Guidelines for Incorporating Quotes
Incorporating Outside Sources
Quoting from outside sources is an important part of academic writing because it puts you into the scholarly conversation and makes your own ideas and your paper more credible. Using quotes is a great way for readers to “hear” the expert voices talking about your writing topic.
When quoting, focus on (a) introducing the quote, (b) explaining its relevance, and (c) citing the sources—both in your writing and in formal citations. This form is known as the ICE method.
The ICE Method
When including outside sources in your writing, follow the ICE method:
- I: Introduce
- C: Cite
- E: Explain
Use this method when inserting direct quotations as well as when you’re paraphrasing or summarizing the ideas of another.
Introduce the Source
Introduce the source by giving your reader any information that would be useful to know: Who said it? Where did this idea come from? When was it said? Here are some examples of how to introduce a source:
- In her essay, “The Crummy First Draft,” Lekkerkerk (2014) argues that…
- Michandra Claire Jones (2015), celebrated poet and author, wrote that…
- In the textbook, Information Literacy, Mossler (2015) states…
After introducing the quote, be sure that you use a signal verb to indicate that the source’s words are next. In the third example above, you can see that "states" has been used to signal the source’s words. Other signal verbs include:
Cite the Source
When citing outside sources, you are required to include: the author(s)' last name(s); the date of publication; and, for direct quotations, the page number on which the quoted passage appears. If there is no page number, use the paragraph number to indicate the location of the quotation.
Precisely how do you insert this required information into your writing? You have two options. The first is to include the full or last name(s) of the author(s) directly in a sentence, and the year of publication in parentheses just following the name(s). If directly quoting, include at the end of your sentence the page number where the quotation can be found. Here are some examples:
- Johansson (2009) says he believes that scholars...OR
- Norman Johansson (2009) says, “Scholars should pursue PhDs” (p. 167).
Your second option is to include all of the required information in parenthesis at the end of the sentence. Here are some examples:
- Research suggests that graphic warnings on cigarette packages promote smoking cessation (Smith, 2015).OR
- According to one research study, “In the year following the introduction of graphic warnings…” (Smith, 2015, p. 16).OR
- Marcus explains that smoking can be deterred by “carefully placed warnings with disturbing imagery included” (Tomlinson, 2008, p. 16).
Notice in the above examples that quotation marks always have a beginning and end, occurring immediately before the first word of the quotation and immediately after the last word. Periods are always placed after the end-of-sentence parentheses, as in (p. 132).
After introducing and citing the passage, you will need to explain the significance: How might this author’s idea relate to my thesis? How does this data add to what I am trying to prove in this paragraph? Why am I putting this quotation in my paper? What am I trying to show here? Never leave any room for interpretation. It is your responsibility as the writer to interpret the information for your reader and identify its significance. Remember, a quote does not speak for itself or prove anything on its own. That is your job!
Here is an example of an explanation that would be appropriate to accompany the Mack quotation above: Judge Mack viewed juveniles as children first. He envisioned a system that would protect and give treatment to these young offenders so that they could become productive adults, and saw no place for criminal responsibility and punishment within this system.
Now, here is an example of the ICE method at work in a paragraph:
In the beginning stages of the juvenile justice system, it operated in accordance to a paternalistic philosophy. This can be understood through the published words of Judge Julian Mack, who had a hand in the establishment of the juvenile justice system. In 1909, he stated that this system should treat juveniles “as a wise and merciful father handles his own child” (as cited in Scott & Steinberg, 2008, p.16). Judge Mack viewed juveniles as children first. He envisioned a system that would protect and give treatment to these young offenders so that they could become productive adults, and saw no place for criminal responsibility and punishment within this system.
Five Tips for Effective Quoting
While quoting from reliable sources is an important part of writing a research-based paper, some students can become too reliant on quotes to do the work for them, over-running their papers with other peoples’ words. The purpose of quoting is to include an expert’s voice that is unique and different from your own in order to support your ideas.
