We all love a good quote. They’re memorable (“I’ll be back” – The Terminator), they communicate a lot succinctly (“Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration” – Thomas Edison), and you can use them in papers to help support your thesis statement. After all, the best research papers include references from other sources.
It can be tempting to throw in as many catchy quotes as possible, but believe us when we say it’s totally not worth it. This method is deeply flawed. It doesn’t tell the reader where you got the quote or information from and therefore doesn’t add credibility to your paper—you could’ve just made the whole thing up! When you include a quote in your paper, therefore, it is required that you provide a citation to give this important context.
So how do you write citations that tie in with your quotes properly? Here, we cover the basics for the most popular citation styles.
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MLA style, short for “Modern Language Association,” is often used in social science, English, literature, and writing courses. This style uses an “author locator” system of citing. What this means is that generally, the name of the author of the source you are quoting, as well as the page number from where the quote is located, is what is included in the citation following the quote.
Here is an example of how to cite a quote within the text in MLA style:
When Scout says, “Well if we came out durin’ the Old Testament it’s too long ago to matter,” she is referring to her confusion as to how society is so capable of dividing different people into different classes (Lee 47).
Note that the parenthetical citation, or “in-text” citation, comes before the ending punctuation mark of the sentence.
These in-text citations correspond to a full citation that is located at the end of the paper. In MLA style, this list of full citations is called a “Works Cited” page.
Here is what the matching full citation would be for this in-text citation:
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.* Harper Collins, 1960.
*Titles for sources are set in title case for MLA style citations.
Citing in APA, short for “American Psychological Association,” is very similar to the MLA citation system. This style is used mostly in science and psychology courses.
Instead of the page number, however, the date of publication is included with the author’s last name in the in-text citation.
Here is an example of how to cite a quote within the text in APA style:
When Scout says, “Well if we came out durin’ the Old Testament it’s too long ago to matter,” she is referring to her confusion as to how society is so capable of dividing different people into different classes (Lee, 1960).
These in-text citations, like in MLA style, also correspond to a full citation that is located at the end of the paper. In APA style, this list of full citations is called a “References” page.
The corresponding entry in the references page looks a bit different than an entry in a works cited page. Here is what the matching full citation would be for this in-text citation in APA:
Lee, H. (1960). To kill a mockingbird. Philadelphia: Harper Collins.
*Titles for sources are often set in sentence case for APA style citations. Check for rules that pertain to your particular source before handing paper.
This citation style is a bit different from the rest. For detailed information on it, check out our guide on how to cite in Chicago style format.