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Use and Integrate Sources: When to Quote, Paraphrase, ans Summarize. Academic Center, University of Houston Victoria. 12 Apr. 2004



  • Do not leave your quotes "naked." Make sure they are clearly connected to the argument you are trying to make.

NO: After June's humiliating piano recital, Waverly adds insult to injury. "You aren't a genius like me" (Tan 151).

YES: After June's humiliating piano recital, Waverly adds insult to injury by declaring, "You aren't a genius like me" (Tan 151).

  • Use brackets ([ ]) and ellipses (. . .) to change verbs or other parts of the original quotes when necessary. This technique is especially useful for maintaining present tense in your paper. P.S. Know the difference between using (. . .) and (. . . .).

    NO: Dwight is a bully who takes out his anger and insecurity on those who are weaker than he is. "This made him furious; on the way back to the car he would kill anything he saw. He killed chipmunks, squirrels, blue jays, and robins"(Wolff 171).

    YES: Dwight is a bully who takes out his anger and insecurity on those who are weaker than he is. While hunting, he boosts his ego by "kill[ing] anything he [sees]. He kill[s] chipmunks, squirrels, blue jays, and robins" (Wolff 171).

  • If you're quoting poetry, make sure you use a slash (/) to indicate where each line ends. That way, you are staying true to the text, and the reader will know that you are quoting poetry, instead of prose.

    Ex.: When Duncan asks for an update on the battle, the captain describes the struggling armies as "two spent swimmers that do cling together/And choke their art" (Macbeth 1.2.10-11).

  • At the end of the quote, use the QUO-PAR-PUNC Rule: Quotation marks-Parentheses-Punctuation (Special thanks to Sally Wallace of the Brentwood School for teaching me this rule!). Within the parentheses, you usually write the author's last name and the page number. If you are only quoting from one book throughout your paper, then you only have to put the page number. If you are quoting Shakespeare, then you need to cite the play, act, scene, and line numbers.

NO: When Waverly accuses her mother of showing off, Lindo's eyes turn "into dangerous black slits. She ha[s] no words for [Waverly], just sharp silence. (Tan 102)"

YES: When Waverly accuses her mother of showing off, Lindo's eyes turn "into dangerous black slits. She ha[s] no words for [Waverly], just sharp silence" (Tan 102).

Note: If a quote ends with a question mark or exclamation point, then put that punctuation before the quotation marks, to make sure the intended emotion is retained.

Ex.: During their phone conversation, Toby's father tries to win Toby over by saying, "I've made some mistakes . . . . We all have. But that's behind us. Right, Tober?" (211).

  • If there is a quote within the quote you are using, then use single quotation marks to set off the inner quote.

    Ex.: When Lena shows Ying-Ying around her new house, Ying-Ying complains that "the slant of the floor makes her feel as if she is 'running down'" (Tan 163).

  • When your quote is longer than four lines, "block it off" from the rest of your paragraph. In this case, you don't use quotation marks (except for lines of dialogue), and the QUO-PAR-PUNC rule does not apply. (Note: Avoid using very long quotes--they sometimes bog the paper down.)

Ex.: Lady Macbeth calls on supernatural powers so that she can assist in Duncan's murder:

. . . Come you spirits

That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
Stop up th'access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose . . . . (Macbeth 1.5.47-53)

Lady Macbeth thus reveals the all-consuming nature of her ambition: she is even willing to give up her identity as a woman to get what she wants. (And the paper goes on from there.)

THREE “I’s” WHEN INTEGRATING QUOTES: Introduce, Integrate, and Interpret. You start by setting up (introducing) the quote (In the early part of the novel, Joe says…); next, you integrate the quote by setting it off using a colon or a comma (see below for examples); finally, you interpret the quote (When Joe says this, what he is really indicating is…). NEVER LET A QUOTE “SPEAK FOR ITSELF.” Notice, “interpret” does not necessarily mean “restate” or “repeat”; “interpret” means to explain the significance of the quote in regards to your paper. Also notice that you want to avoid using phrases like “This quotes shows” or “In the previous quote.” The exception to the three “I” rule: a hook does not need to be introduced, and a final thought does not need to be interpreted.