Here are five key tips for effectively incorporating quotes into your writing:
- Make Quotes Count. You should quote sparingly, so make sure the quotes you include are impactful and approach the subject in a way that you might not. Part of quoting is “capturing” someone else’s voice and unique expression of an idea. If you could summarize the information and lose none of its meaning, then do that. But if you feel like the expert says it best, then quote the expert.
- Copy Quotes Correctly. It is important to be accurate when you are quoting – the whole point of quoting is to exactly represent another person’s words. Be careful to copy the quote correctly, and if you need to change anything, do so by indicating that you are changing something. If you need to insert a word, for instance, use brackets, like this: “In this quote [the author] states that people always rise to the occasion.” If you need to delete a word or phrase, use ellipses to represent this deletion, like this: “In this quote…people always rise to the occasion.”
- Your Words First. Because you are writing the paper, your words should begin and end it – this goes for the paragraphs as well as the whole paper. Avoid beginning paragraphs with a quote – start with your idea and create a topic sentence. Additionally, avoid ending paragraphs with a quote – you may analyze a quote prior to the end of the sentence, and conclude that its meaning informs your point. Use your words first – quotes should be working for you, not the other way around.
- Keep Quotes Short. Quoting sources should not be a tactic to fill space on the page. Not only should your paper be written in your own words, but the amount of space given to others’ words should be brief. As a general rule of thumb, no more than 15% of your entire paper should be quoted material. Achieve this general goal by using only a few quotes, and keeping those few quotes as brief as 1–2 sentences.
- “Block” Long Quotes. When your paper necessitates it, you may use a longer quote. In this case, “longer” quotes consist of four or more lines, or approximately 40+ words. When you have a quote of this length, you format it differently in your paper than just incorporating it into the normal sentence structure. Long quotes must be made into “blocks” – a visual indicator that this is a long quote. In order to create this block, indent all the lines twice, but keep the double-spacing.
Here’s an example of creating a block quotation:
Sometimes peoples’ viewpoints can be surprising. According to Robert Coles in his 1989 book, The Call of Stories,
On the way home Daddy became an amateur philosopher; he said God chooses some people to be rich, and that’s how it is, and you have to settle for your luck, and ours isn’t all that good, so that’s too bad, but if you just smile and keep going, then you’ll be fine; it’s when you eat your heart out that you can get in trouble. (41)
NOTE: When you create a block quotation, you do two things differently than if you’re incorporating shorter quotes into your sentence regularly.
- First, you do not encase the quote in quotation marks – the indentation replaces the quotation marks.
- Second, you punctuate the quoted material with a period before the parenthetical citation – with no ending punctuation after the parentheses.
- leaves us with
- points to
- tells us
- wants to
- I: Introduce speaker and why he is an authority on this topic.
- C: Quote material along with citation.
- E: Explain who this quote is coming from as well as his relationship or authority on the topic.
Integrating the words or ideas from another source is a big part of academic writing. Students must be careful not only to avoid plagiarism, but also to enable readers to fully understand your use of a quote or a paraphrase from a source.
Never insert a quote or a paraphrase abruptly into your writing without first introducing the quote (or paraphrase), citing it, and explaining it This means that you will never begin or end a paragraph with a quote. This method is often referred to as the ICE method of integrating quotes: Introduce, Cite, and then Explain.
Introduce. When introducing your quote, you will provide the context of this quote as well as show the source of the quote. The quote cannot do the work for you; you must provide your reader with some idea of why you have chosen to use this quote. You should also tell your reader who is speaking or where this quote came from and the relationship this person or source has to the point you are making. That is, why should your reader take this quote seriously? Is the speaker or the source an authority on the topic?
Here is an example:
In the beginning stages of the juvenile justice system, it operated in accordance to a paternalistic philosophy. This can be understood through the published words of Judge Julian Mack, who had a hand in the establishment of the juvenile justice system. In 1909, he stated...
