Guide to Direct
Quotation and Giving Credit to Sources in the Text of a Paper
Adapted from: Little, Brown Compact Handbook, p. 216
In a paper in which your focus is the analysis of a text (such as a
literary work), you will use direct quotation extensively to illustrate
and support your analysis. However, if you are writing about a
general subject and you are using books and articles as sources of
information about that subject, you should quote from those sources
only in the following circumstances:
1. The author’s original satisfies one of these requirements:
The language is unusually vivid, bold, or inventive.
The quotation cannot be paraphrased without
distortion or loss of meaning.
The words themselves are at issue in your
The quotation represents and emphasizes the view of
an important expert.
The quotation is a graph, diagram, or table.
2. The quotation is as short as possible.
3. The quotation includes only material relevant to your point.
4. The quotation is edited to eliminate unneeded material. (See
If you use a direct quotation, follow
1. Make the point first in your own words and explain it
completely. Then, you can use a quote to illustrate the point
that you have already made.
2. Provide your quote with an introduction. Do not just plop it
into the text. For example:
As Green says, “Fear thrives on ambiguities” (Green 1998:55).
3. Copy the quote exactly. Take down the author’s exact wording,
spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
4. If you want to include a word or phrase for clarity, place it in
brackets. If you want to omit irrelevant words or sentences, use
to Sources in the Text of a Paper
Adapted from: Little, Brown Compact Handbook, pp. 217–221
In any scholarly piece of
writing, you must give credit to the sources of your information and
ideas. You always must acknowledge other people’s independent
material—that is, any facts or ideas that are not common knowledge or
your own. If you do not, you commit plagiarism.
do not need to cite:
**Your independent material. Your own observations, thoughts,
compilations of facts, or experimental results, expressed in your own
words and format, do not require acknowledgment. You should
describe the basis for your conclusions so that readers can evaluate
**Common knowledge. Common knowledge consists of the standard
information on a subject as well as commonsense observations.
Standard information includes the major facts of history, such as the
dates of Charlemagne’s rule as emperor of Rome (800–814). It does
not include interpretations of facts, such as a historian’s opinion
that Charlemagne was sometimes needlessly cruel in extending his
power. A commonsense observation is something most people know,
such as that inflation is most troublesome for people with low and
fixed incomes. An economist’s argument about the effects of
inflation on Chinese immigrants is not a commonsense observation.
Whether you summarize, paraphrase, or quote
your sources, you also want to integrate any borrowed material smoothly
into your own ideas and sentences. The evidence of others’
information and opinions should back up your own conclusions: you want
to synthesize evidence, not allow it to overwhelm your own point of
view and voice. Borrowed material is ineffective if you merely
dump it into readers’ laps without explaining how you intend it to be
understood. Give the information a proper introductory frame.
Each scholarly discipline relies on one of a
few standard citation styles, including MLA style, Chicago style,
American Psychological Association style, etc. Some styles use
footnotes, while others use in-text parenthetical citations. In
addition, their bibliographic formats differ. Your papers should
include a full bibliography of the books and articles you consulted
following the guidelines for one of the major citation styles.
Your papers should also include either footnotes (with page numbers) or
in-text parenthetical citations (with page numbers) for every piece of
information that you derive from the readings or other sources.
The style of the American
Anthropological Association (AAA) combines in-text parenthetical
citations with a bibliography. In a parenthetical citation in AAA
style, include the author’s last name, the date of publication, and the
page number(s) of the information or idea, for example: (Wolf
Generally, place a parenthetical citation at
the end of the sentence in which you summarize, paraphrase, or quote a
work. The citation should follow a closing quotation mark, but
precede the sentence punctuation. For example:
Wolf states that his book will
“delineate the general processes at work in mercantile and capitalist
development, while at the same time following their effects on the
micro-populations studied by the ethnohistorians and anthropologists”
If you summarize information from
a section of a book, cite all the pages, for example:
In the early nineteenth century, the
booming cotton industry indirectly led to the demise of natives of the
American South. As planters sought to meet demand for raw cotton
for England’s industrial looms, they displaced native Americans from
their lands through methods including outright warfare, seizure of
goods, killing off game animals (part of Indian food supply), and
removal legislation in 1830 (Wolf 1982:284–285).