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Quoting: Quoting

Information about how to incorporate the words of others into a paper

Why Use Quotes?

 The function of using quotes is to back up your thesis. Use them in your body paragraphs, making sure that you explain each quote that you use and how it is important or relates to your argument. Only use them when they are relevant and helpful -- not to fill up empty space.

When to Use a Quote

To Back Up Your Point Using a Reliable Source

If you use an author who is an expert on the subject you are writing about or if the author has a particularly good way of saying something, this can be helpful in reinforcing your argument.

To Give a Different or Opposing View on Your Topic

This can help balance your argument and show that you have considered more than one idea.

When the Author States a Point Particularly Well or Powerfully

If the way an author says something really strikes you, it is likely that it will really strike your audience as well.

To Add Credibility to Your Work

Use a quote when the person you are quoting is an authority on the subject you are writing about. This adds credibility to your work.

When You Cannot Rephrase Your Source Material Without Changing the Meaning

This can help you make sure that you are not misrepresenting the views of your source.


Quoting is taking a passage word-for-word from a source material, enclosing it in quotation marks, and incorporating it into your writing.

Good Example

Benjamin Franklin writes, “When the well is dry we know the value of water,” which means that sometimes the loss of something allows one to realize its true worth.

Guidelines for Using Quotes

Don't Overuse Quotes

Ultimately, your paper is meant to be your own thoughts, not a collection of quotes from different sources.  This also means that you shouldn't use quotes to fill empty space in your paper.  If your paper is short of meeting the required length, look for a place where you can add depth to your work.  Don't just add quotes that don't mean much.

Explain, Interpret, Analyze Quotes

Don’t just let your quotes sit there all alone. Show your readers why your quote is relevant to your point and incorporate it into your own thinking.  Remember, this is your paper.  Quotes can be used to support your ideas, but should never substitute for your critical thinking on the subject.  You must discuss the quotes you use and work them into your own writing.

Quotes Should Never Be First or Last

 Because you need to introduce and explain each of your quotes, do not use a quote as the first or last sentence of your paragraph.  Those sentences should be your introductory and conclusion sentences, and should not be someone else's words.

Cite your quotes

This is very important because it prevents plagiarism. Know the proper citation information for the format in which you are writing.

Example for MLA: “_____”(Franklin 2).  (See Libguides page "Citing" for more information.

Subject Guide

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Attributive Tags

Attributive tags are the words that tell who originally wrote or spoke the quote.  Examples: The author said . . . The author wrote . . . According to the author . . . 

Introduce your quotes using attributive tags; this credits your sources within the text of the paper itself (though a page number citation is still necessary) and gives an introduction to the quote.

Example: In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin writes, “_____”

Partial Quotes

Partial quotes (isolated words/phrases) can be incorporated into sentences.

Example: Franklin points out that sometimes people who are poor are more charitable than those who are wealthy, “perhaps thro' fear of being thought to have but little.”