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How to Quote | Citing Quotes in APA, MLA & Chicago

Published on April 15, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Jack Caulfield. Revised on May 31, 2023.

Quoting means copying a passage of someone else’s words and crediting the source. To quote a source, you must ensure:

  • The quoted text is enclosed in quotation marks or formatted as a block quote
  • The original author is correctly cited
  • The text is identical to the original

The exact format of a quote depends on its length and on which citation style you are using. Quoting and citing correctly is essential to avoid plagiarism which is easy to detect with a good plagiarism checker .

How to Quote

Table of contents

How to cite a quote in apa, mla and chicago, introducing quotes, quotes within quotes, shortening or altering a quote, block quotes, when should i use quotes, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about quoting sources.

Every time you quote, you must cite the source correctly . This looks slightly different depending on the citation style you’re using. Three of the most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

Citing a quote in APA Style

To cite a direct quote in APA , you must include the author’s last name, the year, and a page number, all separated by commas . If the quote appears on a single page, use “p.”; if it spans a page range, use “pp.”

An APA in-text citation can be parenthetical or narrative. In a parenthetical citation , you place all the information in parentheses after the quote. In a narrative citation , you name the author in your sentence (followed by the year), and place the page number after the quote.

Punctuation marks such as periods and commas are placed after the citation, not within the quotation marks .

  • Evolution is a gradual process that “can act only by very short and slow steps” (Darwin, 1859, p. 510) .
  • Darwin (1859) explains that evolution “can act only by very short and slow steps” (p. 510) .

Complete guide to APA

Citing a quote in mla style.

An MLA in-text citation includes only the author’s last name and a page number. As in APA, it can be parenthetical or narrative, and a period (or other punctuation mark) appears after the citation.

  • Evolution is a gradual process that “can act only by very short and slow steps” (Darwin 510) .
  • Darwin explains that evolution “can act only by very short and slow steps” (510) .

Complete guide to MLA

Citing a quote in chicago style.

Chicago style uses Chicago footnotes to cite sources. A note, indicated by a superscript number placed directly after the quote, specifies the author, title, and page number—or sometimes fuller information .

Unlike with parenthetical citations, in this style, the period or other punctuation mark should appear within the quotation marks, followed by the footnote number.

Complete guide to Chicago style

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citing a quote in a research paper

Make sure you integrate quotes properly into your text by introducing them in your own words, showing the reader why you’re including the quote and providing any context necessary to understand it.  Don’t  present quotations as stand-alone sentences.

There are three main strategies you can use to introduce quotes in a grammatically correct way:

  • Add an introductory sentence
  • Use an introductory signal phrase
  • Integrate the quote into your own sentence

The following examples use APA Style citations, but these strategies can be used in all styles.

Introductory sentence

Introduce the quote with a full sentence ending in a colon . Don’t use a colon if the text before the quote isn’t a full sentence.

If you name the author in your sentence, you may use present-tense verbs , such as “states,” “argues,” “explains,” “writes,” or “reports,” to describe the content of the quote.

  • In Denmark, a recent poll shows that: “A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters” (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • In Denmark, a recent poll shows that support for the EU has grown since the Brexit vote: “A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters” (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • Levring (2018) reports that support for the EU has grown since the Brexit vote: “A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters” (p. 3).

Introductory signal phrase

You can also use a signal phrase that mentions the author or source, but doesn’t form a full sentence. In this case, you follow the phrase with a comma instead of a colon.

  • According to a recent poll, “A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters” (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • As Levring (2018) explains, “A membership referendum held today would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters” (p. 3).

Integrated into your own sentence

To quote a phrase that doesn’t form a full sentence, you can also integrate it as part of your sentence, without any extra punctuation .

  • A recent poll suggests that EU membership “would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters” in a referendum (Levring, 2018, p. 3).
  • Levring (2018) reports that EU membership “would be backed by 55 percent of Danish voters” in a referendum (p. 3).

When you quote text that itself contains another quote, this is called a nested quotation or a quote within a quote. It may occur, for example, when quoting dialogue from a novel.

To distinguish this quote from the surrounding quote, you enclose it in single (instead of double) quotation marks (even if this involves changing the punctuation from the original text). Make sure to close both sets of quotation marks at the appropriate moments.

Note that if you only quote the nested quotation itself, and not the surrounding text, you can just use double quotation marks.

  • Carraway introduces his narrative by quoting his father: “ “ Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, ” he told me, “ just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had ” ” (Fitzgerald 1).
  • Carraway introduces his narrative by quoting his father: “‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had ” (Fitzgerald 1).
  • Carraway introduces his narrative by quoting his father: “‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had’” (Fitzgerald 1).
  • Carraway begins by quoting his father’s invocation to “remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had” (Fitzgerald 1).

Note:  When the quoted text in the source comes from another source, it’s best to just find that original source in order to quote it directly. If you can’t find the original source, you can instead cite it indirectly .

Often, incorporating a quote smoothly into your text requires you to make some changes to the original text. It’s fine to do this, as long as you clearly mark the changes you’ve made to the quote.

Shortening a quote

If some parts of a passage are redundant or irrelevant, you can shorten the quote by removing words, phrases, or sentences and replacing them with an ellipsis (…). Put a space before and after the ellipsis.

Be careful that removing the words doesn’t change the meaning. The ellipsis indicates that some text has been removed, but the shortened quote should still accurately represent the author’s point.

Altering a quote

You can add or replace words in a quote when necessary. This might be because the original text doesn’t fit grammatically with your sentence (e.g., it’s in a different verb tense), or because extra information is needed to clarify the quote’s meaning.

Use brackets to distinguish words that you have added from words that were present in the original text.

The Latin term “ sic ” is used to indicate a (factual or grammatical) mistake in a quotation. It shows the reader that the mistake is from the quoted material, not a typo of your own.

In some cases, it can be useful to italicize part of a quotation to add emphasis, showing the reader that this is the key part to pay attention to. Use the phrase “emphasis added” to show that the italics were not part of the original text.

