How to Put a Quote in an Essay

How to write a quote

Incorporating direct quotes into your writing is an excellent way to expand upon and back up your ideas with solid, fact based evidence. Additionally, quotes help to support your argument and can be used to develop your topic ideas or thesis statement. However, in order for your paper to look polished, and also to remove all risk of being accused of (or committing) plagiarism you must understand how to properly cite any quotes you decide to use.

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It doesn’t matter which style of writing you are using – all literary styles require the use of proper citations whenever you are including words that are not your own in your work. Take note, if you use a quote in your essay and you neglect to give the proper credit to the original source – you are committing plagiarism. At a grade school, or even a high school level, sometimes this might be overlooked as a novice error or inexperienced oversight. However, at the college level or higher, this could result in expulsion. In order to incorporate a quote into your paper, you will also need to create a corresponding reference page at the end of the essay.

How to start an essay with a quote

Writing the perfect introduction for an essay is often the most arduous part involved in creating an essay. While it is true that there are many ways to write an introductory paragraph, there will be times where it will make sense to start a paper with a quotation. Selecting the most appropriate quote, and understanding how to best incorporate it into an outline of your own verbiage is a sure fine way to get your essay off the ground.

First things first, steer clear from overused quotes and clichés – you know, the ones that litter your Facebook newsfeeds. Unless it is extremely relevant, your reader will not want to read the same quote they’ve read day in and day out – “Keep calm and…” anyone?

Consider using a surprising or shocking comment.

  • Use a quote from someone that you would not have expected them to say
  • Quote someone who is not a major celebrity (James Earl Jones and Ben Stiller have said enough!)
  • Consider using a well-known quote, but question it. Contradict what the original author said, prove them wrong, or use it to paint an even bigger picture, analyzing their words to find a greater meaning.

Research the quote in context; this will help you to best determine whether or not it should be included in your essay. To expand on this, make sure you know who you are speaking to.

  • Will you reader be familiar with the person you are quoting?
  • Could the quote be viewed as offensive in anywhere?

Using quotes in your essay is a good way to hook the reader, engaging with them and enticing them to continue reading. Whichever quote you choose to use, make sure that it contributes to your essay and doesn’t distract from it. A quote that is entirely unrelated to your topic with only serve as a distraction, and might potentially confuse your readers.

How to quote a quote

Using a quote in your paper is pretty straightforward; quoting a quote, however, requires a little more attention to detail.

Firstly, you will need to determine the part of the secondary source that you wish to quote. For explanation purposes, the secondary source is the work that uses the quote that you wish to include in your paper – this is also referred to as an indirect quote. Whenever you endeavor to call upon only a portion of the writing from the secondary source, it is best to utilize the most relevant segment that creates a strong comment about the quote being used indirectly.

It is in good practice to remember to properly introduce the secondary source, prior to using the quote. For example, you might choose to write: According to Myles McLeish, author of A journey through the psyche of the broken man.

Secondary quotes are identified differently than standard passages. Use “double quotation marks” to indicate the secondary source, and ‘single quotation marks’ to indicate the quote itself. You may also need to include a parenthetical citation after the author’s surname.

  • When following APA citation guidelines, you will include the publication year after the name of the writer. The page number will come after the quote.
  • Under the MLA citation guidelines, you will add the page number after the name of the author.

Do not forget to include the entry into your reference list. You reference list should contain every single source that you’ve included parenthetical citations for in the body of the essay. In the event that you are using indirect quotes, you need only to list the secondary source on your reference list.

How to cite a quote

How you will cite a quote depends largely on the citation method or style that you’ve been instructed to use. For example, under MLA (Modern Language Association) citation style, you will cite the full name of the writer and also the page number every time you include a quote in your essay. If you were instead using APA style, you would also have to include the year that the quote was written – in the body of the essay – and again in the corresponding reference page.

Citing shorter quotes: Adhering to MLA style guidelines, a short quote is defined as anything that is smaller in length four typed lines. If the quote you are incorporating into your work meets that requirement, you will a.) use double quotation marks to enclose the quote, b.) write out the author’s surname, c.) include the page number.

It is acceptable to input the name of the author either before the quote, or in parentheses at the conclusion of the quote. The page number will be written at the end, there is no need to use anything to signify that it is a page number.

Start the habit of briefly introducing the quote with a short paragraph, don’t just slap in a quote and hope that the readers can figure it out on their own. You can also use your introduction to introduce the author in place of using their name in parentheses at the end. Another option is to introduce the quote, input your citation, and then add commentary.

Citing long quotes: Following the MLA standard, a long quote is any quotation that is longer than four typed lines in length. When including these in your writing, you will be required to enter the quote in a free standing block of text – without quotation marks. It is acceptable to introduce the quote with a short line of text and a colon, indent the first line of the quote used and use double spacing. The quote will end with the proper punctuation, and be followed by the surname of the author and the page number in parentheses.

In the event that you need to cite multiple paragraphs, you will need to utilize block quotes. These is true even if each part of the paragraph has fewer than four typed lines. Remember to indent the first line of every paragraph and to use ellipses at the end of a paragraph when you need to transition to the next.

Adding or removing words: If you need to add to or alter a quote in order to suit the context of your essay, or when you need to remove words that may not be relevant to your argument, there are a few steps that you should follow:

  • Use brackets to include your own information, in order to assist the reader in understanding the context of a quotation
  • Use ellipses (…) to remove parts of a quote that might now be relevant to your paper

Citing a quote with more than one author: If you need to cite a quotation that comes from multiple authors, it is necessary to divide the names of each author with commas and the word ‘and’.

Citing online quotes: Citing quotes found online can be a little more difficult than quotes taken from publications or books, largely because you won’t be able to find relevant information like page numbers. However, you should try to include as much information as possible, such as the name of the writer, the year the writing was written, or the name of the source the quote was taken from.

Quote examples

Example of a short quote:  Some will attest that dreams express “profound aspects of personality” (Foulkes 184), however, several others believe differently.

Example of long quote:  Ms Dean shows poor character in how she dehumanizes Heathcliffe:

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. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw’s door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78)

Adding or removing words: In a paper written about the history of urban legends, J. Brunvarnd explains that “some individuals make point of learning every recent rumor or tale…and in a short time an exchange of details occurs.” (78)

Also, you can use our Free Plagiarism Checkers to make sure your text is unique.

Inspirational quotes

Inspirational quotes have become somewhat of a modern day staple. They are everywhere: on social media, on posters, on billboards, there are even desk calendars to be purchased that share a new inspirational quote every day.

You might be wondering why you should consider using inspirational quotes in your essays. To put it lightly, incorporating the right quotes into your work will not only bolster your argument, but it will also better convince the reader to adopt your point of view.

Depending on the context of your essay, or the nature of your topic, there are times when an inspirational quote might be the glue that you need to tie it all together. For example, if you are writing an essay on a specific principle or concept and you want to encourage or motivate your audience, using a quote that closely relates to your thesis statement might be what your conclusion needs to transform it from just okay to amazing.

Inspirational quotes inspire, they motivate, they encourage, the provoke thought. You might even consider picking an inspirational quote to base your entire essay on. For example, Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” could be used as a topic outline for an essay on adult education, starting your own business, or even living the life of an expat.

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