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 “he/she said” attribution rut! There are many other ways to attribute quotes besides this construction. Here are a few alternative verbs, usually followed by “that”:
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:
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.
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.
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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.
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 .
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
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]
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 101 Independence Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 50 Examples of Self-Management Skills
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 50 Classroom Norms For All Ages
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 13 Best Examples of Social Capital
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How to Use Quotations and Examples – Dos and Don’ts
- How to Use Quotations and Examples – Dos and Don’ts1111
Do you struggle incorporating examples or quotations into your writing? In this article, we share the dos and don'ts that Matrix students learn so they can impress their teachers at school.
Quotations and examples are an integral part of paragraphs and essays. But, do you still find yourself confused about how to use quotations or examples in your paragraphs or even identify them in the first place?
Don’t worry! In this article, we will provide a checklist to make sure that you KNOW how to use quotations and examples effectively in your essay.
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What is a quotation or example?
An example is evidence from the text that supports your argument. Evidence includes quotations, images, statistics etc.
It is important that you identify the technique and explain its effect, but you still need to provide the actual example to solidify your argument.
1. The autumnal setting in Frost’s poem symbolises a time of change because autumn usually represents transition.
2. The autumnal setting represented as “T wo roads diverged in a yellow wood” symbolises a time of change as autumn usually represents a transition.
A quotation (also known as quote ) is a particular type of example that is used in essays.
They are sentence(s), phrase(s), or word(s) that cited from a text by someone who isn’t the original author.
This is not plagiarism because the cited text usually sits between quotation marks (” “) and, thus, credit is given to the author/text.
Your readers gain a better understanding of your analysis when you use an example/quotation. Correctly presenting your example or quotation provides a clearer image of your argument by giving your reader the context of the example and its technique.
However, it is important not to confuse examples with evidence .
Evidence is ANY information that you can find in texts to support your argument. This includes techniques , EXAMPLES and QUOTATIONS .
Think of it this way:
Evidence → examples → quotations → techniques
How to use quotations and examples in different ways
There are many different ways that you can quote in your essay.
Each method serves a different purpose and it is up to you to decide which one works best for that example.
Let’s have a look at these different methods.
Introducing direct quotations
This is when you use quotation marks (” “) to repeat the author’s words and connect it with an introductory/explanatory phrase.
There are many different ways you can do this.
1. Using a quote with an introductory/explanatory phrase
An introductory phrase introduces the technique and/or context of the quote before the actual quotation, whereas an explanatory phrase explains the meaning of the quotation/technique.
Let’s look at some examples:
Frost represents a time of change through the symbolic autumnal setting in “T wo roads diverged in a yellow wood” .
In the opening of the poem, “T wo roads diverged in a yellow wood” , the autumnal setting is symbolic of the time for change since autumn is usually associated with transition.
The autumnal setting created in “T wo roads diverged in a yellow wood”, symbolises a time of change as autumn usually represents a transition.
2. Explaining the meaning and then using a colon to introduce the quote
Let’s look at an example:
Frost represents a time of change through the symbolic autumnal setting in the opening of the poem: “T wo roads diverged in a yellow wood” .
3. Using 2 separate sentences
Here, we have an introductory/explanatory sentence and an introductory/explanatory phrase with the quotation:
Frost highlights the need for change by creating an autumnal setting in the opening, as autumn is often associated with transitions. This is illustrated through the symbolic yellow woods in “T wo roads diverged in a yellow wood”.
Frost uses symbolism to emphasise the need for change in “T wo roads diverged in a yellow wood”. Here, the yellow woods create an autumnal setting which is representative of a transitional stage.
The need for change is highlighted in the opening of the poem, “T wo roads diverged in a yellow wood”. Here, the yellow woods are symbolic of autumn’s transitional nature.
Interweaving quotations in your analysis
This is when you integrate your quotations in your analysis. Doing this will increase readability. Here are some examples:
The autumnal setting of the “yellow woods” is symbolic of the need for change as autumn is often linked with transition.
The audience realises that the persona is anxious about the future changes as he attempts to look “down one as far as [he] could” in an attempt to predict it.
When you want to quote long sentences or more one sentence, you can use ellipses (…) to shorten it. This ensures that you only quote the relevant part that helps you build your argument.
Frost highlights that humans are innately anxious of changes through the symbolic use of the yellow woods and the persona’s anxiety in “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… And [I] looked down one as far as I could”
In very rare cases, you can also use ellipses in front of a quotation. or after it, to indicate that there is a continuation beyond what is presented.
Indirect quotations involve presenting the quotation and paraphrasing or sumarising (part of) the text. Let’s see what that involves.
Frost describes the persona as standing by the crossroads and looking down the streets to highlight human’s innate anxiety towards changes.
How to find relevant and strong quotations/examples?
Having relevant and strong examples in your essay is very important. It ensures that your essay is concise, sustained and answers the question.
Too often, students use quotes to make their responses sound more sophisticated or to increase the word count.
However, if the quote or example doesn’t add relevant insight to your argument, it will show the marker that you are not certain about the arguments you are raising.
This will COST YOU MARKS!
This is why you need to make sure that you know how to choose the best examples for your essay.
To do this, we need to first know how to effectively read or view your text. Let’s quickly recap that process.
How to read/view your text
- Read/view your text for the FIRST time Don’t pick up your pen and start writing yet! The first time you go over the text, you should enjoy it, understand the plot and who the characters are.
- Write down your thoughts Now that you have read/watched your text without distractions, write your thoughts down. This includes plot, characters or setting.
- Read/view the text for the SECOND time Now, you should start making your notes. Underline or highlight important phrases or sentences. Write down notes on different scenes. You are now unpicking how the composer developed meaning.
- Make notes Write down important ideas, arguments and techniques.
- Read/view the text for the THIRD time You now have to look for specific examples that supports your ideas and analyse it.
Flowchart: How to Read or View Your Text
Now that you know how to effectively read/view your text, let’s go through some dos and don’ts to find relevant and strong examples…
The dos and dont’s of finding quotations and examples
- Do : find examples that use multiple techniques. This ensures that your analysis has depth.
- Do : pick examples with techniques that are higher order. This gives your essay depth.
- Do : only use quotations that add insight to your argument and answers the question. Anything else will be waffle and will harm your marks.
- Do : ensure that you use at least 3 examples (2 of these should be quotes) per paragraph.
- Don’t : use a quote/example because it will make your essay look sophisticated. Only use examples that support your argument to make sure that it is relevant.
- Don’t : look for a quotation and THEN find a technique. You should always look for the TECHNIQUE FIRST and then quote your text AFTER. This will ensure that you have a strong analysis instead of trying to force an idea onto a ‘good’ quote.
- Don’t : use quotes/examples just to increase your word count. If it doesn’t help build your argument then it does not need to be in your essay.
- Don’t : neglect using quotations. You need to have at least 2 quotes in a paragraph.
How do we integrate quotations and examples into our discussion?
Now that you know how to find relevant and strong quotes, we need to learn how to integrate them into our essays effectively.
Firstly, you need to figure out what your argument will be. They will usually be summarised in your topic sentences .
Remember that you always need to choose quotes and examples that support and extend your argument.
As we discussed earlier, there are many different ways you can quote your text. Click here to see them .
Ultimately, you have to decide which method works best for your purpose.
Here are some tips to effectively integrate your quotes and examples in your essay:
- Do : Use square brackets ([ ]) if you need to add words to a quotation to make it comprehensible
- Do : Provide context of where you found your quotation. You can’t just quote the text without knowing where it came from and why is it relevant. For example,
- Do : Make sure your sentence is not convoluted when you quote. It still has to make sense.
- Do : Remember there are different ways to introduce your quote. Choose whichever method suits your purpose and builds your argument.
- Don’t : Use too many quotations. You will end up overcrowding your paragraph.
- Don’t : Misquote. You CANNOT add or remove words if you are directly quoting, unless you use square brackets or ellipses respectively.
- Don’t : Quote every word in a long sentence. Only directly quote the necessary parts that will aid your argument and use ellipses to omit the other part.
- Don’t : Use too many ellipses in a quote. You have to judge how many ellipses are acceptable depending on the length of your quotation.
- Don’t : Use ellipses to change the author’s meaning of the quote
- Don’t : Use “in this quote…” as an introductory/explanatory phrase. Instead, you can provide the context, technique or explanation of the quotation. eg. “The repetition of very and good in the nursery rhyme, “when she was good, she was very, very good”, highlights the gender stereotypes that exists in our society.”
- Don’t : Have a quote as a stand alone sentence… or worse, an incomplete sentence. Always use introductory/explanatory phrases.
Now you that you know the dos and don’ts to use quotations and examples, it is your turn to put it into practice!
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Written by Tammy Dang
© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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- Suggested Ways to Introduce Quotations
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.
1. 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).
2. 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).
3. 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, " . . .
4. 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, " . . .
5. Don't follow it with a comma if your lead-in to 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).
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How to Quote Someone in an Essay
Using direct citations in your academic paper or extended essays topics is the best way of substantiating your thoughts with solid proof and enhancing the credibility of your arguments. In addition to that, quotes are also very useful for proving the subject or the thesis of your essay. Nevertheless, your paper won’t be taken seriously unless you use citations adequately. To do so, you can either use the MLA quoting style or go for the APA style. Keep in mind that unless you mention the original writer when including a citation, your work will be regarded as plagiarized. After you insert the citations in your paper, you need to add a bibliography section at the very end. If wish to find out how to add citations to an academic paper, read on. We’ve listed out all of the steps you need to take to use the MLA and APA quotation styles.
How to Use the MLA Quotation Style
When using the MLA (Modern Language Association) formatting style in an essay , you need to indicate the writer’s name, as well as the number of the page you've taken the material from (for printed sources). When quoting poems, the number of the page will be replaced by verses. As opposed to APA style, you aren’t required to mention the year of the citation in the paper itself. However, you still have to mention the date in a comprehensive bibliography section at the end of the paper.