You usually don’t need to use brackets to indicate minor changes to punctuation or capitalization made to ensure the quote fits the style of your text.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

If you quote more than a few lines from a source, you must format it as a block quote . Instead of using quotation marks, you set the quote on a new line and indent it so that it forms a separate block of text.

Block quotes are cited just like regular quotes, except that if the quote ends with a period, the citation appears after the period.

To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf’s hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a mile or more. (16)

Avoid relying too heavily on quotes in academic writing . To integrate a source , it’s often best to paraphrase , which means putting the passage in your own words. This helps you integrate information smoothly and keeps your own voice dominant.

However, there are some situations in which quoting is more appropriate.

When focusing on language

If you want to comment on how the author uses language (for example, in literary analysis ), it’s necessary to quote so that the reader can see the exact passage you are referring to.

When giving evidence

To convince the reader of your argument, interpretation or position on a topic, it’s often helpful to include quotes that support your point. Quotes from primary sources (for example, interview transcripts or historical documents) are especially credible as evidence.

When presenting an author’s position or definition

When you’re referring to secondary sources such as scholarly books and journal articles, try to put others’ ideas in your own words when possible.

But if a passage does a great job at expressing, explaining, or defining something, and it would be very difficult to paraphrase without changing the meaning or losing the weakening the idea’s impact, it’s worth quoting directly.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

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A quote is an exact copy of someone else’s words, usually enclosed in quotation marks and credited to the original author or speaker.

In academic writing , there are three main situations where quoting is the best choice:

  • To analyze the author’s language (e.g., in a literary analysis essay )
  • To give evidence from primary sources
  • To accurately present a precise definition or argument

Don’t overuse quotes; your own voice should be dominant. If you just want to provide information from a source, it’s usually better to paraphrase or summarize .

Every time you quote a source , you must include a correctly formatted in-text citation . This looks slightly different depending on the citation style .

For example, a direct quote in APA is cited like this: “This is a quote” (Streefkerk, 2020, p. 5).

Every in-text citation should also correspond to a full reference at the end of your paper.

A block quote is a long quote formatted as a separate “block” of text. Instead of using quotation marks , you place the quote on a new line, and indent the entire quote to mark it apart from your own words.

The rules for when to apply block quote formatting depend on the citation style:

  • APA block quotes are 40 words or longer.
  • MLA block quotes are more than 4 lines of prose or 3 lines of poetry.
  • Chicago block quotes are longer than 100 words.

If you’re quoting from a text that paraphrases or summarizes other sources and cites them in parentheses , APA and Chicago both recommend retaining the citations as part of the quote. However, MLA recommends omitting citations within a quote:

  • APA: Smith states that “the literature on this topic (Jones, 2015; Sill, 2019; Paulson, 2020) shows no clear consensus” (Smith, 2019, p. 4).
  • MLA: Smith states that “the literature on this topic shows no clear consensus” (Smith, 2019, p. 4).

Footnote or endnote numbers that appear within quoted text should be omitted in all styles.

If you want to cite an indirect source (one you’ve only seen quoted in another source), either locate the original source or use the phrase “as cited in” in your citation.

In scientific subjects, the information itself is more important than how it was expressed, so quoting should generally be kept to a minimum. In the arts and humanities, however, well-chosen quotes are often essential to a good paper.

In social sciences, it varies. If your research is mainly quantitative , you won’t include many quotes, but if it’s more qualitative , you may need to quote from the data you collected .

As a general guideline, quotes should take up no more than 5–10% of your paper. If in doubt, check with your instructor or supervisor how much quoting is appropriate in your field.

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If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. & Caulfield, J. (2023, May 31). How to Quote | Citing Quotes in APA, MLA & Chicago. Scribbr. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/how-to-quote/

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Other students also liked, how to block quote | length, format and examples, how to paraphrase | step-by-step guide & examples, how to avoid plagiarism | tips on citing sources.

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  • Research Papers

How to Quote in a Research Paper

Last Updated: September 30, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 895,941 times.

A research paper can be made stronger through the use of quotations. You may use quotes when you need to cite a key piece of primary source material, strengthen your argument through another writer's work, or highlight a term of art. It is important to both use quotations effectively and cite them properly to write an effective paper and avoid plagiarizing.

citing a quote in a research paper

Using Different Types of Quotes

Step 1 Understand how to use dropped quotes.

  • Use a complete sentence to incorporate a dropped quote. Ex: As Rembrandt’s skill developed, he began painting landscapes that are “romantic and visionary” (Wallace 96).
  • Use a short phrase to incorporate a dropped quote: Rembrandt’s landscapes are “romantic and visionary” (Wallace 96).

Step 2 Understand how to use full sentence quotes.

  • Use a complete sentence to introduce a full sentence quote. Ex: Over the course of time Rembrandt’s work began to change and focus on different themes, but as Wallace points out: "Rembrandt’s great gift as an etcher lay in preserving a sense of spontaneity while scrupulously attending to close detail” (142).
  • Use a signal phrase to introduce your full sentence quote. Ex: As Wallace states, “Rembrandt’s great gift as an etcher lay in preserving a sense of spontaneity while scrupulously attending to close detail” (142).

Step 3 Understand how to use block quotes.

  • Introduce your block quote with a colon. Ex: According to Wallace: (add a line break here, and then indent the entire quote).
  • Block quotes do not use quotation marks. You have already stated who the author is/what is being referred to in the introduction sentence. Add the in-text parenthetical citation after the period at the end of the quote, though.
  • If your block quote is inside a paragraph, you don’t have to start a new paragraph at the end of it. Simply add another line break and begin writing along the left margin (with no indent). [4] X Research source However, you will need to indent the second paragraph by an extra 0.25 in (0.64 cm) if you are citing more than 1 paragraph. [5] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Step 4 Understand how to use indirect quotes.

