Skip to main content

MLA Citation Style Guide (8th Edition): Quoting, Paraphrasing and Abbreviating


MLA citation style regularly uses abbreviations in the list of works cited. Please refer to section 1.6 of the MLA Handbook (8th ed.) for the complete information on how to abbreviate:

Measurements of time Examples: a.m.; Apr.(April); Sat.(Saturday); yr.(year); min.(minute)

University Press - UP (New York UP)

Months of more than 4 letters are abbreviated. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.


The examples provided below aim to illustrate only basic principles of incorporating quotations from prose into your work  using MLA citation style.  Please refer to the MLA Handbook, 8th ed., part 1.3, for more details on quoting drama, poetry, and other sources or genre.

  • Quotation that runs less than four lines and requires no special emphasis: put it in quotation marks and incorporate it into the text:

            As Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, "I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors."

  •  If you have to provide a parenthetical reference to the quotation:

            For Charles Dickens the eighteen century was both "the best of times" and "the worst of times" (25).

  •   Quotation that extends for more than four lines: begin a new line by indenting one inch from the left margin and use a colon to introduce the citation:

            In a Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie discovers her love of the local library:

The library was a little old shabby place. Francie thought it was beautiful. The feeling she had about it was as good as the feeling she had about church. She pushed open the door and went in. She liked the combined smell of worn leather bindings, library paste and freshly inked stamping pads better than she liked the smell of burning incense of high mass (25).
  • When quoting poetry use a forward slash to indicate a line break.

In the poem, "As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life," Walt Whitman evokes the familiar shores of Long Island ocean beaches:

As I ebb'd with the ocean of life, / As I wended the shore I know, / As I walk'd where the ripples continually wash you Paumanok, (394).

  • Do not add quotes to poetry unless it is in the original.


 Rephrasing another's ideas into you own words is known as paraphrasing

√ With paraphrasing you still do need to site the original resource

√ If you are borrowing heavily from a resource but still using you own words, add a reference.  You are citing the ideas!  Give credit where credit is due!



Robert Delaney's picture
Robert Delaney
Library Room LB237