The Basics: When using borrowed material you need to…



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Hints for Use: This handout has 2 distinct parts. The first part contains the rationale behind integrating quotations, including examples of different formats and styles. This first part works well as a mini-lesson. Using Paula Gunder’s suggestions on “Using textual material,” the second part called “Revising your essay..” works well as an in-class activity immediately following the mini-lesson, allowing students to apply to their essays what they have just learned.

Using Textual Evidence


Using evidence to support your argument is central to making an argument about a text. Resist the temptation to include quotations and hope they will speak for themselves – no quotation speaks for itself. This is your argument and you will have to carefully shape your evidence in order to support the ideas you are trying to communicate.

Your essay shouldn’t read like a parking lot with speed bumps: You make an argument – bump! – you insert a quote; you make another argument – bump! – add another quote. Instead, your goal is to combine textual evidence seamlessly into your argument. Think of the Autobahn instead of the Safeway parking lot. You want to construct a essays that introduces, presents, and explains the evidence and how it support your argument. In addition, you want to transition from one idea to another smoothly.

Here are some suggestions that will help you on your way:

The Basics: When using borrowed material you need to…


  • Introduce it (Signal phrase)

  • Present it (Quote)

  • Cite the source (following MLA style )

  • Relate the quotation to the point you’re making (Explanation of its significance in relation to your thesis)

Format

1. Use double quotation marks (“ ”) to enclose the borrowed words and punctuation; if the quote itself includes quotation marks (as it would if it’s a conversation), use single quotation marks (‘ ’) to enclose the interior quotation.

2. If you change the text to make it fit your sentence, you must use brackets to show that change. Examples:

“And after that, as his peculiar qualities allowed, he passed out of human perception altogether …” (54).

“And after that, as his peculiar qualities allowed, [the Invisible Man] passed out of human perception altogether …” (54). (Replaces “he” with “the Invisible Man”)

After the incident at the Inn, the Invisible Man “pass[es] out of human perceptions altogether” (54). (Change in verb tense to make it fit the sentence)

3. Use a comma or a colon to set the quotation apart from the sentence, or break up the quotation and incorporate it into the sentence without a comma. Examples:

The Invisible Man makes a bold statement: “All who disobey his orders he must kill, and kill all who would defend them” (115).

The Invisible Man says, “All who disobey his orders he must kill, and kill all who would defend them” (115).

4. Place the parenthetical reference after the quoted material and closing quotation marks but before the punctuation mark that ends the sentence. Examples:

The Invisible Man explains, “To have, to hold my secret would have given me away – made a mere show and rarity of me” (99).

The doctor and Griffin come face to face when the doctor opens the door with an excited, “‘Now then?’” (90).

(If the quotation ends with a question mark or an exclamation point, the original punctuation is retained).

5. Long Quotations – must be of more than four lines – have different rule. First, be sure the quotation is really necessary. It may be better to break up the quotation and explain and interpret as you go along. If you decide the quotation is necessary, however, begin the quotation on a new line. Double space before, within, and after the quotation. Do not use quotation marks. Indent the quotation 10 spaces. After the quotation skip two spaces after the punctuation that end the quotation, provide the page number(s), and put no punctuation after the closing parenthesis of the reference.



Style

1. Vary the language of the introduction of your quotes. Specific language is important. Introducing each quote by “She says” becomes boring and can distract a reader from an otherwise persuasive argument. Be creative!

He says, mentions, observes, remarks, speaks, tells, states

She utters, voices, remarks, proclaims, comments announces, asserts, claims

2. Use the text to strengthen your argument – not to make the argument for you. Often selecting parts of a speech, statement, or question rather than quoting the entire passage allows you to shape the quotation to fit your purpose for including it. Examples:

The Invisible Man says, “Practically I thought I had impunity to do whatever I chose, everything – save to give away my secret. So I thought. Whatever I did, whatever the consequences might be was nothing to me” (111). This statement reveals the Invisible Man’s maniacal egotism.

When the Invisible Man describes his perceived “impunity to do whatever [he]chose” (111) despite the effects of his actions, he reveals his maniacal egotism.

3. Vary the format of your quoted material. Not only will this better show the connections between the text and the arguments you are making about it, you will also keep the interest of your readers. Examples:

Griffin’s emotional pain is revealed when he asks, “‘Why was I always alone and secretive?’” (89).

“‘Why,’” Griffin asks painfully, “‘was I always alone and secretive?” (89), while questioning his rejection of society.

Griffin examines his emotional pain when he wonders why he is “‘always alone and secretive’” (89).

Revising your essay for integrating quotations into your argument


Select four quotations you are using in your essay. You will work on putting these quotes into one or two sentences that explain what the quote is and how you see it supporting the issue or message you have identified.

Following the guidelines below and using the appropriate MLA citation conventions, decide which of the quotes you have selected should be formatted in the following ways.

1. For one quote you should use a signaling phrase that sets up the context of the quote and a colon as its source of punctuation. Use appropriate citation. If you need another sentence to explain the quote then create that as well. (See example above under Format #3)

2. For one quote you should split it up and begin the sentence with part of the direct quote, then use a signaling phrase that sets up the context of the quote, as well as appropriate comma usage, and then continues the direct quote until the end of the sentence. Use appropriate citation. If you need another sentence to explain the quote then create that as well. (See example above under Style #3 )

3. For one quote you should blend or integrate the quote or part of the quote into your own sentence structure, possibly using a comma. Use appropriate citation. The sentence should be grammatically correct and entirely comprehensible and work to explain what the quote is and how it supports what you claim it does. (See example above under Style #2)

4. For one quote you should split the quote and blend or integrate the two parts into your own sentence structure. The sentence should be grammatically correct and entirely comprehensible and work to explain what the quote is and how it supports what you claim it does. (See example above under Style #3 )

Student examples:

1. Margaret Atwood gives us our first view of the enigmatic character of “the man” via the eyes of our protagonist, Christine: “She had been mistaken: he was not young, just short. He was also what as referred to in their family as ‘a person from another culture’” (475)



2. Other people’s perceptions of her affect Christine’s self image. Through comparison with her sisters, we learn to view Christine as the daughter who would have trouble finding a mate mainly because she “could not possibly be beautiful,” or so her mother believed, “even if she took off weight” (Atwood 478).
Developed by Jocelyn White and Amanda Brobbel
University of Arizona Writing Program – 2002


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