How to Put a Quote in an Essay


Using a direct quote in your essay is a great way to support your ideas with concrete evidence, which you need to support your thesis. To select a good quote, look for a passage that supports your argument and is open to analysis. Then, incorporate that quote into your essay, and make sure you properly cite it based on the style guide you’re using.

Part 1
Incorporating a Short Quote

Incorporating a Short Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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A short quote is anything that is shorter than 4 typed lines. When you use a short quote, include it directly in your paragraph, along with your own words. To help the reader understand the quote and why you're using it, write a full sentence that includes the quote, rather than just lifting a sentence from another work and putting it into your paper.[1] For instance, let's say this is the quote you want to use: "The brown leaves symbolize the death of their relationship, while the green buds suggest new opportunities will soon unfold." If you just type that sentence into your essay and put quotes around it, your reader will be disoriented. Instead, you could incorporate it into a sentence like this: "The imagery in the story mirrors what's happening in Lia's love life, as 'The brown leaves symbolize the death of their relationship, while the green buds suggest new opportunities will soon unfold.'"

Incorporating a Short Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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The lead in provides some context to the quote. It lets the reader know that you're presenting evidence or support, as well as where that support comes from. In many cases, you'll use the author's name, but this isn't always necessary. Here are some examples of how to introduce a short quote:[2] "Critic Alex Li says, 'The frequent references to the color blue are used to suggest that the family is struggling to cope with the loss of their matriarch.'" "According to McKinney’s research, 'Adults who do yoga at least three times a week have lower blood pressure, better sleeping patterns, and fewer everyday frustrations.'" "Based on several recent studies, people are more likely to sit on the park benches when they're shaded by trees."

Incorporating a Short Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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Use quotation marks anytime you include someone else's words in your own paper. This lets the reader know that you have borrowed from another writer. As long as you use quotation marks and cite the source where you got the material, you can use someone else's ideas without plagiarizing.[3] You still need to use quotation marks even if you're only quoting a few words. If you're in doubt, it's best to be cautious and use quotes.

Incorporating a Short Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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A quote doesn’t support your ideas unless you analyze it and link it back to your thesis. After the quote, write 1-3 sentences explaining what the quote means, why it supports your topic sentence, and how it supports your argument overall.[4] For example, let’s say you used the quote, “According to McKinney’s research, ‘Adults who do yoga at least three times a week have lower blood pressure, better sleeping patterns, and fewer everyday frustrations.’” Your commentary might read, “This shows that yoga can have a positive impact on people’s health, so incorporating it into the workplace can help improve employee health outcomes. Since yoga makes employees healthier, they’ll likely have reduced insurance costs.”

Incorporating a Short Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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Paraphrasing is when you restate someone else’s ideas in your own words. It’s a great way to incorporate evidence into your paper without using a direct quote every time. Although you don’t need to use quotes around a paraphrase, you do need to cite it.[5] When you use a paraphrase, you still need to provide commentary that links the paraphrased material back to your thesis and ideas.

Part 2
Using a Long Quote

Using a Long Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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A long quote is anything that’s longer than 4 typed lines. You’ll present these quotes in a block of text set off from the rest of your paragraph. Because the quote is set off in a block, you don’t need to put quotation marks around it.[6] The reader will recognize that the material is a direct quote because it's set off from the rest of the text. That's why you don't need to use quotation marks. However, you will include your citation at the bottom.

Using a Long Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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For a block quote, your lead in will be an entire sentence that explains what the reader should understand after reading the block quote. At the end of this sentence, put a colon. Then, put your block quote. This is how you would lead into a block quote:[7] "In The Things They Carried, the items carried by soldiers in the Vietnam war are used to both characterize them and burden the readers with the weight they are carrying: The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water." (O'Brien 2) Variation: When you're citing twoor more paragraphs, you must useblock quotes, even if the passageyou want to quote is less thanfour lines long. You shouldindent the first line of eachparagraph an extra quarter inch.Then, use ellipses (…) at theend of one paragraph totransition to the next.Variation: When you're citing two ormore paragraphs, you must use blockquotes, even if the passage you wantto quote is less than four lines long.You should indent the first line ofeach paragraph an extra quarter inch.Then, use ellipses (…) at the end ofone paragraph to transition to thenext.Variation: When you're citing two or moreparagraphs, you must use block quotes, evenif the passage you want to quote is lessthan four lines long. You should indent thefirst line of each paragraph an extraquarter inch. Then, use ellipses (…) atthe end of one paragraph to transition tothe next.Variation: When you're citing two or more paragraphs, you must use blockquotes, even if the passage you want to quote is less than four lineslong. You should indent the first line of each paragraph an extraquarter inch. Then, use ellipses (…) at the end of one paragraph totransition to the next.Variation: When you're citing two or more paragraphs, you must use blockquotes, even if the passage you want to quote is less than four lines long.You should indent the first line of each paragraph an extra quarter inch.Then, use ellipses (…) at the end of one paragraph to transition to thenext.