When using the MLA style, a fragment that includes less than 4 lines of narration or 3 verses of a poem is regarded as short. In case you wish to include such a citation, you have to take the following steps: 1) use double quotes on the fragment, 2) mention the writer’s last name, and 3) indicate the number of the page. When it comes to the writer’s last name, you have two options: you can either mention it before the citation or add it in brackets after the citation. The number of the page, which has to be placed at the end of the quote, doesn’t need to be accompanied by the letter “p” or any other symbol.
Keep in mind that before adding a quote, you need to say a few things about it using your own words. If you add a citation without presenting it properly, your audience will have trouble understanding your point. Write a couple of ideas to present the context and then proceed by adding quotation marks to the fragment. The next step is mentioning the writer’s last name and the number of the page in brackets. When finalizing the phrase, add a period. To understand the process better, take a look at our example:
Certain critics believe that literature “is heading in a wrong direction nowadays” (Johnson 145).
As an alternative, you can mention the writer’s last name in the text. This way, you won’t need to add it between brackets at the end of the sentence. Here’s an example:
Another way to do this is by presenting a fragment, quoting it and then making additional comments regarding the quote, as exemplified below:
A lot of individuals think that “literature is pointless nowadays,”(Johnson 33), while many others claim the exact opposite.
In case that the original fragment includes a punctuation mark, you’ll also be required to add it in the quote, similarly to the following example:
The main character always likes to say, “What a great day!”(Johnson 95).
When quoting a poem, you need to write the specific verses, separated by the following symbol: “/”. Here’s an example:
As pointed out by Johnson, “Nothing is nicer/than a dog yawning” (6-7), and a lot of people who like dogs would agree with him.
2. Quoting lengthy prose fragments.
In the MLA citation style, a fragment that includes over 4 lines of narration or 3 verses of a poem is regarded as lengthy. If you need to add such a quotation to your literary essay topics , you’ll be required to insert the fragment in separate chunks of text. Moreover, you mustn’t use quotation marks. The citation can be introduced by using a line of text as well as a colon. The only part that must be indented is the first line of the fragment. You need to use a one-inch indentation from the left side of the page. The double spacing must not be modified. At the end of the fragment, you can add a period, followed by the writer’s last name and the number of the page in brackets.
Here is an instance that illustrates how a lengthy fragment can be introduced and quoted:
In the collection of linked short stories “The Things They Carried”, the author points out to the harsh reality of war, emphasizing the idea that nothing good can ever come from it:
If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. (O’Brien, 68)
If you wish to quote more than one paragraph, you need to use block citations, regardless of the particular length of every fragment from those paragraphs. You ought to use an indentation of an additional quarter inch on the initial line of every paragraph. When you wish to move on to a new paragraph, you have to utilize ellipses (…) at the end of the one you’re currently dealing with.
3. Quoting a poetry.
When you need to quote an entire poem or a fragment from a poetry, you ought to preserve the original formatting style of the verses. This way, you’ll be able to transmit the genuine signification. To understand this, take a look at the following example:
Maya Angelou transmits a truly empowering message in her poem, “Still I Rise”:
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise. (17-20)
4. Insert or leave out words in citations.
This may be helpful when you are required to modify the significance of the quote to some extent, for the purpose of providing an adequate context or eliminating certain parts that may be irrelevant to your ideas. Keep this in mind while your toefl essay topic . Take a look at the following examples that illustrate the way in which you need to add the citation in both situations:
Use the symbols “[” and “]” to “introduce” your own words to offer information regarding the context of a citation:
Peter Johnson, a contemporary author of short stories, stated that “A lot of individuals [who are novelists] have an attitude of superiority towards authors of short stories, which is wrong”(25).
Use ellipses (…) when you wish to leave out a fragment that is irrelevant to your paper. Here’s how you do it:
Johnson thinks that a lot of college students “don’t regard teaching as an activity … as serious as management”(67).
5. Quoting more than one writer.
When you wish to quote a fragment that has multiple authors, you’ll be required to use commas as well as the conjunction “and” between their names. Here’s an example:
According to the findings of a lot of researches, MFA programs “constitute the best way of aiding amateur writers in becoming successful”(Johnson, Lloyd, and Robinson 94).
6. Quoting Internet articles.
Quoting fragments from online websites may be a bit more difficult, as you won’t have any page numbers. Still, you have to try and gather as much data as possible. For instance, you may find the author’s name, the date or the title of the online article or paper. Take a look at the following examples:
A particular movie expert claimed that Avatar was “the worst movie in the history of Hollywood”(Johnson, “Movie Reviews”).
Famous businessman Peter Johnson wrote on his popular blog that “Any intelligent person can become a successful businessman”(2008, “Peter’s Business Tips”).
How to Use the APA Quotation Style
When using APA (American Psychological Association) format, you’ll be required to mention the writer’s last name as well as the number of the page, similarly to the MLA style. The main difference between the two formatting styles is that in APA style you’re also required to mention the year and use “p.” before the number of the page.
When you want to quote a brief fragment (less than 40 words), you need to add the writer’s last name, the year of publication, as well as the number of the page (preceded by “p.” to highlight it) within the citation. Here are some examples that illustrate this:
As stated by Johnson (1999), “going to the gym is a great way of staying in shape” (p. 21).
Johnson points out that, “people who go to the gym regularly are able to sleep better”(1999, p.43).
He also mentioned, “Gym training is better than doing exercises at home, in what concerns the efficiency”(Johnson, 1999, p.74).
2. Quoting a lengthy fragment.
When you want to quote a lengthier fragment using APA style, you’ll need to introduce it in a standalone block of text. You have to start the citation on a new row. Moreover, you need to add an indentation of 0.5 inches from the left part of the page. Afterwards, you need to add the entire fragment while preserving the same margin. If the fragment includes more than one paragraph, you should add an additional indentation of 0.5 inches for each new paragraph. Your citation must also include double spacing. Stick to the same rule that we mentioned when we talked about brief fragments – indicate the writer, year, and page number. You can either do this in the introduction or the body of the citation. Take a look at our example:
Johnson’s research (1999) reached the following conclusions:
Students who went to the gym every day throughout an entire month were able to interact better with their peers and professors and feel more relaxed regarding their grades and day to day chores. (68-71).
3. Paraphrasing fragments.
When you want to paraphrase a fragment in APA formatting style, you have to indicate the writer, the year, and the number of the page, as shown below:
Johnson thinks that gym training is great for both the organism and the mind (1999, p.58).
As pointed out by Johnson, people should always find time to go to the gym (1999, p.85).
4. Quoting fragments with more than one author.
In case you want to cite a fragment that has multiple authors, you’ll be required to use the “&” sign to separate the surnames of the 2 writers. Moreover, you should add the authors in alphabetical order. Take a look at the following example:
The study revealed that “people who go to the gym on a daily basis have better sleeping patterns”(Johnson & Williams, 2002, p.72).
5. Quoting fragments from the Internet.
When adding a quote from an online source, you need to search for the writer’s last name, the date as well as the number of the paragraph (not that of the page), as exemplified below:
In his article, Johnson stated that “There are way too many online blogs nowadays”(2016, para.4).
If you can’t find the writer’s name, simply replace it with the title of the article. In case you can’t find the date of publication, add the mention “n.d.”. Here’s a good example:
According to the findings of the research, students who are assisted with their homework have better results (“School Advice,” n.d.).
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Quote Analysis—The Easy Way!
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Quote Analysis— The Easy Way!
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Ways to introduce quotes
When (event in book) happened, (character) states, "..."
Ex: When Lady Macbeth kills herself, Macbeth states, "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more (V.V.19-20).
(Character) explains: "..." (citation).
(Your own words) "direct quotes from book" ...
Ex: Macbeth pines over his miserable fate, calling life a "walking shadow" (citation).
Ways to paraphrase
Directly look at quote and replace the text with your words. It is vitally important to maintain the same meaning:
Ex: In other words, Macbeth compares his existence to the condition of being a mere ghost. He goes on to compare people to actors who worry about their brief moment in the spotlight only to cease to exist before he realizes his life is over.
Ways to analyze
Look at the subtle parts of the quote, and explain why the author used them in his writing--Tone, diction, mood, figurative language (metaphors, similes, imagery, alliteration, onomatopoeia, personification...there are A LOT).
Ex: The metaphors Shakespeare uses, comparing life to a "walking shadow" and man to "a poor player" emphasize the fleeting nature of life. Shadows are gone as soon as they appear, and actors only assume their character: the people they represent have no true meaning.
Ways to evaluate
Show the importance of the quote with respect to your argument and your thesis. Explain the significance...Tell the reader why they bothered to read your essay. This is where you tie your thoughts together in a nice bow.
Ex: Here, Macbeth realizes that his pitiful existence, from the moment he decided to kill King Duncan to the moment when his beloved wife killed herself, has been consumed by his reckless ambition. This directly shows the damaging power of ambition. If Macbeth had been content with his previous title, which was prestigious enough, a host of tragedy would have been avoided.
When Lady Macbeth kills herself, Macbeth states, "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more" (V.V.19-28). In other words, Macbeth compares his existence to the condition of being a mere ghost. He goes on to compare people to actors who worry about their brief moment in the spotlight only to cease to exist before they realize it is over. The metaphors Shakespeare uses, comparing life to a "walking shadow" and man to "a poor player" emphasize the fleeting nature of life. Shadows are gone as soon as they appear, and actors only assume their character: the people they represent have no true meaning. Here, Macbeth realizes that his pitiful existence, from the moment he decided to kill King Duncan to the moment when his beloved wife killed herself, has been destroyed by his reckless ambition. This directly shows the damaging power of ambition, a major theme of the play. If Macbeth had been content with his previous title, which was prestigious enough, a wealth of tragedy would have been avoided.
