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MLA Style Guide

Omitting Words in Quotations

Use ellipses to indicate that you have omitted words from the quotation.

Example:

In The Crucible, Abigail asserts her power over her peers by threatening the other girls,

Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. . . . Let either of you

breathe a word, or the edge of a word about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible

night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. . . . I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on

the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never

seen the sun go down! (Miller 20)

Adding Words in Quotations

Use brackets around words you have inserted to a quotation to show they are not part of the original text.

Example:

Jan Harold Brunvand, in an essay on urban legends, states, "some individuals [who retell urban legends] make a point of learning

every rumor" (78).

General Guidelines for Using Long Quotations

When quotations are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, do the following:

  • Place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks.
  • Make sure to double space.
  • Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented. 
  • Place your in-text citation after the closing punctuation mark.

Note: block quotations should be used sparingly.  Talk with your teacher about when and how to use them.

Long Quotations in Prose

When citing two or more paragraphs, use block quotation format, even if the passage from the paragraphs is less than four lines. When quoting a second paragraph indent the first line of each quoted paragraph an extra quarter inch.

EXAMPLE:

In The Crucible, Abigail, the queen bee, uses her power to threaten others if they do not support her version of the events:

Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters.  And that is all. And mark this.

Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of

some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you.  And you know I can do it; I saw Indians

smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night,

and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down! (Miller 20)

Long Quotations in Poetry

When citing long sections (more than three lines) of poetry, keep formatting as close to the original as possible.

The poem Birches evokes memories of childhood playing in the woods:

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay

As ice storms do. (Frost 1)