Using a Long Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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5 inches (1.3 cm) from the left margin. Press the tab key to move the lines over. Make sure your entire quote is indented so that your reader will recognize that it's set off from the rest of the text.[8] Your block quote will use the same spacing as the rest of your paper, which will likely be double-spacing.

Using a Long Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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Sometimes you want to shorten a quote to help your reader better understand why it supports your argument. Similarly, you may want to cut out words that aren’t essential to the quote’s meaning. To cut out a word or words, you just need to put an ellipsis (...) in place of the words.[9] For example, “According to Li, “Rosa is the first sister to pick a rose because she’s the only one who’s begun to move on after their mother’s death” might become “According to Li, “Rosa is the first sister to pick a rose because she’s … begun to move on after their mother’s death.” Don’t eliminate words to change the meaning of the original text. For instance, it’s not appropriate to use an ellipsis to change “plants did not grow faster when exposed to poetry” to “plants did … grow faster when exposed to poetry.”

Using a Long Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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Sometimes you need to add a word or words to a quote in order for your reader to understand it. This can help you explain pronouns used in the direct quote or further explain what a quote is referencing. Brackets allow you to add or replace words, as long as you don’t change the meaning of the text.[10] For example, let’s say you want to use the quote, “All of them experienced a more relaxed, calmer disposition after doing yoga for 6 months.” This doesn’t tell the reader who you’re talking about. You could use brackets to say, “All of [the teachers in the study] experienced a more relaxed, calmer disposition after doing yoga for 6 months.” However, if you know the study is talking about teachers, you couldn’t use brackets to say, “All of [society experiences] a more relaxed, calmer disposition after doing yoga for 6 months.”

Using a Long Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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A block quote requires more commentary than a short quote. At a minimum, write 2-3 sentences analyzing the quote and linking it back to your thesis. However, you may need to provide longer commentary to fully explain the quote to your reader.[11] If you don't explain your quote well, then it's not helping your ideas. You can't expect the reader to connect the quote back to your thesis for you.

Using a Long Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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Paraphrasing is a great way to avoid using a long quote in your paper. Unless the author's original words are necessary to make your point, rewrite the passage in your own words. Try to condense the original author's ideas into 1 or 2 sentences that support your argument. Then, incorporate your paraphrase into your paragraph, without using quotation marks. However, do include a citation to let your reader know where you found those ideas.[12] For instance, you may prefer to use a long block quote to present a passage from a literary work that demonstrates the author's style. However, let's say you were using a journal article to provide a critic's perspective on an author's work. You may not need to directly quote an entire paragraph word-for-word to get their point across. Instead, use a paraphrase. Tip: If you’re unsure about aquote, ask yourself, “Can Iparaphrase this in more conciselanguage and not lose any supportfor my argument?” If the answeris yes, a quote is not necessary.Tip: If you’re unsure about a quote,ask yourself, “Can I paraphrase thisin more concise language and not loseany support for my argument?” If theanswer is yes, a quote is notnecessary.Tip: If you’re unsure about a quote, askyourself, “Can I paraphrase this in moreconcise language and not lose any supportfor my argument?” If the answer is yes, aquote is not necessary.Tip: If you’re unsure about a quote, ask yourself, “Can I paraphrasethis in more concise language and not lose any support for myargument?” If the answer is yes, a quote is not necessary.Tip: If you’re unsure about a quote, ask yourself, “Can I paraphrase thisin more concise language and not lose any support for my argument?” If theanswer is yes, a quote is not necessary.