Write your thesis here for reference:
1. Write the quote here, with a way to introduce it:
2. Write a paraphrase here (remember to keep the same meaning):
3. Write your analysis here (look for the subtle, key parts of the quote):
4. Write your evaluation here (prove why the quote is important in relation to your thesis):
5. Repeat for the rest of your text-based essay!!!
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How to Use a Quote in an Essay
Table of Contents
MLA in-text citation how-to
You can take a quote from different sources of information, such as books, magazines, websites or printed journals. Using quotes in an essay serves three goals:
- Present additional evidence to support your point of view or oppose a claim or idea;
- Help a reader better understand a topic under analysis;
- Strengthen your argumentation on a topic using another writer’s eloquence.
Since quotes are mostly used in Humanities, you’ll have to follow MLA citation referencing guidelines. The Modern Language Association citation manual implies two types of quotes – short and long.
- Short quote – Is less than 4 lines of typed text and can be embedded directly into a sentence;
- Long quote – Is more than 4 lines of typed text and requires a separate content block in an essay without quotation marks.
Writing college essays, the recommendation is to use short quotes.
Referring to the works of other authors in-text is done using a parenthetical citation . Such a method implies the author-page style of quoting. For example:
When it comes to writing, King suggests: “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” (5)
Given the MLA in-text citation already contains King’s last name, you shouldn’t mention it in the parenthesis. If the author’s name isn’t mentioned in-text, it has to be specified in a parenthetical citation.
When it comes to writing, there’s a quote I like the most: “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” (King 5)
According to MLA guidelines, at the end of the essay, there has to be the Works Cited page . It contains the full reference featuring author’s full name, the full title of the source, the volume, the issue number, the date of publishing, and the URL (if the source was found online). Here’s an example of the full referencing in the Works Cited:
King, Larry L. “The Collection of Best Works.” Oxford University Press, vol. 2, no. 3, Jan.-Feb. 2017, http://www.prowritersdigest.com/editor-blogs/inspirational-quotes/72-of-the-best-quotes-about-writing.
How to start an essay with a quote?
Starting an essay with a quote is a matter of controversy. Experts in the pro camp suggest that a quote at the beginning of an essay helps make a powerful statement right from the start. Moreover, an interesting, captivating quote grabs the reader’s attention right from the start.
Experts from the against camp suggest that when you begin an essay with a quote, you miss on the opportunity to present your own take on the subject matter. In their opinion, when writing the introduction, you have to rely only on your words. Whereas quotes are most useful in the main body, serving as an additional argumentation. In conclusion, a quote can be placed, too.
How to use quotes in the middle of an essay?
Main Body is the place you’re meant to state a quote or two, depending on the length of a paper. A standard 5-paragraph essay will imply you to use 2-3 quotes in the main body. More quotes aren’t necessary for such a short assignment. Two quotes in the main body will do just fine.
In the main body paragraph, a quote is placed in the middle of the passage . First, you introduce a focal sentence of a paragraph highlighting your point of view regarding a topic. After that, you provide the evidence data and argumentation, among which is a relevant quote. And finally, you smoothly transit to the next body paragraph or the conclusion. Here’re three examples of how to present a quote in one of the main body paragraphs.
Accurate integration of a citation in a text is key. Or the whole passage will sound off.
People who want to become a writer don’t really need any piece of advice. “Those (…) who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
College essay quotes have to be naturally embedded in a text .
People who want to become a writer don’t really need any piece of advice: “Those (…) who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
There’s also the way to write an essay with quotes in the smoothest way possible.
People who want to become a writer don’t really need any piece of advice. They simply “know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
See how organically a quote is inserted in a sentence? That’s the best-case scenario of using a quote in a sentence.
How to end an essay with a quote?
Sometimes, ending an essay with a quote is better than merely restating your thesis statement. Citations can be taken from both primary and secondary sources. Good quotes to end an essay might be of your course professor’s. According to essay writing websites , quotations taken from the words of subject authorities and thought leaders will do great, too.
A quote ending an essay helps meet 5 objectives:
- Provide a solid closure to your essay;
- Fortify your point of view;
- Give one final argument in favor of your thesis statement;
- Establish your authority on a topic;
- Helps your essay stand out.
Having a quotation at the end of an essay gives a good chance to score an “A”.
15 tips for using quotations in an essay
- Look up quotes in academic sources in the first place;
- Rely on the printed matter rather than internet sources;
- Avoid citing information from Wikipedia;
- Give context to every quotation you use;
- Always use quotation marks to avoid plagiarism-related troubles;
- Explain why the quote you’re about to use in a text is important;
- Seek to integrate quotes smoothly in a sentence for the best effect;
- Each quotation has to be attributed to the original source using parenthesis;
- Gather 10-15 quotes relevant to your topic and then sift through 5 quotes that will serve you best;
- Use the exact wording, punctuation, capitalization and sentence structure as in the original;
- Watch your punctuation when using quotes in a sentence;
- Avoid misquotations, as it’s a sign of a careless attitude towards the assignment;
- Use an ellipsis (…) to withdraw a part of a quote you don’t actually need;
- Try to use short quotes rather than long;
- Avoid quoting quotes, as it’s where students make mistakes most often.
5 motivational quotes for essay writing
Inspiration is a staple in every great writer’s routine. As a student, you might find drawing inspiration a bit too difficult. Here’re a couple of inspiring essay motivation quotes to help you break through the writer’s block. Or you can buy argumentative essay if doing the task yourself isn’t an option.
“I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.”
“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work . … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”
“To defend what you’ve written is a sign that you are alive.”
Many times life catches us off balance. Lots of written homework. Tight schedule. Sudden illness. Personal matters. Writer’s block. An instructor returned the essay for revisions. At the moments like these, it’s always a good idea to have someone to cover your back. GradeMiners can always write you a new essay, rewrite an existing draft, perform an ending an essay with a quote, or proofread your text for mistakes, typos, as well as correct the use of quotations. Let us know if you need anything, and we’ll help you out!
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A Guide to Using Quotations in Essays
Quotations Add Credibility to a Persuasive Essay
- Love Quotes
- Great Lines from Movies and Television
- Quotations For Holidays
- Best Sellers
- Classic Literature
- Plays & Drama
- Short Stories
- Children's Books
- M.B.A, Human Resource Development and Management, Narsee Monjee Institution of Management Studies
- B.S., University of Mumbai, Commerce, Accounting, and Finance
If you want to make an impact on your reader, you can draw on the potency of quotations. The effective use of quotations augments the power of your arguments and makes your essays more interesting.
But there is a need for caution! Are you convinced that the quotation you have chosen is helping your essay and not hurting it? Here are some factors to consider to ensure that you are doing the right thing.
What Is This Quotation Doing in This Essay?
Let us begin at the beginning. You have a chosen a quotation for your essay. But, why that specific quotation?
A good quotation should do one or more of the following:
- Make an opening impact on the reader
- Build credibility for your essay
- Make the essay more interesting
- Close the essay with a point to ponder upon
If the quotation does not meet a few of these objectives, then it is of little value. Merely stuffing a quotation into your essay can do more harm than good.
Your Essay Is Your Mouthpiece
Should the quotation speak for the essay or should the essay speak for the quotation? Quotations should add impact to the essay and not steal the show. If your quotation has more punch than your essay, then something is seriously wrong. Your essay should be able to stand on its own legs; the quotation should merely make this stand stronger.
How Many Quotations Should You Use in Your Essay?
Using too many quotations is like having several people shouting on your behalf. This will drown out your voice. Refrain from overcrowding your essay with words of wisdom from famous people. You own the essay, so make sure that you are heard.
Don't Make It Look Like You Plagiarized
There are some rules and standards when using quotations in an essay. The most important one is that you should not give the impression of being the author of the quotation. That would amount to plagiarism . Here are a set of rules to clearly distinguish your writing from the quotation:
- You may describe the quotation in your own words before using it. In this case, you should use a colon (:) to indicate the beginning of the quotation. Then begin the quotation with a quotation mark ("). After you have completed the quotation, close it with a quotation mark ("). Here is an example: Sir Winston Churchill made a witty remark on the attitude of a pessimist: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
- The sentence in which the quotation is embedded might not explicitly describe the quotation, but merely introduce it. In such a case, do away with the colon. Simply use the quotation marks . Here is an example: Sir Winston Churchill once said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
- As far as possible, you should mention the author and the source of the quotation. For instance: In Shakespeare ’s play "As You Like It," Touchstone says to Audrey in the Forest of Arden, "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." (Act V, Scene I).
- Ensure that the source of your quotation is authentic. Also, verify the author of your quotation. You can do so by looking up the quotation on authoritative websites. For formal writing, do not rely on just one website.
Blend Quotations In
An essay can seem quite jarring if the quotation does not blend in. The quotation should naturally fit into your essay. No one is interested in reading quotation-stuffed essays.
Here are some good tips on blending in your quotations:
- You can begin your essay with a quotation that sets off the basic idea of the essay. This can have a lasting impact on your reader. In the introductory paragraph of your essay, you can comment on the quotation if you like. In any case, do ensure that the relevance of the quotation is communicated well.
- Your choice of phrases and adjectives can significantly boost the impact of the quotation in your essay. Do not use monotonous phrases like: "George Washington once said...." If your essay is written for the appropriate context, consider using emphatic expressions like: "George Washington rocked the nation by saying...."
Using Long Quotations
It is usually better to have short and crisp quotations in your essay. Generally, long quotations must be used sparingly as they tend to weigh down the reader. However, there are times when your essay has more impact with a longer quotation.
If you have decided to use a long quotation, consider paraphrasing , as it usually works better. But, there is a downside to paraphrasing too. Instead of paraphrasing, if you use a direct quotation , you will avoid misrepresentation. The decision to use a long quotation is not trivial. It is your judgment call.
