The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

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.

When should I quote?

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. The majority of your paper should still be your original ideas in your own words (after all, it’s your paper). And quotations are only one type of evidence: well-balanced papers may also make use of paraphrases, data, and statistics. 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.

Discussing specific arguments or ideas

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:

“At the beginning of World War Two, almost all Americans assumed the war would end quickly.”

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:

Historian John Doe has argued that in 1941 “almost all Americans assumed the war would end quickly” (Doe 223). Yet during the first six months of U.S. involvement, the wives and mothers of soldiers often noted in their diaries their fear that the war would drag on for years.

Giving added emphasis to a particularly authoritative source on your topic.

There 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.S. South. One of your most provocative sources is a narrative written by a former slave, Harriet Jacobs. It would then be appropriate to quote some of Jacobs’s words:

Harriet Jacobs, a former slave from North Carolina, published an autobiographical slave narrative in 1861. She exposed the hardships of both male and female slaves but ultimately concluded that “slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women.”

In this particular example, Jacobs is providing a crucial first-hand perspective on slavery. Thus, her words deserve more exposure 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, 1987).

Analyzing how others use language.

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.

Examples of topics that might require the frequent use of quotations include:

Southern colloquial expressions in William Faulkner’s Light in August

Ms. and the creation of a language of female empowerment

A comparison of three British poets and their use of rhyme

Spicing up your prose.

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. Do not insert a quotation solely for its literary merits.

One example of a quotation that adds flair:

President Calvin Coolidge’s tendency to fall asleep became legendary. As H. L. Mencken commented in the American Mercury in 1933, “Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored.”

How do I set up and follow up a quotation?

Once you’ve carefully selected the quotations that you want to use, your next job is to weave those quotations into your text. 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: it may be tasty on its own, but it’s messy to eat without some bread on either side of it. Your words can serve as the “bread” that helps readers digest each quote easily. Below are four guidelines for setting up and following up quotations.

In illustrating these four steps, we’ll use as our example, Franklin Roosevelt’s famous quotation, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

1. Provide context for each quotation.

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:

When Franklin Roosevelt gave his inaugural speech on March 4, 1933, he addressed a nation weakened and demoralized by economic depression.

2. Attribute each quotation to its source.

Tell your reader who is speaking. Here is a good test: try reading your text aloud. Could your reader determine without looking at your paper where your quotations begin? If not, you need to attribute the quote more noticeably.

Avoid getting into the “they said” attribution rut! There are many other ways to attribute quotes besides this construction. Here are a few alternative verbs, usually followed by “that”:

add remark exclaim
announce reply state
comment respond estimate
write point out predict
argue suggest propose
declare criticize proclaim
note complain opine
observe think note

Different reporting verbs are preferred by different disciplines, so pay special attention to these in your disciplinary reading. If you’re unfamiliar with the meanings of any of these words or others you find in your reading, consult a dictionary before using them.

3. Explain the significance of the quotation.

Once you’ve inserted your quotation, along with its context and attribution, don’t stop! Your reader still needs your assessment of why the quotation holds significance for your paper. Using our Roosevelt example, if you were writing a paper on the first one-hundred days of FDR’s administration, you might follow the quotation by linking it to that topic:

With that message of hope and confidence, the new president set the stage for his next one-hundred days in office and helped restore the faith of the American people in their government.

4. Provide a citation for the quotation.

All quotations, just like all paraphrases, require a formal citation. For more details about particular citation formats, see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . In general, you should remember one rule of thumb: Place the parenthetical reference or footnote/endnote number after—not within—the closed quotation mark.

Roosevelt declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Roosevelt, Public Papers, 11).

Roosevelt declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”1

How do I embed a quotation into a sentence?

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:

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression. “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

Standing by itself, the quote’s connection to the preceding sentence is unclear. There are several ways to incorporate a quote more smoothly:

Lead into the quote with a colon.

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression: “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

The colon announces that a quote will follow to provide evidence for the sentence’s claim.

Introduce or conclude the quote by attributing it to the speaker. If your attribution precedes the quote, you will need to use a comma after the verb.

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression. He states, “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

When faced with a twelve-foot mountain troll, Ron gathers his courage, shouting, “Wingardium Leviosa!” (Rowling, p. 176).

The Pirate King sees an element of regality in their impoverished and dishonest life. “It is, it is a glorious thing/To be a pirate king,” he declares (Pirates of Penzance, 1983).

Interrupt the quote with an attribution to the speaker. Again, you will need to use a comma after the verb, as well as a comma leading into the attribution.

“There is nothing either good or bad,” Hamlet argues, “but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet 2.2).

“And death shall be no more,” Donne writes, “Death thou shalt die” (“Death, Be Not Proud,” l. 14).

Dividing the quote may highlight a particular nuance of the quote’s meaning. In the first example, the division calls attention to the two parts of Hamlet’s claim. The first phrase states that nothing is inherently good or bad; the second phrase suggests that our perspective causes things to become good or bad. In the second example, the isolation of “Death thou shalt die” at the end of the sentence draws a reader’s attention to that phrase in particular. As you decide whether or not you want to break up a quote, you should consider the shift in emphasis that the division might create.

Use the words of the quote grammatically within your own sentence.

When Hamlet tells Rosencrantz that he “could be bounded in a nutshell and count [him]self a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2), he implies that thwarted ambition did not cause his depression.

Ultimately, death holds no power over Donne since in the afterlife, “death shall be no more” (“Death, Be Not Proud,” l. 14).

Note that when you use “that” after the verb that introduces the quote, you no longer need a comma.

The Pirate King argues that “it is, it is a glorious thing/to be a pirate king” (Pirates of Penzance, 1983).

How much should I quote?

As few words as 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:

Excerpt fragments.

Sometimes, you should quote short fragments, rather than whole sentences. Suppose you interviewed Jane Doe about her reaction to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. She commented:

“I couldn’t believe it. It was just unreal and so sad. It was just unbelievable. I had never experienced such denial. I don’t know why I felt so strongly. Perhaps it was because JFK was more to me than a president. He represented the hopes of young people everywhere.”

You could quote all of Jane’s comments, but her first three sentences are fairly redundant. You might instead want to quote Jane when she arrives at the ultimate reason for her strong emotions:

Jane Doe grappled with grief and disbelief. She had viewed JFK, not just as a national figurehead, but as someone who “represented the hopes of young people everywhere.”

Excerpt those fragments carefully!

Quoting the words of others carries a big responsibility. Misquoting misrepresents the ideas of others. Here’s a classic example of a misquote:

John Adams has often been quoted as having said: “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.”

John Adams did, in fact, write the above words. But if you see those words in context, the meaning changes entirely. Here’s the rest of the quotation:

Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!!’ But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company—I mean hell.

As you can see from this example, context matters!

This example is from Paul F. Boller, Jr. and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions (Oxford University Press, 1989).

Use block quotations sparingly.

There may be times when 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 five), then 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. Here are a few general tips for setting off your block quotations:

  • Set up a block quotation with your own words followed by a colon.
  • Indent. You normally indent 4-5 spaces for the start of a paragraph. When setting up a block quotation, indent the entire paragraph once from the left-hand margin.
  • Single space or double space within the block quotation, depending on the style guidelines of your discipline (MLA, CSE, APA, Chicago, etc.).
  • Do not use quotation marks at the beginning or end of the block quote—the indentation is what indicates that it’s a quote.
  • Place parenthetical citation according to your style guide (usually after the period following the last sentence of the quote).
  • Follow up a block quotation with your own words.

So, using the above example from John Adams, here’s how you might include a block quotation:

After reading several doctrinally rigid tracts, John Adams recalled the zealous ranting of his former teacher, Joseph Cleverly, and minister, Lemuel Bryant. He expressed his ambivalence toward religion in an 1817 letter to Thomas Jefferson:

Adams clearly appreciated religion, even if he often questioned its promotion.

How do I combine quotation marks with other punctuation marks?

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:

Keep periods and commas within quotation marks.

So, for example:

According to Professor Poe, werewolves “represent anxiety about the separation between human and animal,” and werewolf movies often “interrogate those boundaries.”

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. For example:

According to Professor Poe, werewolves “represent anxiety about the separation between human and animal,” and werewolf movies often “interrogate those boundaries” (Poe 167).

Note, however, that the period remains inside the quotation marks when your citation style involves superscript footnotes or endnotes. For example:

According to Professor Poe, werewolves “represent anxiety about the separation between human and animal,” and werewolf movies often “interrogate those boundaries.” 2

Place all other punctuation marks (colons, semicolons, exclamation marks, question marks) outside the quotation marks, except when they were part of the original quotation.

Take a look at the following examples:

I couldn’t believe it when my friend passed me a note in the cafe saying the management “started charging $15 per hour for parking”!

The coach yelled, “Run!”

In the first example, the author placed the exclamation point outside the quotation mark because she added it herself to emphasize the outrageous nature of the parking price change. The original note had not included an exclamation mark. 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.

How do I indicate quotations within quotations?

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 that has a quotation within a quotation. In that rare instance, you would use double quotation marks for the second internal quotation.

Here’s an example of a quotation within a quotation:

In “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Hans Christian Andersen wrote, “‘But the Emperor has nothing on at all!’ cried a little child.”

Remember to consult your style guide to determine how to properly cite a quote within a quote.

When do I use those three dots ( . . . )?

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 . . . this. There are a few rules to follow when using ellipses:

Be sure that you don’t fundamentally change the meaning of the quotation by omitting material.

Take a look at the following example:

“The Writing Center is located on the UNC campus and serves the entire UNC community.”

“The Writing Center . . . serves the entire UNC community.”

The reader’s understanding of the Writing Center’s mission to serve the UNC community is not affected by omitting the information about its location.

Do not use ellipses at the beginning or ending of quotations, unless it’s important for the reader to know that the quotation was truncated.

For example, using the above example, you would NOT need an ellipsis in either of these situations:

“The Writing Center is located on the UNC campus . . .”

The Writing Center ” . . . serves the entire UNC community.”

Use punctuation marks in combination with ellipses when removing material from the end of sentences or clauses.

For example, if you take material from the end of a sentence, keep the period in as usual.

“The boys ran to school, forgetting their lunches and books. Even though they were out of breath, they made it on time.”

“The boys ran to school. . . . Even though they were out of breath, they made it on time.”

Likewise, if you excerpt material at the end of clause that ends in a comma, retain the comma.

“The red car came to a screeching halt that was heard by nearby pedestrians, but no one was hurt.”

“The red car came to a screeching halt . . . , but no one was hurt.”

Is it ever okay to insert my own words or change words in a quotation?

Sometimes it is necessary for clarity and flow to alter a word or words within a quotation. You should make such changes rarely. In order to alert your reader to the changes you’ve made, you should always bracket the altered words. Here are a few examples of situations when you might need brackets:

Changing verb tense or pronouns in order to be consistent with the rest of the sentence.

Suppose you were quoting a woman who, when asked about her experiences immigrating to the United States, commented “nobody understood me.” You might write:

Esther Hansen felt that when she came to the United States “nobody understood [her].”

In the above example, you’ve changed “me” to “her” in order to keep the entire passage in third person. However, you could avoid the need for this change by simply rephrasing:

“Nobody understood me,” recalled Danish immigrant Esther Hansen.

Including supplemental information that your reader needs in order to understand the quotation.

For example, if you were quoting someone’s nickname, you might want to let your reader know the full name of that person in brackets.

“The principal of the school told Billy [William Smith] that his contract would be terminated.”

Similarly, if a quotation referenced an event with which the reader might be unfamiliar, you could identify that event in brackets.

“We completely revised our political strategies after the strike [of 1934].”

Indicating the use of nonstandard grammar or spelling.

In rare situations, you may quote from a text that has nonstandard grammar, spelling, or word choice. In such cases, you may want to insert [sic], which means “thus” or “so” in Latin. Using [sic] alerts your reader to the fact that this nonstandard language is not the result of a typo on your part. Always italicize “sic” and enclose it in brackets. There is no need to put a period at the end. Here’s an example of when you might use [sic]:

Twelve-year-old Betsy Smith wrote in her diary, “Father is afraid that he will be guilty of beach [sic] of contract.”

Here [sic] indicates that the original author wrote “beach of contract,” not breach of contract, which is the accepted terminology.