  • Change the structure of the sentence by moving clauses around. Aim to change at least half of the sentence into a new structure, but also make sure that the grammar is correct and the meaning of the sentence is still clear. You can use a thesaurus to exchange words with synonyms.
  • Paraphrasing should only be done if you are certain that you understand the content you are copying. If you are unclear as to the meaning of the quote, you won’t be able to put it adequately into your own words.
  • When you write your paraphrase, don’t look at the quote. Keep the meaning in your head and create a new sentence to match. [7] X Research source

Formatting Your Quotes

Step 1 Know where to place commas and periods.

  • To use a comma, you might structure the quote with in sentence like this: “Yogurt provides beneficial bacteria to your gut,” so it is good to include 1 serving per day in your diet.
  • To use a period, you might structure the quote like this: “Carrots are a valuable source of vitamin A.”

Step 2 Know where to place exclamation points and question marks.

  • Example of a quotation that comes with a question mark: Alice said “but where will I go?” (24).
  • Example of asking a question about a quotation: With so much contention, will literary scholars ever agree on “the dream-like quality of Alice’s adventure” (39)?
  • Example of a question about a quoted question: At this point in the story, readers communally ask “but where will I go?” (24).

Step 3 Use ellipses correctly.

  • Ellipses can be used in the center of a quote to leave out words that you feel add unnecessary length to the statement without adding value. For example: As the man stated, “reading the book was...enlightening and life-changing.” This is done rather than: As the man stated, “reading the book over the last few weeks was not only incredibly enjoyable, but also enlightening and life-changing.”
  • Ellipses should be used only before or after a quote, not both. If you are only use a part of a quote from the center of a selection, it is just a partial or dropped quote. However, keep in mind that ellipses rarely come at the beginning of a quotation. [11] X Research source

Step 4 Use brackets correctly.

  • For example: As scholars have noted, “Rembrandt’s portrait of her [Henrickje, his mistress] was both accurate and emotion-filled” (Wallace 49).

Step 5 Use colons and semicolons correctly.

  • Ex: As Dormer has noted, “his work is much more valuable now then [sic] it was at the time of its creation.”

Quoting in Different Styles

Step 1 Quote in MLA format.

  • Ex: We can therefore ascertain that “Rembrandt’s decline in popularity may have been his dedication to Biblical painting” (Wallace 112).
  • Ex: According to some, “another reason for Rembrandt’s decline in popularity may have been his dedication to Biblical painting” (Wallace 112), but not everyone agree on this matter.
  • Ex: Wallace states that “another reason for Rembrandt’s decline in popularity may have been his dedication to Biblical painting” (112). [15] X Research source

Step 2 Quote in APA format.

  • Ex: As Billy’s character is described, we learn “Billy wasn’t a Catholic, even though he grew up with a ghastly crucifix on his wall” (Vonnegut 1969).
  • Ex: Vonnegut gives a factual statement with a clear opinion thrown in when he says “Billy wasn’t a Catholic, even though he grew up with a ghastly crucifix on his wall” (1969).
  • Ex: With the knowledge that “Billy wasn’t a Catholic, even though he grew up with a ghastly crucifix on his wall” (Vonnegut 1969), we begin to understand his philosophical standings.

Step 3 Quote in Chicago style.

Quoting Successfully

Step 1 Choose the quotations you want to use in the paper with care.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Keep a list of quotations as you take research notes, and star your favorites to return later. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Watch for quotations that are quoted by other researchers again and again. Often secondary material will give you hints to finding the best parts of the primary sources. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Quote the opposition so that you can directly pick apart their argument. It's easier to argue against someone if you're using exactly what they said and pointing out its flaws. Otherwise, the opposition can claim that you simply twisted their meaning. Rely on their words and attack directly. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

citing a quote in a research paper

  • Don't let a research paper become a sea of he-said, she-said. While you want to set up the arguments that have been made on both sides in the past, you also want to make a compelling argument for yourself. Rephrasing, re-organizing an argument, and synthesizing different arguments in your own words makes it clear that you understand what you've researched and makes the paper interesting to read. The reader is searching for a new way to understand the research or a new idea. Too many quotes tend to bury the lead. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Don't rely too heavily on one source. It's easy to fall in love with a single book when doing research, particularly if there aren't a lot of books on the subject and one author particularly agrees with you. Try to limit how much you quote that author, particularly if a lot of your argument is relying on his or her groundwork already. Look for quotations that complement or challenge that person, and provide your own analysis. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Don't be a sloppy note-taker. Unfortunately, accidental plagiarism is all too common, and it has serious consequences. You may not have meant to plagiarize, but if you write someone else's words down without indicating that you are using a direct quotation, you are plagiarizing whether it was intentional or not (after all, merely relying on lecture notes and not on your own research is lazy and not acknowledging direct quotes as you take notes from texts reflects poor organization). Always indicate quotations in your notes. It's also better to write down a lot of quotations and then paraphrase them later than to write down a paraphrased version. The danger here, particularly if you don't alter the quote much, is that you'll unwittingly change it back to the quotation later, in revision. It's better to have the original right in front of you. If you find yourself unable to choose better language, just quote it properly. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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Write a Research Paper

  • ↑ https://midway.libguides.com/c.php?g=1100261&p=8025172
  • ↑ https://facultyweb.ivcc.edu/rrambo/eng1001/quotes.htm
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_quotations.html
  • ↑ http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/engl402/cited.htm
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/punctuation/quotation_marks/index.html
  • ↑ http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QPA_paraphrase2.html
  • ↑ http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/ellipses.html
  • ↑ https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/mla-quotation-punctuation
  • ↑ https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/mlacitation/intext
  • ↑ http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/03/
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations/quotations
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/quoting-paraphrasing-summarizing
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/quotations/
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/evidence/quotation

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To quote in a research paper in APA style, use in-text parenthetical citations at the end of quotes that have the author's last name and the year the text was published. If you mention the author's name in the sentence with the quote, just include the year the text was published in the citation. If you're citing a quote in MLA style, do the same thing you would for APA style, but use the page number instead of the year the text was published. To learn how to quote a research paper in Chicago style, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Q. How do I put a quote in my paper?

