How to integrate quotes into your writing

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9A: Writing

Direct quotes are the best textual evidence you can use in an essay. Follow these rules to use quotes in your essays correctly and effectively!

RULE #1: Always provide a citation for your quotes. When writing about one story, just give the page number in parenthesis. For some assignments, you may also have to cite the author’s last name or the first word of the title.

EX: The narrator answers, “Oh, you can walk Doodle” (5).

RULE #2: Punctuate the quote correctly. Unless the quote ends in a question mark or exclamation point, close the quote without punctuation, and put a period after the citation.

EX: Doodle asks, “Who says so?” (5).

______________________________________________________________________RULE_3:_DON’T_PLOP_QUOTES_INTO_A_PARAGRAPH'> The narrator answers, “Oh, you can walk” (5).

RULE #3: DON’T PLOP QUOTES INTO A PARAGRAPH! Lead into them with a signal phrase so they “fit” into your paragraph. NO DROP-INS! They don’t fit or make sense.

WRONG: “The flower garden was stained with rotting brown magnolia petals” (1). The author uses vivid details to describe the setting.

RIGHT: James Hurst uses vivid descriptions such as a “flower garden stained with rotting brown magnolia petals” (1).

NOTE: Using the author’s name or “the narrator” can be an effective way to lead into a quote.


RULE #4: If you want to skip a few lines in a quote, use ellipses (dot dot dot). This is useful when only PART of a quote is relevant to your point. Just be sure to include enough of the quote to make sense.

EX: Doodle’s brother shows his unwillingness to accept Doodle by saying, “Aw, come on … Do you want to be different … when you start school?” (8).


RULE #5: Do not refer to the quote when building commentary. The reader knows you’re using a quote because of the quotation marks!

WRONG: The narrator tells the reader that he “was embarrassed of having a brother of that age who couldn’t walk” (4). This quote shows that the narrator is quite cruel on the inside.

RIGHT: The narrator tells the reader that he “was embarrassed of having a brother of that age who couldn’t walk” (4). Here it is obvious that Doodle’s brother can be very cruel at times.

RULE #6: Make sure COMMENTARY (your own comments) follows every quote! You need to explain how the quote you’re using supports the topic of your paragraph. Avoid using indefinite pronouns when creating commentary (“This means…” OR “That shows…”) because they leave your reader confused…

* Use the following catchwords/phrases to help create commentary and analyze quotes.

  • This event shows that…

  • This statement illustrates that…

  • This dialog emphasizes that…

  • _______’ s behavior reveals that…

  • Because of this statement, readers can assume that…

  • Obviously… Clearly… Undoubtedly….

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