Do not overuse brackets!

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:

“The colors scintillated curiously over a hard carapace, and the beetle’s tiny antennae made gentle waving motions as though saying hello.”

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.

“The beetle’s tiny antennae made gentle waving motions as though saying hello,” said Dr. Grace Farley, remembering a defining moment on her journey to becoming an entomologist.

Not: “[T]he beetle’s tiny antennae made gentle waving motions as though saying hello,” said Dr. Grace Farley, remembering a defining moment on her journey to becoming an entomologist.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. 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 . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Barzun, Jacques, and Henry F. Graff. 2012. The Modern Researcher , 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald. 2016. The Craft of Research , 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gibaldi, Joseph. 2009. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

Turabian, Kate. 2018. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, Dissertations , 9th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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American Psychological Association

A direct quotation reproduces words verbatim from another work or from your own previously published work. It is best to paraphrase sources rather than directly quoting them because paraphrasing allows you to fit material to the context of your paper and writing style.

Use direct quotations rather than paraphrasing:

  • when reproducing an exact definition (see Section 6.22 of the Publication Manual ),
  • when an author has said something memorably or succinctly, or
  • when you want to respond to exact wording (e.g., something someone said).

Instructors, programs, editors, and publishers may establish limits on the use of direct quotations. Consult your instructor or editor if you are concerned that you may have too much quoted material in your paper.

This page addresses how to format short quotations and block quotations. Additional information is available about how to:

  • include page numbers for quotations
  • cite quotations from material without page numbers
  • cite quotations that include errors
  • indicate changes to quotations
  • present quotations from research participants

Quotations are covered in the seventh edition APA Style manuals in the Publication Manual Sections 8.25 to 8.35 and the Concise Guide Sections 8.25 to 8.34

how to put someone's quote in an essay

Related handout

  • In-Text Citation Checklist (PDF, 227KB)

Short quotations (fewer than 40 words)

For quotations of fewer than 40 words, add quotation marks around the words and incorporate the quote into your own text—there is no additional formatting needed. Do not insert an ellipsis at the beginning and/or end of a quotation unless the original source includes an ellipsis.

Effective teams can be difficult to describe because “high performance along one domain does not translate to high performance along another” (Ervin et al., 2018, p. 470).

For a direct quotation, always include a full citation ( parenthetical or narrative ) in the same sentence as the quotation, including the page number (or other location information, e.g., paragraph number).

  • Place a parenthetical citation either immediately after the quotation or at the end of the sentence.
  • For a narrative citation, include the author and year in the sentence and then place the page number or other location information in parentheses after the quotation.
  • If the quotation precedes the narrative citation, put the page number or location information after the year and a comma.
  • If the citation appears at the end of a sentence, put the end punctuation after the closing parenthesis for the citation.
  • If the quotation includes citations, see Section 8.32 of the Publication Manual .
  • If the quotation includes material already in quotation marks, see Section 8.33 of the Publication Manual .
  • Place periods and commas within closing single or double quotation marks. Place other punctuation marks inside quotation marks only when they are part of the quoted material.

Block quotations (40 words or more)

Format quotations of 40 words or more as block quotations:

  • Do not use quotation marks to enclose a block quotation.
  • Start a block quotation on a new line and indent the whole block 0.5 in. from the left margin.
  • Double-space the entire block quotation.
  • Do not add extra space before or after it.
  • If there are additional paragraphs within the quotation, indent the first line of each subsequent paragraph an additional 0.5 in. See an example in Section 8.27 of the Publication Manual .
  • Either (a) cite the source in parentheses after the quotation’s final punctuation or (b) cite the author and year in the narrative before the quotation and place only the page number in parentheses after the quotation’s final punctuation.
  • Do not add a period after the closing parenthesis in either case.

Block quotation with parenthetical citation:

Researchers have studied how people talk to themselves:

Inner speech is a paradoxical phenomenon. It is an experience that is central to many people’s everyday lives, and yet it presents considerable challenges to any effort to study it scientifically. Nevertheless, a wide range of methodologies and approaches have combined to shed light on the subjective experience of inner speech and its cognitive and neural underpinnings. (Alderson-Day & Fernyhough, 2015, p. 957)

Block quotation with narrative citation:

Flores et al. (2018) described how they addressed potential researcher bias when working with an intersectional community of transgender people of color:

Everyone on the research team belonged to a stigmatized group but also held privileged identities. Throughout the research process, we attended to the ways in which our privileged and oppressed identities may have influenced the research process, findings, and presentation of results. (p. 311)

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How to use Quotes in an Essay in 7 Simple Steps

How to use Quotes in an Essay in 7 Simple Steps

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

Learn about our Editorial Process

How to use Quotes in an Essay

A quote can be an effective and powerful literary tool in an essay, but it needs to be done well. To use quotes in an essay, you need to make sure your quotes are short, backed up with explanations, and used rarely. The best essays use a maximum of 2 quotes for every 1500 words.

Rules for using quotes in essays:

  • Avoid Long Quotes.
  • Quotes should be less than 1 sentence long.
  • Match Quotes with Explanations and Examples.
  • Use Max. 2 Quotes for 1500 words.
  • Use page numbers when Citing Quotes.
  • Don’t Italicize Quotes.
  • Avoid quotes inside quotes.

Once you have mastered these quotation writing rules you’ll be on your way to growing your marks in your next paper.

How to use Quotes in an Essay

1. avoid long quotes.

There’s a simple rule to follow here: don’t use a quote that is longer than one line. In fact,  four word quotes  are usually best.

Long quotes in essays are red flags for teachers. It doesn’t matter if it is an amazing quote. Many, many teachers don’t like long quotes, so it’s best to avoid them.

Too many students provide quotes that take up half of a paragraph. This will lose you marks – big time.

If you follow my  perfect paragraph formula , you know that most paragraphs should be about six sentences long, which comes out to about six or seven typed lines on paper. That means that your quote will be a maximum of one-sixth (1/6) of your paragraph. This leaves plenty of space for discussion in your own words.

One reason teachers don’t like long quotes is that they suck up your word count. It can start to look like you didn’t have enough to say, so you inserted quotes to pad out your essay. Even if this is only your teacher’s perception, it’s something that you need to be aware of.

Here’s an example of over-use of quotes in paragraphs:

Avoid Quotes that are Too Long

Children who grow up in poverty often end up being poor as adults. “Many adult Americans believe that hard work and drive are important factors on economic mobility. When statistics show that roughly 42% of children born into the bottom level of the income distribution will likely stay there (Isaacs, 2007), this Is a consequence of structural and social barriers.” (Mistry et al., 2016, p. 761). Therefore poverty in childhood needs to be addressed by the government.

This student made the fatal mistake of having the quote overtake the paragraph.

Simply put, don’t use a quote that is longer than one line long. Ever. It’s just too risky.

Personally, I like to use a 4-word quote in my essays. Four-word quotes are long enough to constitute an actual quote but short enough that I have to think about how I will fit that quote around my own writing. This forces me to write quotations that both show:

  • I have read the original source, but also:
  • I know how to paraphrase

2. Do not use a Quote to that takes up a full Sentence, Starts a Sentence, or Ends a Paragraph

These are three common but fatal mistakes.

Essay quotes that start sentences or end paragraphs make you appear passive.

If you use a quotation in an essay to start a sentence or end a paragraph, your teacher automatically thinks that your quote is replacing analysis, rather than supporting it.

You should instead start the sentence that contains the quote with your own writing. This makes it appear that you have an  active voice .

Similarly, you should end a paragraph with your own analysis, not a quote.

Let’s look at some examples of quotes that start sentences and end paragraphs. These examples are poor examples of using quotes:

Avoid Quotes that Start Sentences The theorist Louis Malaguzzi was the founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Education. “Children have the ability to learn through play and exploration. Play helps children to learn about their surroundings” (Malaguzzi, 1949, p. 10). Play is better than learning through repetition of drills or reading. Play is good for all children.

Avoid Quotes that End Paragraphs Before Judith Butler gender was seen as being a binary linked to sex, men were masculine and women were feminine. Butler came up with this new idea that gender is just something society has made up over time. “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler, 1990, p. 136).

Both these quotes are from essays that were shared with me by colleagues. My colleagues marked these students down for these quotes because of the quotes:

  • took up full sentences;
  • started sentences; and
  • were used to end paragraphs.

It didn’t appear as if the students were analyzing the quotes. Instead, the quotes were doing the talking for the students.

There are some easy strategies to use in order to make it appear that you are actively discussing and analyzing quotes.

One is that you should make sure the essay sentences with quotes in them  don’t start with the quote . Here are some examples of how we can change the quotes:

Example 1: Start Quote Sentences with an Active Voice The theorist Louis Malaguzzi was the founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Education. According to Malaguzzi (1949, p. 10), “children have the ability to learn through play and exploration.” Here, Malaguzzi is highlighting how to play is linked to finding things out about the world. Play is important for children to develop. Play is better than learning through repetition of drills or reading. Play is good for all children.

Here, the sentence with the quote was amended so that the student has an active voice. They start the sentence with According to Malaguzzi, ….

Similarly, in the second example, we can also insert an active voice by ensuring that our quote sentence does not start with a quote:

Example 2: Start Quote Sentences with an Active Voice In 1990, Judith Butler revolutionized Feminist understandings of gender by arguing that “gender is a fluid concept” (p. 136). Before Butler’s 1990 book  Gender Trouble , gender was seen as being a binary linked to sex. Men were masculine and women were feminine. Butler came up with this new idea that gender is just something society has made up over time.

In this example, the quote is not at the start of a sentence or end of a paragraph – tick!

How to Start Sentences containing Quotes using an Active Voice

  • According to Malaguzzi (1949, p. 10), “…”
  • Malaguzzi (1949, p. 10) argues that “…”
  • In 1949, Malaguzzi (p. 10) highlighted that “…”
  • The argument of Malaguzzi (1949, p. 10) that “…” provides compelling insight into the issue.

3. Match Quotes with Explanations and Examples

Earlier on, I stated that one key reason to use quotes in essays is so that you can analyze them.

Quotes shouldn’t stand alone as explanations. Quotes should be there to be analyzed, not to do the analysis.

Let’s look again at the quote used in Point 1:

Example: A Quote that is Too Long Children who grow up in poverty often end up being poor as adults.  “Many adult Americans believe that hard work and drive are important factors in economic mobility. When statistics show that roughly 42% of children born into the bottom level of the income distribution will likely stay there (Isaacs, 2007), this Is a consequence of structural and social barriers.”  (Mistry et al., 2016, p. 761). Therefore poverty in childhood needs to be addressed by the government.

This student has included the facts, figures, citations and key details in the quote. Essentially, this student has been lazy. They failed to paraphrase.

Instead, this student could have selected the most striking phrase from the quote and kept it. Then, the rest should be paraphrased. The most striking phrase in this quote was “[poverty] is a consequence of structural and social barriers.” (Mistry et al., 2016, p. 761).

So, take that one key phrase, then paraphrase the rest:

Example: Paraphrasing Long Quotes Children who grow up in poverty often end up being poor as adults. In their analysis, Mistry et al. (2016) highlight that there is a misconception in American society that hard work is enough to escape poverty. Instead, they argue, there is evidence that over 40% of people born in poverty remain in poverty. For Mistry et al. (2016, p. 761), this data shows that poverty is not a matter of being lazy alone, but more importantly  “a consequence of structural and social barriers.”  This implies that poverty in childhood needs to be addressed by the government.

To recap,  quotes shouldn’t do the talking for you . Provide a brief quote in your essay, and then show you understand it with surrounding explanation and analysis.

4. Know how many Quotes to use in an Essay

There’s a simple rule for how many quotes should be in an essay.

Here’s a good rule to follow: one quote for every five paragraphs. A paragraph is usually 150 words long, so you’re looking at  one quote in every 750 words, maximum .

To extrapolate that out, you’ll want a maximum of about:

  • 2 quotes for a 1500-word paper;
  • 3 quotes for a 2000-word paper;
  • 4 quotes for a 3000-word paper.

That’s the maximum , not a target. There’s no harm in writing a paper that has absolutely zero quotes in it, so long as it’s still clear that you’ve closely read and paraphrased your readings.

