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MLA citation rule for 1-3 word quotes integrated into essay-writer's sentence. Is the...

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donnach | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 9, 2009 at 8:43 AM via web

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MLA citation rule for 1-3 word quotes integrated into essay-writer's sentence.

  1. Is the following example correct in relation MLA citation rules?  I am not sure if one citation in parentheses end of the sentence will suffice, but it would look weird to have (112)  after each one- or three-word quote.

    Rule: use very short quotations—only a few words—as part of your own sentence 

    Here's the example:  Ralph reminisces about how everything in his life used to be “good-humored and friendly”; how his nightly “bowl of cornflakes with sugar and cream” and the weight of The Mammoth Book for Boys in his hands were comforting, reliable, and could be counted on; and how avoiding the unpleasant things in life like page twenty-seven of the book “about the magician . . . with the awful picture of the spider” was now no longer simply a matter of choice (112).  

Here's the example:  Ralph reminisces about how everything in his life used to be “good-humored and friendly”; how his nightly “bowl of cornflakes with sugar and cream” and the weight of The Mammoth Book for Boys in his hands were comforting, reliable, and could be counted on; and how avoiding the unpleasant things in life like page twenty-seven of the book “about the magician . . . with the awful picture of the spider” was now no longer simply a matter of choice (112).  

5 Answers | Add Yours

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 10, 2009 at 5:34 PM (Answer #2)

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Yes, I think the citation is correct. However, the sentence is too long. I'd break it up into two or three smaller sentences and put the citation at the end of the last one. It will be evident that all of the quotations are from the same source and on the same page.

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ms-charleston-yawp | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted May 9, 2009 at 6:19 PM (Answer #3)

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I think your citation is correct and very clear.  The only thing I would add is this:  the very first citation in an essay should have the last name of the author beforehand.  (Or perhaps this is an antiquated rule?)  Anyway, I don't recognize the quote given here, but let's say someone named "Smith" wrote the book, then your very first citation should look read as follows:  (Smith 112), or whatever page number it's on.  The rest can just have the number.  Now that I've thoroughly confused you.  *sigh*  MLA citation is a BEAR, isn't it?  ; )

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libelulita | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 14, 2010 at 3:34 PM (Answer #4)

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I think the reason why donnach didn't use the author's last name may have been because she was only using one source (for a report on a single book) or had already cited the author in a previous line, before the one she typed here. :)

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jk180 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 14, 2010 at 3:55 PM (Answer #5)

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I agree with everyone who's posted up to this point. Putting a parenthetical citation behind every quoted word or phrase or even at the end of every sentence containing a quotation can be deadly. Overly cautious citations make an essay virtually unreadable.

I'm pretty confident that no instructor will find fault with the following method: Introduce the source by name and title in the text of your essay. Write your own analysis or summary or whatever and incorporate as many short quotations as you like, without going overboard, of course. Cite once and once only at the end of this section of the essay, giving the page numbers for the quotations in their order of appearance in this section of your essay.

This method essentially builds a box around the quotations. The source is introduced at the beginning and cited at the end. As long as no new sources are introduced in between, your reader can be assured that all of the quotations are from this one source, and your reader will have the pages numbers (given unobtrusively) for reference, should she care to look up the quotations.

I want to add that quotations should be used only when they're useful, such as when the wording is extremely important or extremely interesting. I generally only use quotations (long or short) when the exact wording in a text is relevant to my analysis of that text.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 14, 2010 at 11:12 PM (Answer #6)

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I'm with jk180 on the best way to cite multiple pages in a single paragraph.  I also agree that students often overuse direct quotations, probably because they feel they can't say it better themselves.  What overides that is the sense that the work should, whenever possible, sound as if you wrote it--even the research material. It should sound like you.  Limiting the number of direct quotes, long ones or short, is always a good idea. 

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