Used effectively, quotations can provide important pieces of evidence and lend fresh voices and perspectives to your narrative.
Used ineffectively, however, quotations can clutter your text and interrupt the flow of your argument. This handout will help you decide when and how to quote like a pro. Use quotations at strategically selected moments. You have probably been told by teachers to provide as much evidence as possible in support of your thesis. But packing your paper with quotations will not necessarily strengthen your argument. And quotations are only one type of evidence: The types of evidence you use will depend in part on the conventions of the discipline or audience for which you are writing.
For example, papers analyzing literature may rely heavily on direct quotations of the text, while papers in the social sciences may have more paraphrasing, data, and statistics than quotations. Sometimes, in order to have a clear, accurate discussion of the ideas of others, you need to quote those ideas word for word. Suppose you want to challenge the following statement made by John Doe, a well-known historian:.
If it is especially important that you formulate a counterargument to this claim, then you might wish to quote the part of the statement that you find questionable and establish a dialogue between yourself and John Doe:. How To Write Quotations will be times when you want to highlight the words of a particularly important and authoritative source on your topic.
For example, suppose you were writing an essay about the differences between the lives of male and female slaves in the U. One of your most provocative sources is a narrative written by a former slave, Harriet Jacobs. In this particular example, Jacobs is providing a crucial How To Write Quotations perspective on slavery.
Thus, her words deserve more click than a paraphrase could provide. Jacobs is quoted in Harriet A. Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, ed. Jean Fagan Yellin Cambridge: Harvard University Press, This scenario is probably most common in literature and linguistics courses, but you might also find yourself writing about the use of language in history and social science classes.
If the use of language is your primary topic, then you will obviously need to quote users of that language. In order to lend variety to your prose, you may wish to quote a source with particularly vivid language. All quotations, however, must closely relate to your topic and arguments.
Learn about direct and indirect quotations, how to choose which is more appropriate for your content and how to properly format direct quotes. Learn how to use direct quotations properly in the MLA format, including how to punctuate them and what to do with longer quotes. Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service: Edited by Suzy Platt: The 2, entries in this eminently. I've been collecting quotations about writing and writers, editing and editors, wording and words for decades. Here are just some of my favorites. Everyone needs an. Famous quotations from Shakespeare's plays, from your trusted Shakespeare source.
Do not insert a quotation How To Write Quotations for its literary merits. The words that precede and follow a quotation are just as important as the quotation itself. You can think of each quote as the filling in a sandwich: Below are four guidelines for setting up and following up quotations.
Do not rely on quotations to tell your story for you. It is your responsibility to provide your reader with context for the quotation.
The context should set the basic scene for when, possibly where, and under what circumstances the quotation was spoken or written. So, in providing context for our above example, you might write:. Tell your reader who is speaking.
Here is a good test: How To Write Quotations your reader determine without looking at your paper where your quotations begin? If not, you need to attribute the quote more noticeably. There are many other ways to attribute quotes besides this construction. Different reporting verbs are preferred by different disciplines, so pay special attention to these in your disciplinary reading. Your reader still needs your assessment of why the quotation holds significance for your paper.
All quotations, just like all paraphrases, require a formal citation. For more details about particular citation formats, see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. click
In general, you should remember one rule of thumb: In general, avoid leaving quotes as sentences unto themselves. Even if you have provided some context for the quote, a quote standing alone can disrupt your flow. Take a look at this example:. There are several ways to incorporate a quote more smoothly:. The Pirate King sees an element of regality in their impoverished and dishonest life. The first phrase states that nothing is inherently good or bad; the second phrase see more that our perspective causes things to become good or bad.
As you decide whether or not you want to break up a quote, you should consider the shift in emphasis How To Write Quotations the division might create. As few words go here possible. Remember, your paper should primarily contain your own words, so quote only the most pithy and memorable parts of sources.
Here are guidelines for selecting quoted material judiciously:. Sometimes, you should quote short fragments, rather than whole sentences. Suppose you interviewed Jane Doe about her reaction to John F. You might instead want to quote Jane when she arrives at the ultimate reason for her strong emotions:. Quoting the words of others carries a big responsibility.
Misquoting misrepresents the ideas of others. John Adams did, in fact, write the above words. But if you see those words in context, the meaning changes entirely. This example is from Paul F. There may be times How To Write Quotations you need to quote long passages.
However, you should use block quotations only when you fear that omitting any words will destroy the integrity of the passage. If that passage exceeds four lines some sources say fivethen set it off as a block quotation.
Be sure you are handling block quotes correctly in papers for different academic disciplines—check the index of the citation style guide you are using.
How to Use Quotation Marks
How To Write Quotations are a few general tips for setting off your block quotations: Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company—I mean hell. It can be confusing when you start combining quotation marks with other punctuation marks.
You should consult a style manual for complicated situations, but the following two rules apply to most cases:. In the above example, both the comma and period were enclosed in the quotation marks. The main exception to this rule involves the use of internal citations, which always precede the last period of the sentence. Note, however, that the period remains inside the quotation marks when your citation style involved superscript footnotes or endnotes.
In the second example, the exclamation mark remains within the quotation mark because it is indicating the excited tone in which the coach yelled the command. Thus, the exclamation mark is considered to be part of the original quotation.
If you are quoting a passage that contains a quotation, then you use single quotation marks for the internal quotation. Quite rarely, you quote a passage How To Write Quotations has link quotation within a quotation.
In that rare instance, you would use double quotation marks for the second internal quotation. Whenever you want to leave out material from within a quotation, you need to use an ellipsis, which is a series of three periods, each of which should be preceded and followed by a space.
So, an ellipsis in this sentence would look like. There are a few rules to follow when using ellipses:. For example, using the above example, you would NOT need an ellipsis in either of these situations:. Sometimes it is necessary for clarity and flow to alter a word or words within a quotation.
You continue reading make such changes rarely. Here are a few examples of situations when you might need brackets:. However, you could avoid the need for this change by simply rephrasing:. Similarly, if a quotation referenced an event with which the reader might be unfamiliar, you could identify that event in brackets.
In rare situations, you may quote from a text that has nonstandard grammar, spelling, or word choice. Using [sic] alerts your reader to the fact that this nonstandard language is not the result of a typo on your part. There is no need to put a period at the end. For example, it is not necessary to bracket capitalization changes that you make at the beginning of sentences. For example, suppose you were going to use part of this quotation:. If you wanted to begin a sentence with an excerpt from the middle of this quotation, there would be no need to bracket your capitalization changes.
We consulted these works while writing the original version of this handout. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. Barzun, Jacques, and Henry F. Colomb, and Joseph M. The Craft of Research. University of How To Write Quotations Press,