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Home » People » Karl Sherlock » English 120 » Resources » info | Integrating Quotes

Integrating Quotations and Paraphrase


  • to digest complex information and put it in the context of simpler or clearer vocabulary

  • to add one’s own interpretation to data (without altering the context)

  • to change the style or tone of the original information so that is consistent with one’s own prose

  • to substantiate with facts, observations or statistical information

  • to consolidate the content of lengthy sources

  • to draw attention to only the most important information of a source


  • to borrow the vocabulary of the original source so as to construct your own persona of authority in your rhetoric and ally that persona to sophisticated source authority

  • to use the original words as the basis for interpretation; to react to the original words

  • to capture a style, intonation or irony that makes the original source interesting

  • to emphasize the source's authority or validity contained in the original words

  • to convince readers that you are maintaining integrity of an author’s words and ideas

  • to demonstrate how sources bear out or corroborate the ideas contained in paraphrase


  • DON'T change the meaning or context of the original source.

  • DON'T forget to cite the source. (Just because you're not using quotation marks doesn't mean you needn't credit the source.)

  • DON'T devote an entire paragraph to paraphrase of a source; include paraphrase in a paragraph of your own ideas.


  • DON'T directly quote facts, statistics, and numerical data.

  • DON'T let quotations take up the majority of the paragraph or the page. (Quoted matter should add to your own ideas, not substitute for them.)

  • DON'T forget to credit quotations within quotations properly by 1) using single quotation marks within double quotation marks; and 2) crediting the source properly (e.g., "qtd. in Winn 39").




Colon [:] -- This punctuation is used when the prose preceding the quotation is syntactically complete (i.e., a complete sentence):

In E.B. White's story, "Once More To the Lake," White's narrator attempts to see his childhood summer lakehouse through the young eyes of his son: "There had been no years between the ducking of this dragonfly and the other one—the one that was part of memory. I looked at the boy... and it was my hands that held his rod, my eyes watching" (White 121).

The above example demonstrates how a direct quote should be introduced with the use of the colon [:].

Note how the student's sentence is complete. The use of the colon tells readers that a direct quote is forthcoming, and that its syntactical structure is independent from the student's sentence. The parenthetical source citation is placed after the quotation at the nearest syntactical juncture (i.e., at the end of the clause in which the quote occurs, and often at the end of the sentence coincidentally), and the period ending the sentence is placed outside of the quote. (Exceptions occur. See Example D.)


Commas are typically used to introduce a quotation by way of some word or expression, such as “said” or “asked” or any appropriate synonym for these words.

Alice Walker shows that she learns to accept herself and the defect in her eye caused by a childhood accident when she states, "There was a world in my eye. And I saw that it was possible to love it: that in fact, for all it had taught me of shame and anger and inner vision, I did love it" (Walker 481).

This example makes more traditional use of the comma as an introduction to quoted material. Any word that indicates expression (e.g., says, thinks, etc.) must introduce the quote with a comma. Notice how words that are found italicized in the original text are likewise italicized in the quote. Unless you indicate in a footnote that you have added the italics for emphasis in your text, a reader will assume that these words appeared italicized in the original. 


No punctuation -- Punctuation is sometimes omitted when the quotation marks draw attention to a single phrase or when the prose combines verbatim dialogue with paraphrase of it:


Americans have become victims, suggests Ann McClintock in "Propaganda Techniques in Today's Advertising"—victims of propaganda, which she defines as "a systematic effort to influence people's opinions, to win them over to a certain view or side" (McClintock 302).

A direct quote can be incorporated into the syntax of the sentence without the need for introductory punctuation. Note how smoothly the above quote fits inside the sentence.


Americans have become victims, suggests Ann McClintock in "Propaganda Techniques in Today's Advertising"—victims of propaganda, which she defines as "Propaganda is a systematic effort to influence people's opinions, to win them over to a certain view or side" (McClintock 302).

