!).  It’s actually a history book; and the narrative strings together facts drawn from family letters, diaries, newspaper articles and other documents as well as oral history/ stories handed down through family and friends.  Excerpts from the original documents are integrated in the book’s storyline; (and one of Suzy’s goals was to separate the facts from the fictional accounts of her ancestor’s infamous story.)  I make the distinction because many readers looking for accurate historic information would not be interested in a novel or fictional work, even if that novel is based on fact” (Schonfeld).

The “infamous” story Schonfeld refers to is relationship that was formed between Ella and Smith during the South’s surrender in 1865 to Union troops who were ordered to capture the city of Chapel Hill.  Their scandalous relationship, Ella being from the South and Smith a Union General, did not set well with the residents of Chapel Hill who labeled them and Ella’s family as “turncoats.”  Ella and Smith managed to forge a relationship despite the political turmoil that faced the country at the time, eventually marrying and remaining “undaunted” in their commitment to each other.

It was a wonderful pleasure meeting Suzy Barile in person.  She sent a photo of herself ahead of time to be used for publicity purposes at our college, but she had never seen me in person.  When I met her, it was like meeting an old friend that I had not seen in years, yet kept in contact via email.  I have a good friend like that.  We don’t see each other often, but when we do, it is like picking up from where we last left off.  I can see Suzy being that type of person.  She is very personable and easygoing.  It was a joy talking with her and getting to know her in person.

If you get a chance to make one of Suzy  Barile’s book readings, please do so, and introduce yourself to her.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how down to earth she is. 

Keep up the hard work, Suzy!  I look forward to seeing Undaunted Heart on the big screen in the very, very near future.  Hint to all movie producers out there!

Click on these links for more info on Suzy Barile — . 

Click on this link to view pictures of Suzy Barile at a book reading at Wake Technical Community College —