How do I quote an article in my paper? In a research paper, what do I have to show after a direct quotation?

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Answered By: Vicki Sciuk Last Updated: Oct 04, 2021     Views: 112959

Whenever you include someone else's words or ideas in your paper, you must give them credit both on the Works Cited (MLA) or References (APA) page at the end of your paper, and right next to the quote (in-text citation).

An exact quote should be in quotation marks (" "), or if the quotation is 40 words or more, should be formatted as a block quotation. Then you put an In-Text Citation   right after the quotation to show where the quote came from.  It is short, goes in parenthesis, includes the page number, and points to the full citation on your reference page. 

MLA -  an in-text citation is placed after the closing quotation mark, consisting of the author's last name and page number: 

     “MLA is a fabulous style” (Johnson 37)

APA -  an in-text citation is placed after the closing quotation mark ,  but also includes the publication date and is formatted differently, with commas and p. before the page number:  

     “Berkeley College librarians are very helpful with APA style” (Rios, 2015, p. 15)*

* some electronic resources may not have the page #

The author in the parenthesis should match the beginning of your full reference. For sources where there is no author, the title is moved to the first position in your list of citations. Therefore use the title, or a shortened version of it, for your in-text citation, followed by the page # (in MLA), or date, p. [or pp.] # (in APA).

For both, put the title in italics for works that stand alone, like books or movies ( Title of Source ), and in quotation marks for works that are part of a greater whole, like journal articles, book chapters, reports, web pages (“Title of Document").

More on MLA citations from the CAS : http://berkeleycollege.libguides.com/writing/MLA

More on APA citations from the CAS :  http://berkeleycollege.libguides.com/APA  

Links & Files

  • APA Style: Quotations
  • MLA Style Center: In-Text Citations (there are examples with quotations)
  • MLA Style (Purdue OWL): Formatting MLA Quotations

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Quoting: When and how to use quotations

On this page, when should you quote, quoting basics, framing your quotations.

Quoting is an important technique used to include information from outside sources in academic writing. When using quotations, it is important that you also cite the original reference that you  have taken the quotation from, as your citations provide your reader with a map of the research that you have done. Making effective use of quotations in your writing requires you to carefully assess the value of including someone else’s own words in the advancement of your own argument.

According to Jerry Plotnick (2002, Director of the University College Writing Workshop) using a quotation is appropriate in the following situations:

1.       The language of the passage is particularly elegant, powerful, or memorable.

2.       You wish to confirm the credibility of your argument by enlisting the support of an authority on your topic.

3.       The passage is worthy of further analysis. 

4.       You wish to argue with someone else’s position in considerable detail. [1]

Research that involves participants (for example, interviews and participant-observation research) also often makes extensive use of quotations in order to foreground the unique voices and perspectives of the participants.

When you quote, you include the words and ideas of others in your text exactly as they have expressed them. You signal this inclusion by placing quotation marks (“ ”) around the source author’s words and providing an in-text citation after the quotation. Direct quotations differ from other in-text citations because they require that you include the page number on which the words can be found in the source text.  For example:

According to scholars of rhetoric Graff and Birkenstein (2014), when you are inserting a quotation in your writing “you need to insert it into what we like to call a ‘quotation sandwich,’ with the statement introducing it serving as the top slice of bread and the explanation following it serving as the bottom slice” (p. 46). [2] This "sandwich" method ensures that your reader can clearly see the source you are referencing and also understands how this quotation supports your overall argument.

When you are quoting from a source that does not have page numbers (such as a website), you will consult your style guide to determine how best to reference your source. For example, both MLA and APA suggest listing the paragraph number or relevant heading.

You quote materials from a source text to support the arguments and ideas you are presenting in your own essay. Therefore, you must introduce the quotation and explain to your reader why you have included it and how it relates to, and helps to build, your argument. This is known as framing. It directs your reader’s attention to the specific elements of the quotation that are most directly relevant to your own arguments and ideas.

Here is an example of a quotation that is successfully “framed” within a text:

Citing the islands of Fiji as a case in point, Bordo notes that “until television was introduced in 1995, the islands had no reported cases of eating disorders. In 1998, three years after programs from the United States and Britain began broadcasting there, 62 percent of the girls surveyed reported dieting” (149-50). Bordo’s point is that the Western cult of dieting is spreading even to remote places across the globe. [3]

Remember that quoting is only one way of bringing someone else’s work into your own discussion. See the SLC handouts “Techniques for paraphrasing” and “Summarizing” for ideas on other ways to incorporate sources into your writing.

[1] http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/images/stories/Documents/quotations.pdf

[2] APA formatting

[3] Example taken from Graff, G. & Birkenstein, C. (2014). They say/I say: The moves that matter in academic writing. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company.


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Works Quoted in Another Source

About in-text citations, basic format.

  • Sample Works Cited List
  • Sample Annotations This link opens in a new window

In-text citations are inserted in the body of your research paper to briefly document the source of your information. They should cause minimal disruption to the reading flow. Brief in-text citations point the reader to more complete information in the works cited list at the end of the paper.

  • In-text citations include the last name of the author followed by a page number enclosed in parentheses. "Here's a direct quote" (Smith 8).
  • If the author's name is not given, then use the first word or words of the title. Follow the same formatting that was used in the works cited list, such as quotation marks. This is a paraphrase instead of a direct quote ("Trouble" 22).
  • If the author is mentioned in context, you do not need to repeat it in the in-text citation. Include the page number (if available) enclosed in parentheses. According to Smith, "here's a direct quote" (8). "Trouble" uses a signal phrase (22).

In addition to giving credit, the purpose of the in-text citation is to give the reader enough information to find the full citation for the source on your Works Cited page.

Since the Works Cited page is in alphabetical order, you only need to identiry the last name of the author(s). If there is no author, use a shortened version of the title.

Basic format for parenthetical citations

  • (Last Name Page #)

I am citing a source with

One (1) author.