Integrating Quotations into Sentences-STYLE

There are at least four ways to integrate quotations.

1. Introduce the quotation with a complete sentence and a colon.

Example: In "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," Thoreau states directly his purpose for going into the woods: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Example: Thoreau ends his essay with a metaphor: "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in."

This is an easy rule to remember: if you use a complete sentence to introduce a quotation, you need a colon after the sentence. Be careful not to confuse a colon (:) with a semicolon (;). Using a comma in this situation will most likely create a comma splice, one of the serious sentence-boundary errors.

2. Use an introductory or explanatory phrase, but not a complete sentence, separated from the quotation with a comma.

Example: In "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," Thoreau states directly his purpose for going into the woods when he says, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Example: Thoreau suggests the consequences of making ourselves slaves to progress when he says, "We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us."

Example: According to Thoreau, "We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us."

You should use a comma to separate your own words from the quotation when your introductory or explanatory phrase ends with a verb such as "says," "said," "thinks," "believes," "pondered," "recalls," "questions," and "asks" (and many more). You should also use a comma when you introduce a quotation with a phrase such as "According to Thoreau."

3. Make the quotation a part of your own sentence without any punctuation between your own words and the words you are quoting.

Example: In "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," Thoreau states directly his purpose for going into the woods when he says that "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Example: Thoreau suggests the consequences of making ourselves slaves to progress when he says that "We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us."

Example: Thoreau argues that "shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous."

Example: According to Thoreau, people are too often "thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails."

Notice that the word "that" is used in three of the examples above, and when it is used as it is in the examples, "that" replaces the comma which would be necessary without "that" in the sentence. You usually have a choice, then, when you begin a sentence with a phrase such as "Thoreau says." You either can add a comma after "says" (Thoreau says, "quotation")  or you can add the word "that" with no comma (Thoreau says that "quotation.")

4. Use short quotations--only a few words--as part of your own sentence.

Example: In "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For," Thoreau states that his retreat to the woods around Walden Pond was motivated by his desire "to live deliberately" and to face only "the essential facts of life."

Example: Thoreau argues that people blindly accept "shams and delusions" as the "soundest truths," while regarding reality as "fabulous."

Example: Although Thoreau "drink[s] at" the stream of Time, he can "detect how shallow it is."

When you integrate quotations in this way, you do not use any special punctuation. Instead, you should punctuate the sentence just as you would if all of the words were your own. No punctuation is needed in the sentences above in part because the sentences do not follow the pattern explained under number 1 and 2 above: there is not a complete sentence in front of the quotations, and a word such as "says," "said," or "asks" does not appear directly in front of the quoted words.

All of the methods above for integrating quotations are correct, but you should avoid relying too much on just one method. You should instead use a variety of methods.

Notice the Punctuation!

Notice that there are only two punctuation marks that are used to introduce quotations: the comma and the colon (:). Note that a semicolon (;) is not used to introduce quotations.

Notice as well the punctuation of the sentences above in relation to the quotations. If there are no parenthetical citations in the sentences (no author's name and page number in parentheses), the commas and periods go inside the final quotation mark ("like this."). For whatever reason, this is the way we do it in America. In England, though, the commas and periods go outside of the final punctuation mark.

Semicolons and colons go outside of the final quotation mark ("like this";).

Question marks and exclamation points go outside of the final quotation mark if the punctuation mark is part of your sentence--your question or your exclamation ("like this"?). Those marks go inside of the final quotation mark if they are a part of the original--the writer's question or exclamation ("like this!").

The Proper Punctuation: Keeping in Simple Remembering just a few simple rules can help you use the correct punctuation as you introduce quotations. There are some exceptions to the rules below, but they should help you use the correct punctuation with quotations most of the time.

  • Rule 1: Complete sentence: "quotation." (If you use a complete sentence to introduce a quotation, use a colon (:) just before the quotation.)

