How to Use and Format Quotes

Introducing Your Quotation

A quotation should never be a sentence by itself – this mistake is called a “floating quote.”

Some options for introducing your quotation:

1. Tell the reader who is saying/writing the quotation.

Atticus asks, “‘Do you really think so?’” (Lee 195). **Note that there is no comma between the author’s name and the page number, and that the period comes AFTER the citation**

Lee writes, “There was a murmur among the group of men, made more ominous when Atticus moved back to the bottom front step and the men drew nearer to him” (195). **NOTICE in this case, the author’s name is not in the citation, because the sentence already introduced it**

2. Set the scene.

While Scout and Jem watch their father guard the jailhouse door, “Shadows became substance as lights revealed solid shapes moving toward the jail door” (Lee 202).

When Scout charges into the group of men, she “discovered that these men were strangers. They were not the people [she] saw last night” (Lee 203).

Note that in both of these cases, the writer is easing into the quote by way of explanation, which is smoother than having the explanation come AFTER the quote.

Citing Your Quotation

Include the author’s name in your citation

Cite a quotation with the page number in parentheses after the quotation. Notice that the page number is outside the quotation marks but before the period. Also notice that “page” and “pg” don’t appear anywhere.

The author writes, “Quotation” (Wright 78).

If a quotation ends with ? or !, leave it inside the quotation marks. Still end your sentence with a period.

Someone asks, “Question?” (Wright 40).

Someone shouts, “Exclamation!” (Wright 40).

Use single quotes for dialogue within your quotation.

Lee writes, “Jem and I went to the front door, but Atticus called, ‘Go back in the house’” (193).

Use [ ] to change pronouns or other words in the quotation, often for clarification.

Original: “Four Negroes rose and gave us their front-row seats” (Lee 219).

My quotation: When Scout and Jem enter the balcony, “Four Negroes rose and gave [them] their front-row seats” (Lee 219).

Original: “He did a fair job, only one spring and two pieces left over” (Lee 81).

My quotation: Scout comments that “[Jem] did a fair job, only one spring and two pieces left over” (Lee 81).

Use . . . to leave out words

Original: “As Atticus’s fists went to his hips, so did Jem’s, and as they faced each other I could see little resemblance between them: Jem’s soft brown hair and eyes, his oval face and snug-fitting ears were our mother’s, contrasting oddly with Atticus’s graying black hair and square-cut features, but they were somehow alike” (Lee 203).

My quotation: “As Atticus’s fists went to his hips, so did Jem’s, and as they faced each other I could see little resemblance between them . . . but they were somehow alike” (Lee 203).

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One thought on “How to Use and Format Quotes

  1. Pingback: SS “All the Years of Her Life” PIE Paragraph DUE | bhsgraham

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