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Write Clearly: Using Quotations in Your Essay

What are quotations?

Quotations are the exact reproduction of an author or speaker’s words, which are then integrated into your paper. Although direct quotations are common in essays in the humanities, they are less common in the social sciences and very rare in scientific writing.

Note: Remember that you must reference the use of someone else's ideas or ļ¬ndings, paraphrased ideas, and direct quotations. The in-text citations for the examples included in this guide have been formatted using MLA Style.

When should I use quotations in my essay?

Use quotations in the following situations:

  • when you are writing a paper about a text (for example, in a literature or philosophy essay) and the exact words are central to your point
  • when the original words create an impact that would be lost in a paraphrase
  • when the author is a noted authority whose voice lends credibility to your point 

When should I paraphrase or summarize instead?

Use a paraphrase or a summary in the following situations:

  • when you are synthesizing research from several sources
  • when the idea or concept is more important than the words
  • when you could restate ideas more concisely using your own words
  • when you are writing a scientific paper (for the most part)

Resources to help with writing your essay

Write Clearly: Using Evidence EffectivelyGuide: Write Clearly: StyleWrite Clearly: Using Quotations in Your Ess

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