  • Rule 2: Someone says, "quotation." (If the word just before the quotation is a verb indicating someone uttering the quoted words, use a comma. Examples include the words "says," "said," "states," "asks," and "yells." But remember that there is no punctuation if the word "that" comes just before the quotation, as in "the narrator says that.")

  • Rule 3: If Rules 1 and 2 do not apply, do not use any punctuation between your words and the quoted words.

And remember that a semicolon (;) never is used to introduce quotations.

These rules oversimplify the use of punctuation with quotations, but applying just these few rules should help you use the correct punctuation about 90 percent of time.

Literary and Reading Terms

Act A major unit of action in a drama or a play. Each act can be further divided into smaller sections called scenes.

Allegory A story in which people, things, and actions represent an idea or a generalization about life; allegories often have a strong moral or lesson.

Alliteration When the beginnings of words start with the same consonant or vowel sounds in stressed syllables – and the words are close together. Example: Toby teaches tiny tots in Toledo.

Allusion A reference to some striking incident in history or reference to a mythological character. Example: Cain and Abel or Atlas.

Analogy A point-by-point comparison between two dissimilar things in order to clarify the less familiar of the two.

Anecdote A brief account of an interesting incident or event that usually is intended to entertain or to make a point. A short summary of a humorous event used to make a point.

Antagonist The person or thing opposing the protagonist or hero of the story. When this is a person, he or she is usually called the villain.

Antithesis An opposition, or contrast, of ideas. Example: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times..."

Aphorism A short statement that expresses a general observation about life in a clever or pointed way. –“Sometimes the human heart is the only clock in the world that keeps true time”-“Keeping Time”

Apostrophe The direct address of the absent or dead as if they were present, or the inanimate as if it were animate e.g. when Juliet talks to dead Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.

Archetype An image, character or pattern of circumstance that recurs throughout literature and thought consistently enough to be considered universal --wise grandparent, generous thief, innocent maiden.

Aside An author directly addresses the audience but is not supposed to be heard by other actors on the stage.

Assonance A repetition of vowel sounds. e.g. How now brown cow.

Author’s perspective An author’s beliefs and attitudes as expressed by his or her writing.

Author’s purpose His or her reason for creating a particular work.

Autobiography An author’s account or story of his own life.

Biases An inclination for or against a person, place, idea, or thing that inhibits impartial judgment

Biography The story of a person’s life written by another person.

Caricature A picture or imitation of a person's features or mannerisms exaggerated in a comic or absurd way.

Cause and effect Two events are related as cause and effect when one event brings about, or causes, the other. The event that happens first is the cause; the one that follows is the effect.

Character A person or an animal in a story, play, poem, or other work of literature.

Character sketch A short piece of writing that reveals or shows something important about a person or fictional character.

Characterization A representation of a person’s attributes or peculiarities, appearance, personality.

  • Direct: The writer states directly what the character is like. Example: Rita was small and fragile looking, but she had immense courage and independence.

  • Indirect:

1) The writer gives the actual speech of the character. Example: “I’m afraid but I’ll do it anyway!” said Rita.

2) The writer reveals what the character is thinking or feeling. Example: As the cold water of the lake wrapped around her legs, Rita trembled at the memory of last summer’s accident.

3) The writer tells about the character’s actions. Example: With determined effort, Rita managed to get the rowboat into the lake and clamber aboard.

4) The writer tells how other people respond to the character. Example: Polly watched from the shore, knowing it was impossible to stop Rita once she had decided to do something. “She is so stubborn!” Polly thought.

Chronological order The order in which events happen in time.

Classic An enduring work of literature that continues to be read long after it was written.

Cliché Any expression used so often that its freshness and clarity have worn off e.g. “tip of the iceberg.”

Climax The high point of the story. It is the point that brings about the solution (or decides that there will not be a solution). The conflict builds and becomes worse up to this point. After the climax, the problem will usually, though not always, be solved. The climax comes near the end of the story.

Comedy A dramatic work that is light and often humorous in tone. It usually ends with a happy resolution.

Comparison The process of identifying similarities. Comparisons are used to make ideas and details clearer to the reader.

