We use quotations and paraphrasing in our writing to acknowledge that we are incorporating language and ideas into our writing that we have found from other sources.
A quotation uses the exact words of a source's author. Paraphrasing expresses an author's ideas from a source but is written using your own words. Whenever you use a source (ideas or words from someone else), you must cite your source.
Plagiarism is the intentional or unintentional use of someone else’s words or thoughts without giving proper credit to the author. Plagiarism usually means improper or inadequate citation when:
Make sure that you are giving appropriate credit when you use:
Watch this video to learn how to include quotations in your essays in a seamless and effective way. You can also download the Using Quotations in Essays Without Making a Splash Video Transcript .
Complete this activity to learn more about quotations and how to include them in your essays. opens in new window
A quotation, or quote, is someone else’s thoughts or ideas used word-for-word in an essay in order to provide evidence or support.
Quotations are only one of the ways that you can integrate sources into your essay. Here are the reasons you might choose to use a quotation instead of a paraphrasing or summarizing:
If the exact wording of an argument is not important, consider paraphrasing or summarizing the passage.
When you include a quotation, it is helpful to integrate the quote into your sentence or paragraph by giving some context to the quotation. The following verbs and phrases are among those commonly used to introduce quotations:
All quotations should be credited to the source in both the essay and in a Works Cited page. Some well-known style guides include the MLA, the APA, and the Chicago Manual. Quotations are formatted differently depending on their length. The following examples are in the MLA style.
Normally, quotations should be integrated into the paragraph while maintaining the flow of the essay. Short quotations are identified by the use of quotation marks. Punctuation within a quotation should remain unchanged except for the last period in the sentence, which should instead appear after the citation.
In reference to the time period of “A Tale of Two Cities,” Dickens writes, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (11).
A quotation that is longer than three lines should be formatted as a block quotation. Long quotations should only be used when absolutely necessary as they may disrupt the flow of an essay and are sometimes viewed as an attempt by the writer to lengthen the essay. Note that quotation marks are not used for block quotations and that the citation sits outside of the ending period. Long quotations should be introduced with a colon after the lead in.
“A Tale of Two Cities” begins with a passage that effectively uses anaphora and oxymora to illustrate the parallels and contradictions present in the story:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, . . . we had everything before us, we had nothing before us . . . – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. (Dickens 11)
A quotation may have to be altered because it is too long, or its tense or grammatical structure is different from the rest of the essay. Missing text is indicated with an ellipsis (. . .). Other changes to the text should be within square brackets.
Dickens describes the great divide between the rich and the poor before the French Revolution as, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, . . . we had everything before us, we had nothing before us” (11). At the end of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Prospero wishes to return to a real life in Milan, where “every third thought shall be [his] grave” (V.i.308).
A quotation should be followed by an analysis of its importance. It should provide support for, but never take the place of, the writer’s argument. As such, the writer should try to avoid ending a paragraph with a quotation.
A summary is a brief description of the main ideas or concepts in an essay, article or story. It is very useful in determining what information is necessary and what information acts as ‘filler’; that is, what are unnecessary details. It is often an account of someone else’s ideas, and so it is important to give credit to the author. When somebody reads your summary, they should be able to get a clear idea of what the essay, article or story is about without actually reading the original.
When writing a summary, it is useful to know what to include.
Summarizing essays and articles is different from summarizing works of fiction. When you are summarizing an essay or an article keep in mind the following:
Here are some tips to help you write a summary:
A paraphrase is the rewording of a passage into one’s own words. It generally deals with smaller sections of text, such as one paragraph, rather than an entire story or essay.
Paraphrasing is used for information in non-fiction documents.
It is usually used to restate a piece of information for use as a secondary source in an essay. Fiction, however, is more focused on descriptive language and can't be captured effectively by paraphrasing.
Paraphrasing is primarily about summarizing information in non-fiction documents.
A summary condenses and highlights only the key points in a passage, whereas a paraphrase restates the original in different words. A summary is a more useful tool for dealing with an essay or story. It helps to highlight only the main points. A paraphrase is more useful for indirectly quoting small passages from a source, by telling exactly what it says, but saying it in your own words.
Shared language is the language shared among a group of people in a certain discipline or genre.
The following categories are types of shared language:
You do not need to cite shared language. It is more like terminology than a way of expressing something. It is better to use shared language than to attempt to express simple concepts in your own words.