How to Quote

See UNCWriting Center video online

Short quotations (less than 4 lines) are incorporated into your sentence. You need to formulate your sentence to make it flow from your words to the quotation with ease.

Example using the MLA style.
Prough concludes that manga has become “an emissary of Japan” (145).

Block quotations (4 lines or more, or to emphasize the text) are set apart from your text by indenting it. You do not add quotation marks.

Example using the MLA style.
In The Time Traveler’s Wife Henry tries to explain how it feels to suddenly leave the present:

When I am out there, in time, I am inverted, changed into a desperate version of myself. I become a thief, a vagrant, an animal who runs and hides. I startle old women and amaze children. I am a trick, an illusion of the highest order, so incredible that I am actually true. (Niffenegger 3)


Special case: Quoting poetry

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

Example using the MLA style.
In his poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”, Dylan Thomas writes: “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight / Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay” (lines 13-14).

For longer pieces of poetry use the method of block quotations (see above) and quote the poem as it appears on the original page.

Example using the MLA style.
In Thomas’ poem the speaker is addressing his dying father:

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (16-19)


Further considerations on quoting.

Use quotations sparingly :

  • When the author’s words are very good at getting your point across
  • When paraphrasing would lose the meaning of the text
  • When you want to highlight a well worded phrase or passage

When quoting an author verify that you are copying the exact phrase and include all of the punctuation.


How to paraphrase:
Read the text over several times to be sure that you understand it.
Without the original text, jot down the keywords that cover the concepts in the text.
Then, reformulate the author’s ideas in your own words. Imagine that you’re explaining the text to a friend. Feel free to use synonyms.
Once you’re done go back to the original text and compare it with your paraphrase.

Further considerations on paraphrasing.
Paraphrasing is restating the author’s ideas by using your own words and your own sentence structure.


How to summarize:
Explain the main points of an entire article/essay, in your own words.


Remember: When quoting, paraphrasing or summarizing, you still have to cite your source!