You only need the author's last name and the page number.

(Joseph-Armstrong 243)

Two (2) Authors

Connect both authors' last names with and , followed by the page number.

(Case and Brand 57)

(Strunk and White 36)

(Sturken and Cartwright 134)

Three (3) or more Authors

Use the first author's last name and et al., followed by the page number.

(Case et al. 57)

(Franck et al. 327)

No or Unknown Author

Use a shortened title of the work. Don't include initial articles like "A", "An" or "The".

  • If the title in the Works Cited list is in italics, italicize the words from the title in the in-text citation: ( Title Page Number)
  • If the title in the Works Cited list is in quotation marks, put quotation marks around the words from the title in the in-text citation: ("Title" Page Number)

( Cell Biology 12).

("Trouble" 22)

No Page Numbers

When available, use stable page, chapter, or section numbers. If none is available, omit it.

  • For e-books, do not use device-specific locations, e.g. "240 of 503" or "Loc. 1690 of 3014".
  • For audio-visual sources (such as films and oral interviews), use the timecode for the quote instead of the page number.
  • When you quote from electronic sources, such as a webpage, that do not provide page numbers, cite the author's name only.
  • If a journal article is posted on a webpage that includes a PDF of the print version, use the PDF to get the page numbers.

(Scalzi Chap. 7)

(Wong 01:00:54)

("New Student Orientation")

(Milosavljevic 320)


  • Include the page number without specifying page or p. or pp.
  • Do not add a comma, semi-color, or other punctuation mark between Last Name and Page #
  • Do not add a colon or other punctuation mark before the first parenthesis.
  • The ending period of a sentence goes after the in-text citation

Citing Multiple Works by an Author

It can get more complicated if you are citing mulitple sources by the same author. If possible, use signal phrases to identify which source you are citing. Please refer to the MLA and the Purdue OWL (links below) for more guidance.

Other online guides to help you with in-text citations:

Quoting Directly

When you quote directly from a source, enclose the quoted section in quotation marks. Add an in-text citation at the end of the quote with the author name and page number:

Mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (Hunt 358).

Long Quotations

What Is a Long Quotation?

If your quotation extends to more than four lines as you're typing your essay, it is a long quotation.

Rules for Long Quotations

There are 4 rules that apply to long quotations that are different from regular quotations:

  • The line before your long quotation, when you're introducing the quote, usually ends with a colon.
  • The long quotation is indented half an inch from the rest of the text, so it looks like a block of text.
  • There are no quotation marks around the quotation.
  • The period at the end of the quotation comes before your in-text citation as opposed to after , as it does with regular quotations.

Example of a Long Quotation

At the end of Lord of the Flies the boys are struck with the realization of their behaviour:

The tears began to flow and sobs shook him. He gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. His voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (Golding 186)

Sometimes an author of a book, article or website will mention another person’s work by using a quotation or paraphrased idea from that source. (This may be called a secondary source.) For example, the Kirkey article you are reading includes a quotation by Smith that you would like to include in your essay.

The basic rule is that in both your References list and in-text citation you will still cite Kirkey. Kirkey will appear in your Works Cited list – NOT Smith.

You will add the words “qtd. in” to your in-text citation.  

Examples of in-text citations:

According to a study by Smith (qtd. in Kirkey) 42% of doctors would refuse to perform legal euthanasia.

Smith (qtd. in Kirkey) states that “even if euthanasia was legal, 42% of doctors would be against this method of assisted dying” (A.10).

Example of Works Cited list citation :

Kirkey, Susan. "Euthanasia."   The Montreal Gazette , 9 Feb. 2013, p. A.10. Canadian Newsstand Major Dailies.


When you write information or ideas from a source in your own words, cite the source by adding an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased portion.

Paraphrasing from One Page

Include a full in-text citation with the author name and page number (if there is one). For example:

Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 65).

Paraphrasing from Multiple Pages

If the paraphrased information/idea is from several pages, include them. For example:

Mother-infant attachment became a leading topic of developmental research following the publication of John Bowlby's studies (Hunt 50, 55, 65-71).

Signal Phrases

If you refer to the author's name in a sentence you do not have to include the name again as part of your in-text citation, instead include the page number (if there is one) at the end of the quotation or paraphrased section. For example:

Hunt explains that mother-infant attachment has been a leading topic of developmental research since John Bowlby found that "children raised in institutions were deficient in emotional and personality development" (358).

Repeated Use of Sources

If you're using information from a single source more than once in succession (i.e., no other sources referred to in between), you can use a simplified in-text citation.

Cell biology is an area of science that focuses on the structure and function of cells (Smith 15). It revolves around the idea that the cell is a "fundamental unit of life" (17). Many important scientists have contributed to the evolution of cell biology. Mattias Jakob Schleiden and Theodor Schwann, for example, were scientists who formulated cell theory in 1838 (20). 

 Note: If using this simplified in-text citation creates ambiguity regarding the source being referred to, use the full in-text citation format.

In-Text Citation For More Than One Source

If you would like to cite more than one source within the same in-text citation, simply record the in-text citations as normal and separate them with a semi-colon.

(Smith 42; Bennett 71). 

( It Takes Two ; Brock 43).

 Note: The sources within the in-text citation do not need to be in alphabetical order for MLA style.

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In-Text Citations: The Basics

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APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6 th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , (6 th ed., 2 nd printing).

Note:  This page reflects APA 6, which is now out of date. It will remain online until 2021, but will not be updated. The equivalent APA 7 page can be found here .

Reference citations in text are covered on pages 169-179 of the Publication Manual. What follows are some general guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay.

Note:  On pages 65-66, the Publication Manual suggests that authors of research papers should use the past tense or present perfect tense for signal phrases that occur in the literature review and procedure descriptions (for example, Jones (1998) found or Jones (1998) has found ...). Contexts other than traditionally-structured research writing may permit the simple present tense (for example, Jones (1998)  finds ).

