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How to Put a Quote in an Essay

quoting in an essay

In 9 cases out of 10, you will be required to use external sources in your essays. Using them is crucial for supporting the claims that you make. Without credible sources, your essay will offer no evidence to the reader and will basically be all about subjective claims. To make sure the content of your papers is of high quality, you need to learn how to quote in an essay. When you make a claim and need some evidence to support it, look for an external source like a book, a peer-reviewed article, or a reliable website that can help you prove your claim viable. 

How to Start an Essay with a Quote

Are you wondering how to put a famous quote in an essay? It is quite common to use a famous quote by a writer, a politician, a historian, an actor, a singer, or any other renowned persona at the very beginning of your essay. That means the quote would be the very first sentence in your essay. Such a technique will help you get the reader’s interest and catch their attention. Here are some tips that will help you choose the right quote for your paper:

  1. Use a well-known quote and question it;
  2. Try finding a quote by a celebrity;
  3. Choose a quote your reader might already be familiar with;
  4. Find a triggering quote;
  5. Make sure the quote you choose can hook the reader;
  6. Get a quote that has a strong connection with the topic of your essay;
  7. Find a quote that gives surprising or shocking information;
  8. Use a quote from recent news.

How to Quote in an Essay

Your essay quote format will primarily depend on the guidelines of your assignment and the paper formatting you are asked to follow in it. For example, you might be asked to follow the APA or the MLA formatting, which are quite different. For instance, when using the APA style in the body of your essay, you need to mention the name of the author of your quote, the page number where you found it (in case it is a book or an article), and the year when the quote was created. However, when using the MLA style, you need to mention only the author of the quotation and the page number where you found it. 

How to Put a Quote in an Essay in the MLA Format

In order to cite a quote in an MLA-formatted paper, you need to insert the chosen quote, followed by the bracketed author’s surname and the page number of the source. For example, you might do it this way: 

The phenomenon of separation is gradual, and it consists of several stages. Scientists claim there are “three phases of the separation response: protest, despair, and detachment” (Garelli 35).

How to Put a Quote in an Essay in the APA format

Citing the same quote when your paper has to be formatted according to the APA style will be slightly different. You also need to incorporate the quotation and not just introduce it out of the blue. The quote needs to be enclosed in double quotation marks and followed by bracketed author’s surname, the year when the source was published, and the page number of the source. For example, working with the very same quote as in the previous part, formatting it to APA would look as follows:

The phenomenon of separation is gradual, and it consists of several stages. Scientists claim there are “three phases of the separation response: protest, despair, and detachment” (Garelli, 2003, p. 35).

How to Put a Quote in an Essay in the Chicago Style

This formatting style is a bit more complex than APA and MLA. Here you will need to insert footnotes when referencing your sources and mention the authors at the very bottom of the page (which is done automatically when inserting a footnote). When it comes to the formatting itself, you need to follow this order: First name Last name, Title of Book (Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication), page number. With the same quote as above, you would need to cite it like this: Juan Carlos Garelli, Child Psychology (New York: Routledge, 2003), 35. 

How to Put a Short Quote in an Essay

The answer to your question “how to write a quote in an essay” is quite simple. Here are the steps each “how to introduce a quote in an essay” article will tell you to take:

  1. When citing a short quote in your essay, which is anything shorter than four typed lines, you need to “get the reader ready” for the quote. You can do that by introducing some text that would gradually lead up to the quote, giving it some reasoning or a background; 
  2. After that, you need to insert a direct quote by using double quotation marks at the beginning and the end of it; 
  3. It is also imperative not to leave the quote hanging there. You need to explain and summarize it to give the reader a clear idea of what the quote means and what function it performs in your essay; 
  4. You can also paraphrase the quote and put it the way you understand it. However, in that case, it will no longer qualify as a direct quote, and slightly different formatting rules will apply. 

For example, you could be writing a paper on caffeine and its impact on the human brain. You might decide to tell the reader about the fact that scientists have proved the great power of caffeine and then use this quote from a book: “Caffeine and other methylxanthines are potentially able to affect a large number of molecular targets.” Here is the footnote you would need to insert when referencing the source (in case you need to follow the Chicago formatting style): Astrid Nehlig, Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain (New York: CRC Press, 2004), 6. 

How to Put a Long Quote in an Essay

With longer texts, putting a quote in an essay will be slightly different. A long quote presupposes that the external text you want to insert into your paper is longer than four typed lines. With such quotes, it is quite reasonable to wonder how to add a quote to an essay as there are indeed some peculiarities you need to keep in mind:

  1. Since it is rather a long snippet of text, it might not look that harmonious in the main body of your essay as the reader will not be able to clearly distinguish it from the rest of the text. That’s why you need to put long quotes into separate blocks; 
  2. Do not use quotation marks. Those are relevant only if you are dealing with a short quote;
  3. Do not forget about writing an introduction for the quote to give the reader an idea of what it is going to be about; 
  4. Indent the text by .5 inches (1.3 cm) from the left side;
  5. Make sure the quote is followed by your personal comment where you explain or summarize the information presented in the quote. 

Here is an example of how to put a quote in an essay if it is a long quote:

[Some introduction that will make a logical link with the quote, reference to the author whose quote you will be using]: 

The whiskey on your breath

Could make a small boy dizzy;

But I hung on like death:

Such waltzing was not easy.

We Romped until the pans

Slid from the kitchen shelf;

My mother’s countenance

Could not unfrown itself. (qtd. in Shrodes, Finestone, Shugrue 202)

[Your comment on what the quote is about and what relation it has to the topic of your essay, your recent claim]

Adding or Removing Words from the Quote

Using a quote in an essay does not necessarily mean that you have to take a chunk of text and insert it into your paper with no alterations. In case you believe it to be the right thing to do, you can add and remove words from the quote to make it shorter or to make it clearer to the reader. Here is what you need to do when it comes to such alterations:

  1. Use “[]” to introduce some additional information within a quote;
  2. Use “(…)” to remove some words from the quote.

Tips on How to Choose a Good Quote for Your Essay

  1. It needs to directly confirm or support your claims;
  2. It has to be relevant, do not use too many quotes just to add more content;
  3. Make sure there is something to analyze about it.
Phil Collins
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By Phil Collins

University professor, educator and professional freelance writer. Said: - "I love working with students and writing interesting posts and useful pieces of advice for them".