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 Admin  January 4, 2018

 Admin  January 4, 2018  Essay Help

How to Use Quotes in Your Essay

Okay, we admit that it is not really difficult to put quotation marks around words. But... when you try to use them in academic writing, the story changes a bit. It has to be formatted, of course, relevant and most important, advances your story further. Properly placed quotes add value and details to your essay.  It gives an impression that you as a writer have read and understood the literature. So you can sense it is not really copying and pasting text from other sites or books. You need to wrap your head around the intricacies of quoting. Tough job? Yes, it can be. But reading this blog helps you learn how to put quotations in an essay like a Pro.

When should one use quotes?

You might think whenever you need to support your ideas.

Wrong my mate!

You cannot go on include a quote wherever you feel like. It will just overpower the content leaving the essay to look like someone else’s because there’s not enough of your original views in the essay. Using too many quotations is like many people shouting hoarse on your behalf and your own voice remains unheard. So, cite someone’s ideas when it really serves some purpose or meet the following conditions,

  • You wish to confirm the credibility of your argument by producing support
  • The referenced passage is worthy of further analysis
  • You want to put up an argument against someone else’s position.

How much quoting is enough?

There’s no rulebook that can tell how many quotations or how much quoting strike a good balance. You have to go with instincts. But one thing you should keep in mind is that it should not be heavily cited. Readers take out time to read some original ideas, not a cluster of ideas borrowed from somewhere else. So don’t misguide your readers by putting up some indirect views. Your ideas should always be in the lead with supporting ideas borrowed from someone else. No doubt, there will be several ideas that demand a place in your writing. But do all of them deserve to be quoted? 

Not, really!

You need to quote only those sources that are most effective when they are unchanged. Otherwise, you can consider -  

  • Summarizing
  • Paraphrasing

How one should use extremely short and extremely long quotations?

You might think there’s no difference between them. But sadly, there are.

When you use short direct quotes, you incorporate them into the running sentence and enclose them in double quotation marks.

For example,

According to some, dream express “profound aspects of personality” (Foulkes 184) though others disagree.

According to Foulkes’s study ‘dreams may express profound aspects of personality’ (184).

On the other hand, when you try to involve a lengthy quote (for example more than 40 words), you need to start from a new line and indent the quotation & no quotation mark at beginning or end.

For example, 

Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and dehumanizes him throughout the narration:

They entirely refused to have it in bed with them or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow........................................................................................................ (Bronte 78).

Can someone add or delete text from quotation marks?

Most of the students think, they have to use the exact set of words in the quotations. But it is not mandatory. Sometimes, you only need the most relevant words while leaving out unnecessary words out. While doing so, you need to refer the following rules,

  • Use ellipses A.K.A ‘three dots’ where you are omitting a section or couple of phrases
  • While using ellipses, make sure you keep a space before and after an ellipse.
  • If your ellipses come at the end of the sentence, end the sentence with a period first
  • In case you need to add some words in between the quotations to clarify something, you can put those words into brackets

For example,

Felt in the blood and felt along the heart;

And passing even into the purer mind,

With tranquil restoration ... (22 -24, 28 – 30)

“I think [Smithville Mayor] Joe [Johnson] knows more than he is telling.”

Are there any particular words to use to introduce quotations?

You cannot use every set of verbs while incorporating quotations in writing. There are a few verbs commonly used to introduce quotations in writing. We here present a short list of verbs that you can use to establish your points,

Foulkes Argues that...

Foulkes states “...”

Foulkes insists that...

Foulkes suggests that...

Foulkes claims that...

Foulkes reveals in his study

Foulkes demonstrates his theories...

Foulkes asserts how globalization has...

Foulkes points out that the study conducted by the...

Foulkes notes that the study reflect...

Foulkes observes 56% of the student population...

Foulkes maintains the positive note throughout the passage...

Foulkes counters Robinson’s argument on...

Foulkes concludes the narration with the point that...

As you know, each verb has its own meaning. And it is completely your responsibility to choose the verb that goes with the mood of the content.

