The use of quotations depends on your subject. English essays will make more use of quotations whereas science reports rarely use them.

Use quotations sparingly :

  • When the author’s words are very good at getting your point across
  • When paraphrasing would lose the meaning of the text
  • When you want to highlight a well worded phrase or passage

When quoting an author verify that you are copying the exact phrase and include all of the punctuation.


Short quotations (less than 4 lines) are incorporated into your sentence. You need to formulate your sentence to make it flow from your words to the quotation with ease.

Example:  (using the MLA citation style)

Prough concludes that manga has become “an emissary of Japan” (145).


Block quotations are used when the quotation takes up 4 lines or more in your paper or when you want to emphasize the text. The quotation is indented to set it apart from your text. You do not add quotation marks. Block quotations are used more often when quoting from literature or fiction.

Example: (using the MLA citation style)

In The Time Traveler’s Wife  Henry tries to explain how it feels to suddenly leave the present:

When I am out there, in time, I am inverted, changed into a desperate version of myself. I become a thief, a vagrant, an animal who runs and hides. I startle old women and amaze children. I am a trick, an illusion of the highest order, so incredible that I am actually true. (Niffenegger 3)


Quoting poetry

A short quotation is integrated into your sentence. If the quotation includes more than 1 line of poetry use a slash mark to indicate the end of a line.

Example: (using the MLA citation style)

In his poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”, Dylan Thomas writes: “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight / Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay” (lines 13-14).

For longer pieces of poetry use the method of block quotations (see above) and quote the poem as it appears on the original page.

Example: (using the MLA citation style)

In Thomas’ poem the speaker is addressing his dying father:

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (16-19)


Consult the section Citation Styles for the correct way to reference your quotes.