How to Quote Something or Someone

Updated July 12, 2018
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Many people are uncertain about how to quote something or someone in their own writing. As long as you stay true to the context of what the author of the quote intended to say and weave the quote into your own ideas, you will be successful in quoting something or someone.

Locate something or someone that you would like to quote. Sometimes people come across a quote that really speaks to them, and then they build their own writing around the quote. Other times, people go looking for a quote to support their own ideas.

Copy the quote word for word. Do not make changes to something that another person said. If the quote has typos in it, include "(sic)" next to the typo to indicate that you kept the quote in its original form and that the error is not yours.

Indicate that you are quoting something or someone. If the quote has four or fewer lines, include quotation marks around the quote. If the quote has more than four lines, indent and single-space the text of the quote without including quotes. If you are quoting someone online, use quotation mark tags if available to note that you are quoting someone.

Provide credit to the source of the quote. Write the name of the author of the quote and then provide enough information for another person to find the quote himself. If you are quoting a person online, provide a hyperlink to the quote.

Weave the quote into your own paragraph. A quote should never stand alone. Instead, a quote should be woven into your own original thoughts as supporting information. Avoid making a quote the last sentence in a paragraph.

Stay true to the author's original intent. For example, if the author says, "Some people think that I like the beach, but I actually prefer the mountains," do not quote the author as saying, "I like the beach..." Even though the words are technically from the quote, they have been presented out of context and fail to represent the author's thoughts.

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  • Failure to attribute another person's words is plagiarism. Whenever you quote something or someone, make sure that you indicate that you are quoting someone else so nobody mistakenly believes that those are your own words.

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