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What Does "Sic" Mean in Writing?


When quoting or paraphrasing someone else's words or work in your writing, you need to give credit to the original author or publication. Occasionally, you may come across a quote that will enhance your article or paper, but uses outdated language or includes a misspelled word. You can still use the source as long as you follow the quote with "sic."

Identification

The word "sic" is Latin in origin and means "thus" or "so," according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook.

Function

Inserting sic following a quote indicates "the quotation is accurate even though the spelling or logic might make [the reader] think otherwise," according to the MLA Handbook.

Effects

The use of sic tells the reader that you recognize the error or outdated spelling within the quotation, but quoted it verbatim.

Placement

When sic follows a quotation, place it in parenthesis outside the quote marks and before the final punctuation, as in: "I misplaced my checbook" (sic). To insert sic within the quotation immediately after an error or misspelled word, place it in square brackets, as in: "I misplaced my checbook [sic]."

Considerations

While the MLA format does not call for sic to be italicized, some writing formats and style guides, including the APA Stylebook, do. In formal writing, refer to the appropriate format or style guide for clarification.

About the Author

Pam Murphy is a writer specializing in fitness, childcare and business-related topics. She is a member of the National Association for Family Child Care and contributes to various websites. Murphy is a licensed childcare professional and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Georgia.

Photo Credits
  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of F Delventhal