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How to Use Quotes in an Essay

"Quotations" are funny little things. People like to use them to start essays, in the body of essays, and at the end of essays. They are an integral part to research papers and add merit and credibility to general essays. However, there is a specific way to use them. If quotations are used incorrectly, they can cause much more harm than they are worth. Here are some tips so that you will know always how to use a quotation in an essay.

  • Definition: Quotations are never officially called "quotes." "Quotes" are the easy, colloquial way of saying "quotation." You can say "quote" if you want in speech. However, in an essay, you will always want to write out the word, "quotation."
  • Open/End: In full quotations, the first quotation mark is called, 'the open quote," and the second quotation mark is called the "close quote."
  • Punctuation: Punctuation marks always fall inside the quotation mark. For examples, "If your sentence ends after the second mention of the word 'here,' then you should place your period here." The period, comma, exclamation, or question mark should always fall before the end quotation mark.
  • Citations: Quotations are vital when citing specific documentation. If you are quoting an author, book, article, or person, then you must always use a quotation. You can introduce the quote by saying that John Doe says in The Times Daily News that, "People like to use quotations marks." Or, you can simply write the quotation (using the quotation marks) and end the sentence with the internal documentation. See the next bullet for internal documentation.
  • Internal Documentation: In essays, you will inevitably use quotations from original and primary sources. Consequently, you will need to cite them internally (or via footnotes, an antiquated style). When documenting a specific quotation, you will omit the end punctuation (period, exclamation mark, question mark), put the close quote mark, and then add a parenthesis with the citation. After the citation, you will close the sentence with a period. See this example: "I will not eat green eggs and ham" (Seuss, 5). The sentence concludes after the internal documentation.
  • Indented Quotes: Sometimes in an essay, you will use a long quotation. This means, absolutely no quotation longer than five lines should be within the body of the text of your essay. If you choose to use a long quotation (longer than five lines of text), then you should indent the quotation one inch on either side and sometimes italicize it. The quotation should end with a punctuation mark and quotation mark. The internal documentation comes afterwards without any end punctuation.

Quotations are fantastic tools in writing essays. We recommend that you use them as often as possible. However, follow these rules so that you use them correctly. If you use a quotation without citing it in internal documentation, you could be accused of plagiarism (or copying someone else's words as your own). This accusation can be the ruin of many great students and writers. So, be careful and frugal with your quotation usage.