Part 3
Citing Your Quote

Citing Your Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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Write out the author’s last name, then list the numerical page number. You don’t need to separate them with a comma, and you don’t need to put “p.” or “page” before the page number.[13] An MLA citation will look like this: (Lopez 24) For sources with multiple authors, separate their names with the word “and:” (Anderson and Smith 55-56) or (Taylor, Gomez, and Austin 89) If you use the author’s name in your lead-in to the quote, you just need to provide the year in parentheses: According to Luz Lopez, “the green grass symbolizes a fresh start for Lia (24).”

Citing Your Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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Write the author’s name, then put a comma. Add the year and another comma. Finally, write “p.” followed by the page number.[14] An APA citation for a direct quote looks like this: (Ronan, 2019, p. 10) If you’re citing multiple authors, separate their names with the word “and:” (Cruz, Hanks, and Simmons, 2019, p. 85) If you incorporated the author’s name into your lead-in, you can just give the year and page number: Based on Ronan’s (2019, p. 10) analysis, “coffee breaks improve productivity.”

Citing Your Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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List the author’s last name and then the date, but don’t put a comma between them. After the date, put a comma and then the page numbers. You don’t need to write “p.” or “page.”[15] For instance, a Chicago Style citation will look like this: (Alexander 2019, 125) If you’re quoting a source with multiple authors, separate them with the word “and:” (Pattinson, Stewart, and Green 2019, 175) If you already incorporated the author’s name into your quote, then you can just provide the year and page number: According to Alexander, “the smell of roses increases feelings of happiness” (2019, 125).

Citing Your Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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Each style guide has its own requirements for listing your reference sources, so make sure you follow the style guide you're using to format your paper. For MLA formatting, you'll prepare a Works Cited page, APA formatting requires a References page, and Chicago Style formatting will have either a References page or a Bibliography. On this page, list all of your sources in alphabetical order, along with the publishing information. This allows your reader to find the sources you used in your paper.[16] For MLA, you'd cite an article like this: Lopez, Luz. "A Fresh Blossom: Imagery in 'Her Darkest Sunshine.'" Journal of Stories, vol. 2, no. 5, 2019, p. 15-22.[17] In APA, you'd cite an article like this: Lopez, Luz. (2019). A Fresh Blossom: Imagery in "Her Darkest Sunshine." Journal of Stories, 2(5), 15-22.[18] For Chicago Style, your article citation would look like this: Lopez, Luz. "A Fresh Blossom: Imagery in 'Her Darkest Sunshine.'" Journal of Stories 2 no. 4 (2019): 15-22.[19]

Part 4
Selecting a Quote

Selecting a Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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The quote should act as “evidence” for what you want the reader to believe. This might include an expert opinion, study results, or statistics. If you’re writing about literature, you can directly quote from the text to illustrate a point or quote the words of a critic to support your claims about a text.[20]Tip: Quotes are most effectivewhen the original language of theperson or text you’re quotingis worth repeating word-for-word.Tip: Quotes are most effective whenthe original language of the person ortext you’re quoting is worthrepeating word-for-word.Tip: Quotes are most effective when theoriginal language of the person or textyou’re quoting is worth repeatingword-for-word.Tip: Quotes are most effective when the original language of the personor text you’re quoting is worth repeating word-for-word.Tip: Quotes are most effective when the original language of the person ortext you’re quoting is worth repeating word-for-word.

Selecting a Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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You don’t want to just drop a quote in your paragraph and keep writing. This doesn’t help you support your arguments, as you haven’t linked the quote back to your own ideas. Without analysis, you can’t make your point to the reader.[21] If you’re struggling to explain the quote or link it back to your argument, then it’s likely not a good idea to include it in your essay.

Selecting a Quote on How to Put a Quote in an Essay

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Using a lot of direct quotes will take away from your own ideas. This can undermine your argument and make you lose credibility with your reader. Try not to use more than 1 direct quote in a paragraph. Instead, use a paraphrase or a summary to support your ideas.[22] Paraphrases and summaries work just like a direct quote, except that you don’t need to put quotation marks around them because you’re using your own words to restate ideas. However, you still need to cite the sources you used.