New College Writing Program

The Art of Choosing the Right Passage: Quotation

Another common way to incorporate another person’s ideas is through direct quotation. Direct quotation is an extended word-for-word duplication of an author’s original writing. Like summary and paraphrase, quotation requires that you give credit to the original source.

Why do we quote rather than summarize? Here are a few reasons:

  • A writer has phrased something exactly as you would like your readers to see it.
  • The author of the words you are quoting is an authority, and so quoting her or him will bolster your own credibility.
  • You plan to make some extended commentary on a source, and you would like first to thoroughly ground your readers in that source.
  • You want to remind your readers that your research is grounded within a community of scholars, and that your work is part of that scholarly conversation. Direct quotation illustrates that grounding vividly.

It is wise to quote, rather than paraphrasing or summarizing, when the writer’s words convey the exact information that you want to share with your readers or if the passage you are quoting seems particularly memorable or impactful. In extended discussions of what you have read, providing some quotations gives your readers a sense of the original, and if the text you are working with is important to your own research, this might be important.

Here is an example of a quotation that follows Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style:

Original Source

Bornstein, David. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.

Original Paragraph

It has been said that there is no limit to what you can achieve if you don’t care who gets the credit. For entrepreneurs, a willingness to share credit lies along the “critical path” to success, simply because the more credit they share, the more people typically will want to help them. But this quality, like willingness to self-correct, also grows out of motivation. If an entrepreneur’s true intention is simply to make a change happen, then sharing credit will come naturally. However, if the true intention is to be recognized as having made a change, then sharing credit will come naturally. However, if the true intention is to be recognized as having made a change happen, sharing credit may run against the grain.  

Correct Use of Quotation

In a recent book on social entrepreneurship, Borstein states that “If an entrepreneur’s true intention is simply to make a change happen, then sharing credit will come naturally” (235).

Note:  Notice the citation (235) at the end does not include the author’s name because it is mentioned in the sentence.  

Cite your sources.  Whenever you summarize or quote someone else's work, you must cite your source in TWO places:

1)  Within your paragraph. This is called an “in-text citation,”which is demonstrated in the example above.

Your in-text citation includes brief information a reader will need to find the complete reference in your list of sources such as the author, date or page numbers.

AND

2)  At the end of your paper in a list of sources. This list is called “References,” “Works Cited,” or “Bibliography.”  An example is the “Original Source” above.

All the sources in your list must include the complete information needed to identify and retrieve that source (author’s name, title of work, date of publication, URL, etc.).

Here is an example of both in-text and end citations:

In-Text Paraphrase Citation

If an entrepreneur’s goal is to gain recognition through the change that they make, then sharing credit may be counterintuitive for them (Bornstein 235).

Note:  The author’s name is included in this example because his name is not mentioned in the paraphrase.  Compare this with the example in “Correct Use of Quotation.”  

End Citation

Bornstein, David. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas.  Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.

For an thorough guide to correct citation, visit the ASU Libraries’ Citation Styles Library Guide.  Look for the MLA tab near the top of the guide.

Any discussion of citation leads to the issue of plagiarism.  You knew it had to come up sometime. 

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