Online Writing Lab

Using Quotations

Knowing how to incorporate quotes and paraphrases into an essay enables a writer to provide support for his/her claims.  Doing this correctly also allows a writer to add depth to her writing and provides the opportunity to write about a variety of topics. 

While quotes are often helpful and can advance an essay, not all quotes are of the same importance, nor do they provide the same level of advancement for an essay.  Quotations should be used sparingly and always with the goal of achieving a particular effect.

Keep in mind that paraphrasing (putting original text into your own wording and sentence structure; view the paraphrasing page for more info) is often better than quoting.  After all, most of the time it is the information that is important, not the wording that is used to provide it.

Because of this, quoting should only be used under the following conditions:
A.    The language is unusually vivid, bold, or inventive.
B.    The quote represents and emphasizes the view of an important expert.
C.    The original passage cannot be paraphrased without distortion or loss of meaning.

Furthermore, using too many quotes can overpower your own writing and introduce too many different writing styles to a particular section.  This leads to writing that seems unfocused and disunited, so remember to use quotes sparingly so that they don’t interfere with your content and style.

Incorporating Quotations

Remember that when quotations are used, they must be integrated smoothly into the essay, rather than simply being dumped in.  To do this, introduce the quotation or paraphrased information by giving the name and credentials of the individual you are quoting.

Example:  Barbara S. Cain, clinical supervisor at the Psychological Clinic at the University of Michigan, points out that…

Also, remember that all quotations must be accompanied with quotation marks and the proper citation.  MLA guidelines require providing the author’s name and page number of the quote (or information, if paraphrased), and APA guidelines require the author’s name and year the information was originally published.

Examples:
Note: The following quote is taken from the essay “Cell Phones and Social Graces,” by Charles Fisher, and is used with permission from the author.

Original quote:  “Such slavish dependency on cell phones is accompanied by the demise of common social courtesies.”

MLA Example: To make his point, Fisher writes that, “such slavish dependency on cell phones is accompanied by the demise of common social courtesies” (660).

APA Example:  Fisher believes that, “such slavish dependency on cell phones is accompanied by the demise of common social courtesies” (2011).