Definition and Usage
Quotations are use of exact words from a source. Direct quotes are use of the author's words. Indirect quotes are when you use a quote that is quoted in the source.
Quotations are best used when used sparingly. A common error in many papers is the overuse of quotations. When a paper contains too many quotations the reader may become bored or conclude that you have no ideas of your own. Keep quotations short and only use them when a paraphrase would not capture the meaning or reflect the author’s specific choice of words. You may also wish to introduce a quote if you plan on disagreeing with the source since using the exact words helps the reader understand the differences between your position and the position in the source and helps to show that you are fairly representing the source.
When you do decide to use quotations, make sure that you do not simply cut the words out and drop them into your paper. You will need to give a brief introduction to the quote to let readers understand the context of the words and their relationship to your argument. Quotes that do not reflect the meaning of the author within the context are considered out-of-context. Quotes should not be used out-of-context to convey a meaning not intended by the author. In addition, quotes must be incorporated logically into a sequence of sentences.
People pay higher prices for organic food. “The FDA simply does not have enough agents to do thorough inspections” (Jones).
People pay higher prices for organic food. Jones makes a good point when he explains how really impossible it is at this time to tell whether foods are grown without certain chemicals or pesticides to justify these higher prices. “The FDA simply does not have enough agents to do thorough inspections” (Jones).
Quotations must also be incorporated grammatically.
Original Quotation: Jones continues to explain, “No proof that pesticides were not used.”
Corrected use: Jones continues to explain that there is “no proof that pesticides were not used.”
Substitutions, Additions, and Omissions in Quotations:
Quotations can be modified; however, proper punctuation must be used to indicate the substitutions, additions, and omissions. Any such substitutions, additions or omissions should not result in quoting out of context where the meaning of the quote is changed.
- Brackets, also called square brackets, are used to show that the original quote has been modified.
- An ellipsis (three periods in a row) is used to show that words have been omitted.
"Besides, step-families offer unique advantages as well. One example is the increase in available emotional support and, other resources from the larger, more extended family. Another is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment” (Pinto).
Quotation Modified to Substitute an Uppercase for a Lowercase:
Pinto acknowledges that blended families can also offer positive aspects. Pinto indicates that “[o]ne example is the increase in available emotional support and, other resources from the larger, more extended family.”
See how a small letter o was substituted for the capital O since using the word that changes what is in the quote to a continuation of a sentence started outside the quote.
Quotation Modified for Clarity:
Pinto continues, “Another [advantage] is the opportunity the children have for learning how to cope with an ever changing and complicated world due to the social and emotional complexity of their own step family environment.”
The word advantage was added to make the subject clear.
Quotation Modified to Eliminate Unnecessary Words:
Pinto explains, “One example is the increase in available emotional support … from the larger, more extended family.”
See how the ellipsis shows the omission of words.
Length of Quotes:
While research essays should primarily be your own ideas and analysis of sources, sometimes, such as when the author’s words cannot be adequately paraphrased to convey the intended meaning, it is appropriate to include a long quote.
If you are quoting for more than four lines (not sentences), you need to set the quote off from the text. Indent the quote one inch from the left margin, and do not surround the quote with quotation marks. The quote should be double spaced as with the rest of the paper.
Helen Keller, though born both deaf and blind, was no coward. This can be seen in her views on the worth of life:
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.