Integrating Quotations in MLA Style

Integrating Quotations (MLA)

A reader may be able to make sense of a quotation dropped into a piece of writing, but introducing or integrating quotations into the flow of your sentence is the way to use them most effectively—to be sure that your reader knows what you mean. You have three options: 

  1. Introduce the quotation with a statement that puts it in context. A colon follows a formal statement or independent clause.
  • Lynn Quitman Troyka warns us of the particular challenges of using quotations in research papers: “The greatest risk you take when you use quotations is that you will end up with choppy, incoherent sentences” (184). 
  1. Use a signal phrase followed by a comma or a signal verb followed by that to announce a quotation.
  • According to Lynn Quitman Troyka, “. . ..”
  • The narrator suggests that “. . ..”
  • As Jake Barnes says, “. . . . . ..”
  • Frye rejects this notion when he argues, “. . ..”
  1. Integrate the quotation fully into your sentence. The quotation and your words must add up to a complete sentence.
  • We know the boy has learned a painful lesson when he says that his eyes “burned with anguish and anger” (Joyce 481). 
  • Leaders are inspirational; they are concerned with “providing meaning or purpose in work for employees and creating meaning in the product for customers” (Ivancevich, Lorenzi, and Skinner 341).  
  • Researchers found that firms with a strong corporate culture “based on a foundation of shared values” outperformed the other firms by a large margin (Quigley 42).

Quotations within Quotations:

Use single quotation marks to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

  • Miller states, “Religions are examples of ‘noble lies’ aimed at uplifting human stature” (18).

Adding Material within Quotations:

Use square brackets to enclose material that you add to or change within a quotation to allow it to fit grammatically into a sentence. 

  • Balko (2015) argues, “If they [policymakers] want to fight obesity, they’ll halt the creeping 

socialization of medicine” (p. 142).

  • “Today, the [saturated fat] warnings remain a cornerstone of the government’s dietary guidelines,” O’Connor (2016) states, “though in recent years the American Heart Association has also begun to warn that too much added sugar may increase cardiovascular disease risk” (p.92). 

Block Quotations:

Indent longer quotations (more than four lines) ten spaces from the margin. Notice that quotation marks are not used to enclose material that is set off from the text and that the parenthetical reference is placed after the punctuation following the quotation. 

A socially responsible vision can make an organization more attractive to customers, potential employees, and investors.  As consultant Robert Rosen puts it,  

The best companies are values-based and performance-driven.  Their community involvement supports the mission of the business.  Modern employees want to work for companies who make a difference, their customers want to do business with them because they have solid reputations as good corporate citizens, and shareholders enjoy the value such companies represent over the long term. (9)

Shortening Quotations:

Use an ellipsis of three dots to shorten longer quotations by removing non-essential words and ideas from the middle of the quote.  The quotation must fit grammatically into the sentence even with the ellipsis.   It must also retain enough of the quotation so that it still makes sense in your essay and you do not distort its meaning.   You do not need to provide ellipses at the beginning or the end of the quoted material. 

Foer states, “My grandmother survived World War II barefoot, scavenging Eastern Europe for other people’s inedibles . . . So she never cared if I colored outside the lines, as long as I cut coupons along the dashes” (159). 

Complete quote: “My grandmother survived World War II barefoot, scavenging Eastern Europe for other people’s inedibles: rotting potatoes, discarded scraps of meat, skins and the bits that clung to bones and pits. So she never cared if I colored outside the lines, as long as I cut coupons along the dashes.” 

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