APA citation basics

When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, for example, (Jones, 1998), and a complete reference should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

If you are referring to an idea from another work but NOT directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference. All sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

In-text citation capitalization, quotes, and italics/underlining

  • Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials: D. Jones.

( Note: in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized: Writing new media .)

  • When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word: Natural-Born Cyborgs .
  • Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon: "Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock's Vertigo ."
  • Italicize the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, documentaries, or albums: The Closing of the American Mind ; The Wizard of Oz ; Friends .
  • Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles, articles from edited collections, television series episodes, and song titles: "Multimedia Narration: Constructing Possible Worlds;" "The One Where Chandler Can't Cry."

Short quotations

If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (preceded by "p."). Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author's last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).

Jones (1998) found "students often had difficulty using APA style" (p. 199); what implications does this have for teachers?

If the author is not named in a signal phrase, place the author's last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.

She stated, "Students often had difficulty using APA style" (Jones, 1998, p. 199), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.

Long quotations

Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.

Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citing sources. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)

Summary or paraphrase

If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference, but APA guidelines encourage you to also provide the page number (although it is not required).

According to Jones (1998), APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners.
APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones, 1998, p. 199).

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FAQ: How do I cite a secondary source (a quote within a quote)?

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A secondary source is a source cited within another source. Sometimes, this is called an indirect source. It is always recommended to locate and cite the original source whenever possible, but there are times when the original source is unavailable (e.g. it’s out of print, in a language other than English, or difficult to obtain through usual sources, etc.). If that’s the case, you may find that you need to cite the secondary source instead.

Generally speaking, to cite a secondary source, you would cite the original source in the text of your paper, but you would provide a reference to the secondary source in the reference list.

Here are examples of how it works in the three major citation styles:

According to the APA manual it is best to "cite secondary sources sparingly--for instance, when the original work is out of print, unavailable, or available only in a language that you do not understand. If possible, as a matter of good scholarly practice, find the primary source, read it, and cite it directly rather than citing a secondary source” (American Psychological Association [APA], 2020, p. 258).

In your in-text citation identify the primary source, and include in parentheses "(as cited in Author, Date)". The reference list will only list the secondary source. In the examples below, Smith's study is the primary source and Queenan et al. is the secondary ("as cited in") source.

Example In-Text Citation

Smith's 2008 study (as cited in Queenan et al., 2016) found that...

Example Reference List Entry

Queenan, H. R., Johnson, F. W., Yili, T. S., Sannefort, M. R, & Langman, R. C. (2017). Cyberbullying in American youth . Oxford University Press.

Citing an Indirect (Secondary) Source

The MLA Handbook (9th edition), p. 284 states that you should use the original source if you can find it. However, if you need to cite an indirect source, as the manual refers to secondary sources, if what you quote or paraphrase is itself a quotation, put the abbreviation qtd. in (“quoted in”) before the indirect source you cite in your parenthetical reference. (You may wish to clarify the relation between the original and secondhand sources in a note.)

Works Cited Example

Beirne, Logan. Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency . Encounter Books, 2013. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=589117&site=eds-live&scope=site .

In-Text Example

George Washington described his meeting with French officers, then a twenty-one year old, in his diaries and explained that the wine the officers drank “banished their restraint” (qtd. in Berine 450).

Chicago Style

Per the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) you want to try your best to find the original source and cite that.  However, if that isn't possible, the general formats are described below.

Notes & Bibliography

Both the original and the secondary sources must be listed in the note; however, only the secondary source appears in the reference list (see Section 14.260: Citations taken from secondary sources ).

Bibliography Example

Costello, Bonnie. Marianne Moore: Imaginary Possessions . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Note General Format

2. Author First Name Author Last Name, Title of Book (Place: Publisher, Year), page number(s), quoted in Author First Name Author Last Name, Title of Book (Place: Publisher, Year), page number(s).

3. Author First Name Author Last Name, "Title of Article," Title of Journal vol#, no.(issue#) (Date): page number(s), quoted in Author First Name Author Last Name, Title of Book (Place: Publisher, Year), page number(s).

Note Example

2. Louis Zukofsky, “Sincerity and Objectification,” Poetry 37 (February 1931): 269, quoted in Bonnie Costello, Marianne Moore: Imaginary Possessions (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), 78.

Author-Date References

If an original source is unavailable, and “quoted in” must be resorted to, mention the original author and date in the text, and cite the secondary source in the reference list entry. The in-text citation would include the words “quoted in” (see Section 15.56: “Quoted in” in author-date references ).

Reference List Example

Costello, Bonnie. 1981. Marianne Moore: Imaginary Possessions . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

In Louis Zukofsky’s “Sincerity and Objectification,” from the February 1931 issue of Poetry magazine (quoted in Costello 1981) ...

More Information

  • Citing Your Sources Guide  (Shapiro Library)  

Further Help

This information is intended to be a guideline, not expert advice. Please be sure to speak to your professor about the appropriate way to cite sources in your class assignments and projects.

Campus Students

To access Academic Support, visit your Brightspace course and select “Tutoring and Mentoring” from the Academic Support pulldown menu.

Online Students

To access help with citations and more, visit the Academic Support via modules in Brightspace:

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APA In-Text Citations for Research Writing

citing a quote in a research paper

Why Use In-Text Citations?

When writing a journal article, literature review, convention paper, or any other academic document, authors must include in-text citations whenever they refer to, summarize, paraphrase, or quote from another source. In addition, every time a work is cited within a paper (in APA style, a parenthetical citation), a corresponding entry must be included in the reference list.

How to Cite a Research Paper Using In-Text Citations

The rationale behind citing other people’s publications in your own manuscript is that you want to avoid intellectual dishonesty by giving credit to whoever reported a finding first or invented a specific technique. This is not only an ethical question, as being “sloppy” with your sources can easily be considered plagiarism (and even self-plagiarism , if you fail to refer to your own work), which can have legal consequences and damage your reputation.