The reason you don’t want to use more quotes than this in your essay is that teachers want to see you saying things in your own words. When you over-use quotes, it is a sign to your teacher that you don’t know how to paraphrase well.

5. Always use page numbers when Citing Quotes in Essays

One biggest problem with quotes are that many students don’t know how to cite quotes in essays.

Nearly every referencing format requires you to include a page number in your citation. This includes the three most common referencing formats: Harvard, APA, and MLA. All of them require you to provide page numbers with quotes.

Citing a Quote in Chicago Style – Include Page Numbers

  • Incorrect: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler 1990).
  • Correct: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler 1990, 136).

Citing a Quote in APA and Harvard Styles – Include Page Numbers

  • Incorrect: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler, 1990).
  • Correct: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler, 1990, p. 136).

Citing a Quote in MLA Style – Include Page Numbers

  • Incorrect: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler).
  • Correct: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler 136).

Including a page number in your quotation makes a huge difference when a marker is trying to determine how high your grade should be.

This is especially true when you’re already up in the higher marks range. These little editing points can mean the difference between placing first in the class and third. Don’t underestimate the importance of attention to detail.

6. Don’t Italicize Quotes

For some reason, students love to use italics for quotes. This is wrong in absolutely every major referencing format, yet it happens all the time.

I don’t know where this started, but please don’t do it. It looks sloppy, and teachers notice. A nice, clean, well-formatted essay should not contain these minor but not insignificant errors. If you want to be a top student, you need to pay attention to minor details.

7. Avoid quotes inside quotes

Have you ever found a great quote and thought, “I want to quote that quote!” Quoting a quote is a tempting thing to do, but not worth your while.

I’ll often see students write something like this:

Poor Quotation Example: Quotes Inside Quotes Rousseau “favored a civil religion because it would be more tolerant of diversity than Christianity. Indeed ‘no state has ever been founded without religion as its base’ (Rousseau, 1913: 180).” (Durkheim, 1947, p. 19).

Here, there are quotes on top of quotes. The student has quoted Durkheim quoting Rousseau. This quote has become a complete mess and hard to read. The minute something’s hard to read, it loses marks.

Here are two solutions:

  • Cite the original source. If you really want the Rousseau quote, just cite Rousseau. Stop messing around with quotes on top of quotes.
  • Learn the ‘as cited in’ method. Frankly, that method’s too complicated to discuss here. But if you google it, you’ll be able to teach yourself.

When Should I use Quotes in Essays?

1. to highlight an important statement.

One main reason to use quotes in essays is to emphasize a famous statement by a top thinker in your field.

The statement must be  important. It can’t be just any random comment.

Here are some examples of when to use quotes in essays to emphasize the words of top thinkers:

  • The words of Stephen Hawking go a long way in Physics ;
  • The words of JK Rowling go a long way in Creative Writing ;
  • The words of Michel Foucault go a long way in Cultural Studies ;
  • The words of Jean Piaget go a long way in Education Studies .

2. To analyze an Important Statement.

Another reason to use quotes in essays is when you want to analyze a statement by a specific author. This author might not be famous, but they might have said something that requires unpacking and analyzing. You can provide a quote, then unpack it by explaining your interpretation of it in the following sentences.

Quotes usually need an explanation and example. You can unpack the quote by asking:

  • What did they mean,
  • Why is it relevant, and
  • Why did they say this?

You want to always follow up quotes by top thinkers or specific authors with discussion and analysis.

Quotes should be accompanied by:

  • Explanations of the quote;
  • Analysis of the ideas presented in the quote; or
  • Real-world examples that show you understand what the quote means.
Remember: A quote should be a stimulus for a discussion, not a replacement for discussion.

What Bad Quotes Look Like

Many teachers I have worked with don’t like when students use quotes in essays. In fact, some teachers absolutely hate essay quotes. The teachers I have met tend to hate these sorts of quotes:

  • When you use too many quotes.
  • When you use the wrong citation format.
  • When you don’t provide follow-up explanations of quotes.
  • When you used quotes because you don’t know how to paraphrase .

how to use quotes in an essay

Be a minimalist when it comes to using quotes. Here are the seven approaches I recommend for using quotes in essays:

  • Avoid Long Quotes in Essays
  • Do not use a Quote that takes up a full Sentence, Starts a Sentence, or Ends a Paragraph
  • Match Quotes with Explanations and Examples
  • Use a Maximum of 2 Quotes for every 1500 words
  • Always use page numbers when Citing Quotes in Essays
  • Don’t Italicize Quotes
  • Avoid quotes inside quotes

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Suggested Ways to Introduce Quotations

When you quote another writer's words, it's best to introduce or contextualize the quote. 

How To Quote In An Essay?

To introduce a quote in an essay, don't forget to include author's last name and page number (MLA) or author, date, and page number (APA) in your citation. Shown below are some possible ways to introduce quotations. The examples use MLA format.

Use A Full Sentence Followed by A Colon To Introduce A Quotation

  • The setting emphasizes deception: "Nothing is as it appears" (Smith 1).
  • Piercy ends the poem on an ironic note: "To every woman a happy ending" (25).

Begin A Sentence with Your Own Words, Then Complete It with Quoted Words

Note that in the second example below, a slash with a space on either side ( / ) marks a line break in the original poem.

  • Hamlet's task is to avenge a "foul and most unnatural murder" (Shakespeare 925).
  • The speaker is mystified by her sleeping baby, whose "moth-breath / flickers among the flat pink roses" (Plath 17).

Use An Introductory Phrase Naming The Source, Followed By A Comma to Quote A Critic or Researcher

Note that the first letter after the quotation marks should be upper case. According to MLA guidelines, if you change the case of a letter from the original, you must indicate this with brackets. APA format doesn't require brackets.

  • According to Smith, "[W]riting is fun" (215).
  • In Smith's words, " . . .
  • In Smith's view, " . . .

Use A Descriptive Verb, Followed by A Comma To Introduce A Critic's Words

Avoid using says unless the words were originally spoken aloud, for instance, during an interview.

  • Smith states, "This book is terrific" (102).
  • Smith remarks, " . . .
  • Smith writes, " . . .
  • Smith notes, " . . .
  • Smith comments, " . . .
  • Smith observes, " . . .
  • Smith concludes, " . . .
  • Smith reports, " . . .
  • Smith maintains, " . . .
  • Smith adds, " . . .

Don't Follow It with A Comma If Your Lead into The Quotation Ends in That or As

The first letter of the quotation should be lower case.

  • Smith points out that "millions of students would like to burn this book" (53).
  • Smith emphasizes that " . . .
  • Smith interprets the hand washing in MacBeth as "an attempt at absolution" (106).
  • Smith describes the novel as "a celebration of human experience" (233).

Other Writing Resources

Enhance your academic writing skills by exploring our additional writing resources that will help you craft compelling essays, research papers, and more.

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  • How to Quote | Citing Quotes in Harvard & APA

How to Quote | Citing Quotes in Harvard & APA

Published on 15 April 2022 by Shona McCombes and Jack Caulfield. Revised on 3 September 2022.

Quoting means copying a passage of someone else’s words and crediting the source. To quote a source, you must ensure:

  • The quoted text is enclosed in quotation marks (usually single quotation marks in UK English, though double is acceptable as long as you’re consistent) or formatted as a block quote
  • The original author is correctly cited
  • The text is identical to the original

The exact format of a quote depends on its length and on which citation style you are using. Quoting and citing correctly is essential to avoid plagiarism , which is easy to detect with a good plagiarism checker .

How to Quote

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Table of contents

How to cite a quote in harvard and apa style, introducing quotes, quotes within quotes, shortening or altering a quote, block quotes, when should i use quotes, frequently asked questions about quoting sources.

Every time you quote, you must cite the source correctly . This looks slightly different depending on the citation style you’re using.

Citing a quote in Harvard style

When you include a quote in Harvard style, you must add a Harvard in-text citation giving the author’s last name, the year of publication, and a page number if available. Any full stop or comma appears after the citation, not within the quotation marks.

Citations can be parenthetical or narrative. In a parenthetical citation , you place all the information in brackets after the quote. In a narrative citation , you name the author in your sentence (followed by the year), and place the page number after the quote.

  • Evolution is a gradual process that ‘can act only by very short and slow steps’ (Darwin, 1859, p. 510) . Darwin (1859) explains that evolution ‘can act only by very short and slow steps’ (p. 510) .

Complete guide to Harvard style

Citing a quote in APA Style

To cite a direct quote in APA , you must include the author’s last name, the year, and a page number, all separated by commas. If the quote appears on a single page, use ‘p.’; if it spans a page range, use ‘pp.’

An APA in-text citation can be parenthetical or narrative. In a parenthetical citation , you place all the information in parentheses after the quote. In a narrative citation , you name the author in your sentence (followed by the year), and place the page number after the quote.

Punctuation marks such as full stops and commas are placed after the citation, not within the quotation marks.

  • Evolution is a gradual process that ‘can act only by very short and slow steps’ (Darwin, 1859, p. 510) .
  • Darwin (1859) explains that evolution ‘can act only by very short and slow steps’ (p. 510) .

Complete guide to APA

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Make sure you integrate quotes properly into your text by introducing them in your own words, showing the reader why you’re including the quote and providing any context necessary to understand it.  Don’t  present quotations as stand-alone sentences.

There are three main strategies you can use to introduce quotes in a grammatically correct way:

  • Add an introductory sentence
  • Use an introductory signal phrase
  • Integrate the quote into your own sentence

The following examples use APA Style citations, but these strategies can be used in all styles.

Introductory sentence

Introduce the quote with a full sentence ending in a colon . Don’t use a colon if the text before the quote isn’t a full sentence.

If you name the author in your sentence, you may use present-tense verbs, such as “states’, ‘argues’, ‘explains’, ‘writes’, or ‘reports’, to describe the content of the quote.

  • In Denmark, a recent poll shows that: ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • In Denmark, a recent poll shows that support for the EU has grown since the Brexit vote: ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • Levring (2018) reports that support for the EU has grown since the Brexit vote: ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (p. 3).

Introductory signal phrase

You can also use a signal phrase that mentions the author or source but doesn’t form a full sentence. In this case, you follow the phrase with a comma instead of a colon.

  • According to a recent poll, ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • As Levring (2018) explains, ‘A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ (p. 3).

Integrated into your own sentence

To quote a phrase that doesn’t form a full sentence, you can also integrate it as part of your sentence, without any extra punctuation.

  • A recent poll suggests that EU membership ‘would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ in a referendum (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • Levring (2018) reports that EU membership ‘would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters’ in a referendum (p. 3).

When you quote text that itself contains another quote, this is called a nested quotation or a quote within a quote. It may occur, for example, when quoting dialogue from a novel.

To distinguish this quote from the surrounding quote, you enclose it in double (instead of single) quotation marks (even if this involves changing the punctuation from the original text). Make sure to close both sets of quotation marks at the appropriate moments.

Note that if you only quote the nested quotation itself, and not the surrounding text, you can just use single quotation marks.

  • Carraway introduces his narrative by quoting his father: ‘ ‘ Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, ‘ he told me, ‘ just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had ‘ ‘ (Fitzgerald 1).
  • Carraway introduces his narrative by quoting his father: ‘”Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had “  (Fitzgerald 1).
  • Carraway introduces his narrative by quoting his father: ‘“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”’ (Fitzgerald 1).
  • Carraway begins by quoting his father’s invocation to ‘remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had’ (Fitzgerald 1).

Note:  When the quoted text in the source comes from another source, it’s best to just find that original source in order to quote it directly. If you can’t find the original source, you can instead cite it indirectly .

Often, incorporating a quote smoothly into your text requires you to make some changes to the original text. It’s fine to do this, as long as you clearly mark the changes you’ve made to the quote.

Shortening a quote

If some parts of a passage are redundant or irrelevant, you can shorten the quote by removing words, phrases, or sentences and replacing them with an ellipsis (…). Put a space before and after the ellipsis.

Be careful that removing the words doesn’t change the meaning. The ellipsis indicates that some text has been removed, but the shortened quote should still accurately represent the author’s point.

Altering a quote

You can add or replace words in a quote when necessary. This might be because the original text doesn’t fit grammatically with your sentence (e.g., it’s in a different tense), or because extra information is needed to clarify the quote’s meaning.

Use brackets to distinguish words that you have added from words that were present in the original text.

