Quoting poetry in an essay mla

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Guides & Resources

This is the total package when it comes to MLA format. Our easy to read guide comes complete with visual examples and step by step instructions to format your citations and your paper in MLA style.

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Using Quotations in Your Essay

Many students tend to overuse direct quotations in their essays. Direct quotations should be used only when paraphrasing would change the effectiveness or meaning of the author’s words or when the author is a noted authority and the idea could not be better expressed or said more succinctly. Although quotations are common in essays in the humanities, they are used less extensively in the social sciences, and rarely in scientific writing.

NOTE: Remember that you must reference the use of someone else’s ideas or findings as well as direct quotations. (For more information on how to reference, see the informatin on the series on referencing styles.) The information in this Fastfacts handout is based on the MLA style, established by the Modern Language Association for referencing in the arts.

Using Quotations in Your Essay

  1. Introduce the quotation with your own words and integrate it grammatically into the sentence.
  • in square brackets if within the quotation
  • Use commas after an explanatory tag such as he said, she explained, they wrote, etc. e. g.,

  • Commas and periods are placed inside the final quotation mark.

  • Include within the text and use quotation marks around four lines or fewer of prose or three lines or fewer of poetry (use a slash (/) with a space on each side to signify the end of each line of poetry).

Smith explains the use of essay-writing terminology:

NOTE: If the first line of the quotation is the first line of a paragraph, indent an additional quarter inch only if you are quoting several of the original paragraphs.

  • Use single quotation marks for a quotation within a quotation. e. g.,

    Bogel states, «Campaign slogans, for example, are often built on this presumed correlation of form with meaning, as in the hopeful phrase ‘Win with Willkie,’ which sought to connect victory with the candidate by means of alliterative bonding» (168).

  • To omit something from the original, use ellipsis marks (periods preceded and followed by a space).

    • To omit a line or more of a poem, use one full line of periods.

    But of course these two «arguments»—that figurative language is necessary to define democracy, and that democracy permits such luxuries as figurative language — are really two faces of a single argument, an argument defining democracy, in part, as that form of government which recognizes the necessity of certain luxuries.

  • Use ellipsis when your words complete the sentence. e. g.,

    Bogel also claims that «these two ‘arguments’ [. ] are really two faces of a single argument» (172) in spite of evidence to the contrary.

  • Use ellipsis when the quotation completes the sentence:

    Bogel also claims that «these two ‘arguments’. are really two faces of a single argument. «3

  • With parenthetical reference, place final period after reference. e. g.,

    Bogel also claims that «these two ‘arguments’. are really two faces of a single argument. » (172).

    For more details on using quotations, refer to the following:Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2003.

    How to Quote and Cite a Poem in an Essay Using MLA Format

    Navigating the MLA Handbook can be pretty overwhelming; there are so many rules that regulate the way we can quote and cite poetry in MLA format in our own writing. Improper quoting and citing can even be considered a form of plagiarism. Here is a comprehensive look at the most important things you need to know to make your English teacher happy with how you quote from and cite poetry in your papers.

    Steps Edit

    Part One of Three:
    Quoting from Poems in an Essay Edit

    How should you use quotation marks when quoting a poem?

    Part Two of Three:
    Citing Poems in an Essay Edit

    How do you use in-text citations when citing poetry in an essay?

    Part Three of Three:
    Citing Poems in a Works Cited Edit

    True or False: You cannot cite a poem you found online.

    Community Q&A

    • Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair also railed against «gò / is mì-rùn mhòr nan Gall,» who sought the extinction of Gaelic (“the deceit and great malice of the non-Gaels,” 39-40).
    • MLA format is how writers talk about poetry (or other works), not a style people actually write poetry in. So MLA format governs how you might write about a poem for a class at school, but does not provide guidelines for actually writing poetry.
    • Wherever there is a line break that is another line to count. So whenever the text moves down to another line, count it as another line.
    • Do it the same way you would quote 3 or fewer lines of poetry as explained above. Include the author’s name and the title of the poem when introducing the quotation. Be sure to hand in an MLA works cited page when handing in the speech.

    Quick Summary

    If you use a quote from a poem in an MLA-format essay, place the line numbers of the poem in parentheses right after the closing quotation marks, with the closing punctuation right behind the parentheses. If you mention the name of the author when you are introducing the text, you do not have to include the author’s name in the parenthesis, but you do if you have not already stated the name of the author. If the quote is more than 3 lines long, indent 10 spaces from the left margin when you type the poem.