If you are convinced that a particular long quotation is more effective, be sure to format and punctuate it correctly. Long quotations should be set off as block quotations . The format of block quotations should follow the guidelines that you might have been provided. If there are no specific guidelines, you can follow the usual standard—if a quotation is more than three lines long, you set it off as a block quote. Blocking implies indenting it about half an inch on the left.
Usually, a brief introduction to a long quotation is warranted. In other cases, you might need to provide a complete analysis of the quotation. In this case, it is best to begin with the quotation and follow it with the analysis, rather than the other way around.
Using Cute Quotes or Poetry
Some students choose a cute quotation first and then try to plug it into their essay. As a consequence, such quotations usually drag the reader away from the essay.
Quoting a verse from a poem, however, can add a lot of charm to your essay. I have come across writing that acquires a romantic edge merely by including a poetic quotation. If you are quoting from poetry, keep in mind that a small extract of a poem, say about two lines long, requires the use of slash marks (/) to indicate line breaks. Here is an example:
Charles Lamb has aptly described a child as "A child's a plaything for an hour;/ Its pretty tricks we try / For that or for a longer space; / Then tire, and lay it by." (1-4)
If you use a single line extract of a poem, punctuate it like any other short quotation without the slashes. Quotation marks are required at the beginning and at the end of the extract. However, if your quotation is more than three lines of poetry, I would suggest that you treat it like you would have treated a long quotation from prose. In this case, you should use the block quote format.
Does Your Reader Understand the Quotation?
Perhaps the most important question you must ask yourself when using a quotation is: "Do readers understand the quotation and its relevance to my essay ?"
If the reader is re-reading a quotation, just to understand it, then you are in trouble. So when you choose a quotation for your essay, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this too convoluted for my reader?
- Does this match the tastes of my audience ?
- Is the grammar and vocabulary in this quotation understandable?
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How to Write AI Prompts That Return Smashing Results
Have you ever asked AI to write an essay sample only to find out that it’s rather feeble and doesn’t live up to all the hype around LLMs like ChatGPT and Bard? I’m sure you have. So have I. Yet, don’t rush to dismiss AI writing tools as useless. As any tool, it takes some time to master.
When it comes to AI, the key to excellent results is a good prompt. I bet your first attempt sounded something like “Write an essay about [topic],” – and that’s where the problem lies because AI generation is only as good as the prompt you feed into it. This has been known since the dawn of computing as the GIGO rule: garbage in, garbage out. Yet don’t worry, today we will learn how to write good AI prompts: just the right input to generate some gorgeous output.
What Is an AI prompt?
A prompt is a query that you give to an LLM (Large Language Model) in order to receive a specific response from it. In programming, prompts are commands or code snippets, but tools like ChatGPT made it possible to create a prompt in a natural language. Prompts can be as short as a single word or as complex as several paragraphs of detailed instructions. However, in my experience, it’s better to limit your prompt to several sentences, otherwise, some particular instructions tend to fall through the cracks in the LLMs’ logic, which no one seems to understand – even its creators.
In short, prompts are verbally expressed tasks you give to AI to generate text, translate, or receive informative answers to your questions. Writing good prompts isn’t as easy as it might seem at first glance. In fact, creating effective prompts is already a high-paying employment category called “prompt engineering.”
Luckily, you don’t have to get a degree to learn how to write prompts for AI. All you need is an understanding of some basic principles and a lot of practice. We are here to help you with the basic principles, but the practice is up to you.
By the way, you can try your prompt-writing prowess here:
How to Write Prompts For AI: General Guidelines
These are some general rules of thumb on writing great AI prompts no matter the task: college paper, blog article, short story, or information inquiry. To yield impressive results, keep this in mind as you craft your prompt.
Drop your Google habits
If you want AI to act as your private free essays writer , treat AI like an essay writer. That is, speak to it as you would to a human being. If you need an essay, request it as you would from a classmate, not from a search engine. Think, “Write me an essay about why people need friends and why friendship is considered so important and valuable in most cultures” instead of “Great essays about friendship.” When you adopt this tone, it will be easier for you to include little conversational details, explanations, and anecdotes that create a variety of possibilities as your dialogue evolves.
Give AI some context
Before you write, you always consider the rhetorical situation: who are your readers, what is the purpose of your text, what is the medium (speech, book, presentation, video, leaflet, etc.), what are some constraints (word count, time limit, specific form, etc.) Often, you don’t explicitly list it all, but you write with this information in mind. AI doesn’t have it – your prompt must provide it.
If you need an informative and helpful answer, tell AI a little about yourself too, for example: “I am a senior high-school student who doesn’t really like literature. In 800 words or less, tell me what Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart is about and what literary devices are used in it to create suspense. Persuade me to read it.”
Give specific instructions
The more generalized and vague your inquiry is, the more misaligned response you get. Instead of asking, “Write an essay about evil,” describe the perfect answer you envision in detail. For example, “Write a 1,200-word essay on the nature of evil for a college philosophy class. Explain some of the most popular perspectives on evil’s origin and purpose in the great scheme of things on the example of one situation/dilemma. How would different theories view it? Quote 6 sources and use simple English that a high-schooler would understand.”
Feed these two prompts into an AI of your choice and compare the results. See? AI isn’t as useless as you thought!
Assign it a role
Too often, people are disappointed in AI results when they ask it for advice and get answers like “I am a linguistic model, so I don’t have this experience” or “As a linguistic model, I cannot give you an opinion.” However, you can circumvent this problem by explicitly asking AI to act like someone: assign it an identity or profession. For example, “Explain why people need to study math even when they have calculators and don’t plan to work in STEM as if you were my teacher” or “Act like a doctor and explain to me the benefits and downsides of exercising for weight control.”
Of course, it’s fun asking ChatGPT to explain the theory of the Big Bang like a pirate or to write a sonnet about your cat like Shakespeare, but what if the style you need is a bit more obscure and lesser known? The rule “show, don’t tell” works here just fine. If you already have examples of the kind of text you want to emulate, provide them to AI. Feed it links or paste the text into a dialog window so it can parse your sample – it’s much more efficient than describing the style you need or pushing the “Regenerate” button in hopes that the desired result appears randomly. For example: “Write a 600-word backup report on an undergraduate level. Here are some good backup reports , write one like this about the [topic].”
Don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t elicit the response you envisioned. Correct AI’s mistake, give it new directions, and use other keywords – thesaurus might help you find the right word to unlock the desired result. Don’t be afraid to experiment and play around with wording, but always state your objective clearly – ChatGPT is designed to recognize the intent. Pay specific attention to verbs – they are particularly important in conveying the intent. For example, “summarize this” or “condense this text” will typically get you a better result than “re-write this to make it shorter.”
As you can see, writing great AI prompts takes some imagination, trial, and error, but it’s not really rocket science.
Care to put all this theory into practice?
How to Write Good AI Prompts for College Papers
Now, let’s get a bit more specific and look at what you can add to your prompt to get a great sample for your college assignment with the help of AI.
Don’t just copy your prompt from the assignment sheet
Prompts from your assignment sheets and rubrics won’t do – they are written for you, the human. They ask you to analyze, ponder, assess, give your opinion, etc. AI can’t do this. If it were that simple, I wouldn’t need to write an entire article about how to write AI prompts.
Instead, scan your assignment for measurable things you can feed into the machine: specific paper type (argumentative essay, book report, etc.), word count, number of sources, number of points to argue, etc. Then, think of the paper you’d written and give explicit instructions to AI describing it. For example, instead of “What is your position on gun control? Explain your opinion,” it should be “Defend stricter gun control in the USA by giving three reasons why we need it regulated.”
Don’t ask it for quotes
It will give you plenty, but they will most likely all be fictitious – and by made-up people. Even if you insist on having some direct quotations from an existing expert you explicitly name, the quotes AI can give you will be generated based on everything this expert wrote, and AI can access. It will be something this person could say in a manner they probably would say it, but not the actual words you can trace back to any existing source.
Just accept it and move on. AI can cite sources of its information and concepts it explains, but it always generates by rephrasing existing texts – not lifting sentences and paragraphs as they are. If you need direct quotes in your paper, you will have to find them yourself and add them to the draft manually.
One final piece of advice, even though it’s not directly about prompts but rather about the results that AI returns. No matter how good your prompt is, no AI in the world will give you a state-of-the-art ready-to-submit paper. You should always fact-check evidence presented in the AI-generated samples because they don’t provide original analysis – modern AIs, even the most advanced and sophisticated, aren’t capable of doing this.
What they do is emulate samples they’ve been trained on, and depending on the topic, the result can be hit or miss. If AI mentions a study or a book, check if it exists. If AI gives you an expert’s name, check if this person is real. AIs know how to sound convincing, but they have a hard time telling actual reality and the reality reflected in texts apart. You have to be human to understand this distinction.
Writing good prompts for AI is easy to pick up but difficult to master. One of the biggest misconceptions about AI that stands in your way is perceiving it as sentient and able to understand your every word. It’s not. Explaining what you need to AI requires trial and error – a bit like writing a spell. A slight oversight might make everything go wrong, but a tweak in the right place creates magic. Sometimes, it takes hours and some weird strategies to find the correct phrasing, but finally making your prompt work is very satisfying.
Hope these tips help you find a common language with your favorite AI!
Jana Rooheart came to WOWESSAYS™ with a mission to put together and then slice and dice our vast practical experience in crafting all kinds of academic papers. Jana is an aspired blogger with rich expertise in psychology, digital learning tools, and creative writing. In this blog, she willingly shares tricks of pencraft and mind-altering ideas about academic writing any student will find utterly beneficial.
