How to Cite Sources

Taking notes

These directions show you how to quote from the texts you read in class--poems, plays, novels, etc., and (briefly) how to cite primary and secondary materials for term papers. For more thorough advice and examples, see the MLA Handbook For Writers of Research Papers, available in McCabe or the Bookstore.

General Rules 

When you cite either primary or secondary sources, be sure to make clear the purpose of the citation and how it fits into or supports your argument or analysis.

In general, put page number(s) for the quotations in parentheses and list the edition of the work you are using at the end of the paper in your Works Cited, as shown in the examples below.

Shorter quotations should be imbedded within the regular text, marked off with quotation marks and introduced with an appropriate punctuation, such as a colon or a comma: see examples below. Place the period ending the sentence LAST, after the quotation and the citation: "here's the sample quote" (1).

Indent long quotations (100+ words or so, or more than 3 lines of verse), after providing an introduction to the relevance of the quotation to your paragraph's topic.

The normal way to introduce an indented quotation is with a colon, as shown in several of the examples below; do NOT use a semi-colon. Skip two spaces before and after the quotation. Indent the quotation about 3/4 inch on the left margin and at least about one-half to one inch on the right. Single space the quotation. Remember also that if you indent, you do not need quotation marks, except as they appear in the quotation itself.

If you need to amend or correct quoted material with your own words, the best way to do this is with brackets: [ ]. If you use ellipses [ . . . ] to indicate deleted material, indicate in the parenthetical citation that the ellipses are your own: "(205-06; my ellipses)." (sic) means that there is an error or solecism in the quotation that you are keeping in order to quote accurately; sic means "thus" in Latin.

All of the following material offers general guidelines ONLY; it won't cover all possible situations. Individual English and Theatre Department Professors may also add to or amend these instructions as they see fit. If you have questions about citations in a specific paper, check with your Professor.