The Latin term ‘ sic ‘ is used to indicate a (factual or grammatical) mistake in a quotation. It shows the reader that the mistake is from the quoted material, not a typo of your own.

In some cases, it can be useful to italicise part of a quotation to add emphasis, showing the reader that this is the key part to pay attention to. Use the phrase ’emphasis added’ to show that the italics were not part of the original text.

You usually don’t need to use brackets to indicate minor changes to punctuation or capitalisation made to ensure the quote fits the style of your text.

If you quote more than a few lines from a source, you must format it as a block quote . Instead of using quotation marks, you set the quote on a new line and indent it so that it forms a separate block of text.

Block quotes are cited just like regular quotes, except that if the quote ends with a full stop, the citation appears after the full stop.

To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf’s hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a mile or more. (16)

Avoid relying too heavily on quotes in academic writing . To integrate a source , it’s often best to paraphrase , which means putting the passage into your own words. This helps you integrate information smoothly and keeps your own voice dominant.

However, there are some situations in which quotes are more appropriate.

When focusing on language

If you want to comment on how the author uses language (for example, in literary analysis ), it’s necessary to quote so that the reader can see the exact passage you are referring to.

When giving evidence

To convince the reader of your argument, interpretation or position on a topic, it’s often helpful to include quotes that support your point. Quotes from primary sources (for example, interview transcripts or historical documents) are especially credible as evidence.

When presenting an author’s position or definition

When you’re referring to secondary sources such as scholarly books and journal articles, try to put others’ ideas in your own words when possible.

But if a passage does a great job at expressing, explaining, or defining something, and it would be very difficult to paraphrase without changing the meaning or losing the weakening the idea’s impact, it’s worth quoting directly.

A quote is an exact copy of someone else’s words, usually enclosed in quotation marks and credited to the original author or speaker.

To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

Every time you quote a source , you must include a correctly formatted in-text citation . This looks slightly different depending on the citation style .

For example, a direct quote in APA is cited like this: ‘This is a quote’ (Streefkerk, 2020, p. 5).

Every in-text citation should also correspond to a full reference at the end of your paper.

In scientific subjects, the information itself is more important than how it was expressed, so quoting should generally be kept to a minimum. In the arts and humanities, however, well-chosen quotes are often essential to a good paper.

In social sciences, it varies. If your research is mainly quantitative , you won’t include many quotes, but if it’s more qualitative , you may need to quote from the data you collected .

As a general guideline, quotes should take up no more than 5–10% of your paper. If in doubt, check with your instructor or supervisor how much quoting is appropriate in your field.

If you’re quoting from a text that paraphrases or summarises other sources and cites them in parentheses , APA recommends retaining the citations as part of the quote:

  • Smith states that ‘the literature on this topic (Jones, 2015; Sill, 2019; Paulson, 2020) shows no clear consensus’ (Smith, 2019, p. 4).

Footnote or endnote numbers that appear within quoted text should be omitted.

If you want to cite an indirect source (one you’ve only seen quoted in another source), either locate the original source or use the phrase ‘as cited in’ in your citation.

A block quote is a long quote formatted as a separate ‘block’ of text. Instead of using quotation marks , you place the quote on a new line, and indent the entire quote to mark it apart from your own words.

APA uses block quotes for quotes that are 40 words or longer.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. & Caulfield, J. (2022, September 03). How to Quote | Citing Quotes in Harvard & APA. Scribbr. Retrieved 10 July 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/working-sources/quoting/

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Put a Quote in an Essay

Home / Blog / How To Put A Quote In An Essay (with Examples)

How to Put a Quote in an Essay (with Examples)

Introduction

When writing an essay , it is essential to incorporate quotes from reputable sources to support your arguments and ideas. However, knowing how to use quotes effectively is crucial in maintaining the flow and clarity of your essay. This blog will discuss the proper ways to put a quote in an essay with examples.

Why Use Quotes in an Essay?

Quotes are used in an essay to support or reinforce the writer's arguments and ideas. They provide evidence for your claims and demonstrate that your argument is backed up by research and authority. Incorporating quotes also helps to provide context and depth to your writing and can add a unique perspective to your essay.

Types of Quotes

There are two types of quotes you can use in your essay: direct quotes and indirect quotes.

Direct Quotes: Direct quotes are the exact words used by the source that you are quoting. When using direct quotes, you need to use quotation marks and indicate the source.

Example: According to John Smith, "The Earth is round."

Indirect Quotes: Indirect quotes are a paraphrase of the original source. When using indirect quotes, you do not need to use quotation marks.

Example: John Smith claims that the Earth is round.

How to Put a Quote in an Essay

When using quotes in an essay, there are several rules that you need to follow to ensure that your writing is clear, accurate, and appropriate. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Choose a Relevant Quote

Before you start writing your essay, identify the quotes that you want to use to support your arguments. Ensure that the quotes you select are relevant, reliable, and add value to your essay.

Step 2: Introduce the Quote

Introduce the quote by providing context and indicating who the source is. This will help the reader understand the significance of the quote and its relevance to your argument.

Example: According to Jane Doe, a renowned climate scientist, "Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity."

Step 3: Use Quotation Marks

When using a direct quote, use quotation marks to indicate that you are using the exact words of the source.

Example: According to Jane Doe, "Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity."

Step 4: Provide the Source

Provide the source of the quote, including the author's name, the title of the book or article, and the page number. This will help the reader find the source if they want to read it.

Example: According to Jane Doe, a renowned climate scientist, "Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity." (Doe, The State of the Climate, p. 25)

Step 5: Punctuate Correctly

Punctuate the quote correctly by placing the comma or period inside the quotation marks, depending on whether it is a part of the quote or your sentence.

Step 6: Explain the Quote

Explain the significance of the quote in your own words. This will help the reader understand how the quote supports your argument.

Example: Jane Doe's quote highlights the urgency of addressing climate change as it poses a significant threat to human survival.

Step 7: Cite Your Sources

Ensure that you cite your sources correctly using the citation style specified by your instructor or the style guide for your discipline.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Quotes in an Essay

Using quotes in an essay can be tricky, and many students make mistakes that can impact the quality of their writing. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using quotes in an essay:

Failing to provide context: It is essentialto provide context when using a quote in an essay. Failure to do so can confuse the reader and make the quote appear out of place. Always introduce the quote and provide some background information about the source and why you are using the quote.

Overusing quotes: While quotes can add value to your essay, it is essential not to overuse them. Use quotes sparingly and only when necessary. Overusing quotes can make your writing appear lazy, and it may give the impression that you are not confident in your own ideas.

Incorrectly citing sources: Always cite your sources correctly using the citation style specified by your instructor or the style guide for your discipline. Failure to do so can lead to accusations of plagiarism , which can have serious consequences.

Misquoting or altering a quote: When using a direct quote, it is essential to use the exact words of the source. Do not alter the quote or misquote the source as this can distort the meaning and accuracy of the quote.

Failing to explain the quote: When using a quote, it is important to explain its significance and how it supports your argument. Failure to do so can make the quote appear irrelevant and disconnected from your essay.

Examples of Quotes in an Essay

Here are some examples of how to use quotes in an essay:

Example 1: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Should students be required to wear school uniforms?

Quote: "School uniforms promote a sense of unity and equality among students, and they help to reduce instances of bullying based on clothing." (Johnson, School Uniforms, p. 10)

Explanation: The quote supports the argument that school uniforms can have a positive impact on student behavior and reduce instances of bullying. It is introduced with the source and provides context for the argument.

Example 2: Persuasive Essay

Topic: The importance of recycling

Quote: "Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, and 463 gallons of oil." (Environmental Protection Agency)

Explanation: The quote provides a powerful statistic that supports the importance of recycling. It is introduced with the source, and its significance is explained in the following sentences.

Example 3: Expository Essay

Topic: The history of the American Civil War

Quote: "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." (Lincoln, Gettysburg Address)

Explanation: The quote is an iconic line from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, which is a significant event in American history. It is introduced with the source, and its significance is explained in the following sentences.

Incorporating quotes in an essay can add depth, context, and authority to your writing. However, it is important to use quotes effectively and appropriately. Always choose relevant and reliable quotes, introduce them with context, use the correct punctuation, explain their significance, and cite your sources correctly. By following these guidelines, you can effectively use quotes in your essay and improve the quality of your writing.

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Quotation basics: grammar, punctuation, and style, some general quotation guidelines.

In an effort to make our handouts more accessible, we have begun converting our PDF handouts to web pages. Download this page as a PDF: Quotation Grammar, Punctuation, and Style Return to Writing Studio Handouts

When writing a formal essay, you will often need to use quotes from a text or texts as evidence to prove your point or to make an argument. Below are grammar and punctuation guidelines to help you integrate those quotes into your essay successfully.

We recommend consulting a style manual or your instructor for specific queries.

Periods and Commas

  • You do not need to use any punctuation before a quotation if it forms part of your own sentence.

Example: Dennis cries that he is “being repressed!”

  • Use a comma when introducing a quote with a phrase such as ‘he said.’

Example: The old man protests, “I don’t want to go on the cart.”

  • Place parenthetical citations outside the end quotation mark, but before the punctuation.

Example: King Arthur declares, “Let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place” (13).

Colons and Ellipses

  • Use a colon when introducing a quotation with a full independent clause (one that can stand on its own).

Example: Emily feels frustrated by his response: “Is there someone else that we can talk to?”

  • Use an ellipsis (three periods, sometimes with spaces between: ‘…’ ) to indicate an omission in a quotation (Exception: it is not necessary to use an ellipsis when omitting words at the beginning of a quote unless you are using a block quote format).

Example: “The kind of intelligence a genius has … leaps with ellipses.”

  • When you want to omit one or more full sentences, use a period and a space before the three ellipsis dots.

Example: “Hatred paralyzes life. … Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

Slashes and Brackets

  • When you are quoting poetry, use a slash ( / ) to mark a line break.

Example: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments” (1-2).

  • Use square brackets to add a word, change a pronoun, or change a verb tense in the quote.

Original quote: “It’s my duty as a knight to sample all the peril I can.”

In your essay: Sir Galahad thinks “it’s [his] duty as a knight to sample all the peril [he] can.”

Question Marks and Exclamation Points

  • With a question mark or exclamation point, there is no need to use a comma or a period.

Example: The interested observer wonders, “Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?”

  • If the mark is part of your sentence and not part of the quote, it goes outside the last quotation mark.

Example: I don’t think we can ever understand the “ineluctable modality of the visual”!

Block Quotes

  • MLA style calls for use of a block quote (indent 10 spaces, or 2 tabs) when citing five or more lines of typed prose or four or more lines of verse. APA style calls for block quotes when citing forty words or more.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate. / Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, / And summer’s lease hath all too short a date. (1-4)

Quote Within a Quote

  • When using a quote within a quote, single quotation marks are used for the inner quote.

Example: Josh laments, “Every time I try to talk to someone it’s ‘sorry this’ and ‘forgive me that.’”

Last revised: 08/2008 | Adapted for web delivery: 05/2021

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MLA Formatting Quotations

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When you directly quote the works of others in your paper, you will format quotations differently depending on their length. Below are some basic guidelines for incorporating quotations into your paper. Please note that all pages in MLA should be double-spaced .

Short quotations

To indicate short quotations (four typed lines or fewer of prose or three lines of verse) in your text, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks. Provide the author and specific page number (in the case of verse, provide line numbers) in the in-text citation, and include a complete reference on the Works Cited page. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical citation.

Question marks and exclamation points should appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage, but after the parenthetical citation if they are a part of your text.

For example, when quoting short passages of prose, use the following examples:

When using short (fewer than three lines of verse) quotations from poetry, mark breaks in verse with a slash, ( / ), at the end of each line of verse (a space should precede and follow the slash). If a stanza break occurs during the quotation, use a double slash ( // ).

Long quotations

For quotations that are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented 1/2   inch  from the left margin while maintaining double-spacing. Your parenthetical citation should come  after the closing punctuation mark . When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.)

For example, when citing more than four lines of prose, use the following examples :

Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and dehumanizes him throughout her narration: They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78)

When citing long sections of poetry (four lines of verse or more), keep formatting as close to the original as possible.