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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts
Sample Essay for Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting
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This handout is intended to help you become more comfortable with the uses of and distinctions among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. This handout compares and contrasts the three terms, gives some pointers, and includes a short excerpt that you can use to practice these skills.
The following is a sample essay you can practice quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Examples of each task are provided at the end of the essay for further reference. Here is the citation for Sipher's essay:
Sipher, Roger. “So That Nobody Has to Go to School If They Don't Want To.” The New York Times , 19 Dec. 1977, p. 31.
So That Nobody Has To Go To School If They Don't Want To
by Roger Sipher
A decline in standardized test scores is but the most recent indicator that American education is in trouble.
One reason for the crisis is that present mandatory-attendance laws force many to attend school who have no wish to be there. Such children have little desire to learn and are so antagonistic to school that neither they nor more highly motivated students receive the quality education that is the birthright of every American.
The solution to this problem is simple: Abolish compulsory-attendance laws and allow only those who are committed to getting an education to attend.
This will not end public education. Contrary to conventional belief, legislators enacted compulsory-attendance laws to legalize what already existed. William Landes and Lewis Solomon, economists, found little evidence that mandatory-attendance laws increased the number of children in school. They found, too, that school systems have never effectively enforced such laws, usually because of the expense involved.
There is no contradiction between the assertion that compulsory attendance has had little effect on the number of children attending school and the argument that repeal would be a positive step toward improving education. Most parents want a high school education for their children. Unfortunately, compulsory attendance hampers the ability of public school officials to enforce legitimate educational and disciplinary policies and thereby make the education a good one.
Private schools have no such problem. They can fail or dismiss students, knowing such students can attend public school. Without compulsory attendance, public schools would be freer to oust students whose academic or personal behavior undermines the educational mission of the institution.
Has not the noble experiment of a formal education for everyone failed? While we pay homage to the homily, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink," we have pretended it is not true in education.
Ask high school teachers if recalcitrant students learn anything of value. Ask teachers if these students do any homework. Quite the contrary, these students know they will be passed from grade to grade until they are old enough to quit or until, as is more likely, they receive a high school diploma. At the point when students could legally quit, most choose to remain since they know they are likely to be allowed to graduate whether they do acceptable work or not.
Abolition of archaic attendance laws would produce enormous dividends.
First, it would alert everyone that school is a serious place where one goes to learn. Schools are neither day-care centers nor indoor street corners. Young people who resist learning should stay away; indeed, an end to compulsory schooling would require them to stay away.
Second, students opposed to learning would not be able to pollute the educational atmosphere for those who want to learn. Teachers could stop policing recalcitrant students and start educating.
Third, grades would show what they are supposed to: how well a student is learning. Parents could again read report cards and know if their children were making progress.
Fourth, public esteem for schools would increase. People would stop regarding them as way stations for adolescents and start thinking of them as institutions for educating America's youth.
Fifth, elementary schools would change because students would find out early they had better learn something or risk flunking out later. Elementary teachers would no longer have to pass their failures on to junior high and high school.
Sixth, the cost of enforcing compulsory education would be eliminated. Despite enforcement efforts, nearly 15 percent of the school-age children in our largest cities are almost permanently absent from school.
Communities could use these savings to support institutions to deal with young people not in school. If, in the long run, these institutions prove more costly, at least we would not confuse their mission with that of schools.
Schools should be for education. At present, they are only tangentially so. They have attempted to serve an all-encompassing social function, trying to be all things to all people. In the process they have failed miserably at what they were originally formed to accomplish.
Example Summary, Paraphrase, and Quotation from the Essay:
Example summary: Roger Sipher makes his case for getting rid of compulsory-attendance laws in primary and secondary schools with six arguments. These fall into three groups—first that education is for those who want to learn and by including those that don't want to learn, everyone suffers. Second, that grades would be reflective of effort and elementary school teachers wouldn't feel compelled to pass failing students. Third, that schools would both save money and save face with the elimination of compulsory-attendance laws.
Example paraphrase of the essay's conclusion: Roger Sipher concludes his essay by insisting that schools have failed to fulfill their primary duty of education because they try to fill multiple social functions (par. 17).
Example quotation: According to Roger Sipher, a solution to the perceived crisis of American education is to "[a]bolish compulsory-attendance laws and allow only those who are committed to getting an education to attend" (par. 3).
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Direct quotes in APA Style
Published on November 12, 2020 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 16, 2022.
A direct quote is a piece of text copied word-for-word from a source. You may quote a word, phrase, sentence, or entire passage.
There are three main rules for quoting in APA Style:
- If the quote is under 40 words, place it in double quotation marks .
- If the quote is 40 words or more, format it as a block quote .
- Cite the author, year, and page number with an APA in-text citation .
Table of contents
Citing a direct quote, quoting a source with no page numbers, quoting 40 words or more (apa block quotes), making changes to direct quotes in apa, frequently asked questions about apa style.
To cite a quote in APA, you always include the the author’s last name, the year the source was published, and the page on which the quote can be found. The page number is preceded by “p.” (for a single page) or “pp.” (for a page range).
There are two types of APA in-text citation : parenthetical and narrative.
In a parenthetical citation, you place the entire citation in parentheses directly after the quote and before the period (or other punctuation mark).
In a narrative citation, the author(s) appear as part of your sentence. Place the year in parentheses directly after the author’s name, and place the page number in parentheses directly after the quote.
Remember that every in-text citation must correspond to a full APA reference at the end of the text. You can easily create your reference list with our free APA Citation Generator.
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Some source types, such as web pages , do not have page numbers. In this case, to cite a direct quote, you should generally include an alternative locator, unless the source is very short.
The locator may be a chapter or section heading (abbreviated if necessary), a paragraph number, or a combination of the two. Use whichever locator will help your reader find the quote most easily.
For sources such as movies , YouTube videos , or audiobooks, use a timestamp to locate the beginning of the quote.
- Section heading
- Paragraph number
- Section and paragraph
If the quote contains 40 words or more, it must be formatted as a block quote. To format a block quote in APA Style:
- Do not use quotation marks.
- Start the quote on a new line.
- Indent the entire quote 0.5 inches.
- Double-space the entire quote.
Like regular quotes, block quotes can be cited with a parenthetical or narrative citation. However, if the block quote ends with a period, place the citation after the period.
Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary. (O’Connor, 2019, p. 38)
Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary. (p. 38)
Block quotes with multiple paragraphs
If the block quote contains multiple paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph after the first.
Block quoting is particularly useful when you want to comment on an author’s language or present an argument that you will then critique. By setting the quote on a new line and indenting it, the passage is clearly marked apart from your own words. Therefore, no quotation marks are necessary.
However, it is important not to rely on long quotes to make your point for you. Each quote must be introduced and explained or discussed in your own words. (O’Connor, 2019, p. 38)
In general, a direct quote should be an exact reproduction of the original. However, there are some situations where you may need to make small changes.
You may change the capitalization of the first word or the final punctuation mark in order to integrate the quote grammatically into your sentence, as long as the meaning is not altered.
Any other changes must be marked following these APA guidelines.
Shortening a quote
If you want to omit some words, phrases, or sentences from the quote to save space, use an ellipsis (. . .) with a space before and after it to indicate that some material has been left out.
If the part you removed includes a sentence break, add a period before the ellipsis to indicate this.
- No sentence break
- Sentence break
Clarifying a quote
Sometimes you might want to add a word or phrase for context. For example, if a pronoun is used in the quote, you may add a name to clarify who or what is being referred to.
Any added text should be enclosed in square brackets to show that it is not part of the original.
Adding emphasis to quotes
If you want to emphasize a word or phrase in a quote, italicize it and include the words “emphasis added” in square brackets.
Errors in quotes
If the quote contains a spelling or grammatical error, indicate it with the Latin word “sic”, italicized and in square brackets, directly after the error.
To include a direct quote in APA , follow these rules:
- Quotes under 40 words are placed in double quotation marks .
- Quotes of 40 words or more are formatted as block quote .
- The author, year, and page number are included in an APA in-text citation .
You need an APA in-text citation and reference entry . Each source type has its own format; for example, a webpage citation is different from a book citation .
Use Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations in seconds or take a look at our APA citation examples .
When you quote or paraphrase a specific passage from a source, you need to indicate the location of the passage in your APA in-text citation . If there are no page numbers (e.g. when citing a website ) but the text is long, you can instead use section headings, paragraph numbers, or a combination of the two:
(Caulfield, 2019, Linking section, para. 1).
Section headings can be shortened if necessary. Kindle location numbers should not be used in ebook citations , as they are unreliable.
If you are referring to the source as a whole, it’s not necessary to include a page number or other marker.
The abbreviation “ et al. ” (meaning “and others”) is used to shorten APA in-text citations with three or more authors . Here’s how it works:
Only include the first author’s last name, followed by “et al.”, a comma and the year of publication, for example (Taylor et al., 2018).
In an APA in-text citation , you use the phrase “ as cited in ” if you want to cite a source indirectly (i.e., if you cannot find the original source).
Parenthetical citation: (Brown, 1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018) Narrative citation: Brown (1829, as cited in Mahone, 2018) states that…
On the reference page , you only include the secondary source (Mahone, 2018).
In academic writing , there are three main situations where quoting is the best choice:
- To analyze the author’s language (e.g., in a literary analysis essay )
- To give evidence from primary sources
- To accurately present a precise definition or argument
Don’t overuse quotes; your own voice should be dominant. If you just want to provide information from a source, it’s usually better to paraphrase or summarize .
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How much should I quote?
The focus of your essay should be on your understanding of the topic. If you include too much quotation in your essay, you will crowd out your own ideas. Consider quoting a passage from one of your sources if any of the following conditions holds:
- The language of the passage is particularly elegant or powerful or memorable.
- You wish to confirm the credibility of your argument by enlisting the support of an authority on your topic.
- The passage is worthy of further analysis.
