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How to cite movie lines in MLA in an essay

Updated April 17, 2017

If you are writing an essay that must be written in a certain format, not citing information correctly can result in a significant reduction in points. Many colleges and universities use the MLA system for citation. MLA, which stands for the Modern Language Assocation, was formed in 1883. Since that time, the MLA has been determining standards of academic writing. If you need to cite a movie in an essay that must be written in MLA format, follow the guidelines below.

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  1. Write out the movie lines, using proper punctuation and capitalisation. Follow the general punctuation rules, capitalising the first word in each sentence and any proper nouns, such as names.

  2. Also, be sure to place the lines in quotation marks. If the lines are longer than four lines, create a block quote. For block quotes, leave off the quotation marks. In that case, indent the entire block of text one inch; double-space the section.

  3. Place an in-text citation directly after the movie lines quoted and before the period ending the final sentence. Place the name of the movie, properly capitalised, into parentheses; format it with italics. Follow that with a period.

  4. Create a "Works Cited" page to place at the end of your essay.

  5. Format the movie source by placing the name of the movie first in italics, followed by a period. Write out the abbreviation "Dir."--followed by the name of the director and a period. Write out the abbreviation "Perfs." Write the name of the performers quoted in the paper. If only one performer is quoted, use the abbreviation "Perf." Follow their names with a period.

  6. Write the year the movie was made; follow it with a period. Next, place the format you watched the movie in--DVD or videocasette--followed by a period.

  7. Finally, insert the name of the studio that produced the movie and the year of its release, ending with a period. Here is an example: "White Christmas. Dir. Michael Curtiz. Perfs. Bing Crosby, Vera Ellen, and Rosemary Clooney. 1954. DVD. Paramount Pictures, 2009." Please note that, although "White Christmas" is not placed in italics in this example, it will be necessary to italicise the name of the movie you are quoting in your essay.

  8. Tip

    If you viewed the movie in a theatre, you only need to include the name of the movie, director, performers and the movie studio that released the film. Place the year of its release after the "Performers" line.

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About the Author

Gail Logan is a magazine editor and freelance writer based in Atlanta, AL. She received her B.A. in Journalism from Patrick Henry College. For the past four years, she has written home design, travel and food features for national magazines, including "Coastal Living," "Texas Home and Living," "Log Home Design," and "Country's Best Log Homes." When not writing, she mentors inner-city children.

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