In his poem "My Papa's Waltz," Theodore Roethke explores his childhood with his father:

The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. We Romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself. (qtd. in Shrodes, Finestone, Shugrue 202)

When citing two or more paragraphs, use block quotation format, even if the passage from the paragraphs is less than four lines. If you cite more than one paragraph, the first line of the second paragraph should be indented an extra 1/4 inch to denote a new paragraph:

In "American Origins of the Writing-across-the-Curriculum Movement," David Russell argues,

Writing has been an issue in American secondary and higher education since papers and examinations came into wide use in the 1870s, eventually driving out formal recitation and oral examination. . . .

From its birth in the late nineteenth century, progressive education has wrestled with the conflict within industrial society between pressure to increase specialization of knowledge and of professional work (upholding disciplinary standards) and pressure to integrate more fully an ever-widening number of citizens into intellectually meaningful activity within mass society (promoting social equity). . . . (3)

Adding or omitting words in quotations

If you add a word or words in a quotation, you should put brackets around the words to indicate that they are not part of the original text:

If you omit a word or words from a quotation, you should indicate the deleted word or words by using ellipses, which are three periods ( . . . ) preceded and followed by a space. For example:

Please note that brackets are not needed around ellipses unless they would add clarity.

When omitting words from poetry quotations, use a standard three-period ellipses; however, when omitting one or more full lines of poetry, space several periods to about the length of a complete line in the poem:

Quote in an Essay

  • Essay Writing Guides

Quote in an Essay: Do It Properly Following the Standards

When proving your viewpoint, disputing, or just presenting information, it is advisable to back your words with solid arguments or citations. When you have a live discussion or speech, you may turn to other people’s words without considering proper punctuation or formatting style. However, when quoting in an essay, you need to be aware of the principal academic writing rules. This post is devoted to the pivotal peculiarities of quoting.

Quote in an Essay: What Is It?

Before we start discovering how to quote in an essay, we need to find out what a quotation is. A quote in an essay refers to a short excerpt or passage taken directly from a text, speech, or another source that is included within the body of the essay to support or illustrate a point being made by the author.

Quotes in an essay are commonly used to lend credibility, provide evidence, or add depth to an argument or analysis presented in a paper. By incorporating someone else’s words, properly cited and attributed, an author can reinforce their ideas and strengthen the overall impact of their writing. It is important to use quotes sparingly, ensuring they are relevant and effectively incorporated into the essay’s narrative to maintain a coherent flow of ideas.

How to Put a Quote into an Essay

When dealing with essay writing and finding a suitable phrase or words to refer to, it is obligatory to know how to put a quote into an essay. Improper or incorrect citations may play a nasty trick on you and spoil your GPA. Perhaps, in general, you know how to quote, but it must be mentioned that punctuation always depends on the required formatting style.

However, there are some commonly accepted standards.

Choose a relevant quote

Use quotes in an essay that support or enhance your argument, emphasize a point, or provide evidence from a credible source. Ensure that the quote aligns with the topic and purpose of your essay.

Introducing the quote

Begin by introducing the quote with context, attribution, and the source. It can be done by briefly explaining who said or wrote the quote and why it is significant in relation to your essay’s topic.

Punctuate correctly

Use quotation marks to enclose the quote in an essay and indicate that it is someone else’s words. Place any punctuation marks (like commas or periods) that belong to the quote inside the quotation marks, while those that pertain to the overall sentence are placed outside.

Provide citation

After the quote, you need to include an in-text citation to indicate the source. It typically includes the author’s name (or the name of the organization if it’s a corporate source) and the page number (if applicable). Additionally, make sure to follow the appropriate citation format required by your academic institution or professor (e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago style).

Analyze and explain

After using a quote in an essay and providing the necessary citation, it’s crucial to analyze and explain its relevance to your argument. It helps connect the quote to your overall essay and demonstrates your understanding of its implications.

Remember, quotes can add credibility, depth, and support to your essay, but they should be used sparingly and always be integrated smoothly into your writing. Avoid excessively long quotes that may overshadow your original ideas, and make sure to balance them with your analysis and interpretation.

Why You Need to Identify the Quotation Source

It is crucial to identify your sources in quotes in an essay because they strengthen the credibility and reliability of your statements. By providing clear attribution to the original authors or creators of the information you are quoting, you give proper acknowledgement and respect to their intellectual property. What is more:

  • Identifying sources also allows readers or listeners to verify the accuracy and validity of the information presented.
  • It demonstrates your commitment to ethical writing, honest research, and responsible information sharing.
  • Properly identifying sources in quotations also helps in avoiding plagiarism.

An essay with quotes is often highly valued and graded since it is a sign of profound and well-thought investigation that requires an indication of the primary source.

Short Quotations in an Essay

If you need to quote in a paragraph and choose a short quotation, you should seamlessly integrate it into your writing following the next steps:

  • Provide some context to your readers regarding the topic or the source of the quotation. It helps set the stage and insert a quote in an essay. For instance, you could mention the name of the author, the work they have written, or the primary subject being discussed.
  • Next, use a signal phrase or an introductory phrase to introduce a quote in an essay. It can involve using phrases like “According to,” “As mentioned by,” or “In the words of.” Make sure to attribute the quote to its rightful owner, providing their name or relevant credentials.
  • After the introductory phrase, insert the short quotation itself. Enclose it within quotation marks (“”) to clearly indicate that you use someone else’s words.

Ensure that quotations in an essay are accurate and word-for-word from a credible source. If you need to omit or modify any part of the quotation for better clarity or conciseness, use ellipses (…) or brackets ([ ]) respectively to convey those changes.

Quote In an Essay: MLA, APA, Chicago

When citing a quote in APA, MLA, and Chicago styles, there are specific guidelines to follow. Here’s how you can quote in an essay in each of these formats:

When you quote in an essay MLA, you need to include the author’s last name and page number in parentheses. For example:

“Quote here” (Author’s Last Name Page Number).

In APA style, you should indicate the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number. For example:

“Quote here” (Author’s Last Name, Year, p. Page Number).

  • Chicago Style

In Chicago style, there are two quotation essay methods: notes and bibliography or author-date.

  • Notes and Bibliography: In this method, you should use footnotes or endnotes and a bibliography. The first citation includes the author’s full name, the title of the source, and the publication information. For subsequent citations, use the author’s last name and a shortened title.

Footnote example:

1st citation: Author’s Full Name, Title of Source (Place of Publication: Publisher, Year), Page Number.

Subsequent citation: Author’s Last Name, Shortened Title of Source, Page Number.

  • Author-Date: In this method, you should indicate the author’s last name, year of publication, and page number in parentheses within the text.

“Quote here” (Author’s Last Name Year, Page Number).

Remember, when citing quotes, it is crucial to properly attribute a reliable source to avoid plagiarism and provide a clear reference for readers to locate the cited material in your essay with quotes.

Quoting Articles: Introduction in Different Formatting Styles

Quoting an article in an essay in different formatting styles can add variety and visual appeal to your writing. Here are a few ways to do so:

  • In accordance with MLA formatting guidelines, you can introduce a quote by providing the author’s name and cited page number in parentheses after the quote. For example:

According to John Doe, “citation text” (25).

  • In APA formatting, you can introduce a quote by mentioning the author’s name, publication year, and page number in parentheses. Here’s an example:

Smith (2019) stated, “citation text” (p. 42).

  • In Chicago style, you have the option to use footnotes or endnotes to introduce a quote. For footnotes, you can indicate the author’s name, article title, publication date, and page number. Here’s how it can be done:

As stated by Jane Smith in her article “Wild Life,” published on April 1, 2020, “citation text”

  • In Harvard referencing, you can introduce a quote by including the author’s name, publication year, and page number, all within parentheses. Such an introduction would look like this:

According to Williams (2018, p. 10), “citation text”

Remember, it’s important to follow the specific formatting guidelines required by your academic institution or publication. These examples serve as a starting point, but always consult the appropriate style guide for accurate referencing.

Example Quotes in an Essay

The best way to cite correctly is to follow the example quotes in an essay. Here are some samples of the main formatting styles.

MLA formatting style:

  • “Innovation is the pushing force of progress in our rapidly changing world” (Smith 23).
  • As Smith states, “Innovation is the pushing force of progress in our rapidly changing world” (23)

APA formatting style:

  • “Innovation is the pushing force of progress in our rapidly changing world” (Smith, 2023, p. 23).
  • According to Smith (2023), “Innovation is the pushing force of progress in our rapidly changing world” (p. 23)

Chicago formatting style:

  • “Innovation is the pushing force of progress in our rapidly changing world” (Smith, 2023, 23).

Now, everything is clear on how to quote in an essay and why it is important to cite properly for the sake of credibility and academic integrity.

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Quoting: When and how to use quotations

On this page, when should you quote, quoting basics, framing your quotations.

Quoting is an important technique used to include information from outside sources in academic writing. When using quotations, it is important that you also cite the original reference that you  have taken the quotation from, as your citations provide your reader with a map of the research that you have done. Making effective use of quotations in your writing requires you to carefully assess the value of including someone else’s own words in the advancement of your own argument.

According to Jerry Plotnick (2002, Director of the University College Writing Workshop) using a quotation is appropriate in the following situations:

1.       The language of the passage is particularly elegant, powerful, or memorable.

2.       You wish to confirm the credibility of your argument by enlisting the support of an authority on your topic.

3.       The passage is worthy of further analysis. 

4.       You wish to argue with someone else’s position in considerable detail. [1]

Research that involves participants (for example, interviews and participant-observation research) also often makes extensive use of quotations in order to foreground the unique voices and perspectives of the participants.

When you quote, you include the words and ideas of others in your text exactly as they have expressed them. You signal this inclusion by placing quotation marks (“ ”) around the source author’s words and providing an in-text citation after the quotation. Direct quotations differ from other in-text citations because they require that you include the page number on which the words can be found in the source text.  For example:

According to scholars of rhetoric Graff and Birkenstein (2014), when you are inserting a quotation in your writing “you need to insert it into what we like to call a ‘quotation sandwich,’ with the statement introducing it serving as the top slice of bread and the explanation following it serving as the bottom slice” (p. 46). [2] This "sandwich" method ensures that your reader can clearly see the source you are referencing and also understands how this quotation supports your overall argument.

When you are quoting from a source that does not have page numbers (such as a website), you will consult your style guide to determine how best to reference your source. For example, both MLA and APA suggest listing the paragraph number or relevant heading.

You quote materials from a source text to support the arguments and ideas you are presenting in your own essay. Therefore, you must introduce the quotation and explain to your reader why you have included it and how it relates to, and helps to build, your argument. This is known as framing. It directs your reader’s attention to the specific elements of the quotation that are most directly relevant to your own arguments and ideas.

Here is an example of a quotation that is successfully “framed” within a text:

Citing the islands of Fiji as a case in point, Bordo notes that “until television was introduced in 1995, the islands had no reported cases of eating disorders. In 1998, three years after programs from the United States and Britain began broadcasting there, 62 percent of the girls surveyed reported dieting” (149-50). Bordo’s point is that the Western cult of dieting is spreading even to remote places across the globe. [3]

Remember that quoting is only one way of bringing someone else’s work into your own discussion. See the SLC handouts “Techniques for paraphrasing” and “Summarizing” for ideas on other ways to incorporate sources into your writing.

[1] http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/images/stories/Documents/quotations.pdf

[2] APA formatting

[3] Example taken from Graff, G. & Birkenstein, C. (2014). They say/I say: The moves that matter in academic writing. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company.

Table of Contents

Collaboration, information literacy, writing process, quotation – when & how to use quotes in your writing.

  • © 2023 by Joseph M. Moxley

What is a Quotation?

A quotation refers to the precise replication of words or phrases from another source, embedded within one’s own writing or speech. To distinguish these directly borrowed elements from original content, writers use quotation marks. Additionally, they provide citations or footnotes to trace back to the original source, maintaining the integrity of the content.

Related Concepts: Copyright ; Information Has Value ; Inserting or Altering Words in a Direct Quotation ; Intellectual Property ; Omitting Words from a Direct Quotation ; Plagiarism ; Scholarship as a Conversation

Why Does Quotation Matter?

When writers incorporate quotations, they aren’t merely borrowing words. They’re strategically weaving the collective wisdom of past thinkers into their narrative, bolstering their arguments, and enhancing their credibility .