- You wish to argue with someone else’s position in considerable detail.
Condition 3 is especially useful in essays for literature courses.
If an argument or a factual account from one of your sources is particularly relevant to your paper but does not deserve to be quoted verbatim, consider
- paraphrasing the passage if you wish to convey the points in the passage at roughly the same level of detail as in the original
- summarizing the relevant passage if you wish to sketch only the most essential points in the passage
Note that most scientific writing relies on summary rather than quotation. The same is true of writing in those social sciences—such as experimental psychology—that rely on controlled studies and emphasize quantifiable results. (Almost all of the examples in this handout follow the MLA system of citation, which is widely used in the humanities and in those social sciences with a less quantitative approach.)
Visit our handout on paraphrase and summary .
Why is it important to identify my sources?
Quotations come from somewhere, and your reader will want to know where. Don’t just parachute quotations into your essay without providing at least some indication of who your source is. Letting your reader know exactly which authorities you rely on is an advantage: it shows that you have done your research and that you are well acquainted with the literature on your topic.
In the following passage, the parenthetical reference to the author does not adequately identify the source:
The ancient Greeks never saw a need to justify wars that were waged outside the walls of the city state. “Hence we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war, together with the first notion that there are just and unjust wars” (Arendt 12). Yet the Roman conception of a just war differs sharply from more modern conceptions.
When you are making decisions about how to integrate quotations into your essay, you might imagine that you are reading the essay out loud to an audience. You would not read the parenthetical note. Without some sort of introduction, your audience would not even know that the statement about Roman antiquity was a quotation, let alone where the quotation came from.
How do I introduce a short quotation?
The following offers just one way of introducing the above quotation:
The ancient Greeks never saw a need to justify wars that were waged outside the walls of the city state. As Hannah Arendt points out in On Revolution , “we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war, together with the first notion that there are just and unjust wars” (12). Yet the Roman conception of a just war differs sharply from more modern conceptions.
Since the quotation is relatively short, the brief introduction works.
You could, however, strengthen your analysis by demonstrating the significance of the passage within your own argument. Introducing your quotation with a full sentence would help you assert greater control over the material:
The ancient Greeks never saw a need to justify wars that were waged outside the walls of the city state. In On Revolution , Hannah Arendt points to the role the Romans played in laying the foundation for later thinking about the ethics of waging war: “we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war, together with the first notion that there are just and unjust wars” (12). Yet the Roman conception of a just war differs sharply from more modern conceptions.
In these two examples, observe the forms of punctuation used to introduce the quotations. When you introduce a quotation with a full sentence, you should always place a colon at the end of the introductory sentence. When you introduce a quotation with an incomplete sentence, you usually place a comma after the introductory phrase. However, it has become grammatically acceptable to use a colon rather than a comma:
Arendt writes: “we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war . . .”
If you are blending the quotation into your own sentence using the conjuction that , do not use any punctuation at all:
Arendt writes that “we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war . . .”
If you are not sure whether to punctuate your introduction to a quotation, mentally remove the quotation marks, and ask yourself whether any punctuation is still required.
Finally, note that you can deviate from the common pattern of introduction followed by quotation. Weaving the phrases of others into your own prose offers a stylistically compelling way of maintaining control over your source material. Moreover, the technique of weaving can help you to produce a tighter argument. The following condenses twelve lines from Arendt’s essay to fewer than two:
What Arendt refers to as the “well-known realities of power politics” began to lose their moral legitimacy when the First World War unleashed “the horribly destructive” forces of warfare “under conditions of modern technology” (13).
What verbs and phrases can I use to introduce my quotations?
Familiarize yourself with the various verbs commonly used to introduce quotations. Here is a partial list:
argues writes points out concludes comments notes maintains suggests insists observes counters asserts states claims demonstrates says explains reveals
Each verb has its own nuance. Make sure that the nuance matches your specific aims in introducing the quotation.
There are other ways to begin quotations. Here are three common phrasings:
In the words of X , . . .
According to X , . . .
In X ‘s view, . . .
Vary the way you introduce quotations to avoid sounding monotonous. But never sacrifice precision of phrasing for the sake of variety.
Visit the U of T Writing Website’s page on verbs for referring to sources .
How do I introduce a long quotation?
If your quotation is lengthy, you should almost always introduce it with a full sentence that helps capture how it fits into your argument. If your quotation is longer than four lines, do not place it in quotation marks. Instead, set it off as a block quotation :
Although Dickens never shied away from the political controversies of his time, he never, in Orwell’s view, identified himself with any political program:
The truth is that Dickens’ criticism of society is almost exclusively moral. Hence his lack of any constructive suggestion anywhere in his work. He attacks the law, parliamentary government, the educational system and so forth, without ever clearly suggesting what he would put in their places. Of course it is not necessarily the business of a novelist, or a satirist, to make constructive suggestions, but the point is that Dickens’ attitude is at bottom not even destructive. . . . For in reality his target is not so much society as human nature. (416)
The full-sentence introduction to a block quotation helps demonstrate your grasp of the source material, and it adds analytical depth to your essay. But the introduction alone is not enough. Long quotations almost invariably need to be followed by extended analysis. Never allow the quotation to do your work for you. Usually you will want to keep the quotation and your analysis together in the same paragraph. Hence it is a good idea to avoid ending a paragraph with a quotation. But if your analysis is lengthy, you may want to break it into several paragraphs, beginning afresh after the quotation.
Once in a while you can reverse the pattern of quotation followed by analysis. A felicitously worded or an authoritative quotation can, on occasion, nicely clinch an argument.
There is some flexibility in the rule that block quotations are for passages of four lines or more: a shorter passage can be represented as a block quotation if it is important enough to stand on its own. For example, when you are quoting two or more lines of poetry , you will probably want to display the verse as it appears on the page:
In the opening heroic couplet of The Rape of the Lock , Pope establishes the unheroic nature of the poem’s subject matter:
What dire offense from amorous causes springs, What mighty contests rise from trivial things. (1-2)
If you choose to integrate verse into your own sentence, then use a slash surrounded by spaces to indicate line breaks:
In Eliot’s The Waste Land , the symbols of a mythic past lie buried in “A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, / And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief” (22-23).
How do I let my reader know I’ve altered my sources?
If you need to alter your quotations in any way, be sure to indicate just how you have done so. If you remove text, then replace the missing text with an ellipsis —three periods surrounded by spaces:
In The Mirror and the Lamp , Abrams comments that the “diversity of aesthetic theories . . . makes the task of the historian a very difficult one” (5).
If the omitted text occurs between sentences, then put a space after the period at the end of sentence, and follow that by an ellipsis. In all, there will be four periods. (See Orwell on Dickens, above.)
Many people overuse ellipses at the beginning and end of quotations. Use an ellipsis in either place only when your reader might otherwise mistake an incomplete sentence for a complete one:
Abraham Lincoln begins “The Gettysburg Address” with a reminder of the act upon which the United States was founded: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation . . .” (1).
Do not use an ellipsis if you are merely borrowing a phrase from the original:
In “The Gettysburg Address” Abraham Lincoln reminds his listeners of the principles that had inspired the creation of “a new nation” (1).
If you need to alter or replace text from the original, enclose the added text within square brackets . You may, for example, need to alter text to ensure that pronouns agree with their antecedents. Do not write,
Gertrude asks her son Hamlet to “cast your nighted colour off” (1.2.68).
Square brackets allow you to absorb Gertrude’s words into your own statement:
Gertrude asks her son Hamlet to “cast [his] nighted colour off” (1.2.68).
Alternatively, you can include Gertrude’s original phrasing in its entirety as long as the introduction to the quotation is not fully integrated with the quotation. The introduction can be an independent clause:
Gertrude implores her son Hamlet to stop mourning the death of his father: “cast your nighted colour off” (I.ii.68).
Or it can be an incomplete sentence:
Gertrude implores her son Hamlet, “cast your nighted colour off” (1.2.68).
How is punctuation affected by quotation?
You must preserve the punctuation of a quoted passage, or else you must enclose in square brackets any punctuation marks that are your own.
There is, however, one important exception to this rule. You are free to alter the punctuation just before a closing quotation mark. You may need to do so to ensure that your sentences are fully grammatical. Do not worry about how the original sentence needs to be punctuated before that quotation mark; think about how your sentence needs to be punctuated. Note, for example, that if you are using the MLA system of referencing, a sentence always ends after the parenthetical reference. Do not also include a period before closing the quotation mark, even if there is a period there in the original. For example, do not write,
According to Schama, Louis XVI remained calm during his trial: “The Terror had no power to frighten an old man of seventy-two.” (822).
The period before the closing quotation mark must go:
According to Schama, Louis XVI remained calm during his trial: “The Terror had no power to frighten an old man of seventy-two” (822).
However, if you are using footnotes, the period remains inside the quotation mark, while the footnote number goes outside:
According to Schama, Louis XVI remained calm during his trial: “The Terror had no power to frighten an old man of seventy-two.” 1
In Canada and the United States, commas and periods never go outside a quotation mark. They are always absorbed as part of the quotation, whether they belong to you or to the author you are quoting:
“I am a man / more sinned against than sinning,” Lear pronounces in Act 3, Scene 2 (59-60).
However, stronger forms of punctuation such as question marks and exclamation marks go inside the quotation if they belong to the author, and outside if they do not:
Bewildered, Lear asks the fool, “Who is it that can tell me who I am?” (1.4.227).
Why is Lear so rash as to let his “two daughters’ dowers digest the third” (1.1.127)?
Finally, use single quotation marks for all quotations within quotations:
When Elizabeth reveals that her younger sister has eloped, Darcy drops his customary reserve: “‘I am grieved, indeed,’ cried Darcy, ‘grieved—shocked'” (Austen 295).