Conflict The colliding or clashing of thoughts, feelings, actions, or persons: the problems or complications in the story. All stories have conflicts. There are five basic types of conflict:

Character vs. Character: One character in a story has a problem with one or more of the other characters

Character vs. Society: A character has a conflict or problem

with some element of society – the school, the law, the accepted way of doing things, etc.

Character vs. Self: A character has trouble deciding what to doin a particular situation.

Character vs. Nature: A character has a problem with some natural happening: a snowstorm, an avalanche, the bitter cold, or any of the other elements of nature

Character vs. Fate (God): A character has to battle what seems to be an uncontrollable problem. Whenever the problem seems to be a strange or unbelievable coincidence, fate can be considered as the cause of the conflict

Connotation All the emotions or feelings a word can arouse, such as the positive or good feeling associated with the word love.

Consonance The repetition of consonant sounds within a line of verse or a sentence of prose. Not limited to the initial letter of a word. e.g. “such a tide as seems asleep.”

Contrast The process of pointing out differences between things.

Conventions Widely accepted rules for grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.

Denotation The dictionary meaning of a word.

Denouement The final outcome or resolution of a play or story.

Description Writing that helps the reader to picture scenes, events, and characters.

Dialect A form of language that is spoken in a particular place or by a particular group of people.

Dialogue Consists of the conversations characters have with one another. Dialogue has two main functions:

1) It tells a lot about the characters’ personalities.

2) It moves the plot, or action, along.

Diction An author's choice of words based on their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness.

Archaic words are those that are old fashioned and no longer

sound natural when used. Example: "I believe thee not".

Colloquialism: An expression that is usually accepted in informal situations and certain locations. Example: "He really grinds my beans".

Jargon: Specialized language used by a specific group, such as those who use computers. Example: override, interface, and download.

Profanity: Language that shows disrespect for someone or something regarded as holy or sacred.

Slang: The informal language used by a particular group of people among themselves. It is also used in fiction to lend color and feelings. Example: awesome, chill, no way - way.

Vulgarity: Language that is generally considered crude, gross, and, at times, offensive.

Didactic Literature instructs or presents a moral or religious statement.

Drama The form of literature known as plays; but drama also refers to the type of serious play that is often concerned with the leading character’s relationship to society rather than with some tragic flaw within his personality.

Dramatic monologue A literary work (or a part of a literary work) in which a character is speaking about him or herself as if another person were present. The words of the speaker reveal something important about his or her character.

Dynamic Character A character who undergoes adaptation, change, or growth--Pinocchio

Empathy Putting yourself in someone else's place and imagining how that person must


Epic A long narrative poem about the adventures of a hero whose actions reflect the ideals and values of a nation or a group.

Epigram A brief, witty saying or poem often dealing with its subject in a satirical manner.

Epiphany A sudden moment of understanding that causes a character to change or act in a certain way.

Epitaph A short poem or verse written in memory of someone.

Epithet A word or phrase used in place of a person's name and is characteristic of that person. Example: Material Girl, Alexander the Great, Ms. Know-It-All.

Essay A piece of prose which expresses an individual’s point of view; usually, it is a series of closely related paragraphs which combine to make a complete piece of writing.

Exaggeration An extreme overstatement of an idea. It is often used for purposes of emphasis or humor.

Exposition The beginning of the story where:

The audience usually meets the characters

The time and place (setting) are told

The conflict (the problem in the story that needs to be solved) is introduced

This portion helps the reader understand the background or situation in which the story is set.

Extended metaphor A figure of speech that compares two essentially unlike things at some length. It may introduce a series of metaphors representing different aspects of a situation.

Fable A short fictional narrative that teaches a lesson. It usually includes animals that talk and act like people.

Fact A statement that can be proved.

Falling action All that happens after the climax. This is the action which works out the decision arrived at during the climax. The resolution (denouement) follows.

Fantasy A work of literature that contains at least one fantastic or unreal element.

Farce Literature based on a humorous and improbable plot.

Fiction Prose writing that tells an imaginary story. The writer of a fictional work might invent all the events and characters in it or might base parts of the story on real people or events.

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