Blending Quotes in MLA Format

When a large chunk of fruit somehow finds its way into my strawberry smoothie, I’m temporarily distracted. I’m certainly not disgusted because the fruit is an ingredient I intentionally added to my smoothie recipe, but it definitely stands out because it doesn’t blend into the rest of the ingredients. My experience isn’t ruined, exactly, but I do notice the larger pieces I now have to slow down and chew.

In a similar manner, readers can become distracted when direct quotes are not blended properly into sentences. They have to slow down and read the words again or fill in if something is missing. Blending direct quotations into a sentence then, can help you cite your sources in a natural manner that won’t take away from the overall message you intend to deliver.

Fortunately, several techniques exist in MLA format for blending your quotations and adding in-text citations. Here are a few examples:

1) If you have already mentioned your author or your source in the sentence you’re writing before the direct quote, you could write a phrase that leads into the quote and add just the page number in parentheses, if one exists.

Fictional piece of text I want to quote directly:

–“Ingredients can function as variables that can be blended in creative and surprising ways.”

–Fictional author, source, and page number: B. Bobble, “Making Smoothies” (article title), and p. 45

Sample: In B. Bobble’s article, “Making Smoothies,” “ingredients can function as variables that can be blended in creative and surprising ways” (45).

In the sample above, I introduce the full name of the author and the article title. Then, I continue the sentence with the direct quote and place the page number in parentheses after the quote. A period falls outside the parentheses to show the reader I am done with this sentence. I also don’t use any abbreviations or punctuation within the parentheses, since I’m following the rules for MLA.

2) If you haven’t mentioned the author in your sentence, you could place the last name of the author and the page number in parentheses after the direct quote—if a page number exists.

Sample: When making smoothies, “ingredients can function as variables that can be blended in creative and surprising ways” (Bobble 45).

In the example above, I add a signal phrase to introduce the direct quotation. Otherwise, a direct quote by itself might seem abrupt, as in the example below:

Incorrect: Smoothies are fun to make. “Ingredients can function as variables that can be blended in creative and surprising ways” (Bobble 45).

When readers encounter the sentences above, they might not know how the first sentence relates to the direct quote that follows it. Adding a signal phrase that blends the two ideas together could make for a smoother transition.

Correct: Smoothies are fun to make because “ingredients can function as variables that can be blended in creative and surprising ways” (Bobble 45).

3) Consider using only part of a direct quote in order for the subjects and verbs to make sense in a sentence.

Fictional Example: “Since our world has become so predictable, smoothies make life spontaneous and flavorful again.” –from B. Bobble, page 52

Incorrect: Smoothies are fun to make as B. Bobble notes, “Since our world has become so predictable, smoothies make life spontaneous and flavorful again” (52).

The sentence above is incorrect because it creates a comma splice. Whenever you have two or more complete thoughts that could stand alone on their own and still make sense, a comma won’t be strong enough to separate those ideas. In the sentence above, the two complete thoughts that could stand alone on their own are:

1)   Smoothies are fun to make as B. Bobble notes.

2) “Since our world has become so predictable, smoothies make life spontaneous and flavorful again” (52).

To fix this cited material, I have to make the first part an incomplete thought that blends logically into the direct quote. I may even have to cut off part of the direct quote in order for the first part of my sentence to make sense and fit in.

Possible Solution: In a predictable world, smoothies are fun to create since, according to B. Bobble, they “make life spontaneous and flavorful again” (52).

In the solution above, I play around with the quote and summarize part of it while introducing an incomplete thought: In a predictable world, smoothies are fun to create since, according to B. Bobble, they . . .

Then, I shorten the direct quote to find a place where I can continue the sentence naturally: “make life spontaneous and flavorful again” (52).

As you look back through a draft in which you’ve used direct quotations then, you might ask yourself the following questions:

1) Does the sentence make sense when I read it back to myself?

2) Does the entire sentence, with the direct quote, have clearly identified subjects, verbs, and one main message?

If the sentence does not read smoothly or clearly as one “unit,” you could play around with the introductory phrase and the direct quote to find the perfect match. This method offers you a chance to fully understand your sources and communicate a consistent and clear message without any distracting lumps or bumps along the way.

For more help with blending quotes and MLA citation, contact me at ckennedyhola@gmail.com I’m happy to lend a hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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