For example,

As Smith has noted ‘Foreign direct investment in China had a significant impact on the whole economy’. (1987: 54).

How to quote something from the poem?

Is it different from the normal referencing? A bit, you can say, but not entirely different. While referencing, you should use a slash (/) in between the lines of the poetry.

For example,

In Julius Caesar, Antony begins his famous speech with ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; / come to bury Caesar, not to praise him” (III.ii 75-76).

But this is only applicable when you have to cite only up to 3 lines. When you go beyond that, you need to indent the lines that to be cited. Moreover, do not use quotation marks unless you need indicate a quotation mark within a quotation mark.

How to quote in APA style?

You must be asked to format your paper as per the APA guidelines. Hence, your quotations will follow the same. While quoting, you need to be restrained by some rules,

Mention the author’s name, page number and year of publication inside the text. You as a writer can use all these information within parentheses.

For example,

(Sylvia, 1976, p. 311)

Alternatively, you can use some of the information at the beginning of the quotation.

For example,

Sylvia (1976) observed that penguins seem confused by the nuclear explosion. Their behaviour has shown some different traits” (p.311).

In case you are citing an electronic source, you need to put the title of work (if the title of the work is not available, then) the page number and paragraph number within the parentheses.

How to use quotations in MLA style?

In this form of referencing style, a parenthetical citation includes Author’ last name and page number where the quotations appear.

For example,


You can omit the author’ name if you have already mentioned her previously.


In case you are quoting more than one author, whose surname is same, then add the first initial.

(J. Smith, H, Smith, 311)

In case you are quoting more than one book from the same author, use the shorthand version of the title within the parentheses.

(A Guide to Referencing, All About Referencing, Smith, 311)

How to use quotations in other styles?

While quoting in different styles of citation, you need to put information within the parentheses. But what sort of information that totally depends on the citation style that your professor asks you to use or you choose. It varies from one citation style to another. So it is important that you know the rules clearly. If required, you check the guidelines on the college website. If you don’t have time, you can ask your professor for help.

So that’s how you should be moving with quotations. To expand your knowledge a little, we have provided a few no-fail tips on using quotations in essay writing.

Here they come...

Be Wise with the Choice:

It is a lot easier to choose a random quote and use it your writing. But then many questions come and haunt you.

  • Does the quote seem relevant?
  • Does it fit into the place?
  • Is it really necessary? Can it be paraphrased and summarized?

There’s only way to find the answer is by weighing the quote before using it. You need to choose the quote wisely. To help you out, here’s an example,

Let’s say you are writing an argumentative essay on teens developing eating disorders because of societal and peer pressure. To support that argument, you use the quote.

“10-15% of all Americans suffer from some type of serious eating disorder” Smith claims (1999, p, 311).

This is an apt statistics to mention in this context of the topic.

Signal your audience before presenting quotes

Don’t take the readers by surprise. When you are determined to use a quote, you need to use signal phrases. Signal phrases actually let the readers know what to expect in the quote. Like the traffic signal, signal sentences also guide readers through the quotes. They mainly tell readers to slow down or pay attention to the information that is to follow and keep the writing cohesive.

Here’s an example for your better understanding,

“In this today’s age, text messaging has exceeded a point where it is considered to be more dangerous than drinking and driving. According to the Department of Transportation, ‘approximately 3,092 people were killed in an additional 416,000 were injured due to the distraction caused by text messaging.”

Here ‘according to’ plays the role of the signal phrase.

Incorporate it in the middle:

This is another strategy that you might consider using, which is integrating the quote in the middle of the sentence. It might look like you paraphrased, but no. Here’s an example,

Very few people know that “only six states – Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Illinois...” 

Here ‘very few people know that’ is not part of the quote.

Now you have become the pro at quoting. You have mastered the art of using quotations in just a few minutes (hoping, you have completed this blog in a few minutes). Don’t get disheartened if you have taken an hour to follow because learning takes time. But to act as a pro, you need a lot of practice. So we will leave now.

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