  • Recognition of Scholarly Foundations: Quotations enable writers to highlight and pay respect to the foundational works, insights, and contributions of past scholars, researchers, and theorists. By doing so, they acknowledge the deep roots of knowledge and ideas that have paved the way for present-day discussions and discoveries.
  • Authentic Representation in Discourse: Quotations preserve the precise wording of an author, grounding the reader directly in the original discourse. Unlike paraphrases or summaries , which reinterpret or condense an author’s message, quotations maintain the unaltered essence, subtleties, and nuances of the original statement.
  • Validation: Quotations may function as compelling evidence , fortifying the claims a writer has made in their argument
  • Building upon Established Knowledge: Quotations illuminate existing ideas, paving the way for writers to elaborate on, challenge, or pivot them toward new directions.
  • Preservation of Nuance: Quotations capture the intricate subtleties of unique expressions and poetic language, ensuring that their inherent meaning remains unaltered.
  • Positioning within a Discourse: Through quotations, writers can align or differentiate themselves within specific intellectual landscapes, debates, or traditions.
  • Credibility: Meticulous citation and thoughtful quotation are hallmarks of a diligent writer, revealing their commitment to professional and ethical codes of conduct.

What Do Writers Quote in Academic and Professional Writing

In both academic and professional writing , quotation serves multiple functions:

  • Authenticity and Credibility : Quoting directly from a source provides evidence that the information is based on established research or authoritative accounts . It adds weight to arguments, showcasing that they aren’t merely opinions but are backed by recognized studies or experts in the field.
  • Respect for Copyright & Intellectual Property : Academic and workplace writers, trained in critical literacy skills , follow citation conventions meticulously. This diligence stems from their respect for copyright laws and the broader principles of intellectual property . Properly citing and quoting indicates an acknowledgment of the original creator’s contribution and ensures that their work is not appropriated without due credit.
  • Preserving Original Meaning: Paraphrasing or summarizing can sometimes inadvertently alter the original meaning or nuance of a text. Quoting ensures that the exact words and context provided by the original author are retained.
  • Engaging the Reader: Quotations can be used strategically to capture the reader’s attention. A well-chosen quote can make an article or essay more engaging, invoking curiosity or emphasizing a point.
  • Paying Homage: Quoting acknowledges the original creators of content. It’s a form of respect, indicating that their words have made an impact and are deemed worthy of repetition and recognition.
  • Avoiding Plagiarism : In academic and professional contexts, using someone else’s words or ideas without proper citation is considered unethical and can have serious repercussions. Quoting, accompanied by appropriate citation, ensures that credit is given where it’s due.
  • Enriching Content: Quotations can introduce diverse voices and perspectives into a piece of writing. They can be used to support or counter arguments, provide alternative viewpoints, or illustrate a point more vividly.
  • Encouraging Deeper Engagement: When readers encounter a quotation, especially one from a recognized authority or a profound piece of literature, it prompts them to reflect on its meaning, perhaps encouraging them to seek out the original source and engage more deeply with the topic .
  • Clarifying Complex Ideas: At times, original texts may communicate complex ideas in a way that’s particularly clear or compelling. Quoting such passages can assist the writer in conveying these complexities without the risk of oversimplification.

When Should You Use Quotations in Your Writing?

There are five major reasons for using quotations:

  • Evidential Support: To back up claims or arguments with concrete evidence .
  • Illustrative Purposes: To give specific examples or to illuminate a point .
  • Eloquence and Impact: Sometimes, the original phrasing is so poignant or well-expressed that paraphrasing might dilute its power or clarity.
  • Appeal to Authority: Quoting renowned figures or experts can bolster the credibility of an argument .
  • Attribution : To give credit to the original source or author and avoid plagiarism .

When Should I Quote as Opposed to Paraphrasing or Summarizing?

Quoting, paraphrasing , and summarizing are all essential techniques in writing , allowing writers to incorporate the ideas of others into their work.

In general, however, because readers do not want to read miscellaneous quotations that are thrown together one after another, you are generally better off paraphrasing and summarizing material and using direct quotations sparingly. Students—from middle school, college, through graduate school—sometimes believe loads of quotations bring a great deal of credibility , ethos , to the text . Yet, if too many quotes are provided, the text loses clarity .

Like everything else in life, balance is the key. The problem with texts that use extensive direct quotations is that they tend to take attention away from the writer’s voice , purpose , thesis . If you offer quotations every few lines, your ideas become subordinate to other people’s ideas and voices, which often contradicts your instructor’s reasons for assigning research papers—that is, to learn what you think about a subject.

Below are some general strategies you might consider when determine it’s best to quote, paraphrase, or summarize:

  • Heart of the Argument: When a passage directly encapsulates the essence of the discussion, quoting ensures the original message isn’t diluted.
  • Eloquence & Precision: Some texts are so beautifully articulated or precisely worded that rephrasing would diminish their impact or clarity .
  • Eyewitness Accounts: Dramatic firsthand accounts of events can lose their emotional potency if not presented verbatim.
  • Influential Authorities: Quoting recognized experts or influential figures can lend credibility to an argument .
  • Pertinent Data: Specific statistics or data points, when exactness is crucial, should be quoted directly.
  • Challenging to Rephrase: Some complex ideas or specialized terminologies can be hard to rephrase without altering the original meaning.

Paraphrasing

  • Clarification: When the original text is dense or hard to understand, a paraphrase can clarify the message for the reader.
  • Integration: To weave source material more seamlessly into one’s writing, a paraphrase can be more fluid than a direct quote.
  • Modification: If a writer wishes to emphasize a particular aspect of the source material or adapt it for a different audience , paraphrasing allows for this flexibility.

Summarizing

  • Overview: Summaries are excellent for providing readers with a snapshot of a larger work or body of research.
  • Brevity: When the main gist of a longer text is relevant, but details aren’t necessary, summarizing captures the essence in fewer words.

In all cases, whether quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing, proper attribution is vital to respect the original author’s intellectual property and to provide readers with a clear path to the primary source.

Is It Okay to Edit Quotations for Brevity and Clarity ?

Yes, editing quotations for clarity and brevity is often necessary, especially when you want to emphasize your own voice and perspective in your writing . Utilizing direct quotations from reliable sources enhances your credibility , but extensive quotations can overshadow your voice and detract from your main argument . Responsible writers prioritize both the quality and the quantity of their quotations, selecting only the most pertinent words or phrases to articulate their points effectively.

How Can I Effectively Shorten a Quote?

  • Opt for integrating the part of a quotation that is most impactful, concise, and uniquely expressive.
  • Extract only the key segments of the quote that align with your argument , employing ellipses where you omit sections.
  • Aim for quotations that span no more than two lines.
  • Adhere to the 10% rule: quotations shouldn’t exceed 10% of your paper’s total word count.
  • Always respect guidelines given by instructors or publishers regarding quotation length.

Example: Trimming a Quote for Brevity

Original quote:.

“Hand-washing is especially important for children in child care settings. Young children cared for in groups outside the home are at greater risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, which can easily spread to family members and other contacts. Be sure your child care provider promotes frequent hand-washing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Ask whether the children are required to wash their hands several times a day — not just before meals.” (“Hand-washing: Do’s and Don’ts” 2)

Revised Quote with Context :

Parents should be concerned about their child’s hand-washing habits—not only under supervision at home, but when the child is being cared for by others. Experts from the Mayo Clinic staff advise that “[h]and-washing is especially important for children in child care settings. . . . Be sure your child care provider promotes frequent hand-washing” (“Hand-washing: Do’s and Don’ts” 2).

What is the Purpose of Ellipses in Quotations?

Ellipses, represented by three dots ( . . . ), indicate that a portion of the original text has been removed for brevity , relevance, or clarity.

How Should Ellipses Be Formatted Within a Quotation?

  • Spacing : There should be a space before, between, and after each of the dots. Example :“Original thought . . . remains crucial.”

When Is It Appropriate to Use Ellipses in a Quotation?

  • To remove non-essential information that doesn’t alter the quote’s original meaning.
  • To make the quotation fit seamlessly into the writer’s sentence or argument.

Are There Any Cautions to Consider When Using Ellipses?

  • Avoid altering the original intent or meaning of the quotation.
  • Refrain from overusing ellipses; excessive omissions can make the quote unclear or misleading.
  • Do not start or end a quotation with ellipses, unless it’s essential to convey that the quote is part of a larger context.

How Do I Use Ellipses After a Complete Sentence?

If you’re omitting content following a complete sentence, the ellipsis points should come after the sentence’s ending punctuation.

Correct : “He enjoyed the evening. . . . They discussed various topics.”

Incorrect : “He enjoyed the evening. . . They discussed various topics.”

Remember, while ellipses help in streamlining quotations, they should be used judiciously to ensure the integrity of the original text remains intact.

Can I Make Changes to Quotations? If So, How to Do I Alert My Readers to Those Changes?

  • Purpose of Brackets in Quotations : Brackets [ ] are used to insert or alter words in a direct quotation for clarity, explanation, or integration.
  • Example: “It [driving] imposes a heavy procedural workload on cognition…”
  • Reminder: The word ‘driving’ clarifies the pronoun ‘it’.
  • Example: “[D]riving imposes a heavy procedural workload [visual and motor demands] on cognition…”
  • Point: Brackets offer deeper insights on the “procedural workload”.
  • Example: Salvucci and Taatgen propose that “[t]he heavy cognitive workload of driving suggests…”
  • Note: The change from uppercase ‘T’ to lowercase ‘t’ is indicated with brackets.
  • Example: “Drivers [are] increasingly engaging in secondary tasks while driving.”
  • Note: The verb changes from past to present tense, and this change is enclosed in brackets.
  • Incorrect: “It (driving) imposes a heavy procedural workload…”
  • Correct: “It [driving] imposes a heavy procedural workload…”
  • A Key Caution : Don’t misuse brackets to alter the original text’s intent or meaning. Always represent the author’s intent accurately.
  • Do use brackets to enclose inserted words for clarity or brief explanation.
  • Do use brackets to indicate changes in letter case or verb tense.
  • Don’t use parentheses in these scenarios.
  • Never use bracketed material to twist the author’s original meaning.

Remember, the aim is to ensure clarity and respect the original author’s intent while making the quotation fit seamlessly into your writing.

For More Information on Shortening Quotations, See Also:

  • Inserting or Altering Words in a Direct Quotation
  • Omitting Words from a Direct Quotation (MLA)
  • Omitting Words from a Direct Quotation (APA)

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, December 10). Hand-washing: Do’s and don’ts. Mayo Clinic .

Related Articles:

Block quotations, recommended.

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Quoting and integrating sources into your paper

In any study of a subject, people engage in a “conversation” of sorts, where they read or listen to others’ ideas, consider them with their own viewpoints, and then develop their own stance. It is important in this “conversation” to acknowledge when we use someone else’s words or ideas. If we didn’t come up with it ourselves, we need to tell our readers who did come up with it.

It is important to draw on the work of experts to formulate your own ideas. Quoting and paraphrasing the work of authors engaged in writing about your topic adds expert support to your argument and thesis statement. You are contributing to a scholarly conversation with scholars who are experts on your topic with your writing. This is the difference between a scholarly research paper and any other paper: you must include your own voice in your analysis and ideas alongside scholars or experts.

All your sources must relate to your thesis, or central argument, whether they are in agreement or not. It is a good idea to address all sides of the argument or thesis to make your stance stronger. There are two main ways to incorporate sources into your research paper.

Quoting is when you use the exact words from a source. You will need to put quotation marks around the words that are not your own and cite where they came from. For example:

“It wasn’t really a tune, but from the first note the beast’s eyes began to droop . . . Slowly the dog’s growls ceased – it tottered on its paws and fell to its knees, then it slumped to the ground, fast asleep” (Rowling 275).

Follow these guidelines when opting to cite a passage:

  • Choose to quote passages that seem especially well phrased or are unique to the author or subject matter.
  • Be selective in your quotations. Avoid over-quoting. You also don’t have to quote an entire passage. Use ellipses (. . .) to indicate omitted words. Check with your professor for their ideal length of quotations – some professors place word limits on how much of a sentence or paragraph you should quote.
  • Before or after quoting a passage, include an explanation in which you interpret the significance of the quote for the reader. Avoid “hanging quotes” that have no context or introduction. It is better to err on the side of your reader not understanding your point until you spell it out for them, rather than assume readers will follow your thought process exactly.
  • If you are having trouble paraphrasing (putting something into your own words), that may be a sign that you should quote it.
  • Shorter quotes are generally incorporated into the flow of a sentence while longer quotes may be set off in “blocks.” Check your citation handbook for quoting guidelines.

