Published on March 2, 2009
Using Quotations in Your Writing : Using Quotations in Your Writing Provide evidence to support your assertions : Provide evidence to support your assertions All quotations should be tied to your sentences. Introduce them. They should never suddenly appear out of nowhere. Never use a quotation as a complete sentence by itself. Incorrect: Scout describes Walter Cunningham. “Walter looked as if he had been raised on fish food: his eyes, as blue as Dill Harris’s, were red-rimmed and watery” (23). Correct: Scout says, “Walter looked as if he had been raised on fish food: his eyes, as blue as Dill Harris’s were red-rimmed and watery” (23). Provide evidence to support your assertions : Provide evidence to support your assertions (Commentary) Discuss your quotations. Do not quote someone and then leave the words hanging as if they were self-explanatory. What does the quotation mean and how does it help establish the point you are making? They are not substitutes for your ideas and they do not stand by themselves. It is often useful to apply some interpretive phrasing after a quotation, to show the reader that you are explaining the quotation and that it supports your argument: Here we see that… This statement shows… We can conclude from this that… Provide evidence to support your assertions : Provide evidence to support your assertions Vary the verbs you use to introduce quotations. Some examples include: says informs us alleges writes claims states observes comments thinks notes affirms asserts remarks explains argues adds declares tells us Embedding Quotes : Embedding Quotes A more effective use of quotations is to embed a part of the sentence into your writing. Effective: Scout recognizes Walter’s hunger in his “red-rimmed and watery eyes” and his looking “as if he had been raised on fish food” (23). Embedding Quotes : Embedding Quotes Use an ellipsis, three periods with spaces between them (…), within a quotation to show that part of the original text is left out. An ellipsis at the beginning or end of a quotation is unnecessary. Embedding Quotes : Embedding Quotes Use single quotation marks around material that is already in quotations in the source you are quoting. Single quotation marks are used only inside normal (double) quotation marks. Example: Harper Lee’s use of dialect adds to the character development. Jem’s age and almost brotherly concer show when he says to Dill, “’she ain’t gonna get you. He’ll talk her out of it. That was fast thinkin’, son’” (55). Example: Scout feels Jem’s emotion as she sees that his “shoulders jerked as if each ‘guilty’ was a separate stab between them” (211). Embedding Quotes : Embedding Quotes Sometimes it is necessary to change the form of a word in a quotation (“walks” to “walked”) or to add a word of your own to make the sentence flow. Use brackets, [ ], to indicate anything you have changed. Example: Regarding Mrs. Dubose, Atticus says to Jem that he “wanted [him] to see something about her” (112).