What Is the Proper MLA Formatting for an Epigraph That Appears in an Academic Essay?

Aug 21, 2020

Epigraphs are short quotations or blocks of texts at the beginning of an essay, paragraph, or section in a written work. You can also find an epigraph on a building.

You can use an epigraph as part of your academic essay. But since the epigraph is not your original work, you have to cite and format the epigraph depending on the writing style specified.

For students who need to incorporate epigraphs in their academic papers and find themselves thinking, “I might need someone to write my paper,” an assignment writing company can be an excellent resource. These companies have professionals who are adept at formatting and citing epigraphs according to various academic writing styles like MLA and APA. They can guide students on how to properly set an epigraph within their essay, ensuring it enhances rather than detracts from their work. This includes advice on using quotation marks for shorter epigraphs and block quotations for longer ones, as well as correctly citing the source of the epigraph in the text and in the reference list. Their expertise ensures that the epigraph is not only a meaningful addition to the essay but also adheres to the stringent formatting rules of academic writing. This level of detail and precision in formatting can significantly elevate the quality of a student’s paper, demonstrating their proficiency and attention to academic conventions.

Formatting epigraphs in academic essays

Let’s take a look at the formatting process based on two different writing guidelines.


According to the MLA and APA writing styles, epigraphs less than four lines (40 words) in length can be enclosed in quotation marks. If the epigraph exceeds four lines, you should put it in a block quotation. The block should be indented 0.5 inches from the left margin. No quotation marks should appear unless they are part of the original quote.

MLA formatting

The end of the block should contain the author’s name and page number at the end. If the author’s name has been mentioned earlier, only the page number should be included.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog . . . (Surname 155)

The formatting for the works cited page should include the following:

Surname, First Name. Title of work. Title of publication, Version (edition), Number (vol. and no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location, Date of Access (if available online).

APA formatting

Follow the same format as in the MLA but replace the page number with the date of publication. You can also include the page number if you are sure.

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog . . . (Surname, 2020, p.155)

The formatting for the works cited page should include the following:

Surname, Initials. (Date). Title of the work. Version (edition), Publisher, Publication Date, Location, Date of Access (if available online), Pages Used.

The overall formatting style for epigraphs is similar across all formatting styles, but the key difference lies in the in-text citation and references page. You can only master these formatting styles through constant practice.


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