Saturday, April 26, 2008

MLA Quotation Style: A Review

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
MLA Quotation Style: A Review

What are some of the most common errors made when using sources?

Be sure the reader knows who is speaking about whom.
Make sure your quotation "works" grammatically in the sentence. Read very slowly and aloud. Make sure that the use of a quotation does not trick you into making a sentence fragment (i.e., you should have a subject and a verb in your sentence).
The body of a direct quotation is copied verbatim (exactly like the original source, right down to the last comma). Be sure to check your quotation, then refer back to the original. Have you left out any words or punctuation? Have you inserted anything incorrectly?
Do not rely on a quotation to get your point across. Always provide your insight. Quotations provide support and color.
Avoid back-to-back quotations or "strings" of quotations. Try to hit a balance between quotation and your own commentary. A string of quotations is not considered your work.
After mentioning a source's full name, it is then desirable to use the last name only from then on.
Use quotations to liven up your writing. Choose them carefully. Don't for instance:

use them to provide background material,
use them as a thesis statement,
use them to end your paper,
begin them too early.

Wrong: "According to researchers, the computer has cut the average cost . . ."

Here it is not necessary to quote "according to researchers," even if it is taken verbatim from your source as this is a generic introduction.

Right: Start the quotation with "the computer. . . ."

Wrong: "In some parts of the world, wearing fur is taboo now, said Mickey Allen of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at their annual meeting held in England in January" (25).

Right: Instead, write: According to Mickey Allen of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, "In some parts of the world, wearing fur is taboo now" (25). The comment about the annual meeting is background material. If you use it at all, it should be paraphrased.

What's the difference between quotations and paraphrasing? Do I need to use both?

There are several methods used in citing sources, such as partial quotations, indented quotations, short quotations, and paraphrasing. It is desirable that you use all of these to produce a balanced essay which flows well. Otherwise, your essay will be predictable and choppy. An explanation of each type follows.
What are partial quotations and how are they handled?

Use partial quotations to liven up your writing, making it easier for the reader to follow.


Margaret Reardon points out that today's economy cars are "better equipped" to handle accidents than the smaller cars of the past.

Note: When you use partial quotations (one to three words), a page number is not required. But beware! If you use an entire phrase or sentence, page numbers are needed! This "rule" is interpreted differently by instructors. If you use a page number, you are usually correct.
Further example:

Margaret Reardon mentions that today's cars are "designed with dual airbags" to protect both driver and passenger (346).

What are indented quotations and how are they handled?
Set off, or indent, prose quotations longer than four lines of your handwriting or of a typewritten paper. When a quotation is indented, the use of quotation marks is not necessary, and the page number is included outside the ending punctuation.

Jordan stated:

Like many people who enjoy a leisurely pace of living with such attendant activities as reading, painting, or gardening, I often long for a simpler time, a time when families amused themselves by telling stories after supper, as opposed to watching Baghdad get bombed. (1)
Notice that indented quotations are indented ten spaces.

How do I punctuate short quotations?
For a quotation shorter than four lines, quotation marks are used and the page numbers fall inside the ending punctuation.

"Many of our student's personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions," she said (548).

What is paraphrasing?
Paraphrasing is putting into your own words something another has said. It is not merely changing a word or two from the original or reordering a sentence. And you must still tell your reader where you got the idea. If you fail to cite your source or if you use the words another has written as if they were your own, either deliberately or accidentally, you are guilty of plagiarism, an offense that will damage your credibility as a researcher. If an author puts something in a clever way that you cannot improve upon, use partial quotations.

Do I capitalize the first letter of a quotation when it falls in the middle of my sentence?

Some instructors feel that writers can change beginning capitalization to suit the writer's grammatical purpose, but that the "body" of the quotation should be copied verbatim (exactly like the original, right down to the last comma). Others like the first word capitalized, especially when it is capitalized in the original source. If you are not sure, capitalize.

