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How to Quote Material

Page history last edited by Mrs. Train 11 years, 6 months ago

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Quotations are used to support your thesis or argument in an essay. Quotations are placed inside quotation marks to show that you are using the exact words of someone else.  For information on paraphrasing, check out: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/619/01/


Use Signal or Introductory Phrases

When including quotations in your essay or project, you need to transition from the source that you are citing to your own thoughts.  You need to give your reader a sense of why you are using the quotation and the relevance of that quotation to your project.


The typical way to introduce a quotation is to use the author's name or the name of the source from which it came, then a signal phrase (introductory phrases) or words such as: explains, describes or states .  You can then explain the significance of your quotation and how it fits with your ideas. Use variety in your choice of introductory phrases. 


Here are a few more introductory phrases:


acknowledges, according to, adds, admits, affirms, agrees, argues, asserts, believes, claims, comments, compares, confirms, contends, declares, demonstrates, denies, disputes, emphasizes, grants, illustrates, implies, insists, notes, observes, points out, reasons, refutes, reports, responds, states, suggests, thinks, writes.



Don’t base your whole report on quotes and paraphrased text.

Quotations or paraphrased text should support your own ideas.

An essay should not be constructed of a series of quotes but should reflect your own work.

Quotations should be integrated into your text with transitions such as “he explains that” or “Mr. Twain described “the … .”


Where does the punctuation go?



Periods and commas
Periods and commas go inside the closing quotation marks, even inside single quotes.
  • He said, "I can help you find the answer."
  • She said, "He said, 'Hurry up.'"
  • He said, "I hope you are hurrying," and then looked at his watch.
Question marks

If a question is in quotation marks, the question mark should be placed inside the quotation marks. 


If the question is part of the whole sentence (see second example), the question mark is placed outside the quotation marks.


Only use one ending punctuation mark with quotation marks.

  • She asked, "Will you visit me tomorrow?"
  • Do you agree with the saying, "If you dream it, you can do it"?  (Walt Disney)

Both sentence and quotation are questions
When you have a sentence that is a question AND inside quoted material that is also a question, use only one question mark and place it inside the quotation mark.
  • Did he say, "Will you go to lunch with me?"


Rules for Formatting Quotes

  Rule Example
Short quotations
Short quotations, fewer than 40 words, are included as part of the text and enclosed by double quotations marks (").
Long quotations
If text is longer than 40 words or more, write it as a block with no quotation marks. Indent the block by 5 spaces for the whole block (use Word's hanging indent function).



In MLA style, the block in double-spaced. In APA style, check with your teacher for his or her preference.

Robert Frost describes the difficult choices that we must make through his lines,

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Quote within a short quotation
If you have a quote within a short quotation, enclose it in single quotes ('). 
Eliot  "is again parodying a children's song, specifically the line ‘this is the way we clap our hands’ " (Van Aelst).
Quote within a long quotation If you have a quote within a long, block quotation, enclose it in double (") quotation marks.  
Leaving out part of a quotation

To leave out part of a quotation, use ellipsis points ( ... ) by typing a space, 3 periods, then another space, to indicate the omission within a sentence.


To leave out part of a quote between sentences, use punctuation for the end of the sentence, then the ellipsis.

Quotes with Spelling or Grammar Mistakes When you are quoting material that has a spelling or grammar mistake or is  confusing in some way, insert the term sic in italics and enclose it in brackets. Sic means, "This is the way the original material was." She wrote, "I would rather die then [sic] be seen wearing the same outfit as my sister."


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