Guide to Direct Quotation and Giving Credit to Sources in the Text of a Paper


Direct Quotation
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 interpretation.
    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 below.)

If you use a direct quotation, follow these rules:
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 ellipsis marks.


 Giving Credit 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.

What you 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 your thinking.
**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.

Introducing borrowed material:
      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.

Using parenthetical citations:
      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 1982:10–15).

      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” (Wolf 1982:23).

       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).