Integrating Quotations for Literature The Basics Be meticulous & exact

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Integrating Quotations for Literature
The Basics

  • Be meticulous & exact in the copying of your quotes. Change nothing unless you’ve indicated that you’ve done so.

  • Place quotation marks around copied words.

  • A quote can be narration or dialogue. It doesn’t matter.

  • Take the shortest quote necessary to make your point.

  • ALL direct quotes should be CONNECTED TO YOUR WORDS with a LEAD-IN. This lead-in should establish a CONTEXT for your quotes; in other words, you should indicate the SPEAKER (if applicable) and SITUATION. For example, the underlined & bolded portion of the lead-in below provides CONTEXT.

      • When George tells Peter that he is turning off the nursery, Peter responds by saying, “I wouldn’t want the nursery locked up” (14).

  • Dialogue requires single quotation marks inside the double ONLY WHEN BOTH NARRATION AND DIALOGUE appear in your chosen text. Avoid this if you can. Instead, have your lead in clarify the speaker of the dialogue/quote.


  • A citation will appear after any and all quoted material, whether it’s for literature or otherwise. The citation tells the reader where the quote comes from.

    • It will consist of at least the page number (and sometimes the author for multiple works).

    • The citation of the quoted material follows the end quotation mark but precedes the end mark for the whole sentence.

    • The end mark for the sentence appears after the citation. See the example above.

      • An exception occurs when the quote includes a ? or ! ; this punctuation must appear in addition to the final end mark because it is part of the meaning of the quote.

        • When Lydia remarks that the screams coming from her children’s nursery sound familiar, her husband expresses concern: “Do they?” (14).

  • When writing about only one piece of literature, there is no need to include the author in the citation, as we can assume that the reader has both read the work and noted the author. (For an essay about multiple works, the author should be included in the citations. (Bradbury 14)

Complete Sentence Quotes

  • Choose a complete sentence to quote.

  • The quote will begin with a CAPITAL letter because it is a full sentence.

  • Introduce your full-sentence quote with your words in one of two ways:

Formal Lead-in

  • Formal lead-ins are intended for complete sentence quotes only.

  • Introducing the quote with a complete sentence/independent clause followed by a colon (:).

    • As the aunts try to convince their nephew of the police officers’ kindness, the reader cannot help but view the aunts as extremely misguided: “Mortimer…I don’t think [the police] would pry into our private affairs if we asked them not to” (78).

Informal Lead-in/Blend

  • Your words introducing the quote will NOT be a complete sentence.

  • Informal lead-ins can be used for quotes that are either complete sentences or shorter than that; in other words, use them for sentence quotes or key word/key phrase quotes.

  • Instead they will consist of a lead-in with a “launch word(s)” plus a comma OR a lead-in that transitions into the quote with the word “that.”

  • Mortimer says, “But if they found your twelve gentlemen they’d have to report it to headquarters” (78).

  • As Lydia expresses chagrin over the room’s unwillingness to change for her or George, she asserts, “the room’s in a rut” (11).

  • Sample launch words:

    • says, asserts, thinks, believes, ponders, claims, reports, suggests, reasons, thinks, writes, recalls, questions, expresses, denies, refutes, offers, asks (and many more).

  • You should also use a comma when you introduce a quotation with phrases such as According to Mortimer, "…” or Mortimer tells Elaine,”…”

Informal Lead-in with “that

  • Mortimer says that “The police have to pry; it’s their job” (78).

  • Lydia points out that “the room’s in a rut” (11).

  • The word "that" replaces the comma which would be necessary without "that" in the sentence.

Key Word/Key Phrase Quotes

  • Choose less than one sentence to quote—a key word or key phrase.

  • Lend themselves best to Blending – Your words + quoted words = 1 complete sentence.

    • Punctuation often won’t be necessary before the quote

    • Elaine describes her aunts as “the sanest, sweetest people [she’s] ever known“ (61).

    • George and Lydia point out that they have begun to feel “unnecessary” in their own house (10).

    • McClean reiterates that the Hadley children are too used to “creature comforts” and that they are too fond of “Santa Clause” (16).

  • The informal Lead-in can also be a kind of “lead-out” or “split lead-in” if you rearrange your words with the quoted material.

    • In these cases, the punctuation rules for writing dialogue apply.

    • Lead-out - “My advice to you is to have the whole damn room torn down,” psychologist David McClean tells the parents (15).

    • Split lead-in – “My advice to you,” psychologist David McClean tells the parents, “is to have the whole damn room torn down” (15).

SANDWICH YOUR QUOTE - Explanation, Commentary

  • Step 1 – Provide a context for your quote when you lead I to it – see above.

  • Step 2 – The quote itself

  • Step 3 - All quotes need EXPLANATION and/or COMMENTARY following the quote

  • Analyze/explain/interpret the quote

    • commenting on the importance/significance of the quote as it relates to the broader point you are making

    • How might it support your overall thesis?

    • This is your commentary and it is MANDATORY!

    • See following commentary in bold

      • The lottery is primitive, superstitious, and perhaps pagan. Although its meaning is forgotten on one level, its connection with fertility rituals is suggested in Old Man Warner's repetition of the saying "Lottery in June, corn be here soon" (705). Its use of a simple rhyme scheme that is centered around a cause and effect implies the outcome of the lottery will be a crop. Blood begets life in the form of food.


  • Use the acronym SPIES: SIGNIFICANCE, PURPOSE, IMPORTANCE, EFFECT, or SUGGESTION. Using these trigger words should help you create meaningful commentary.

  • Do NOT simply paraphrase the quote in your commentary. You should EXPLAIN why you put it in there. What does it show? How does it support your thesis? Why is it significant?

Ellipses (…) may be used to indicate an interruption in the quotation.

  • Original – Martha says, “Mortimer, we know the police better than you do. I don’t think they’d pry into our private affairs if we asked them not to” (78).

  • Ellipted for essay – Martha says, “Mortimer…I don’t think they’d pry into our private affairs if we asked them not to” (78).

    • No ellipses are necessary for short key phrase quotes or for key words.

    • Do not use ellipses to indicate that you have left out the beginning of a sentence; only missing words from the end or somewhere in the middle of a sentence need to be indicated with ellipses. The same applies to eliminated sentences in between other (parts of) sentences.

Brackets ([ ]) may be used to indicate a small change in the quote (in order to make the quote grammatically correct and clear, not to change meaning.)

    • Ex:

      • Original – Elaine says to Mortimer ,“Look at your aunts—they’re Brewsters, aren’t they?—and the sanest, sweetest people I’ve ever known” (61).

      • Ellipses added for essay – Elaine wants Mortimer to see that his aunts are “the sanest, sweetest people [she’s] ever known“ (61). One good resource--there are many others!
Modified & adapted from a handout created by Ms. D-V
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