How to Quote MLA: A Step-by-Step Guide for Proper Quoting

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Are you struggling with how to quote in MLA format? Look no further! In academic writing, adhering to proper quoting guidelines is essential, and the Modern Language Association (MLA) format is widely used for this purpose. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of quoting in MLA, ensuring that your citations are accurate and in line with academic standards.

Understanding MLA Formatting

Before we dive into the specifics of quoting, let’s first understand the basics of MLA formatting. MLA is a set of guidelines developed by the Modern Language Association to standardize the presentation and citation of sources in academic writing. It provides a uniform structure that allows readers to easily locate and verify the sources you have used.

Using MLA format not only enhances the readability of your work but also showcases your attention to detail and commitment to academic integrity. By following these guidelines, you will demonstrate your professionalism and ensure that your work meets the expectations of your professors or readers.

The Importance of Proper Quoting in MLA

Quoting plays a crucial role in academic writing as it provides evidence to support your arguments and adds credibility to your work. Properly incorporating quotes from reputable sources strengthens your own ideas and allows readers to see the breadth of research you have undertaken.

By accurately quoting in MLA format, you demonstrate your understanding of the topic and your ability to synthesize information from reliable sources. This not only elevates the quality of your work but also showcases your expertise and adds weight to your arguments.

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Step-by-Step Guide: How to Quote in MLA

Now that we understand the significance of proper quoting in MLA, let’s delve into the step-by-step process of incorporating quotes in this format.

1. Choosing the Appropriate Quote

When selecting a quote, it is important to ensure its relevance to your topic. Choose quotes that provide valuable insights or support your arguments effectively. Remember to consider the context of the quote and how it aligns with your overall argument.

2. Introducing the Quote

Introducing a quote correctly is essential in maintaining the flow of your writing. Use signal phrases, such as “According to,” “As stated by,” or “In the words of,” to smoothly incorporate the quote into your sentence. This helps readers understand the source of the information and its significance to your argument.

3. Punctuating the Quote

Proper punctuation is crucial when quoting in MLA. Use quotation marks to enclose the exact words from the source, ensuring that the punctuation within the quote is accurate. If you need to omit a section of the quote, use an ellipsis (…) to indicate the omission.

4. Citing the Quote

To avoid plagiarism and acknowledge the original source, it is important to provide an in-text citation for every quote. In MLA format, this includes the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses after the quote. If the author’s name is mentioned in the signal phrase, you only need to include the page number in parentheses.

5. Explaining the Quote’s Relevance to the Topic

After incorporating the quote, it is essential to explain its significance in relation to your topic. This allows readers to understand how the quote supports your argument and strengthens your overall thesis. Clearly articulate the connection between the quote and your ideas to ensure a seamless integration of evidence and analysis.

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FAQ about Quoting in MLA

Can I alter the quote to fit my sentence structure?

No, it is important to preserve the integrity of the original quote. Altering the words or meaning of a quote is considered improper and may lead to misrepresentation of the source’s ideas. If you need to make minor changes for clarity, use brackets to indicate those alterations.

How do I quote a source within a source?

When you encounter a quote within a source you are already quoting, use single quotation marks (”) to differentiate the inner quote from the outer quote. This helps readers understand the hierarchy of the quotes and ensures accuracy in attribution.

What if the quote contains grammatical errors?

If the original quote contains grammatical errors, it is important to retain those errors to maintain the authenticity of the source. However, you can use [sic] in brackets after the error to indicate that the mistake is not yours but is present in the original text.

Do I need to include page numbers in the citation for online sources?

In MLA format, it is recommended to include page numbers when available. However, if the online source does not have page numbers, you can use other identifiers, such as paragraph numbers or section headings, to point readers to the specific location of the quote.


Mastering the art of quoting in MLA format is essential for any student or academic writer. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can confidently incorporate quotes in your work while adhering to MLA guidelines. Remember, accurate quoting not only adds credibility to your writing but also demonstrates your commitment to academic integrity and excellence. So, go ahead and elevate your work by quoting in MLA like a pro!

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