How to set out quotations in MHRA

  • Direct quotation from any source must be indicated as such and the exact reference given within a footnote.

    Prose quotations

    Short quotations may be run into the text, using single quotation marks. The number for the note should appear at the end of the quotation, after the full stop, even if the quotation appears in the middle of the sentence. For example:

    Lynch emphasizes that ‘In the culture about which Shakespeare wrote, hands were felt to have unique holy and sacramental powers’. 4


    Corresponding footnote:
    4 Kathryn L. Lynch, ‘“What Hands Are Here?” The Hand as Generative Symbol in Macbeth’, The Review of English Studies, 39.153 (1988), 29-38 (p.32).


    Longer quotations should be separated from the rest of the text and should not be placed in quotation marks. Place the number for the note at the end of the quotation. If you have omitted part of the text indicate this with an ellipsis in square brackets, like this [...]

    Prose quotations including the first line, can be indented, for example:

    Bewell sums up Clare’s view of language:

    Ecolect is thus inseparably fused with idiolect in his poetry, and, in resisting John Taylor’s efforts to rid his poetry of dialect and provincialisms, Clare was struggling for the continuance not just of a nature but also of the unique language in which that nature had long been experienced and understood 5


    Corresponding footnote:
    5 Alan Bewell, ‘John Clare and the Ghosts of Natures Past’, Nineteenth-Century Literature, 65.4 (2011), 548-78 (p. 570) < http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/ncl.2011.65.4.548> [accessed 13 July 2014].


    Dealing with quotations from poems

    Verse quotations should be separated from the rest of your essay text and should not be placed in quotation marks. You should follow the lineation and indentation of the original text as it appears on the page. Never centre lines of poetry. Omitted lines of verse should be marked by an ellipsis in square brackets, like this [...] on a separate line.

    Here is an example of a poem quotation and corresponding footnote:

    Keats describes a desire to escape the pain of reality in Ode to a Nightingale:

    O for a beaker full of the warm South,
    Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
    With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
    And purple-stained mouth;
    That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
    And with thee fade away into the forest dim - 6


    Corresponding footnote:

    6 John Keats, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, in The Complete Poems, ed. by John Barnard, 3rd edn (London: Penguin, 1988), pp. 346-48 (p. 346), ll. 15-20.


    Dealing with quotations from plays

    Short quotations are those of fewer than forty words or two lines of verse. These may be run into the text of your essay, using single quotation marks. The number for the note should appear at the end of the quotation, after the full stop, even if the quotation appears in the middle of the sentence.

    Long quotations If your play quotation is over forty words or two lines of verse it should be separated from the rest of your text and should not be placed in quotation marks. You should keep the original spelling and punctuation of the play you are quoting, and aim to reproduce the formatting of the text as it appears on the page. In verse quotations, the speakers’ names are positioned to the left of the text. Place the number for the note at the end of the quotation. Omitted lines of verse quotations should be marked by an ellipsis in square brackets, like this [...] on a separate line.
    Here is an example of a play quotation and corresponding footnote:

    MACBETH Prithee peace:
    I dare do all that may become a man,
    Who dares more is none.

    LADY MACBETH What beast was’t then
    That made you break this enterprise to me?
    When you durst do it, then you were a man;
    And to be more than what you were, you would
    Be so much more the man.

    (Macbeth, I.7.46–51) 7


    Corresponding footnote:
    7 William Shakespeare, Macbeth, ed. by Nicholas Brooke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), I.7.46-51.


    Further help: See the MHRA Style Guide section 9.