For the most part, you must reproduce
the spelling, capitalization, and internal punctuation of the
The following alterations are acceptable:
|Changing the closing punctuation
You may alter the closing punctuation
of a quotation in order to incorporate it into a sentence of your
"Books are not life," Lawrence emphasized.
Commas and periods go inside the closing quotation marks; the
other punctuation marks go outside.
Lawrence insisted that books "are not life"; however,
he wrote exultantly about the power of the novel.
Why does Lawrence need to point out that "Books are not
Using the slash when quoting poetry
When quoting lines of poetry up to
three lines long (which are not indented, see Indenting
quotations), separate one line of poetry from another with
a slash mark (see examples in
Incorporating Quotations into Sentences).
|Using Ellipsis Points for Omitted
If for the sake of brevity you wish
to omit material from a quoted passage, use ellipsis points (three
spaced periods) to indicate the omission.
(See this sample
writer quoted only those portions of the original sentences that
related to the point of the analysis.)
|Using Square Brackets when Altering
When quoting, you may alter grammatical
forms such as the tense of a verb or the person of a pronoun so
that the quotation conforms grammatically to your own prose; indicate
these alterations by placing square brackets around the changed
In the following quotation "her" replaces the "your"
of the original so that the quote fits the point of view of the
paper (third person):
When he hears Cordelia's answer, Lear seems surprised, but
not dumbfounded. He advises her to "mend [her] speech a
little." He had expected her to praise him the most; but
compared to her sisters', her remarks seem almost insulting
Prose or verse quotations less than
four lines long are not indented. For quotations of this length,
use the patterns described above.
Indent "longer" quotations in a block about ten spaces
in from the left margin; when a quotation is indented, quotation
marks are not used.
The MLA Handbook (1995) recommends that indented quotations
be double-spaced, but many instructors prefer them single-spaced.
The meaning of "longer" varies slightly from one style
system to another, but a general rule is to indent quotations
that are more than two (or three) lines of verse or three (or
four) lines of prose.
Indent dialogue between characters in a play. Place the speaker's
name before the speech quoted:
CAESAR: Et tu, Brute! Then, fall, Caesar!
CINNA: Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead! (3.1.77-78)
For more information see Quoting,
Paraphrasing, and Acknowledging Sources - How to Quote a Source.