The sentence above demonstrates the awkward inclusion of a quote. Notice its choppiness.



In theorizing why the process of embalming is such a closely guarded secret among morticians, Jessica Mitford, in "The American Way of Death," asks, "Is it possible he fears that public information about embalming might lead patrons to wonder if they really want this service?" (Mitford 351).


Sophronia Liu recalls a teacher's rebuke of a ne'er-do-well student in "So Tsi-Fai": "‘Shame on you! Go wash your mouth with soap!’" (Liu 183).

Usually end punctuation, such as commas, periods, semi-colons and dashes, are omitted from direct quotations, deferring to the period which ends the student's sentence afterward. Some forms of punctuation, however, are best retained at the end of the quote for their indication of tone and rhetorical character of the quote. These forms are the exclamation point [!] and the question mark [?].

George Gallup, Jr. illustrates the decline of family by pointing out the extent to which divorce has seized this institution in the U.S.:
Even grandparents are contributing to the divorce statistics. One recent study revealed that about 100,000 people over the age of fifty-five get divorced in the United States each year. These divorces are usually initiated by men who face retirement, and the relationships being ended are those that have endured for thirty years or more... . (Gallup 457)

drop 1 double-spaced line; keep lines double-

indent 1" from L (not R) plus 1/2" parag. indent; don't add quote marks


When the quoted prose takes up more than four typed double-spaced lines of prose, it is appropriate to convey it in indented—or blocked—format. Introduce the indented quote by way of the same punctuation (or absence of punctuation, as may be the case) that would have been used had the quote not been indented. Drop the quote the usual double-spaced 1 line, and indent the left margin a full 1 inch. (The right margin is unchanged.) Since indention itself is the method by which the quotation is identified, the usual markers are not used. There are understandable exceptions to these rules: if markers appear in the original text, retain them exactly as they appear; if the beginning of a paragraph or a series of paragraphs is being quoted, include the half-inch indentations at the beginnings of the paragraphs. End punctuation and/or ellipsis stays with the quote, and the parenthetical in-text source citation appears immediately afterward. Once the quote is finished, drop another double-spaced 1 line and continue the text of the essay at the usual left margin. If your own paragraph continues after the indented quote (as it often does), do not start a new paragraph with indention.



In seeking causes for plagues in the Middle Ages, as Barbara W. Tuchman writes, "Medical thinking... [stressed] air as the communicator of disease" (Belasco et al 101-02), ignoring what we might regard nowadays as the more obvious culprit of sanitation.


In the late Renaissance, Machiavelli contended that human beings were by nature "ungrateful" and "mutable" (1240), and Montaigne thought them "misrable [sic] and puny" (1343).

The use of ellipsis to denote the omission is a typical way to abbreviate long quotes to their most germane elements, and drop words that are a syntactical hindrance to the inclusion of the quote in the sentence. Three spaced "dots" are the norm; once again, the period (which students sometimes confuse for the fourth "dot") appears after the parenthetical source reference. The occasion of ellipsis in this example should call your attention to two things. First, the ellipsis, denoting the omission of material unimportant or too lengthy for your the point, are three periods spaced apart from each other. Secondly, with quoted material omitted and replaced by these periods, the sentence still must be syntactically and structurally correct. Note how the use of a bracketed word in Sentence 1 helps to keep the syntax smooth and correct; in Sentence 2 the bracketed "[sic]" is an inclusion by the student writer which indicates to the reader that an error from the original source has been retained, and is not the typographical fault of the student writer. Note also that the parenthetical source citation in Sentence 1 has been placed where a pause in the prose would naturally occur: at the end of the clause. This rule has exceptions, as demonstrated in Example F quote #2. In this instance, it was necessary to distinguish between two different sources used in one sentence, therefore the parenthetical source citations were placed after the separate quotes. One again, it is worth noting that here too parenthetical source citations were placed where a natural pause occurred in the prose.