Example: According to Margo, "The summer was the hottest and driest she could remember" (34).

Do I use a comma or a colon to introduce a quotation?

A quotation is usually introduced by a comma or a colon. A colon precedes when a quotation is formally introduced or when the quotation itself is a complete sentence, but either no punctuation or a comma generally precedes when the quotation serves as an integral part of the sentence. Compare:

Shelley argued thus: "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."

She thought poets "the unacknowledged legislators of the world."


"Poets," according to Shelley, "are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."


Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" concludes: "A sadder and a wiser man, / He rose the morrow morn."

If quotations are verbatim, how do I leave something out of a quotation that I do not need?

Use ellipsis marks if you wish to leave something out of the middle of a quotation (perhaps it is not needed or will make your quotation too long).
Original Source:
She states that
many of our students' personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions. Virtual reality will make it possible for them to program themselves into scenarios we now merely fantasize about. As a result, imagination itself will require a new definition. (1)
Quoted with ellipses:
She states that
many of our students' personal decisions will have the inherent dangers of instant gratification, and so will their political decisions. . . . As a result, imagination itself will require a new definition. (1)
Note 1: There are only three ellipses marks used in this sentence. A period also appears, indicating that one sentence ended before the word "As." If you had only left out a few words in mid-sentence, then you would not need a period.
Note 2: Do not change the meaning of the quotation when you leave out part of it!

Note 3: Notice that now that information has been removed from the middle of the quotation, it is only three lines long. It should no longer be indented.

Use ellipsis marks ( . . . ) at the beginning and end of quotations only if necessary. It is not always necessary to do so, and too many will damage the flow of your essay. Use them sparingly.
How do I correctly change a quotation to suit my purpose, such as to identify a pronoun?

Often, a quotation you wish to use includes a pronoun instead of a name. Since you must copy the quotation verbatim, you should insert the name after the pronoun to clarify who you are talking about. Use brackets (not parenthesis).

Example: "He [Clapton] got the chills when he listened to that material recently."

(Summary from Roane Stae CC)
Labels: Course Documents

posted by P. Laurence @ 11:29 AM

Victorian Conference: Friday, May 2nd, Grad Center

A Conference Sponsored by
The Victorian Committee of
the CUNY Doctoral Program in English,
Dickens Studies Annual,
and the Victorian Studies Bulletin

Friday, May 2, 2008
The CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Ave.
Martin Segal Theater
New York, NY



8:45 A.M.—12:30 P.M.


9:15 A.M.
Steve Kruger, Executive Officer
Ph.D. Program in English,
The Graduate School and University Center, CUNY

Nicholas Birns, The New School University


Teresa Mangum, University of Iowa
Facing Age

Karen Chase, University of Virginia
Objects and Subjects: The Aging “I” Among Ancient Groves



U. C. Knoepflmacher, Princeton University
Portraying Old Age near the Start and Close of a Distinguished Career: George Eliot, Tennyson, and Browning

Jill Matus, University of Toronto
The Aging Sage: George Eliot and Posterity



2:00 P.M.—5:00 P.M.

Anne McCarthy, Graduate Center, CUNY


Cornelia Pearsall, Smith College
Tennyson’s Ends: Poetry and the Expansion of Empire

Lillian Nayder, Bates College
Last Wills and Last Words: Catherine Dickens Makes Her Bequests



Elsie Michie, Louisiana State University
“Past Their Grand Climacteric”? Age and Sexuality in Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers and Frances Trollope’s The Widow Barnaby

Kay Heath, Virginia State University
Abolishing Himself: Manliness and Aging in Trollope’s Last Novel


Reception on the 4th Floor in the English Program Common Space

Dickens Studies Annual: Essays in Victorian Fiction is published in cooperation with the CUNY Victorian Committee. Information may be obtained by writing to: The Editors, Dickens Studies Annual, English Program, The Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. New York, NY 10016.

The CUNY Graduate School Victorian Committee also cooperates in the publication of the Tennyson Research Bulletin.