General rules for what information should be provided when citing sources in a research paper vary across fields and depend on the type of source (e.g., books, journal articles, patents, conference proceedings, websites, etc.). We are not going into such differences here but will focus on the correct way of referencing other people’s research in your own paper according to one of the most common styles used to cite sources within the social sciences and in several other academic disciplines , that is, APA (American Psychological Association) style .

In research papers, in-text citations are most commonly used in the Introduction and Discussion Results sections. The following guidelines and examples are taken from the APA Publication Manual, 6th edition, 2nd printing , which details rules and application of APA style in research papers, including in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and references. For more information, consult the APA Style Manual website .

This resource provides detailed guidelines for citing sources in your paper and includes examples of in-text citations for reference by research authors. Before submitting your manuscript to a journal or publisher, be sure to use our free APA citation generator for your references and in-text citations.

APA Citation Rules: The Basics

Order and structure of in-text citation content.

When using APA format, follow the “author-date” method of in-text citation. Write the author’s last name and publication year for the source in parentheses and separate these pieces of information with a comma.

When referring to external work or referencing an entire work but not directly quoting the material, you only need to make a reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your citation.

The results of the first enzyme study (Chen et al., 2014) revealed several relationships.

If you mention the name of the author of the work in the sentence or earlier in the paragraph, you only need to include the year of publication in the citation.

Chen (2014) discusses several relationships revealed in this study.

Verb tense used in referring to other works

APA style requires authors to use past tense or present perfect tense (NOT present tense) when using signal phrases to refer to or discuss previous research (have a look at this article for more details on the correct tenses for different parts of a research paper ).

Radnitz (1995) found… / Radnitz (1995) has found…

Placement of in-text citations in the sentence (no quotation)

When referring to a specific work or works, place the citation (publication date only) directly after the author of the study referenced.

Klinge and Rogers (2010) found that mirroring is instrumental in developments of performative gender roles.

When giving information that reflects the results or implications of previous work, place the citation (author and publication date) at the end of the sentence.

Mirroring has been found to be instrumental in the development of performative gender roles (Klinge and Rogers, 2010).


Always capitalize author names and initials in in-text citations.

(r. kazinsky, 2014)    (R. Kazinsky, 2014)

In-Text Citation Rules for Short Quotations

When quoting directly from a work, include the author, publication year, and page number of the reference (preceded by “p.”).

Method 1 : Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name; the publication year will follow in parentheses. Include the page number in parentheses at the end of the quoted text. Note that the quotation marks surround the text only, and not the parenthetical citation.

According to Khan (1976), “Graduate students tend to apply more diverse methods during their first two years of research” (p. 45). Khan (1976) noted that “graduate students tend to apply more diverse methods during their first two years of research” (p. 45), a fact that has profound implications for research departments.

Method 2 : If the author is absent in the signal phrase, include the author’s last name, the publication year, and the page number together in parentheses after the quoted text.

Researchers noted that “graduate students tend to apply more diverse methods during their first two years of research” (Khan, 1976, p. 45), but they did not offer a suggestion as to the cause.

In-text Citation Rules for Long Quotations

Long direct quotations are those with at least 40 words of quoted text in a row. Long quotes should be placed in a separate block of lines without quotation marks, similar to creating a new paragraph. Begin the quotation on a new line and indent 0.5in/1.27cm from the left margin. Type the entire quotation within these new margins using double-spacing. Include the parenthetical citation after the final punctuation mark.

Khan’s (1976) study found the following: Graduate students tend to apply more diverse methods during their first two years of research, especially when conducting research in teams of three or fewer with no senior researchers    present. This tendency could be attributed to either a misunderstanding of correct methodology or to a feeling of freedom to explore different approaches that the researchers have yet to employ. (p. 45)

Summarizing and Paraphrasing Other Works

When  paraphrasing another work , you only need to cite the author and year of publication in your in-text citation. It may be a good idea to include the page number as well if the paraphrased information is located on a specific page of the original text. APA guidelines encourage this inclusion but do not require it.

According to Khan (1976), new researchers tend to use more diverse methodologies. New researchers tend to use more diverse methodologies (Khan, 1976, p. 45).

Common Signal Phrases for Introducing External Works

  • According to Johnson (publication year)…
  • As Johnson (publication year) has noted…
  • Johnson and Smith (publication year) contend that…
  • As Johnson’s (2011) study revealed…

Citing Works by Multiple Authors/Editors

When making an in-text citation of works by multiple authors, there are specific rules to follow depending on the number of authors of a publication and the number of times you cite the same works.

Citing Multiple Works in One In-text Citation

When citing more than one source in the same in-text citation, list all sources in the standard way and separate them with a semi-colon. List the sources alphabetically (by author’s last name or by title if no author is given) in the order they appear in the reference list.

(Marsh, 1997; Johnson, 2002). (Kazinsky, 2017; “Three Different Roads,”  2013).

Citing Works by the Same Author with the Same Publication Year

When citing two or more sources with the same author and year of publication, assign lowercase letters directly after the year of publication (a, b, c) according to the alphabetical order of titles. You will use the same alphabetical designations in your in-text citations that you do in your reference list.

The incidence of West Nile virus in Florida increased between 2002 and 2004 (Dickens, 2014a). According to Dickens (2014b), “these viral infections were precipitated by record levels of rainfall around the peninsula” (p. 150).

Citing a Work Quoted in another Source

Work quoted or paraphrased in another text is called a “secondary source.” While in your reference list you must cite the primary source as well, in your in-text citation you will add the words “as cited in” followed by the secondary source. For example, if a review article by Franklin you are citing includes a useful quote by Adams that supports your paper, your in-text citation would look like this:

According to a study by Adams (as cited in Franklin, 2016), 25% of all US federal prisoners have been diagnosed with some form of social disorder. Adams (as cited in Franklin) contends that this statistic “reflects the dehumanizing conditions of most federal institutions” (p. 76).

Citing Web Pages

Entire website.

When citing an entire website (with no specific webpage or article given), simply provide the title and web address within the text of your paper. No citation is needed in the References.

