How to Format Quotation Marks in MLA

In academic writing, following MLA style is crucial for clarity and consistency. One aspect of MLA formatting that demands precision is the use of quotation marks. Here’s a straightforward guide to understanding and applying quotation marks in MLA.


In MLA formatting, when citing a specific part of a larger work, such as a chapter in a book or an article on a website, it’s essential to enclose the title within double quotation marks. This practice helps to differentiate the title, ensuring clarity in citations.

Furthermore, across various content types in MLA style, quotation marks are use to denote titles of larger works. These encompass a diverse range, including:

  • News Articles
  • Journal Articles
  • TV Episodes
  • Magazine Articles
  • Songs
  • Short Stories
  • Poems
  • YouTube Videos

By consistently using quotation marks to encapsulate these titles, writers uphold the conventions of MLA style and facilitate accurate citing in their academic or research writing.

Maintain Consistency with Punctuation: When incorporating quotations into your MLA formatted writing, ensure consistency in punctuation placement. Punctuation marks such as commas, periods, and question marks should typically reside within the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material. For instance, “The journey begins with a single step,” she declared.

Reserve Quotation Marks for Specific Uses: In MLA style, reserve the use of quotation marks for specific purposes, such as enclosing titles of shorter works within larger works or marking direct quotations from sources. Avoid overusing quotation marks for emphasis or to highlight common terms or phrases.

Implement Block Quotes for Lengthy Texts: When quoting lengthy passages exceeding four lines, opt for a block quote format. In this format, indent the entire quoted text one inch from the left margin, maintain double spacing, and omit quotation marks. Begin the quotation on a new line after the quoted text to maintain organization and clarity in your writing. This approach ensures that longer quotations are visually distinct and seamlessly integrated into your MLA paper.

Period Placement for Long Quotations: If your block quotation ends with a period, place the period before the parentheses if there’s a in-text citation following the quote. 


When quoting directly from a source, enclose the exact words in quotation marks. This clearly marks the beginning and end of the quote. Following the quote, include the contributor’s name or the source title in italics and the page number in brackets, if available.


In an essay about a research study, you might write: “The results show a strong link between sleep and brain function” (Lowe 45). Here, Lowe is the author’s last name, and 45 is the page number.

When discussing a movie line, you would write: “The famous line from the movie is, ‘I’ll be back'” (The Terminator). The movie title is in italics, and the quote is in quotation marks. This helps readers know where the quote comes from.

By following these steps, you can use quotes correctly in your writing, making it clearer and more credible.


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Hannah Berry (Ph.D.)

Hannah Berry has lectured at several colleges and teaches at the WEA. Besides publishing extensively, she has taught citation skills and written multiple style guides.

Learn how to cite in MLA