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How to Quote

  • When quoting, incorporate the quotation into your own sentence; do not simply present it on its own.
  • Provide a context for the quotation. The reader will not understand unless it is make clear how the quotation fits into the larger picture.
  • Avoid treating a quotation as if it were a noun, as in this example:
    “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (118) proves this point.
    Instead, integrate the quotation into the structure of your own sentence and provide the information the reader needs to understand it:
    Even though the speaker, like the “wise men” referred to earlier in the poem, understand that death must be accepted, still he implores his dying father to “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (118).
  • Provide commentary that explains the quoted material and relates it to the point that you are making. The formula to remember is “evidence plus commentary.”
  • In a literary essay, if you are using secondary sources (critical writings) as well as primary sources (a novel or short story or poem), keep in mind that you can use information from the secondary to support what you are saying, but you will need to demonstrate the central points of your argument by discussing and quoting from the primary text.