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Leading Tips on How to Start an Essay With a Quote Correctly
13 Mar 2023
📰 Beginning a Paper with a Quote
📑 Types of Quotes
🎓 Use a Quote as a Hook
✍ How to Start an Essay with a Quote?
❗ The Importance of Quotation Marks: Format Your Quote Correctly
"Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words." - Mark Twain.
And that's how you can use a quote as a hook to start a text. It must grab the attention, be topic-related and come from reputable sources. To start an essay with a quote, you must pick phrases that should grab readers' attention and complement your thesis statement. It's essential to make proper choices as the right quote will set the whole paper tone, yet doing so is tricky.
In this article, we will share valuable information and some simple tips that may help you start your essay with a quote without worries. Using them, you can start an interesting yet unique opening that draws readers' attention and sets the stage for your work.
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Beginning a Paper with a Quote: Everything You Need To Know
Starting an essay with a quote is one among multiple methods popular with professionals and students. Numerous people use them because they can set a text tone and show text direction or support one's thesis. An appropriate quote should grab the reader's attention and shift it to the author's own words.
However, many people misuse quotes, and that can damage an essay's integrity or lose one's audience. Furthermore, if you use quotations that are not trustworthy, your writing will lose its credibility, or you'll get accused of plagiarism. Knowing how to use direct quotes in your work is crucial. Yet, not knowing how to insert them properly can cause the failure of your whole assignment.
Use Your Own Words and Avoid Quotation Misuse
If you want to avoid quotation misuse, learn not to make common mistakes. An example of such is using a quote out of context that may distort your original citation's actual meaning and ruin your thesis statement. That's why when you select quotes for essay assignments, you have to pick one that delivers an intended meaning. If you reach out to such experts, you can see that their academic papers use quotations related to the main idea of your case.
A proper quotation must accurately reflect some intended meaning. That's because these quotes are used to back up your arguments when you start an essay. Essay quotes at the start are an amazing idea because every introduction essay paragraph aims to support an argument or strengthen your thesis. They should not be overused, as they must show your analysis of a case.
Finally, the most common mistake people make is breaking set citation guidelines. Always attribute quotations to their original sources and provide proper citations based on your educational institution's rules. If you do not do so, your work will likely be labeled as plagiarized, leading to a failed assignment.
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What Are the Types of Quotes To Use In An Essay Writing?
There are various types of quotes, of which the most common are direct, paraphrased, or summary quotes. With the direct ones, students transfer the expressions intact, as they are. This way, they relay the meaning of one's remarks without changing anything. Paraphrased on the contrary are quotes in which you rephrase a saying. It can be to transfer thoughts or statements with your own terms. Lastly, summary quotes are those which give brief key points of an account from an initial quotation. Additionally, there are multiple ways to use and insert these in your introduction. Here are some examples:
Start with a quote that provokes thinking: One perfect way of starting is by challenging your audience's human nature of doubt. Put a quote at the beginning of an essay and let them assume, debate, and overthink it. This provokes them to express their beliefs or opinions about some specific statement or case. Using such is an easy way of setting intrigue and provoking your readers to engage with your topic.
Use a quotation that highlights your thesis: Every good quote can support and accentuate an argument that's part of your work. Such quotes do not only find their place at the start but throughout your essay. They should elaborate on arguments and back up your case statement.
Start an essay by using famous quotes: This method is used by any creative writing service to gain audience attention and provide high-quality texts. Doing so guarantees a well-crafted paper that can earn top grades for any student using this service. Writers will use quotations from respectable, famous people that relate to a topic. That not only boosts text credibility, but it indicates that you are knowledgeable.
Set a tone: Starting an essay with a quote is a good way to set your text tone. This way, your paper explaining arguments and quotes will elaborate on each other and will capture an overall mood. With that, you can set a roadmap for your audience or provide a sense of coherence.
As you see, there are many ways of using a quotation. Pick one based on your essay goals.
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Using a Quote as a Hook: When and Why?
When crafting any type of paper, it's crucial to use quotes that are not only attention-grabbing but also relevant to your topic. Many great essay examples written by PapersOwl specialists are a proof of that. These experts know how to make quotes a powerful tool to engage with readers. Taking into consideration their experience, we provide you with examples of when you could use one:
When introducing a new topic or a newly found case: A good quotation will show relevance in such situations. It will gain people's attention while showcasing new topics and establishing their importance.
If you are in the writing process of a historical essay: In such situations, any quotation from any case-related historical figure may provide context and spark interest in readers.
Personal experience: For such essays, quotations not only can grab one's audience but serve as proof of your experience with this case. They show your perspective and give a deeper nuance when writing arguments, which affects those reading your paper.
To support written arguments' main point: It's an outstanding way to start by hooking all readers up while backing up your claims.
When challenging their beliefs: This is perfect for argumentative essays where you have to challenge their commonly held view. Such quotations engage with people and make them think and be eager to read more.
Using a quote relevant to your case is necessary, so always ensure you use a proper one that creates parallels between all sections. If you don't see a proper connection, you can seek help from experts who edit essay theses. Many professional editors at PapersOwl can easily edit your text flow and create an effective introductory paragraph by providing reworded statements or better quotations. Additionally, they may help check all relevant sources for credibility, see if they deeply relate to your topic, and if they support your claims or bring controversy.
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How to Start Essay with a Quote To Support Your Thesis Statement?
To start a paper with a quote, you must choose one that brings up the proper tone of your paper. The quotation source must be credible and fit your essay context. Finally, each phrase you pick must support your assertion while demonstrating your case proficiency. All of that's important because the purpose of quotes is to make a good hook for essay and grab the attention of your target audience, which happens via knowledge and trust. So, without further ado, we'll show you the best expert advice on how to start an essay with quoted terms:
Consider your target audience: Thinking about your readers is a significant thing to do when starting an essay with a quotation. You must consider their age, background, expertise, and interests. If you write for the general public, use quotes from any popular book or movie. If it's for educational purposes, use one from academic writing or other reputable sources.
Select a relevant quote for the entire essay: A quotation on the spot will generate interest in the audience while supporting your thesis. It's crucial to check the credibility of this direct quote, as it can shape the tone and style of your academic paper. For example, writing about personal experiences has nothing to do with well-known historical figures and quotations from their works.
Introduce it properly: After selecting a quotation, you must introduce it to your readers. That happens by directly presenting it at the beginning of your paper or after a specific sentence. Ensure you do not do a long quote introduction, as it may be boring. Provide some context explaining why you have it in your work and don't forget to cite it.
Explore the quotation and its connection to your claims: After covering it by providing a brief account, you should point out how it connects to your statement and why. You can analyze it within one or two sentences by providing key points of why you used it while keeping all around the central theme of your topic.
By considering all the intimidating aspects, starting essays with quotes may be easy only if you have done it before and understand everything properly. Yet, given the peculiarities of these types of papers, you may be faced with difficulties in using a quotation correctly. In such situations, you should contact professionals who can write your assignment and explain the main points to consider for the best results. Like that, you will have an outstanding paper written by experts with an effective introduction that holds a powerful meaning and will capture your reader's attention.
Tip: Avoid frequently used quotations, better focus on something that can surprise the audience and show you've done some research.
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The Importance of Quotation Marks: Format Your Quote Correctly
Quotation marks are important because they showcase the writer's use of someone else's quoted words. So, these marks and citing are essential elements of all written assignments that use quotes. Using them is vital because they allow the readers to distinguish the writer's remarks from the source's. Additionally, these marks serve as a way to maintain the accuracy of your words and boost credibility. Not using quotation marks risks causing confusion and misinterpretation of the initial quote. That may further cause issues related to plagiarism, which can ruin your paper.
Using them properly is placing quotation marks at the beginning and end of original phrases. A quote should be written without any changes. That includes punctuation signs and letter capitalization. If it starts with a capital letter, write it like that. If there are some grammatical errors, you also write it like that, as its main idea is to change nothing but transfer the source meaning and complement your statement with them.
Four Perfect Quote Starters for Essays
In theory, knowing how to open an essay with a quote is easy but not enough. Sometimes we all face difficulties explaining key points or placing quotation marks properly. In such situations, it's in human nature to seek help. That's why you can reach out to experts and buy narrative essay or any other type of paper written by specialists. Not only will this get you a good grade in college, but you may gain some essay writing insights and learn how to use a good quotation properly.
Malcolm X. "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today." 1964. (MLA 8 format)
That is an excellent example of a quote that may be used in educational-related academic essays. It presents a powerful statement underscoring the need to prepare for the future by relying on teaching. If you plan to write an essay in MLA format , note that all sources/authors' names are in front of the phrase, followed by the quotation marks, the saying, and lastly, the date of the quotation.
Frost, R. (n.d.). In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. (APA 7 format, usually you add a date - if there's no specified one, add n.d).
Perfect for those writing argumentative essays related to life or nature. After this quote from Robert Frost, every student can express their written arguments after grabbing the reader's attention. The quotation is perfect for such topics because its simplicity showcases the inevitability of change.
Mandela, Nelson. "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." (Chicago/Turabian format).
This quote is a remarkable example of how you can start and hook the readers in. First, it's a thought-provoking statement made by a credible person. It also challenges the widespread belief that failure is bad, which engages with the reader's opinions.
Jordan, B. (n.d.). Writing an essay is like building a house the writer lays the foundation, builds the walls, and finishes with a roof. (Harvard format)
This quotation is perfect to use when writing essays or text structure. It emphasizes the step-by-step writing process while hinting that you need a solid form to create something good.
Know how to structure your paper
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PapersOwl editors can also format your paper according to your specific requirements.
After reading this article, you know that starting an essay with the right quote will set a specific tone for your writing. With it, your first sentence will grab your audience's attention. If you correctly use a proper quotation, it helps readers understand your thesis from the quote and its following context. So make sure you use what we've discussed next time you write essays. Do so, and you'll get a properly connected essay with a good flow that can start with a bang and earn you high marks.
