Formatting Indirect Quotations Properly in MLA Format

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Indirect quotations are used when you use the thoughts or ideas of an original author but do not use it word-for-word, and MLA requires certain formatting when these are used. Indirect quotes are in your own words. They are not put in quotations. Both summarizing and paraphrasing are used to generate this type of quotation. The bulk of quotations used in your research paper should be indirect ones. While direct quotations are useful, indirect ones better showcase your ability to write and incorporate original thought.

The formatting of indirect quotations in MLA format requires the use of in-text citations, or parenthetical citations, under certain guidelines.

  • Parenthetical citations include author and page number if the author is not mentioned in the text of the paper.
  • Parenthetical citations include the page number if the author is mentioned in the text of the paper.

Paraphrasing indirect quotations

Paraphrasing is putting an author’s ideas or thoughts into your own words. Care must be taken to avoid simply rewording with synonyms or using too much similar language. At the same time, the idea and meaning must be maintained. While the MLA format does not dictate the structure of paraphrased indirect quotations, there are two important things to remember about paraphrasing.

  • The length of the paraphrase is similar to the length of the original text.
  • The information in the paraphrase usually conveys the same information as the original.

Summarizing indirect quotations

Like paraphrasing, summarizing indirect quotations puts an author’s thoughts or ideas into your own words. However, the information is condensed, sometimes significantly, while maintaining the original idea or meaning. You can summarize an entire article in two sentences, for example, because only the most important points of the source are included in the quotation. MLA format does not require a particular format for summarized information, but there are several things to keep in mind.

  • The length of summarized material is usually much shorter than the original text.
  • The information in the summary should stay in line with the original author’s intent.

Formatting indirect quotations in MLA format

The formatting of indirect quotations in MLA format is accomplished by providing the author and page information. This information is presented in one of several ways.

  • Using a signal phrase or referencing the original author in the paraphrased or summarized material while putting the page number in a parenthetical citation
  • Kendrick believes that…. (38).

  • Referencing both the original author and the page number of a paraphrase or summary in a parenthetical citation
  • The state of the economy…. (Jones 398).

For both types of in-text citation, the ending punctuation goes outside the parenthetical citation, and no comma goes between the author name and page number when both appear in the parenthetical citation.

Whether you paraphrase or summarize, indirect quotations are cited within your paper in the same fashion. Not only is citing these types of quotation important, but summarizing and paraphrasing correctly are equally important to avoid plagiarism or patchwork plagiarism.