The American Psychological Association includes detailed information on how to apply APA citation (http://www.apa.org).

Webpage with author(s)

A webpage with an individual author or authors should be cited in the same way as other texts, with the name or names written first, followed by the publication year.

There were 523 new cases reported in 2011 alone (Kristoff, 2012).

Webpage with a group author

Treat group authors as individual authors in in-text citations, but instead of the author’s last name, include the name of the group.

Claustrophobia afflicts one in five Britons (The Surrey Group, 2003).

Webpage with missing information

Even when some central information is missing from a website (e.g., no author, date, or webpage title), you may still cite it as a source if you use the correct formatting. For information on how to cite a website with missing information, visit the APA Style Blog post on  Missing Pieces .

Citing social media sources

For a more comprehensive explanation of social media citation guidelines, visit the APA Style Blog post on  How to Cite Social Media in APA Style .

And when submitting your finished AP document to journals or for a class assignment, be sure to get professional English editing services , including academic editing , manuscript editing , and research paper editing services . Professional editors with experience in APA, AMA, MLA, and other popular style guides will make sure that your document’s citations and references conform to the journal of your choice.

Wordvice Resources

Wordvice provides a variety of other articles on topics such as the number of references your manuscript should contain , different citation styles if your target style does not use APA, and how to paraphrase correctly when citing sources in your paper, as well as more general advice on how to write research papers on the Wordvice academic resources website .

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A Guide to Referencing your Work

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Quoting and integrating sources into your paper

In any study of a subject, people engage in a “conversation” of sorts, where they read or listen to others’ ideas, consider them with their own viewpoints, and then develop their own stance. It is important in this “conversation” to acknowledge when we use someone else’s words or ideas. If we didn’t come up with it ourselves, we need to tell our readers who did come up with it.

It is important to draw on the work of experts to formulate your own ideas. Quoting and paraphrasing the work of authors engaged in writing about your topic adds expert support to your argument and thesis statement. You are contributing to a scholarly conversation with scholars who are experts on your topic with your writing. This is the difference between a scholarly research paper and any other paper: you must include your own voice in your analysis and ideas alongside scholars or experts.

All your sources must relate to your thesis, or central argument, whether they are in agreement or not. It is a good idea to address all sides of the argument or thesis to make your stance stronger. There are two main ways to incorporate sources into your research paper.

Quoting is when you use the exact words from a source. You will need to put quotation marks around the words that are not your own and cite where they came from. For example:

“It wasn’t really a tune, but from the first note the beast’s eyes began to droop . . . Slowly the dog’s growls ceased – it tottered on its paws and fell to its knees, then it slumped to the ground, fast asleep” (Rowling 275).

Follow these guidelines when opting to cite a passage:

  • Choose to quote passages that seem especially well phrased or are unique to the author or subject matter.
  • Be selective in your quotations. Avoid over-quoting. You also don’t have to quote an entire passage. Use ellipses (. . .) to indicate omitted words. Check with your professor for their ideal length of quotations – some professors place word limits on how much of a sentence or paragraph you should quote.
  • Before or after quoting a passage, include an explanation in which you interpret the significance of the quote for the reader. Avoid “hanging quotes” that have no context or introduction. It is better to err on the side of your reader not understanding your point until you spell it out for them, rather than assume readers will follow your thought process exactly.
  • If you are having trouble paraphrasing (putting something into your own words), that may be a sign that you should quote it.
  • Shorter quotes are generally incorporated into the flow of a sentence while longer quotes may be set off in “blocks.” Check your citation handbook for quoting guidelines.

Paraphrasing is when you state the ideas from another source in your own words . Even when you use your own words, if the ideas or facts came from another source, you need to cite where they came from. Quotation marks are not used. For example:

With the simple music of the flute, Harry lulled the dog to sleep (Rowling 275).

Follow these guidelines when opting to paraphrase a passage:

  • Don’t take a passage and change a word here or there. You must write out the idea in your own words. Simply changing a few words from the original source or restating the information exactly using different words is considered plagiarism .
  • Read the passage, reflect upon it, and restate it in a way that is meaningful to you within the context of your paper . You are using this to back up a point you are making, so your paraphrased content should be tailored to that point specifically.
  • After reading the passage that you want to paraphrase, look away from it, and imagine explaining the main point to another person.
  • After paraphrasing the passage, go back and compare it to the original. Are there any phrases that have come directly from the original source? If so, you should rephrase it or put the original in quotation marks. If you cannot state an idea in your own words, you should use the direct quotation.

A summary is similar to paraphrasing, but used in cases where you are trying to give an overview of many ideas. As in paraphrasing, quotation marks are not used, but a citation is still necessary. For example:

Through a combination of skill and their invisibility cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione slipped through Hogwarts to the dog’s room and down through the trapdoor within (Rowling 271-77).

Important guidelines

When integrating a source into your paper, remember to use these three important components:

  • Introductory phrase to the source material : mention the author, date, or any other relevant information when introducing a quote or paraphrase.
  • Source material : a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary with proper citation.
  • Analysis of source material : your response, interpretations, or arguments regarding the source material should introduce or follow it. When incorporating source material into your paper, relate your source and analysis back to your original thesis.

Ideally, papers will contain a good balance of direct quotations, paraphrasing and your own thoughts. Too much reliance on quotations and paraphrasing can make it seem like you are only using the work of others and have no original thoughts on the topic.

Always properly cite an author’s original idea, whether you have directly quoted or paraphrased it. If you have questions about how to cite properly in your chosen citation style, browse these citation guides . You can also review our guide to understanding plagiarism .

University Writing Center

The University of Nevada, Reno Writing Center provides helpful guidance on quoting and paraphrasing and explains how to make sure your paraphrasing does not veer into plagiarism. If you have any questions about quoting or paraphrasing, or need help at any point in the writing process, schedule an appointment with the Writing Center.

Works Cited

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  A.A. Levine Books, 1998.


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