Essay Lab Glossary

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Quotation

Definition:

When you incorporate external sources in your paper, you’ll usually do so in the form of quotations (a.k.a. quotes)—in other words, you’ll take the information, place it within quotes, and say who said it and where. And you can quote us on that.

Always follow these steps when incorporating quoted material into your paper:

  • Have a sentence before the quote that sets it up. Then the quote can come along and spike it over the net. 
  • Attach a little bit of your own language to the quote itself: According to Dr. X, “….” Unless you’re setting it out from the rest of the paper (indentation and all), avoid a stand-alone quotation, which will feel like it came out of nowhere. A good quality in a ninja, but a bad one in a quotation. 
  • Include a sentence—or two or three—after the quotation that explains how the quote proves your point. Don’t get cocky about it, though. 
  • Finally, your teacher may have given you a specific set of instructions for how to cite your sources. You may have the page number in parentheses after each quote; you might be using footnotes (a very difficult way to play the piano, by the way); or you might be providing the reader with a complicated cipher they can decode if they really want to know the source. Check the info your teacher has given you and make sure you have cited everything. Or else the citation fairy may visit your house this evening. And she doesn’t leave money—she takes it.

Example (in MLA format)

Perhaps the perspective of an experienced entomologist can shed more light on this matter. In his bestselling book Bees, not Birds, Dr. Weatherbee says, “Bees cannot vocalize or verbalize. Many people assume that bees make buzzing sounds with their mouths in order to communicate, when in fact what we hear as a buzz is the rapid sound of their wings beating” (67). Therefore, bees do not buzz angrily just before they sting, as many people believe.