(credits)

What is direct quotation?
When should I use direct quotation?
How many quotes are too many?
How do I blend quotes into my paper?
How long should a quotation be?
How do I omit portions of quotes using the ellipsis?
How do I cite quotations?
How do I avoid plagiarism?
 

Direct quotation presents material from your sources without changing the wording.

•Major misunderstanding: when you think of direct quotation, you may be thinking of quoted dialogue.

example: "I hate school," said Timmy.

•Keep in mind that direct quotation is any material presented from your source in which the original wording is left intact.

Avoid the major goofup of plagiarism: you have two choices:

-summarize an author's ideas in your own words (completely alter the syntax and vocabulary without mimicking the style);

-use direct quotation. Slightly altering the author's wording and mimicking the author's syntax are both plagiarism, whether you use a parenthetical citation or not. Questions? See the section on plagiarism.

 

Authority

•Direct quotation gives your readers the confidence that your position is shared by those who know what they are talking about.

•Direct quotation is especially important if your paper is on a controversial topic or on a field in which you have limited expertise.

•Here's a useful test: if your source would qualify as an expert witness in court, and you need an expert witness to back up your argument, use a direct quotation.

Uniqueness

•When one of your sources expresses himself or herself so uniquely or forcefully that a summary or paraphrase just isn't good enough, go ahead and quote.

•Here's a useful test: if when you read a sentence for the first time you have a "Wow!" response, it's probably something you should quote.

•There's a flip side to this, though. Sometimes students quote authors because they don't understand them (you can't summarize what you don't understand). Summary is proof you understand, so you're usually better off summarizing.

Accuracy

•When accuracy to the original is vital, you may well need to quote the original.

•Examples: laws, judicial decision, scientific and math formulas, complex theories, and precise definitions of important terms.

 

Strategy

•Often using a quote is a useful strategy to set up a statement of your own.

•This is especially true when your strategy is to disagree with a source's statement.

•Example:

Although Smith claims the death penalty is "the most useful tactic we have against murderers" (59), the statistical evidence is overwhelming that executions do not lower murder rates.

  

Overusing direct quotation from your sources suggests you have one or more of the following problems:

1. You don't have a clear sense of what your sources mean and are copying as a substitute for understanding and synthesizing;

2. You aren't following a well-defined thesis and are including material that doesn't directly support your argument;

3. You did inadequate research and are using direct quotation as padding to make your paper long enough.

If you or someone else has suggested you are having this problem,
ask your teacher for help before you go any further!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brief quotations of prose

Extended quotations of prose

Brief quotations of poetry
Extended quotations of poetry

Brief Quotations of Prose

Rule #1: direct quotes of prose shorter than five typed lines should be run into the text and enclosed in double quotation marks.

Example:

Rule #2: place direct quotes at the beginning, middle, or end of your sentence. If for clarity you need to divide a quote with your own words, this is fine, too.

Examples:

Extended Quotations of Prose

Rule: direct quotes of prose running more than four typed lines are set off from the rest of your text by doing the following:

•indent one inch from the left margin (ten spaces if you are using a typewriter);

•type it double spaced without adding quotation marks;

•usually introduce a quotation with a colon;

•if you quote one paragraph or part of one, do not indent the first line more than the rest.

Example:

Brief Quotations of Poetry

Basic Rule: direct quotes of poetry up to three lines should generally be run into the text and enclosed in double quotation marks. Quotes of two or more lines will need a slash (/) with a space on each side to separate them.

Examples:

Extended Quotations of Poetry

Basic Rules: direct quotes of poetry of more than three lines should follow the following rules:

•begin on a new line;

•unless the poem uses unusual spacing, indent each line one inch (ten spaces) from the left margin;

•double space between lines, adding no quotation marks that do not appear in the original.

•lines too long to fit within the margins should be continued on the next line and the continued lines should be indented an extra quarter inch (three spaces).

•unusual spacing arrangements should be reproduced as accurately as possible.

•your parenthetical reference follows the last line of the quotation.

 

Example:

 

•Direct quotations should be short. They should be pared down to the essential elements of the original.

•Long quotations have many disadvantages in a short research paper.

-They raise the suspicion that you are using quotes so that your authors will do your writing (and thinking) for you.

-They take up valuable space that could better be used for analysis.

-They usually contain material that is totally or largely irrelevant to your topic.

-They are distracting to the reader and interrupt the flow of your paper.

•Most quotes in your paper will be a sentence long or less. Using the ellipsis (see below) will help you pare long quotes down to size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is an Ellipsis?
Context
Correctness
Within a Sentence
At the End of a Sentence
At the Beginning of a Sentence
Omit Complete Sentences and Paragraphs
Omissions in Poetry

What is an Ellipsis?

An ellipsis is simply three periods with spaces in between. It is used to show that you have omitted portions of quoted material.

 

Context

When you omit passages you must be fair to the author. You must never take an author's statement out of context and conceal this by eliminating part of his or her writing.

Situation: a film reviewer writes the following passage in a review of a new action movie:

Incorrect example:

A dishonest use of the ellipsis used in the movie's ad campaign might read:

Correctness

Don't overuse the ellipsis. Your task is to use quotes without messing up the original grammar. When you quote a phrase, your readers will understand it was originally part of a sentence. No ellipsis is necessary in this situation.

Correct example (no ellipsis necessary):

Omission within a sentence

Use three spaced periods to show you have omitted material from within a sentence:

Correct example:

Omission at the end of a sentence

Use four periods with no space before the first to show material has been deleted at the end of a sentence.

Correct example:

Omission at the beginning of a sentence

Normally do not use an ellipsis at the beginning of the sentence. Your reader will be able to tell by context that the beginning of the sentence has been deleted.

Correct example:

Incorrect example (awkward):

Omission of whole sentences and paragraphs

When you omit an entire sentence or more, including whole paragraphs, use four spaced periods with no space before the first. This is especially useful when you are quoting more than one passage in a paragraph. This technique helps you avoid using overlong quotes (see above).

Correct example:

Omission in poetry

Rule #1: Handle the ellipsis in poetry when you have left out words or phrases just as you do with prose.

Rule #2: If you omit an entire line or more from a poem you must indicate the omission by a line of spaced periods that equals the average length of the line(s).

Correct example:

 

For help with citing direct quotes, see the section on parenthetical citations by clicking on this text.

 

Let's assume you're not trying to plagiarize. You've decided that a zero on the research paper simply isn't an acceptable possibility.

The key to avoiding plagiarism when using quotes is taking good notes. If your notecards are taken correctly, all quotes will be in quotation marks. This is a must! Failing to do this may result in your mistaking a quote for a paraphrase. Watch out!

Avoid the major goofup of plagiarism: you have two choices:

-summarize an author's ideas in your own words (completely alter the syntax and vocabulary without mimicking the style);

-use direct quotation. Slightly altering the author's wording and mimicking the author's syntax are both plagiarism, whether you use a parenthetical citation or not. Questions? See the section on plagiarism.

(based on Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide by James D. Lester; New York: Longman, 1999, and

the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Fourth Edition).

Ready to move on? Proceed to step #8: "How Do I Handle Parenthetical Citations?"