Quotations can give some breath and life to a research paper, when used appropriately. While you should not use too many quotations -- one or two per five-page paper would work -- they can highlight a point you’re trying to make from an expert in the field. If you had the opportunity to interview an authoritative source for your research paper, you need to include attribution and citations per the requirements of the style guide you use.
For the most part, try to embed quotations within a sentence. For a quote from an interview, begin your sentence by introducing the speaker, followed by the quote, as in the example:
In a personal interview February 2, 2012, the former employee said, “I considered filing a formal complaint, if not a lawsuit.”
As an alternative, you can lead into the quote with a statement before a colon, which announces the quote that supports the preceding statement. If you add words to a quotation for clarity, put those words inside brackets to indicate they were not a part of the original quote.
Use ellipsis marks (three consecutive periods preceded and followed by a space) to indicate omitted words from a quotation. Do not use ellipses at the beginning of a quote. You could also paraphrase what the interviewee said rather than use a direct quote; when you paraphrase, you should use an attribution like “according to” or “John Smith stated in a phone interview March 3, 2014” to indicate the information is from a source.
Using Block Quotes
If your interview quote is long, you will need to format it as a block quote. In Modern Language Association format, quotes that take up more than four lines of your paper must be set as a block quote. American Psychological Association suggests quotes that are 40 words or more, and Chicago Manual of Style suggests quotes of 100 words or more should be formatted as block quotes.
For APA and CMS styles, block quotes are generally indented a half inch from the left margin; MLA style requires a one-inch indentation from the left margin. This indentation is maintained for the entire quote. In all styles, do not place quotation marks around the quote; also, the in-text citation appears after the final punctuation of the quote.
In-Text Citations and Notes
After a quote, include in-text citations to indicate where the quote came from. For interviews conducted in person, over the phone or via e-mail, use the term “personal communication” in APA format, as seen in the parenthetical citation example:
(V. Pinto, personal communication, March 4, 2014).
MLA style uses author-page parenthetical citations; since no page number is available for an interview, use only the speaker’s last name in parentheses. If you mentioned the interviewee’s name in the sentence, you do not need to reiterate it with a parenthetical citation.
In CMS style, citations of unpublished interviews ideally occur in text or in notes. In a note, include the names of both the person interviewed and the interviewer; brief identifying information, such as the interviewee's profession, if appropriate; the place or date of the interview (or both, if known); and where a transcript of the interview can be found, if available.
- John Smith (musicologist) in discussion with the author, February 2015.
For subsequent mentions, use a shorter footnote:
- Smith, discussion.
APA and CMS do not require bibliographic citations for personal interviews. To cite published interviews in APA or CMS styles, follow the citation guidelines appropriate to the medium in which it was accessed.
In MLA style, follow the bibliographic citation example:
Beck, Samantha. Personal interview. 15 February 2015.
If you conducted the interview over the phone or via email, list it as a “phone” or “e-mail” rather than “personal” interview. Also in MLA style, cite the interview from a book or a video if it was not a personal communication, as in the following example:
Cohen, Joel. "An Interview With Judge Richard A. Posner." ABA Journal 1 July 2014. Print.