Paraphrasing is when you state the ideas from another source in your own words . Even when you use your own words, if the ideas or facts came from another source, you need to cite where they came from. Quotation marks are not used. For example:

With the simple music of the flute, Harry lulled the dog to sleep (Rowling 275).

Follow these guidelines when opting to paraphrase a passage:

  • Don’t take a passage and change a word here or there. You must write out the idea in your own words. Simply changing a few words from the original source or restating the information exactly using different words is considered plagiarism .
  • Read the passage, reflect upon it, and restate it in a way that is meaningful to you within the context of your paper . You are using this to back up a point you are making, so your paraphrased content should be tailored to that point specifically.
  • After reading the passage that you want to paraphrase, look away from it, and imagine explaining the main point to another person.
  • After paraphrasing the passage, go back and compare it to the original. Are there any phrases that have come directly from the original source? If so, you should rephrase it or put the original in quotation marks. If you cannot state an idea in your own words, you should use the direct quotation.

A summary is similar to paraphrasing, but used in cases where you are trying to give an overview of many ideas. As in paraphrasing, quotation marks are not used, but a citation is still necessary. For example:

Through a combination of skill and their invisibility cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione slipped through Hogwarts to the dog’s room and down through the trapdoor within (Rowling 271-77).

Important guidelines

When integrating a source into your paper, remember to use these three important components:

  • Introductory phrase to the source material : mention the author, date, or any other relevant information when introducing a quote or paraphrase.
  • Source material : a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary with proper citation.
  • Analysis of source material : your response, interpretations, or arguments regarding the source material should introduce or follow it. When incorporating source material into your paper, relate your source and analysis back to your original thesis.

Ideally, papers will contain a good balance of direct quotations, paraphrasing and your own thoughts. Too much reliance on quotations and paraphrasing can make it seem like you are only using the work of others and have no original thoughts on the topic.

Always properly cite an author’s original idea, whether you have directly quoted or paraphrased it. If you have questions about how to cite properly in your chosen citation style, browse these citation guides . You can also review our guide to understanding plagiarism .

University Writing Center

The University of Nevada, Reno Writing Center provides helpful guidance on quoting and paraphrasing and explains how to make sure your paraphrasing does not veer into plagiarism. If you have any questions about quoting or paraphrasing, or need help at any point in the writing process, schedule an appointment with the Writing Center.

Works Cited

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  A.A. Levine Books, 1998.

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How to Edit Quotes in an Essay

4-minute read

  • 29th April 2019

Quoting sources is vital when writing an essay . But what if the quote doesn’t fit the surrounding text? Or what if it’s too long?

The good news is you can change a quote if you need to. But you also need to highlight your edits clearly in the text. Check out our guide below, then, to find out how to edit quotes in academic writing.

Omitting Text from Quotations with Ellipses

If a quote is too long, it may interrupt the flow of your writing. For instance:

Smith (2007, p. 24) describes blancmange as “a sweet dessert that is generally made with milk or cream and sugar, although I also once had one that contained none of these ingredients, that has been thickened with gelatin, corn starch or Irish moss.”

The middle part of this quote isn’t necessary for describing blancmange, so we might want to leave it out. To do this, we would use an ellipsis to show where we had cut something from the original source:

Smith (2007, p. 24) describes blancmange as “a sweet dessert that is generally made with milk or cream and sugar…that has been thickened with gelatin, corn starch or Irish moss.”

We now have the text we wanted to quote, but we haven’t had to include the middle bit. This makes it clearer and more succinct.

Keep in mind, too, that you can write an ellipsis in several ways, including:

  • In square brackets […]
  • Spaced (. . .) or unspaced (…)
  • With a space before and after the ellipsis or without spaces

As such, always check your style guide for advice on how to write ellipses. If you do not have a style guide, simply apply one type of ellipsis consistently.

Changing or Adding Words in Quotations

You can edit quotes by changing or adding words in order to:

  • Integrate quoted text into your own writing
  • Clarify the meaning of something
  • Correct an error in the original text

If you do any of these, use square brackets to show where you have changed the original text. For example, imagine we found the following in a book:

Blancmange is delicious. The first time I ate it, I was in love.

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We might then want to quote the second sentence. But without the first sentence, it wouldn’t be clear what the “it” refers to. As such, we could edit the second sentence so that it works by itself:

Smith (2007, p. 31) says, “The first time I ate [blancmange], I was in love.”

It is now clear what Smith is saying without having to include the first sentence, but the reader can also see where we have changed the quote.

Marking Errors in Quotations

Finally, what if you don’t want to change an error in a quote? Or what if it contains something that looks like an error, such as an old-fashioned spelling?

In cases like these, you can use the Latin term “sic” to show that you’ve kept something non-standard from the original text. This is short for sic erat scriptum , which translates to “thus was it written.”

Usually, to use “sic” like this, you would place it in square brackets:

His writings were riddled with errors due to his addiction, which he described as “a terrible but delishus [sic] shame” (Smith 2017, p. 2).

The reader will then know that the spelling “delishus” comes from the quoted text, so it is not a transcription error.

Unless you have a good reason for preserving an error, though, it is usually better to fix it and put the correction in square brackets instead.

Summary: How to Edit Quotes in an Essay

If you need to edit quotes in your writing, keep the following in mind:

  • Use an ellipsis to indicate omissions in the text. Check your style guide for how to format ellipses (e.g., in brackets or not, spaced or unspaced).
  • Mark additions or changes by placing the edited text in square brackets .
  • Use the term “[Sic]” to show that you’ve duplicated an error from a source. This will ensure the reader doesn’t think you’ve made a mistake yourself.

Different style guides may vary on these rules, so make sure to check yours if you have one. And don’t forget to have your work proofread .

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How to Cite a Quote

Last Updated: June 27, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was reviewed by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,268,637 times.

According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the word "plagiarize" can mean trying to pass off someone else's ideas, work or words as your own, or using those ideas, work or words without giving due credit to the source. You can avoid either misdeed by simply giving credit where credit is due. The three primary citation styles are APA, MLA, and CMS.

Sample Citations

how to put someone's quote in an essay

Cite a Quote in APA Style

Step 1 Use in-text citations for quotes.

Example: Smith (2013) states that citing quotes can be challenging.

Step 2 Cite a publication with one author.

The author remarks on the "difficulty of citing quotes," (Smith, 2002, p. 32) but does not go into depth. or Smith (2002) mentions the "difficulty of citing quotes" (p. 32) but does not go into depth.

Step 3 Cite a book with multiple authors.

These scholars agree that "quotes are useful" (Hu, Koller, and Shier, 2013, p. 75). or Hu, Koller, and Shier agree that "quotes are useful" (p. 75).

Step 4 Cite a publication with no known author.

In a study, it was determined that “the sky is in fact blue” (“Obvious Observations,” 2013).

Step 5 Cite a web page.

Another study showed that “clouds are white” (“More Obvious Observations,” n.d., para. 7).

Step 6 Cite personal communications or interviews.

The message affirmed that “the sky is in fact blue” (John Smith, email, August 23, 2013).

Step 7 Create a reference list.

Book with one or more authors: Lastname, First Initials (year published). Title of Book . Location: Publisher. Book with no author: [7] X Trustworthy Source APA Style Definitive source for current APA style writing and citation guidelines Go to source Title of Book. (Year). Location: Publisher. Web page: Lastname, First Initials (date of publication). Title of document. URL. If there is no date, write n.d. If there is no author, start with "Title. (date)." [8] X Research source

Cite a Quote in MLA Style

Step 1 Place a parenthetical, in-text citation as soon as possible after the quote.

The meat factory workers of Chicago “were tied to the great packing-machine, and tied to it for life” (Sinclair, 99). or Upton Sinclair described the workers as "tied to the great packing-machine, and tied to it for life” (99).

Step 3 Create an in-text citation of a work with multiple authors.

Two or three authors The authors state, “citing quotes can be annoying” (Hu, Koller, and Shier 45). More than three authors: The authors state, “citing different sources can be confusing” (Perhamus et al. 63). [11] X Research source

Step 4 Create an in-text citation of a work with no known author.

Citing How to Cite Like a Champion and Be Better Than Other Writers : Citing sources can get annoying because “it can take a while” (Cite like a Champion 72).

Step 5 Create an in-text citation for a web page.

The sky is blue but “clouds are white” (Obvious Observations Online).

Step 6 Create an in-text citation for an interview or personal communication.

An email message confirmed that “the sky is indeed blue” (Smith).

Step 7 Create a Works Cited page.

Book with one author: Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book . City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication. Note: The Medium of Publication is "Print" for paper books. Other media include Web and Radio. Book with multiple authors: Lastname, Firstname of first alphabetical author, then Firstname Lastname for other authors. Title of Book . City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication. Book with no known author: Title of publication . City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication. Web page: [16] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source “Name of Article.” Name of Website. Name of website owner, date of publication. Web. Date of access. Note: Write n.d. if no publishing date is listed. Personal interview: Lastname, Firstname of interviewee. Personal interview. Date. Published interview: Lastname, Firstname of interviewee. Interview with (Name of Interviewer). Publication or program (year): page numbers if applicable. Medium of publication. Personal message: Lastname, Firstname of sender. “Title of Message.” Medium. Date.

Cite a Quote in CMS

Step 1 Use CMS if you prefer footnotes or endnotes to in-text citation.

The people who worked in the meat factories of Chicago at the turn of the century “were tied to the great packing-machine, and tied to it for life.” 1

Step 4 Create a footnote or endnote.

1 Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (Doubleday, Page & Company: 1906), 99.

Step 6 Create a footnote/endnote for a web page from the internet.

With an author: John Doe, “Citing Sources,” Organization of Writing Fanatics, last modified August 23, 2013, www.blahcitingblahblah.com Page without an author: “Citing Sources,” Organization of Writing Fanatics, last modified August 23, 2013, www.blahcitingblahblah.com

Step 7 Create a footnote/endnote for an interview or personal communication.

Unpublished interview: John Doe, (musician) in discussion with the author, Aug 23, 2013. Published interview: John Doe, interviewed by Jane Doe, Music Lovers, Aug 23, 2013. Personal communication: John Doe, email to the author, Aug 23, 2013.

Step 8 Create a Works Cited or Bibliography.

' Book with one author: Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication. Book with two authors: Lastname, Firstname and Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication. Book with no known author: Title of Book. Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication. Web page with author: Lastname, Firstname. “Title of Web Page.” Publishing Organization or Name of Website in Italics. Publication date and/or access date if available. URL. Web page without an author: “Title of Web Page.” Publishing Organization or Name of Website in Italics. Publication date and/or access date if available. URL. Published Interview: Lastname, Firstname of interviewee, place where interview was held, by Interviewer's Firstname Lastname, date.

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Quote a Book

  • ↑ https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/apaquickguide/intext
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/in_text_citations_the_basics.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/in_text_citations_author_authors.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_electronic_sources.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_basic_rules.html
  • ↑ http://www.apastyle.org/learn/faqs/cite-book-no-author.aspx
  • ↑ https://libguides.jcu.edu.au/apa/reference-list
  • ↑ https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/mlacitation/intext
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_in_text_citations_the_basics.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_electronic_sources.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_other_common_sources.html
  • ↑ https://research.wou.edu/c.php?g=551307&p=3785495
  • ↑ https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide/citation-guide-2.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/books.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/web_sources.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/interviews_personal_communication.html
  • ↑ https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide/citation-guide-1.html

About This Article

Gerald Posner

To cite a quote using APA, put parentheses with the citation directly after the quoted material. For a citation with one or more authors, include their last names, the year of publication, and page number preceded by a "p.” If you're citing something but don't know the author, put the title of the publication and its date in parentheses. You can follow the same author-date format to cite web pages, but if you don't know the author or the date, use a shortened version of the web page title and write "n.d." after for "no date." To learn how to cite a quote using MLA or CMS, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Cite Sources | Citation Generator & Quick Guide

Citing your sources is essential in  academic writing . Whenever you quote or paraphrase a source (such as a book, article, or webpage), you have to include a  citation crediting the original author.

