How to Use Quotes Effectively

Build Your Credibility

In almost any piece of written document, you will find yourself needing to refer to the works of others. Since writers are constantly making claims relative to other people, it is important to know how to use quotes correctly.

Please note that summarizing is completely different than quoting. Summarizing involves the writer’s use of paraphrasing another author’s idea. Summarizing is useful; however, too much summarizing can do a disservice to your paper.

By learning how to use quotes properly in your paper, you are allowing your paper to have a tremendous amount of credibility. By using the exact words of an author you are ensuring that the information you are stating is accurate.

Here are some tips on how to use quotes effectively:

  • Do not simply quote something and assume your readers know what the quote means. Many writers mistakenly insert a quote in their paper and assume that the quotation speaks for themselves. Just because a quotes meaning may be obvious to you, do not assume it is obvious to others.
  • Explain every quote. Explain to your readers what the quote is actually saying and how it helps to further prove your point. Some quotes may require a longer explanation than others. Don’t assume a one sentence explanation for each quote is going to be sufficient.
  • Avoid “dangling quotes”. “Dangling quotes” are quotes that are inserted into a paper and are either not explained or have no real relevance to the paper you are writing.
  • Choose meaningful quotes. It is hard and can be time consuming to find quotes that further advance your argument. However, if you spend some time thinking about what you want to do with each quote, it will save you time in the end. As you edit your paper, you may find that some quotes are not needed while others you may want to add.
  • Just how you must explain each quote, you must also introduce each quote. Think of each quote as a sandwich. You must introduce them, which is the top bread; insert the quote, which is the meat; and explain them, which is the bottom bread.

Here are some sample introductory phrases to introduce your quote:

  • According to AUTHOR, “_____________”(2).
  • AUTHOR explains/claims/argues/emphasizes that, “________________”(16).
  • AUTHOR agrees when he writes, “__________________”(36-37).
  • In his book, _________, AUTHOR writes that “______________”(4).
  • Notice that after the quote is written there is no period. The period follows the prentices which contains only the page number.

    If you have not already introduced the author elsewhere in your paper, the prentices should contain the last name of the author and the page number, written like this: (Jones 4).

Remember that if you use quotes or make references that are not your own, you need to create a works cited page. For more information on how to create a works cited page, click here.

Here are some samples concluding sentences that help explain your quote:

  • AUTHOR is pointing out that….
  • Basically, AUTHOR is saying that….
  • AUTHOR is insisting that….

Sample “sandwiched quote:” In the book Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achbe states, “ Umuofia has indeed changed during the seven years Okonkwo had been in exile. The church had come and led many astray. Not only the low-born and the outcast but sometimes a worthy man had joined it” (174). Basically, Achbe is saying that the colonialism coming to their town effected many people. Not only were the families of low worth being effected by the new church and its rituals but so are people that have high titles. This shows the strong impact that the church had on these people during this time.

Notice how this quote is introduced and provides an explanation to what the quote is actually saying.

Again, never assume your readers know what point you are trying to make.

Learning how to use quotes can seem time-consuming, but these are very simple templates that can guide you.

Remember quoting can help to integrate the author’s words more effectively. It also strengthens your argument and if you explained each quote, your readers will find your quoted references very credible.

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