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)   

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 —