How to use quotations effectively

  So you have finished researching for your essay, and you have all of these amazing quotations. Now it is important to know when and how to use quotations to enhance the effectiveness of your writing. When should you use quotations? • Like supporting examples, quotations should be used to strengthen arguments. • They should be used primarily when the specific language of the quotation is important (such as when you need to be exact about the writer’s position). When shouldn’t you use quotations? • Quotations should be used sparingly in most types of academic writing. • They should never be inserted into your text because you think the idea is better worded by the quoted author than you yourself could word it. • They should typically only be used to make a specific point, which you have led up to with your own writing. • Quotations should always be paraphrased where possible. How to embed quotations in the text • From beginning to end, your essay should flow naturally. Therefore, it is important that you incorporate quotations into your paragraph sentences. Some common ways to do this include: o In the words of [Author], o According to [Author], o In contrast, [Author’s] view was that … However, as long as the quotation sounds like it belongs in your paragraph, you know you have incorporated it effectively. Indenting quotations • The general rule is that if your quotation is longer than 40 words, you should indent it by 0.8cm on either side. It is advisable to check this against your department’s preferred style (APA, AGLC, etc.). • All indented quotations must be preceded by a colon, like this: Now I can type my longer quotation. This quotation begins with a capital letter, because it does not grammatically follow-on from ‘like this’. • However, if your quotation does: follow-on grammatically, you should not use a capital letter. Punctuation • In British/Australia English, use single quotation marks, not double. Double quotation marks are only used to quote within a quotation. The opposite is true for American English. Thus, in Australian English, this is correct: The Australian Newspaper reported ‘the Minister was “unimpressed” with the result’. • Do not use ellipses at the beginning or end of a quotation. When used in the body of a quotation, there should be a space on either side of the ellipsis ( … ). • Do not use quotation marks around indented quotations. The indenting is used instead of quotation marks. Making changes to quotations • Sometimes quotations have small errors in them, for example, a grammatical error, or a non-standard spelling. When this is the case, to show that the error is in the original, add [sic] after the error using square brackets. • It might also be necessary to add words to the middle of a quotation to make it fit in your sentence. For this, you also use square brackets; for example, ‘the Minister was unimpressed with the [election] result’.

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