Quoting

Effective use of quotations

In general, use direct quotations sparingly and only for good reason. Remember that most of your writing should be in your own words. However, incorporating the exact words of others into your text can enrich your argument.

You can use quotations to:

  • Show support for your own ideas.
  • Present a statement to comment on.
  • Include an especially significant piece of information or detail.
  • Present a well-stated passage whose meaning would be lost or changed if paraphrased or summarised.


Direct quotations should exactly match the original source in terms of spelling and punctuation; Where alterations or corrections are required, these can be indicated by the use of square brackets.

  • Three ellipsis points [...] indicate material that has been omitted from the original. Use four ellipsis points to indicate any omission between sentences.
  • An error can be indicated by [sic] (Latin for thus) directly following the incorrect material.
  • Anything added or changed in order to render the directly quoted material grammatically compatible with your text must be contained in square brackets.


APA quotations

The format varies depending on whether the source is in print or electronic form.

Print sources - for all print sources you must include the page number.

Smith (1983) stated that "sales people with high need for achievement sell the most kitchen appliances, whereas those with low need for achievement are better at selling garden tools" (p. 25).


Electronic sources - many electronic sources (other than PDF documents) have no page numbers.

If available, use paragraph numbers instead using the ¶ sign, or the abbreviation para.

As Thompson (1999, ¶ 2) states, "sales performance is based on ..."


If there are neither page numbers nor paragraph numbers cite the document heading and the number of the ¶ following the heading to direct the reader to the location of the quoted material.

"Sales performance can be improved through ..." (Thompson, 1999, Conclusion section, ¶ 1).


Short quotations - Quotations of fewer than 40 words should be incorporated into the text and enclosed with double quotation marks.

Long quotations - Quotations of 40 words or more should be placed in a double-spaced block of typewritten lines indented 5-7 spaces from the left margin. Omit the quotation marks and the usual opening paragraph indent.

Miele (1993) found the following:

The "placebo effect," which had been verified in previous studies, disappeared when behaviours were studied in this manner. Furthermore, the behaviours were never exhibited again [italics added], even when real [sic] drugs were ad-ministered. Earlier studies (e.g., Abdullah, 1984; Fox, 1979) were clearly premature in attributing the results to a placebo effect (p. 276).

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MLA quotations

The format varies depending on whether the source is in print or electronic form.

Print sources - for all print sources you must include the page number.

According to Smith, "sales people with high need for achievement sell the most kitchen appliances, whereas those with low need for achievement are better at selling garden tools" (25).


Electronic sources - many electronic sources (other than PDF documents) have no page numbers. If available, cite relevant section number (sec.) or paragraph number (par.).

As Thompson suggests, "sales performance is based on unmitigated bloody-minded determination" (sec. 2 par. 4).


Short quotations - Prose quotations of fewer than four lines and requiring no special emphasis should be placed within double quotation marks and incorporated into the text. (see examples above)

Long quotations - Quotations of more than four lines should be introduced by a colon, off-set from the text, begin on a new line, be indented one inch or ten spaces from the left margin, be double-spaced, and be without quotation marks. A parenthetical reference follows the last line of the quotation.

Eoin Mac Neill's observation that simplicity is a significant structural trait of Irish literature is applicable to the Corca Laidhe. He writes:

One of the most striking characteristics of Irish literature is the absence of comprehensive design. Large design appears to be associated most with the complex life of cities or the complex order of great states. Ancient Ireland had neither [...]. A cognate characteristic of Irish literature is a certain carelessness of proportion and symmetry [...] (Neill, 16).

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Chicago quotations

A footnote number follows directly after the quotation. This number directs the reader to a footnote at the bottom of the page. The footnote provides detailed information about the work being cited, including the page number where the quoted material can be found.

According to Smith, "sales people with high need for achievement sell the most kitchen appliances, whereas those with low need for achievement are better at selling garden tools."1


Short quotations - Prose quotations of fewer than five lines should be placed within double quotation marks and incorporated into the text (see examples above).

Long quotations - Prose quotations of more than five lines should be presented as a single-spaced block quotation. Leave a blank line before and after the quote and indent the whole quote from the left margin. Do not add quotation marks.

Introduce the quote using your own words followed by : a colon – if you have written a complete sentence – or a comma if you use a phrase such as 'according to' along with the authors name. End the quote with a fullstop and the footnote number.

John Miles Foley addresses the issue of meaning in orally-derived narrative in "The Implications of Oral Tradition":

In the modern, literary work of art, we place the highest priority on a writer's personal manipulation of original or inherited materials, rewarding the work that strikes out boldly in a new direction by providing a perspective uniquely its own, memorable because it is new, fresh, or, best of all, inimitable. In such a case the work is praised for the finesse with which an author (not a tradition) confers meaning on his creation ... In contrast, a traditional work depends primarily on elements and strategies that were in place long before the execution of the present version or text, long before the present nominal author learned the inherited craft. Because the idiom is metonymic, summoning conventional connotations to conventional structures, we may say that the meaning it conveys is principally inherent.1


This distinction between 'conferred' and 'inherent' meaning ...

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ACS quotations

An endnote number follows directly after the quotation. This number directs the reader to an endnote at the bottom of the page. The endnote provides detailed information about the work being cited, including the page number where the quoted material can be found.

According to Chew and Maibach, "barrier creams should be tested against a variety of substances, and should only be marketed for protection against those specific substances."1


Short quotations - Prose quotations of fewer than 50 words should be placed within quotation marks and incorporated into the text (see examples above).

Long quotations - Prose quotations of more than 50 words should be presented as a single-spaced block quotation. Leave a blank line before and after the quote and indent the whole quote from the left margin. Do not add quotation marks.

Introduce the quote using your own words follow by : a colon – if you have written a complete sentence – or a comma if you use a phrase such as 'according to' along with the authors name. End the quote with a fullstop and the footnote number.

According to Linus Pauling, it is useful to apply the concept of resonance to chemical bonds in terms of pendulums and springs, but we must remember that the concept is problematic in the quantum-mechanical sense:

The convenience and value of the concept of resonance in discussing the problems of chemistry are so great as to make the disadvantage of the element of arbitrariness of little significance. This element occurs in the classical resonance phenomenon also—it is arbitrary to discuss the behaviour of a system of pendulums with connecting springs in terms of the motion of independent pendulums, since the motion can be described in a way that is mathematically simpler by use of the normal coordinates of the system—but the convenience and usefulness of the concept have nevertheless caused it to be widely applied.1


This concept is useful for developing ...

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