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MLA 9th referencing style

A guide to using MLA 9th referencing style

What is direct quotation?

A direct quotation reproduces word-for-word material taken directly from another author’s work, or from your own previously published work.

Use of quotations should be selective, particularly apt, and as brief as possible. Quotes must reproduce the original source exactly. 

Short quotes

If the quotation is fewer than four lines of prose or more than three lines of verse and requires no special emphasis, incorporate it into your paragraph and enclose it in double quotation marks. To include two or three lines of verse, use a forward slash ( / ) to indicate line breaks and two forward slashes ( // ) to indicate a stanza break.


One critic has gone so far as to assert that "it is impossible that Branwell could have written this work" (Thomson 57).

Weare uses Australian insults, such as "from Beyond-the-Black-Stump hicks / to Bogan Western Sydney chicks" (120) ...

Long quotes

If the quotation comprises of more than four lines when run into your text, display it as an indented (half an inch from the left margin), freestanding block of text, without quotation marks. Use a colon to introduce the quotation, except when the introductory wording requires a different punctuation mark or none at all.


Miranda's uncanny disassociation with reality is exemplified when she looks at a drawing and sees:

A perfect person has no joints. The arms, emerging from short sleeves, are unmarked by the ripple of skin that shows where the limbs bend. A perfect person's portrait is lifelike despite their strange clothes, a black dress that fastens without buttons or a zip, just a straight line across the material to show that it was not pulled on over the head. It was still possible to believe that the person drawn was a real person despite the great almond-shaped eyes set deep into the head, deep and open, unable to blink. (Oyeyemi 48)

Format of a direct quotation in-text reference

If you have directly quoted words from a source (in quotation marks or in an indented paragraph), provide the author and specific page number (use the same style as the source unless you are referring to another division of the source - e.g. volumes, chapters, acts, scenes - in which case use Arabic numerals). 

Include a complete reference in the reference list.

The citation will look like this: (Smith 161) or (Brown 54) or (Brown 54; Smith 161)

Refer to the MLA Handbook for more detailed information on citing location information sections 6.16-6.29, pp. 242-250.