Introducing Quotations

Submitted by mitchell on Sun, 2008-02-03 22:21

How Introduce Sources and Refer to Them throughout the Paper

When you use sources in your papers, you need to introduce them properly to your reader the first time you use them. You need to include all necessary information for the reader to understand what the source is: author, title and summary, for example:

    In his essay “A Vegetarian Philosophy” Peter Singer argues in favor of vegetarianism as a both morally and ecologically sound choice.

The first time a source is used in the paper the full name of the author is used. After this initial introduction of the essay and the author, refer to the author by last name only. You also never need to use the name of the essay again. You can assume that the reader understands that you’re referring to this essay when you use the name “Singer.”

How to Introduce Your Quotations Properly

You must always incorporate your quotations into your writing. It’s a way of introducing a quotation to your reader.

The easiest way to do this is to use the author’s name in the introduction, for example:

    Singer states that, “The case for vegetarianism is at its strongest when we see it as a moral protest against our use of animals as mere things to be exploited for our convenience” (12).

    Colson writes, “Marriage is the traditional building block of human society, intended to both unite couples and bring children into the world” (234).

Notice that when using this method the quotation is a complete sentence that could stand on its own, and because of this, the first letters of the quotations are capitalized.

It’s very easy to introduce quotations with phrases like “X says” or “X writes.” However, you want to vary the way that you introduce your quotations so that your writing doesn’t sound boring. Here are some other words you could use:

acknowledges, comments, endorses, reasons, adds, compares, grants, refutes, admits, confirms, illustrates, rejects, agrees, contends, implies, reports, argues, declares, insists , responds, asserts, denies, notes, suggests, believes, disputes, observes, thinks, claims, emphasizes, points out, writes

You can also vary how you structure the introduction of your quotation. You could…

    Put the introduction in the middle of the quote:
    “….,” writes Christine Haughney, “…” (45).

    Put the introduction at the end of the quote:
    “….,” claims wireless spokesperson Annette Jacobs. (23)

The BEST way to introduce your quotes is to actually incorporate the grammar of the quote into the grammar of the surrounding sentence. This way the outer sentence flows seamlessly into the quote. Here are some examples:

    Tiffany Edwards, a Laramie reporter, said that she was glad that the media was there because “the media actually made people accountable, because they had to think” (Kaufman 49).

    The photograph is used as “a defense against anxiety and a tool of power” (Sontag 45).

    Photographs are “a portable kit of images that bears witness to a family’s connectedness” (Sontag 145).

    The “Divorce Form,” a website with statistics about divorce, states that today “about 50% of first marriages for men under age 45 may end in divorce, and between 44 and 52% of women's first marriage may end in divorce for these age groups.”

Notice that when the grammar of the outside sentence matches the quotation’s grammar a comma is not used before the quotation. In addition, the first letters of the quotations are not capitalized because they are not complete sentences. Only begin the quotation with capital letters when it is complete sentence in the original source.

Another way to introduce a quotation is with a complete sentence and a colon. Here is an some example:

    Fraser tries to convince us that by reasonable cutting back, most of the problems would be solved: “But the problem really isn’t meat, but too much meat—overgrazing, overfishing and overconsumption. If Americans just ate less meat, the problem could be alleviated without giving up meat entirely” (32).

If you’re going to use a colon make sure that both the introduction and the quotation are complete sentences that could stand on their own. Also notice that the first letter of the quotation is capitalized; this is because it is a complete sentence.

The Most Common Mistakes Made When Using Quotations

“Dropped” Quotations

A quote is considered “dropped” when it is put into the sentence with no introduction. Here are some examples of dropped quotations:

    Fraser tries to convince us that by reasonably cutting back, most of the problems would be solved. “But the problem really isn’t meat, but too much meat—overgrazing, overfishing and overconsumption. If American just ate less meat, the problem could be alleviated without giving up meat entirely” (Fraser 185).

    Another issue that gay partners face is the fact that they cannot make medical decisions on behalf of each other. “Instead, the hospitals are usually forced by state laws to go to the families who may have been estranged from us for decades, who are often hostile to us, and can and frequently do, totally ignore our wishes regarding the treatment of our partner” (Bidstrup 35).

    These drivers are increasing the dangers out on the roads for drivers. “The risk of a driver who has one or more DUI convictions becoming involved in a fatal crash is about 1.4 times the risk of a driver with no DUI convictions” (Jones 83).

Mismatched Introductions and Quotations

In these examples the writer has attempted to incorporate the quotation into the grammar of the outside sentence. The problem occurs when the grammar of the outer sentence doesn’t match the quotation’s grammar. Here are some examples:

    Newcomb says that a teacher suspending a student for writing a gory essay, “such debacles happen across the U.S.” (78).

    I wonder if Newcomb is biased when she claims that some “assignments that open the door to writing about chainsaw murders” (92).