This provides the reader with some context, or the points that you are making by including this quote.
This part provides the reader with who this quote is coming from as well as his relationship or authority on the topic.
After including the source of the quote, be sure that you use a signal verb to indicate that the source’s words are next. In the example above, you can see that "he stated" has been used to signal the source’s words. Other signal verbs include:
For other options, see our list of signal verbs.
Templates for introducing quotations:X states, "...."
As the prominent philosophy X puts it, "...."
According to X, "...."
X himself writes, "...."
In her book,...., X maintains that "...."
In the article,....., X claims that "...."
In X's view, "...."
X agrees when she writes, "...."
X disagrees when he writes, "...."
X complicates matters further when she writes, "...."
Here is an example:
In 1909, he stated that this system should treat juveniles “as a wise and merciful father handles his own child” (as quoted in Scott and Steinberg, 2008, p. 16).
Using the same quote as above, here is an example of the ICE method: Judge Mack viewed juveniles as children first. He envisioned a system that would protect and give treatment to these young offenders so that they could become productive adults, and saw no place for criminal responsibility and punishment within this system.
Now, if we look at each step together, this is what we see:
In the beginning stages of the juvenile justice system, it operated in accordance to a paternalistic philosophy. This can be understood through the published words of Judge Julian Mack, who had a hand in the establishment of the juvenile justice system. In 1909, he stated that this system should treat juveniles “as a wise and merciful father handles his own child” (Scott and Steinberg, 2008, p.16). Judge Mack viewed juveniles as children first. He envisioned a system that would protect and give treatment to these young offenders so that they could become productive adults, and saw no place for criminal responsibility and punishment within this system.
Whose words these are and why he is an authority on this topic.
Quoted material along with citation.
This part provides the reader with who this quote is coming from as well as his relationship or authority on the topic.
Quote the Good Stuff. Beware of using quotations that do not mean anything or add substance to your essay.
If a source says something so well that you couldn't possibly change it, use it!
If a source backs up a point you made, use it!
If you understand what a source is saying, use it! You will have to analyze it later, so understanding it will help you.
Avoid Over-quoting. Remember "less is more." Do not pad your essay with other people's ideas.
Keep Quotations Short. Keep your quotations 1–2 sentences long or use a few key words/phrases. If you need it all, turn the quotation into a "block quotation," but use them sparingly! "Block" the quotation if it's more than 40 words long. Block the quotation by having it start on a new line and in the same position as a new paragraph.
Example (Note: Block quotations should not be double–spaced):
In the chapter "Chicken Man," McBride (1997) narrated his rebellion as a teenager with honesty but without remorse:
I was obviously hiding, and angry as well, but I would never admit that to myself. The marvelous orchestrated chaos that Mommy had so painstakingly constructed to make her house run smoothly broke down when Daddy died, and Mommy was in no fixing mood. (p. 140)
Copy Quotations Correctly. Misspellings and use of incorrect grammar when it's obvious that the source couldn't have made those mistakes affects your own credibility as a writer. Accuracy indicates care for one's work.
Use brackets when you alter a word or phrase from the quotation. Example: Picciano (2001) stated, "[Distance learning] technologies [have] certain benefits and certain limitations and, as indicated earlier, a best technology does not yet exist" (p. 61).
Use an ellipsis when you omit words or phrases from the quotation. Use an ellipsis with brackets [...] when you omit an entire sentence. Example: When Fuller (2005) returns home, she explained, "...I was dislocated and depressed" (p. 72).
Do Not Start a Paragraph with a Quotation. A paragraph should begin with your ideas. The first sentence of a paragraph is known as the topic sentence or assertion, both of which support the focus of the essay. In turn, the quotation supports the topic sentence.
Do Not End a Paragraph with a Quotation. Always conclude the paragraph with your ideas. The last sentence should be part of your analysis of the quotation.