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I have always been a bit of a polymath – I loved going through encyclopedias, learning interesting facts about the world around us. Even when it was time to choose my major, I struggled a lot, as I wanted to learn everything about everything.
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How to Quote and Cite a Poem in an Essay Using MLA Format
Last Updated: August 3, 2023 References Approved
Template and Examples
Quoting in essays, citing in essays, citing in a works cited.
This article was co-authored by Jamie Korsmo, PhD . Jamie Korsmo is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Georgia State University. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 15 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,303,008 times.
Navigating the MLA Handbook can be pretty overwhelming; there are so many rules that regulate the way we can quote and cite poetry in MLA format in our own writing. Improper quoting and citing can even be considered a form of plagiarism. Here is a comprehensive look at the most important things you need to know to make your English teacher happy with how you quote from and cite poetry in your papers.
- Example sentence: Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” discusses the idea of solitude versus living in a world of other people and obligations.
- Here is an example of several lines of poetry from Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”: The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep.
- Here is an example of how to insert several lines of poetry into an essay: In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," Frost writes, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep."
- Example: Robert Frost writes about solitude and man’s relationship with nature: Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. (1-4)
- Example: Robert Frost discusses solitude and a desire to forget obligations when he writes, "The woods are lovely...but I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep" (13-15).
Tip: If an ellipsis covers a line break, do not worry about including a backslash inside the ellipsis, as in the above example. But if you continue on without an ellipsis, include the backslashes that indicate line breaks.
- Example: Robert Frost discusses solitude when he writes, Whose woods these are I think I know. …………………………………………. He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. (1-4)
- If you don't take these steps correctly, then you aren't giving credit where it's due to the original author and your teacher may consider this plagiarism.
- Example: In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," Frost writes, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep / But I have promises to keep / And miles to go before I sleep” (13-15).
- Example: The notion of solitude appears in many notable poems including the famous lines, "The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep" (Frost 13-15).
- Example of one quoted word: Robert Frost uses the word “sleep” to imply fantasies about solitude and perhaps death (15).
- Example of multiple words: Robert Frost uses a variety of words and phrases such as “frozen” (7), “darkest evening” (8), and “before I sleep” (15) to imply thoughts of solitude and the desire to not return to his obligations.
Tip: Just make sure that you include the proper line numbers, whatever the form. If you are citing a longer section of the poem, you will include more line numbers (12-32). If you cite two separate sections using an ellipsis, indicate the range of the sections with a comma separating them (11-15, 18-21).
- Example of citing a short quote: In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," Frost writes, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep” (13-15).
- Example of citing a long quote: Robert Frost writes about solitude and man’s relationship with nature: Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. (1-4)
- Example: The notion of solitude appears in many notable poems including the famous lines, "The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep" (Frost, "Stopping by the Woods" 13-15). This idea is mirrored in the lines "And both that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black" (Frost, "The Road Not Taken" 11-12).
- Example: Frost, Robert. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The Poetry of Robert Frost. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc., 1969. 224-225. Print.
- Example: Frost, Robert. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The Poetry Foundation. n.d. Web. 6 January 2014.
Tip: You do not need to add the URL of the website as they change often and are generally long and confusing, and URLs are not required in MLA format.  X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
- Example (note this is a made up anthology): Frost, Robert. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The Little Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Marie Shier. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Some Publisher, 2010. 21-22. Print.
- Frost, Robert. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The Poetry of Robert Frost. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc., 1969. 224-225. Print.
- ---. “The Road Not Taken.” The Poetry of Robert Frost. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc., 1969. 227-228. Print.
- When writing about poetry in your essay, use the present tense. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Brackets are not needed around ellipses. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_quotations.html
- ↑ https://stlcc.edu/student-support/academic-success-and-tutoring/writing-center/writing-resources/mla-in-text-citation-sample-essay-8th-edition.aspx
- ↑ https://style.mla.org/line-numbers-in-text-citation/
- ↑ https://otis.libguides.com/mla_citations/in-text
- ↑ https://www.monmouth.edu/resources-for-writers/documents/mla-citing-poetry.pdf/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_electronic_sources.html
- ↑ https://libguides.uww.edu/mla/poem
- ↑ https://uwcchina.libguides.com/c.php?g=830919&p=6639313
About This Article
If you use a quote from a poem in an MLA-format essay, place the line numbers of the poem in parentheses right after the closing quotation marks, with the closing punctuation right behind the parentheses. If you mention the name of the author when you are introducing the text, you do not have to include the author’s name in the parenthesis, but you do if you have not already stated the name of the author. If the quote is more than 3 lines long, indent 10 spaces from the left margin when you type the poem. To learn about how to include a citation for a poem on the Works Cited page of your essay, continue reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Looking back on Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech, 60 years later
On Aug. 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech at the March on Washington. Part of his speech was impromptu and those words became a pillar of the civil rights movement.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
On a warm afternoon in August 1963, 60 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. stood behind a microphone at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. More than a quarter million people had gathered that day for the March on Washington. King was scheduled to speak for four minutes. He went a little long. And that speech has lasted very long in the national memory. NPR's Jessica Green reports.
JESSICA GREEN, BYLINE: In the days leading up to August 28, 1963, the mood in Washington, D.C., was anxious. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was advertised as a peaceful demonstration to advocate for the civil and economic rights of Black people. Here's an announcement from the Freedom Now Party promoting the event.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We are requesting all citizens to move into Washington to go by plane, by car, bus, any way that you can get there. Walk if necessary.
GREEN: But historian Taylor Branch told NPR in 2008 that many people in the area expected riots and mayhem.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
TAYLOR BRANCH: This was an overwhelmingly white culture and white country, and the media presumed that you couldn't assemble 100,000 Black folks in the nation's capital with political grievances without a lot of them running amok.
GREEN: The Washington, D.C. police force brought in nearly 6,000 officers, and the government brought in an additional 6,000 soldiers and National Guardsmen.
BRANCH: Liquor sales were canceled in the District of Columbia for the first time since the end of Prohibition in 1933. Plasma was stockpiled. Major League Baseball canceled not one, but two Washington Senators games against the Minnesota Twins for fear that baseball fans would be casualties of the riot.
GREEN: Roger Wilkins, who at the time was an official in the Kennedy administration, joined the march with his wife. He spoke to NPR in 2008 about racial overtones around the event.
ROGER WILKINS: I remember that the members - Southern members of the House and the Senate, by and large, told their secretaries to stay home that day and lock the door so they wouldn't be raped.
GREEN: And still, despite the hysteria and efforts to cancel the march, thousands of people from all over the U.S. came to Washington.
WILKINS: It was like a church social. I mean, people were happy. People were greeting each other. Parts of families from different parts of the country were reforming and almost having little family reunions. It was that kind of feeling.
GREEN: The march included a three-hour-long program of performances and speeches by civil rights and religious leaders. The Eva Jessye Choir sang "We Shall Overcome." Civil rights icon John Lewis, who would later become a Georgia congressman, called for America to wake up.
JOHN LEWIS: We must wake up, America, wake up, for we cannot stop. And we will not and cannot be patient.
GREEN: Daisy Bates, a mentor to the Little Rock Nine, gave a tribute to Black women fighters for freedom.
DAISY BATES: Your presence here today testifies that no child will have to walk alone through a mob in any city or hamlet of this country because you will be there walking with them. Thank you.
GREEN: Martin Luther King Jr. volunteered to close out the program.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
GREEN: King is reading from a script. He begins speaking about the Emancipation Proclamation, a document intended to free African Americans signed 100 years earlier. He preached about the country's long history of racial injustice and urged the audience to hold the nation accountable and fulfill their founding promises.
KING: Signed the Emancipation Proclamation...
GREEN: And 11 minutes into his speech, he suddenly looks up from the podium and out at the overflowing crowd.
GREEN: Historian Taylor Branch says gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out to King.
BRANCH: Mahalia Jackson, who had just sung, and she was standing behind Dr. King, along with lots of other people. A number of people say that Mahalia Jackson kept urging Dr. King to tell them about the dream.
GREEN: And so King goes off script.
KING: I say to you today, my friends...
GREEN: His most famous words that day were not planned.
KING: I have a dream that one day this nation...
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yes.
KING: ...Will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.
WILKINS: For those of us who were born in segregation, as I was, we went away, many of us - I among them - euphoric.
GREEN: Again, Roger Wilkins, who was in the crowd.
WILKINS: And I remember we're yelling freedom now, freedom now - everybody. Yeah, freedom now, baby. You got to have it.
GREEN: In the days after, most news reports didn't even mention King's speech. Newspapers focused more on the crowd size and the fact that there was no violence. Today King's words are memorialized as the I Have A Dream speech. But his message 60 years ago went far beyond that famous line. And some civil rights activists argue that history has whitewashed a lot of his more radical ideas. Acclaimed journalist and author A. Peter Bailey attended the march and spoke with NPR in 2020.
A PETER BAILEY: That was a powerful speech. It's almost criminal where they have reduced that man to I Have A Dream, where he talks about the founding fathers of this country gave our ancestors a promissory note.
KING: But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
BAILEY: And we've come here today to cash that check. Now, to me, that should be the quote, you know, that is memorized from that speech. You know, he had nothing - any programs and events, all you hear is I have a dream.
GREEN: King's original typewritten speech was given to a college basketball player from Villanova University named George Raveling. On the day of the march, Raveling was working as a bodyguard, standing behind King on stage, and after the speech, he impulsively asked King for the paper copy. Raveling kept that speech locked in a safe for decades before donating the artifact to Villanova University. The school loaned it to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, where it's currently on display today.
Jessica Green, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SPEAK LORD JESUS")
MAHALIA JACKSON: (Singing) Speak, Lord Jesus, please speak to my soul.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.