Useful suggestions on how to write a quote in an essay


The use of quotes in your academic papers offers an effective way to back up all major ideas with enough evidence and make your argument stronger. Besides, quotes in essays help you support a thesis statement or the chosen topic. If you want your piece of writing to look professional, you need to understand how to write a quote in an essay, no matter whether teachers ask you to use APA or MLA formatting rules. If you use quotes without giving credit to their original authors, you will face plagiarism and a number of relevant issues (they can be quite serious).

In addition to placing quotes in your paper, it’s necessary to provide a special reference page at the end. Learning how to put different quotes in academic assignments in an important skill that can help you earn better marks and achieve your educational success. There are some basic rules and useful guidelines that will make citing quotes in your essays a less tricky, complex, and confusing process.

How much do you need to quote?

The main focus of your academic paper is always a perfect understanding of the given subject. When including too many quotes in your essay, you will only crowd it with different ideas. Think about quoting a suitable passage from one of your reliable sources of information if the following requirements are met:

  • It’s worthy of your further analysis;
  • Its language is powerful, elegant, and memorable;
  • Confirming the credibility of your arguments by enlisting the support of authority on the chosen topic;
  • Arguing with other positions in considerable detail.

If arguments and factual accounts from used sources are relevant to your essay, but they don’t deserve to be quoted, think about the following solutions:

  • Summarizing relevant passages if you want to sketch its major points;
  • Paraphrasing them if you prefer to convey these points at the same level of detail.

Keep in mind that academic writing often relies on a summary instead of a quote, and this rule is applied to different sciences because they are based on controlled studies and quantifiable results.

Why do you need to identify used sources?

All quotes come from other sources, and readers want to know them. That’s why you shouldn’t place them into your essay without giving any indication of where you take quotes. Let the audience know which authorities you rely on because this method offers a great advantage. The main reason is that it proves that you’ve done your research and you’re well acquainted with literature on the given topic.

When making any decision about how to use quotes in your academic papers, imagine yourself reading them out loud to the targeted audience. It’s impossible to read parenthetical notes this way. Without any introduction, people can’t determine that your statement is a quote and where it comes from.

Correctly placed quotes add more detail and power to your writing and putting powerful expert observations in the right place will make it shine. Avoid letting improper formatting distract your readers. Remember that the right format of quotes and citations may differ based on the chosen style, such as APA or MLA. However, general principles apply to any formatting style for quotes in essays.

Format all quotes in your essay

End and start all short quotes with double quotation marks and avoid leaving any space between quotation marks and your text. Put only exact words from used sources and punctuation inside these marks. You should separate the lines of poetry with a space, forward slash, and another space. Those quotes that are longer than 4 lines of prose and 3 lines of poetry should be formatted as the block ones. It’s necessary to use a colon at the end of each phrase that leads to quotes. Start them with a new line, ident them 1 inch farther than your text, and avoid using special quotation marks.

Citing quotes in essays using MLA guidelines


The MLA format of writing requires students to cite page numbers and author names when citing quotes in their academic papers. When citing poetry, you need to cite the lines of poetry instead of any page numbers. You aren’t required to provide any year, but you need to do that in a reference page of your essay.

Citing short quotes

Short quotes are anything fewer than 3 lines of poetry and 4 lines of prose. If you have the quotes that meet this basic requirement, all you need to do is to:

  • Enclose them with double quotation marks;
  • Write authors’ names;
  • Provide page numbers.

Basically, you can introduce author’s names before your quotes or place them in parentheses after quotes. It’s possible to write page numbers at the end too, but be sure to introduce your quotes with some text. Otherwise, your readers will fail to be oriented without any introduction, so use several words to achieve this goal before using quotation marks. After that, you need to cite page numbers and authors’ names in parentheses and put a period at the end of this sentence.

Feel free to introduce author’s names right in the text instead of putting them in parentheses at the end. You can introduce quotes, cite them, and leave your comments on them too. If there are any punctuation marks in original quotes, include them in citations. When citing poetry, you need to cite the lines used by a poem.

Citing long prose quotes

Long quotes are anything that contains 3 lines of poetry and 4 lines of prose. If you need to use them, put such quotes in a free-standing block of text without any quotation marks. You can easily introduce your quotes with a colon and a line of text by indenting only their first line by 1 inch from the left while using double spacing. End long quotes with correct punctuation and use page numbers and authors’ names in parentheses after them. When you need to cite a few paragraphs at once, use special block quotes, even if every passage from these paragraphs is less than 4 lines long. Indent the first line of every paragraph an additional quarter inch and use ellipses at the end to smoothly transition to the next one.

Other important citing rules

If you want to cite poems or their parts in your essay, stick to the original format of poetry lines to convey their original meaning. Omit or add words in quotes because this technique can be helpful if you only need to slightly change their meaning for the context of your paper or if you want to omit some details that are irrelevant to its main point. Use brackets to write in your own data to help the audience to get the context of quotes. It’s also advisable to use ellipses to omit any parts of quotes if they aren’t needed for your academic paper. When you want to cite quotes with multiple authors, all you need to do is to separate their names by commas. Many students agree that it can be a bit tricky to cite quotes from the Internet as it’s impossible to find any page numbers. When using such quotes, you still need to gather as much information as you can, including authors, titles, and dates.

Citing quotes in essays using APA guidelines

In the APA format, you should put page numbers and authors’ names, just like according to MLA formatting. The main difference is that you also need to put the year. When citing any short quotes (they contain less than 40 words), it’s required to include the year, page numbers, and authors’ last names in the quotation. When citing long quotes in this format, you need to place them in a special free-standing block of text. Start each quote in a new line, indent it half of an inch from the left, and type it in the same margin. When your quotes have multiple paragraphs, feel free to indent the first line an extra half of an inch from a new margin. Be sure to keep double spacing throughout such quotes, citing them in parenthesis after final punctuation. This rule is also applied for shorter quotes placed in your essay because you need to cite the year, authors’ names, and page numbers somewhere (no matter if it’s their main body or introduction).

When paraphrasing any quote in this format, refer to its year of publication, author, and page number where readers can find it. When putting any quotes in your essays that have multiple authors, all you need to do is to use the ampersand to combine the last names of authors in their alphabetical order. When citing any quotes that you take from the Internet, do your best to find such basic information as their dates, authors’ names, and paragraph numbers. If you can’t find any author’s name, you’re allowed to use its title instead. In addition, if you have any hardships when citing quotes in your essay, don’t hesitate to get help.

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