What is quoting?
A direct quotation (often referred to as “quotes”) is the exact language taken from source material. Direct quotations match the source material word-for-word and must be contained within quotation marks, usually introduced with a “says” verb or integrated into your own sentence structure.
When should I quote?
It’s best to directly quote when you’re referencing an idea or example in a text that would lose meaning or impact if you were to change the wording. For example, if there is a certain vocabulary that feels necessary to accurately capture the text’s meaning, you should directly quote it. Or, if the author writes the idea in a particularly striking way that would lose affect if you were to reword it, you should directly quote it. Directly quoting other sources in your paper allows you to:
- Present especially compelling ideas in the author’s own language
- Underscore key words or phrases relevant to your topic
- Make more specific connections between your evidence and analysis by examining exact language from the text
How do I directly quote?
To approach directly quoting a source, try the following steps:
- Decide which quotations from the text are relevant, important, and/or helpful to your paper and why (writing notes for yourself about why you’re choosing these quotations will help you with developing your analysis for them later! 😊 It’s also helpful to note citation information as you go!)
- Think about how you want to integrate your direct quotation into your writing— there’s a variety of ways to do this. You might use a classic TAG line, like “According to,” or you might bring quoted material into your own sentence structure. There are many ways to integrate quotations effectively, and it’s ideal to use variety to keep your writing fresh and interesting. For more guidance on how you can integrate direct quotations into your writing, view our handout on Integrating Direct Quotations Into Writing.
- Be sure to use quotation marks around the exact passage you’re referencing from the text
- Always cite at the end of the sentence containing the quoted material!
Examples of directly quoting
Here is an example of a writer directly quoting an excerpt of a passage from the source “Enter the Avatar: The Phenomenology of Prosthetic Telepresence in Computer Games” by Rune Klevjer in their essay about player participation and embodied experience in video games:
Klevjer addresses a tension that exists within the question of the avatar as either utilitarian or persona with the cursor analogy. According to Klevjer, the cursor analogy suggests that “the avatar is no more than a tool, a capacity for action, an instrument” that is often found in fighting games or franchises like Mario 64 (18).
Things to keep in mind when directly quoting
Some important things to remain mindful of while quoting in your assignments are:
- Direct quotations should appear in your writing exactly as they do in the original source material— including capitalization, punctuation, and spelling
- Remember to check if you’ve sandwiched your quoted material inside two quotation marks! It’s easy to forget to close the quotation when we’re in drafting mode, so it can be helpful to make this a part of your check list 😊
- If you need to mark a misspelling or grammatical error in the original source material within your quotation, you can use [sic] beside the text to indicate you intentionally wrote it this way to match the source material. For example, if in the source material the author wrote, “The manuvers produced no results,” you can write: “The manuvers [sic] produced no results.”
- Generally, it’s best to keep your quotations 1-2 lines at a time so that you don’t overwhelm your readers with a lot of quoted text. If your quotation is longer than 4 lines of text, you’ll need to use block quotation formatting
- You can modify direct quotations as needed to omit irrelevant information (using ellipses) or clarify information by adding words (using square brackets). Your modifications should not change the original meaning of the author’s passage
- Be judicious with your direct quotations! Your quotations should not be the star of your show; if your essay is a concert, you’re the headliner and your direct quotations are just your back-up singers; don’t let them outshine you— your readers will want to hear your voice the most throughout your paper 😊
Practice in the Writing Center
For more support and guidance on paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting, make an appointment with us here at the Writing Center! We’ll work with you on effectively integrating a variety of material into your writing and help you feel more confident pulling up a chair to the scholarly conversation 😊