The CUNY Graduate School Victorian Committee invites you to its seminars held during the first week of each month October to May (no meetings in January) at the CUNY Graduate Center. To be added to the mailing list, please send your name, address, and e-mail address to Anne

Professor Anne Humpherys
Coordinator of Women's Studies Certificate Program
Director of the Center for Research on Women and Society
The Graduate Center CUNY
Professor of English, Lehman College and
Ph.D. Program in English, The Graduate Center
City University of New York

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Writing for Young Adults Event: April 30th, Wed., 2:00

Cassandra Clare, the New York Times bestselling author of City of Bones,
will be coming to Brooklyn College. Packed with party scenes,
motorcycles, vampires, magic tattoos, and fast-paced action, City of
Bones takes part in a popular young adult genre: the urban fantasy.
Clare will be reading from her new novel, City of Ashes, and answering
questions about the creative process and what it is like to write a
series. If you have students who are fiction writers, interested in
literature for young people, or curious about literary portrayals of New
York City, please encourage them to attend. The event is free and open
to the public.

Wednesday, April 30th, at 2:00 p.m.
Brooklyn College Library, Woody Tanger Auditorium

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Discussion Question: Biographical Approaches

In class, we discussed the close relationship between some of Charlotte Bronte's life experiences and her work, JANE EYRE. Discuss the advantages and dangers relating an author's work to his or her life as a critical approach.

Virginia Woolf: "It is the custom to draw a distinction between a man and his works ...It is therefore a wise precution to limit one's study of a writer to the study of his works; but, like other precautions, it implies loss. A writer is a writer from the cradle; in his dealings with the world, in his affections, in his attitude to the thousand small things that happen between dawn and sunset"

Monday, April 14, 2008

Discussion Question: Jean Rhys' /Wide Sargasso Sea/

Discuss any aspect of "names" or "naming" in /Wide Sargasso Sea/. Mr. Rochester's "naming" ? Why does "Bertha" of Jane Eyre become "Antoinette" in Rhys? What is Rochester's name in WSS? Explain one name that interests you.

Discussion Question: Jane Eyre, A Post-Colonial Reading

A post-colonial reading would suggest that Bronte's character, Jane Eyre, benefitted from colonialism? In what way? Rhys' /Wide Sargasso Sea/ picks up some of the traces in its plot. Explain.

Career Day: 4/17, 1:30-3:00

Subject: Please Help Advertise: Successfully Getting from College to
Your Career - April 17th

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Please help us advertise this event to your students. We have recent
alumni, some may be your former students, from Newsday (Brandon Bain),
CBS (Vanessa Taylor), Bank of America (Junior Mentor), Seventeen
Magazine (Erica Cohen) , Robert Half: Finance and Accounting Recruiter
(Omer Khan) and Target (Jennifer Chan). Faculty and staff are
certainly welcome to join. The panel promises to be an eye opener for
students and help ease the transition after college.

Successfully Getting from College to Career!
Thursday, April 17th @ 1:30 - 3:30
Alumni Lounge, Student Center

Lunch will be served and the first 25 registered students to attend will
receive a copy of "The Turbulent Twenties" book**

Six recent Brooklyn College alumni from Newsday, CBS, Bank of America,
Seventeen Magazine, Robert Half: Finance and Accounting Recruiter and
Target. are coming back to share their stories and advice with current
students on transitioning from Brooklyn College to their first "real"
job. These alumni have been asked back to discuss their tips for
success, how to ease the college to work transition, what employers
expect of them, what they encountered that they least expected and much

The goal of the panel is for students to be better prepared and informed
about life after college We highly recommend that seniors and juniors
attend. Sophomores and freshman are encouraged to attend since this
will certainly put them ahead of the game.

This event has been held in the past and is a regular event since the
feedback from attendees has been extremely positive.

Register by emailing or Sign up via
eRecruiting: or Stopping by 1303
James Hall