A quote is an excerpt from a source which is reproduced exactly in your paper (for instance, copying & pasting a sentence in your text). Quotes are most often enclosed within quotation marks.

How much you should use quotations depends on your course. English essays will make more use of quotations whereas science reports rarely use them.

In general, it’s best to use quotations sparingly. Use them when…

  • When the author’s words are very good at getting their point across
  • When paraphrasing would mean losing 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

  • Short quotations (less than 4 lines) are included into one of your sentences.
  • Make sure to write your sentence to incorporate the quote in a way that feels natural. The quote should not break the flow of the text.

Example (using the MLA citation style)

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

Block quotations

  • 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

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

Example (block quotation 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)

Tip: Consult the pages under the Citation Styles button for the correct way to reference your quotes.