MLA Checklist























































































Checklist 10: Citing Evidence


Are all your statistics cited properly?

  • Any sentence that contains a statistic should also have a parenthetical citation with the source of that statistic.

Did you cite all your indirect quotes?

  • An indirect quote is when you sum up somebody else's words in your own words.
  • Indirect quotes should not be placed within quotation marks. However, you still need to cite the source of the quote. Where would I find the original quote, if I wanted to?

Did you cite all your direct quotes?

  • A direct quote is when you use somebody else's exact words.
  • Direct quotes should be placed in quotation marks. And, immediately following the final quotation mark, you should cite the source of that quote with a parenthetical citation.

Did you cite all your block quotes?

  • Block quotes are a type of direct quote.
  • Every block quote should be followed by a parenthetical citation.

Did you quote an entire sentence, when all you really needed to do was cite a statistic?

If so, you are probably relying too much on somebody else's words.

In other words, you should not write sentences like this:


According to Brown, “Each day, 6,000 Africans die from AIDS” (Brown).


Since it's the statistic that is important (and not the rest of the sentence), you should rearrange the sentence (to avoid a charge of plagiarism) and turn the sentence into an indirect quote, like this: 


According to Brown, 6,000 Africans die from AIDS each day (Brown). 


Furthermore, since you are only citing a statistic, you can safely leave out the signal phrase entirely, like this:


In Africa, AIDS kills some 6,000 people every day (Brown).  




Are any of your in-line quotes longer than four lines?

  • They shouldn't be. Quotes of five lines or more should be formatted as block quotes.

Are any of your block quotes shorter than five lines?

  • They shouldn't be. Quotes of four lines or less should be formatted as in-line quotes.

Did you cite all your facts?

Facts need to be cited too, even if they are not a exactly a statistic or a quote. For example, consider this sentence:


There are many beautiful cathedrals in Paris. 



It's not a statistic, and it's not a quote, but the reader may still want to know where I got that piece of information. Therefore, I should probably follow that sentence with a parenthetical citation, like this:


There are many beautiful cathedrals in Paris (Jones).  


If your entire paragraph is full of such facts—and all these facts come from the same source—it is sufficient to cite the source just once, at the end of the paragraph (as long as the entire paragraph is in your own words).


Did you use the words of another writer without putting them within quotation marks (or formatting them as a block quote)?

  • If you did, you have committed the crime of plagiarism—even if you cited the source of those words with a parenthetical citation!
  • The words of another author must always be placed within quotation marks or formatted as a block quote.
  • And please be aware that changing a few words (or omitting a few words) is not enough to avoid a charge of plagiarism. So why bother changing just a few words? Go ahead and use the author's exact words—just be sure to introduce them with a signal phrase, place the words within quotation marks, and add a parenthetical citation at the end. It's really not that hard. Just do it.

Did you cite every piece of evidence that your reader may want to verify?

  • You should assume that your reader wants to verify all your evidence, except for information which is "general knowledge" or totally uncontroversial.