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

Aug 21, 2020

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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.

Formatting epigraphs in academic essays

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

General

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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