MLA Signal Phrases


When using MLA Style, part of the challenge is keeping your writing interesting while still following the rules of in-text citations. Writers often do this by adding signal phrases before quotes to both give readers a heads-up that a quote is coming and credit the author they are quoting from. The most basic form of this is the simple “Author John Jones says:” followed by the quote you want to use. However, if you use this type of phrase before every quote, it will start to feel repetitive and stale. Keep things interesting for your readers by switching up the language and placement of your signal phrases.

Model Phrases

In the words of professors Greer and Dewey, “…”

As sociology scholar Janice Kinsey has noted, “…”

Creative Commons, an organization that helps internet users understand and create copyright for materials, reports that “…”

“…,” writes Deidre Tyrell, “…”

Kyles and Sanderson offer up a compelling point: “…”


Acknowledges Contends Observes
Admits Declares Points out
Adds Denies Reasons
Agrees Disputes Refutes
Argues Emphasizes Rejects
Asserts Endorses Reports
Believes Grants Responds
Claims Illustrates Suggests
Comments Implies Thinks
Compares Insists Writes
 Confirms Notes


Adapted from Robin Jeffery’s “MLA Signal Phrases” from About Writing: A Guide used according to CC BY 4.0.


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UNM Core Writing OER Collection Copyright © 2023 by University of New Mexico is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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