When Robert says, "‘Never thought anything like this could happen in your lifetime, did you, bub?’" he is referring to the few things he understood earlier when he and the narrator were listening to the t.v. documentary: "‘The men who began their life's work on them, they never lived to see the completion of their work. In that wise, bub, they're no different from the rest of us, right?’" (Carver 340-341). 

Note how, when the quote begins right away with dialogue, the quotation marks must reflect that material already quoted within the text is being quoted by you. To reiterate, in order to denote the usual introduction of quoted material, double quotation marks ["] are used; to denote the inclusion of dialogue or any other material that appears quoted in the text, single quotation marks ['] are used. Note again how in both quotes, the question mark is retained as the end punctuation. Furthermore, it may appear as though their are four periods in the ellipsis. Be wary of this. What appears to be the first ellipsis is actually a period. In cases where whole sentences or paragraphs have been omitted, end punctuation such as the period remains where it is, and capitalization stays intact. 

Robert seems to go out of his way to make the narrator feel as secure in himself as possible: "He found my hand,... ‘Go ahead, bub, draw,’ he said. ‘Draw. You'll see. Draw,’ the blind man said" (Carver 341).

In this example, both narration and dialogue are quoted. Note how only the dialogue is set off by single quote marks [']; the narration is marked by open- and close-quotation marks ["] as usual.

Gabriel Conroy, although congenial and attentive to Aunt Julia and Aunt Kate's needs, often acts as though he is inconvenienced by the charges they have placed in him. "—Here I am, Aunt Kate, ready to carve a whole flock of geese if necessary" illustrates the irritation Gabriel feels just beneath the surface of his cheerful compliance with his aunts' nagging duties (Joyce 207).

Sometimes writers use different methods of setting apart their characters' dialogue from the prose. Example C illustrates how different quote markers are accommodated in conventionally marked quotes. Because James Joyce uses the dash [—] to denote dialogue, not double quotation marks, it is unnecessary for this student writer to use single quotations marks within the double quotation marks. Double quotation marks are sufficient to indicate that the text is being quoted. Any specialized markers that may appear in the original text are retained within the student’s quote.

In Sherwood Anderson's story "Hands,” Wing Biddlebaum encourages a young protege to be his own person, despite how others in the town might reject him:
      "You are destroying yourself... You have the inclination to be alone and to dream and you are afraid of dreams. You want to be like others in town here. You hear them talk and you try to imitate them."
      On the grassy bank Wing Biddlebaum had tried again to drive his point home. His voice became soft and reminiscent, and with a sigh of contentment he launched into a long rambling talk, speaking as one lost in a dream. (Anderson 61)
The suggestion here is that Biddlebaum, himself, was alienated by the town for his younger self’s acts of staunch individuality. Consequently, his encouragement to his protege is not merely an "eccentric's blessing," but also a rationalization to himself for having lived a life in isolation as one misunderstood and shunned.

drop 1 dbl-spaced
line; continue dbl-

indent 1" from L
margin (not from R)

keep original quotes

add 1/2" paragraph
indent when
needed (when in
the original text)

When using an indented quote that contains dialogue, remember that the indention itself serves the purpose of the usual quote marks. Use none, except where they occur in the original to set off dialogue. Retain other mechanical conventions that appear in the original, such as paragraph indention and end punctuation. (Note: The above example has not been displayed in appropriate MLA double-spacing.) 

For more information about aspects of using quotations and source citations, see the following sections in your handbook A Writer's Reference:

quote markers (“ ” and ‘ ’) R2-b
ellipsis (... ) P7-g R3-c
brackets ([ and ]) P7-f R3-c
introducing quotes P6-f R3-a
contextual source citations R2-a
indenting long quotations P6-b R3-b
punctuation marks w/ quotes P6-f

Last Updated: 04/17/2017


Karl J. Sherlock
Associate Professor, English
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