Failing to properly cite your sources counts as plagiarism , since you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

The most commonly used citation styles are APA and MLA. The free Scribbr Citation Generator is the quickest way to cite sources in these styles. Simply enter the URL, DOI, or title, and we’ll generate an accurate, correctly formatted citation.

Generate accurate citations with Scribbr

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text.

Upload your document to correct all your mistakes in minutes

upload-your-document-ai-proofreader

Table of contents

When do you need to cite sources, which citation style should you use, in-text citations, reference lists and bibliographies.

Scribbr Citation Generator

Other useful citation tools

Citation examples and full guides, frequently asked questions about citing sources.

Citations are required in all types of academic texts. They are needed for several reasons:

  • To avoid plagiarism by indicating when you’re taking information from another source
  • To give proper credit to the author of that source
  • To allow the reader to consult your sources for themselves

A citation is needed whenever you integrate a source into your writing. This usually means quoting or paraphrasing:

  • To quote a source , copy a short piece of text word for word and put it inside quotation marks .
  • To paraphrase a source , put the text into your own words. It’s important that the paraphrase is not too close to the original wording. You can use the paraphrasing tool if you don’t want to do this manually.

Citations are needed whether you quote or paraphrase, and whatever type of source you use. As well as citing scholarly sources like books and journal articles, don’t forget to include citations for any other sources you use for ideas, examples, or evidence. That includes websites, YouTube videos , and lectures .

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Usually, your institution (or the journal you’re submitting to) will require you to follow a specific citation style, so check your guidelines or ask your instructor.

In some cases, you may have to choose a citation style for yourself. Make sure to pick one style and use it consistently:

  • APA Style is widely used in the social sciences and beyond.
  • MLA style is common in the humanities.
  • Chicago notes and bibliography , common in the humanities
  • Chicago author-date , used in the (social) sciences
  • There are many other citation styles for different disciplines.

If in doubt, check with your instructor or read other papers from your field of study to see what style they follow.

In most styles, your citations consist of:

  • Brief in-text citations at the relevant points in the text
  • A reference list or bibliography containing full information on all the sources you’ve cited

In-text citations most commonly take the form of parenthetical citations featuring the last name of the source’s author and its year of publication (aka author-date citations).

An alternative to this type of in-text citation is the system used in numerical citation styles , where a number is inserted into the text, corresponding to an entry in a numbered reference list.

There are also note citation styles , where you place your citations in either footnotes or endnotes . Since they’re not embedded in the text itself, these citations can provide more detail and sometimes aren’t accompanied by a full reference list or bibliography.

(London: John Murray, 1859), 510.

A reference list (aka “Bibliography” or “Works Cited,” depending on the style) is where you provide full information on each of the sources you’ve cited in the text. It appears at the end of your paper, usually with a hanging indent applied to each entry.

The information included in reference entries is broadly similar, whatever citation style you’re using. For each source, you’ll typically include the:

  • Author name
  • Publication date
  • Container (e.g., the book an essay was published in, the journal an article appeared in)
  • Location (e.g., a URL or DOI , or sometimes a physical location)

The exact information included varies depending on the source type and the citation style. The order in which the information appears, and how you format it (e.g., capitalization, use of italics) also varies.

Most commonly, the entries in your reference list are alphabetized by author name. This allows the reader to easily find the relevant entry based on the author name in your in-text citation.

APA-reference-list

In numerical citation styles, the entries in your reference list are numbered, usually based on the order in which you cite them. The reader finds the right entry based on the number that appears in the text.

Vancouver reference list example

Because each style has many small differences regarding things like italicization, capitalization , and punctuation , it can be difficult to get every detail right. Using a citation generator can save you a lot of time and effort.

Scribbr offers citation generators for both APA and MLA style. Both are quick, easy to use, and 100% free, with no ads and no registration required.

Just input a URL or DOI or add the source details manually, and the generator will automatically produce an in-text citation and reference entry in the correct format. You can save your reference list as you go and download it when you’re done, and even add annotations for an annotated bibliography .

Once you’ve prepared your citations, you might still be unsure if they’re correct and if you’ve used them appropriately in your text. This is where Scribbr’s other citation tools and services may come in handy:

Plagiarism Checker

Citation Checker

Citation Editing

Plagiarism means passing off someone else’s words or ideas as your own. It’s a serious offense in academia. Universities use plagiarism checking software to scan your paper and identify any similarities to other texts.

When you’re dealing with a lot of sources, it’s easy to make mistakes that could constitute accidental plagiarism. For example, you might forget to add a citation after a quote, or paraphrase a source in a way that’s too close to the original text.

Using a plagiarism checker yourself before you submit your work can help you spot these mistakes before they get you in trouble. Based on the results, you can add any missing citations and rephrase your text where necessary.

Try out the Scribbr Plagiarism Checker for free, or check out our detailed comparison of the best plagiarism checkers available online.

Scribbr Plagiarism Checker

Scribbr’s Citation Checker is a unique AI-powered tool that automatically detects stylistic errors and inconsistencies in your in-text citations. It also suggests a correction for every mistake.

Currently available for APA Style, this is the fastest and easiest way to make sure you’ve formatted your citations correctly. You can try out the tool for free below.

If you need extra help with your reference list, we also offer a more in-depth Citation Editing Service.

Our experts cross-check your in-text citations and reference entries, make sure you’ve included the correct information for each source, and improve the formatting of your reference page.

If you want to handle your citations yourself, Scribbr’s free Knowledge Base provides clear, accurate guidance on every aspect of citation. You can see citation examples for a variety of common source types below:

And you can check out our comprehensive guides to the most popular citation styles:

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The abbreviation “ et al. ” (Latin for “and others”) is used to shorten citations of sources with multiple authors.

“Et al.” is used in APA in-text citations of sources with 3+ authors, e.g. (Smith et al., 2019). It is not used in APA reference entries .

Use “et al.” for 3+ authors in MLA in-text citations and Works Cited entries.

Use “et al.” for 4+ authors in a Chicago in-text citation , and for 10+ authors in a Chicago bibliography entry.

The Scribbr Citation Generator is developed using the open-source Citation Style Language (CSL) project and Frank Bennett’s citeproc-js . It’s the same technology used by dozens of other popular citation tools, including Mendeley and Zotero.

You can find all the citation styles and locales used in the Scribbr Citation Generator in our publicly accessible repository on Github .

APA format is widely used by professionals, researchers, and students in the social and behavioral sciences, including fields like education, psychology, and business.

Be sure to check the guidelines of your university or the journal you want to be published in to double-check which style you should be using.

MLA Style  is the second most used citation style (after APA ). It is mainly used by students and researchers in humanities fields such as literature, languages, and philosophy.

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Scribbr APA Citation Checker

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how to put someone's quote in an essay

IMAGES

  1. How to Put a Quote in an Essay (with Pictures)

    how to put someone's quote in an essay

  2. Academic Guide For Students: How to Put a Quote in an Essay

    how to put someone's quote in an essay

  3. How to Put a Quote in an Essay (with Pictures)

    how to put someone's quote in an essay

  4. 4 Easy Ways to Cite a Quote (with Pictures)

    how to put someone's quote in an essay

  5. Using Quotes in an Essay: Ultimate Beginner's Guide

    how to put someone's quote in an essay

  6. How To Use Quotes in Essays and Speeches

    how to put someone's quote in an essay

VIDEO

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Quote

    When you quote a source, you have to introduce the quote, enclose it in quotation marks, and correctly cite it.

  2. How to Put a Quote in an Essay (with Pictures)

    Using a direct quote in your essay is a great way to support your ideas with concrete evidence, which you need to support your thesis. To select a good quote, look for a passage that supports your argument and is open to analysis. Then,...

  3. Quotations

    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.

  4. Quotations

    when an author has said something memorably or succinctly, or. when you want to respond to exact wording (e.g., something someone said). Instructors, programs, editors, and publishers may establish limits on the use of direct quotations. Consult your instructor or editor if you are concerned that you may have too much quoted material in your paper.

  5. How to use Quotes in an Essay in 7 Simple Steps

    A quote can be an effective and powerful literary tool in an essay, but it needs to be done well. To use quotes in an essay, you need to make sure your quotes are short, backed up with explanations, and used rarely. The best essays use a maximum of 2 quotes for every 1500 words.

  6. Suggested Ways to Introduce Quotations

    To introduce a quote in an essay, don't forget to include author's last name and page number (MLA) or author, date, and page number (APA) in your citation. Shown below are some possible ways to introduce quotations. The examples use MLA format.

  7. How to Quote

    Quoting means copying a passage of someone else's words and crediting the source. To quote a source, you must ensure: The quoted text is enclosed in

  8. How to Put a Quote in an Essay (with Examples)

    When writing an essay, it is essential to incorporate quotes from reputable sources to support your arguments and ideas. However, knowing how to use quotes effectively is crucial in maintaining the flow and clarity of your essay. This blog will discuss the proper ways to put a quote in an essay with examples.

  9. Quotation Basics: Grammar, Punctuation, and Style

    When writing a formal essay, you will often need to use quotes from a text or texts as evidence to prove your point or to make an argument. Below are grammar and punctuation guidelines to help you integrate those quotes into your essay successfully.

  10. How to Introduce Quotes in Academic Writing

    It would be hard to write a good essay without quoting sources. And as well as using quote marks, this means working quotations into your own writing. But how can you do this? In this post, we provide a few helpful tips on how to introduce quotes (short and long) in academic writing.

  11. MLA Formatting Quotations

    When you directly quote the works of others in your paper, you will format quotations differently depending on their length. Below are some basic guidelines for incorporating quotations into your paper. Please note that all pages in MLA should be double-spaced.

  12. Quote in an Essay ― How to Insert and Format It Correctly

    Quotes in an essay are commonly used to lend credibility, provide evidence, or add depth to an argument or analysis presented in a paper. By incorporating someone else's words, properly cited and attributed, an author can reinforce their ideas and strengthen the overall impact of their writing. It is important to use quotes sparingly, ensuring they are relevant and effectively incorporated ...

  13. How to Quote in Under 5 minutes

    Learn everything about how to quote in under 5 minutes! This video will cover the following topics about quoting:Intro - 0:001. 3 basic principles of quoting...

  14. Quoting: When and how to use quotations

    Quoting basics. When you quote, you include the words and ideas of others in your text exactly as they have expressed them. You signal this inclusion by placing quotation marks (" ") around the source author's words and providing an in-text citation after the quotation. Direct quotations differ from other in-text citations because they ...

  15. PDF How To Use Quotes In Your Essay

    Quotes help support your argument, thesis or the point you are making in your essay. They also help you express an expert's point of view. They can come from your class readings or articles you find outside of class. They should only be used when absolutely necessary.

  16. Quotation

    Quotation refers to the act of using exact words or phrases, either spoken or written, from another source directly in one's own writing or speech.

  17. Quoting and integrating sources into your paper

    Quoting and integrating sources into your paper. In any study of a subject, people engage in a "conversation" of sorts, where they read or listen to others' ideas, consider them with their own viewpoints, and then develop their own stance. It is important in this "conversation" to acknowledge when we use someone else's words or ideas.

  18. INTEGRATING A QUOTATION INTO AN ESSAY Center for Writing and Speaking

    Because you are using someone else's words, make sure you let your reader know this. The first time you use a quotation from a source in an essay, introduce the author and the work that the quotation is attributed to before you use the actual quotation in the essay. Later in the essay, you simply need to address the author's last name before using the quotation.

  19. How to Edit Quotes in an Essay

    What do you do if you need to quote a source in an essay but it doesn't fit with your own writing? One option is to change it! Find out how to edit quotes correctly on our blog.

  20. 4 Ways to Cite a Quote

    If you choose to use endnotes, put them on their own page under the title of 'Notes' following the text of your essay. You must have an endnote for every superscript you use.

  21. The Basics of In-Text Citation

    An in-text citation is a short acknowledgement you include whenever you quote or take information from a source in academic writing. It points the reader to the source so they can see where you got your information.

  22. How to Cite Sources

    Citing your sources is essential in academic writing. Whenever you quote or paraphrase a source (such as a book, article, or webpage), you have to include a citation crediting the original author.