There are three main ways to integrate quotations
into your essay: (1) direct quotation, (2) paraphrase, and (3)
mixed quotation. You should usually paraphrase the material,
and only directly quote it or give a mixed quotation when the
phrasing of the quotation is interesting or catchy in some pleasing
way -- quote when the text is quotable, in other words (like
the quotation on the homepage of this site).
Direct quotation involves
quoting word for word one or more sentences from an author or
source. When you quote, be sure to introduce your quotation
with a signal phrase.
A signal phrase is a clause that lets the reader know
who the author or source is. In the following examples of direct
quotation, note how the signal phrases precede the quotations:
- According to Karl Menninger, a
Freudian psychoanalyst, "the wish to kill,
unexpectedly robbed of certain external occasions or objects
of unconscious gratification, may be turned back upon the
person of the wisher and carried into effect as suicide"
(54). (Notice how the phrase "a Freudian
psychoanalyst" explains who Menninger is. Phrases that
rename their subjects like this must always be enclosed
- Menninger says that "suicide
occurs when an individual thus treats himself as an external
object, frequently identified with the very object toward
which his love and hate, particularly his unconscious wish
to kill, had been directed" (55). (The inclusion
of the word "that" allows you to omit the comma.
If you don't use "that," however, then you would
need the comma.)
- Menninger says, "In
Catholic countries there is usually a higher homicide rate,
a lower suicide rate; in Protestant countries a higher suicide
and lower homicide rate" (61). (The number in parentheses
indicates what page the quotation is on. If your source
doesn't have page numbers (e.g., a website), then do not
invent any page or paragraph numbers here.)
of quoting the author word for word, involves putting the original
phrasing into your own words. Be careful to substantially reword
the original, however. If you leave just several words in a
row unchanged, it will be considered plagiarism -- because you're
essentially stealing someone else's phrasing.
As far as signal phrases
and paraphrasing go, when you paraphrase you can choose whether
or not to use a signal phrase. If you do not use a signal phrase,
you must identify the author in parentheses following the paraphrase.
Here are a few examples:
- Freudian psychoanalyst Karl Menninger says that people
who are deprived of the ability to kill others usually end
up turning their murderous anger back upon themselves to
commit suicide (54). (Notice how I've totally reworded
this from the previous section. The rewording is my own
- Suicide occurs when an individual redirects his initially
outward-directed hatred back upon himself (Menninger 55).
(Notice that there is no signal phrase here, so I have
identified the author in parentheses following the paraphrase.)
- Menninger explains that Catholic countries report higher
rates of homicide and lower rates of suicide, while Protestant
countries report the reverse: more suicides and less homicides
(61). (Notice that the author is identified in the signal
phrase, so I don't need to identify him again in the parentheses
following the paraphrase.)
Mixed quotations are a mix between direct quotation
and paraphrase. Mixed quotations involve paraphrasing half of
the original but mixing in a few direct selections from the
author. When you insert mixed quotations, be sure to blend in
the quotation with the grammar of your own sentence. The sentence
as a whole must flow smoothly.
To achieve this smooth flow with mixed quotations,
you may need to omit or add words from or to the original. To
omit words, insert an ellipses . . . in place of the
words you take out. Ellipses always indicate omission. To add
words, insert them inside brackets [ ] to indicate
the insertion. Notice that there are spaces between the ellipses
dots and that the brackets are square, not rounded like parentheses.
- e.e. Cummings asserted that the poet's imagination and
his "preoccupation with the Verb" results in an
ability to surpass normal standards of logic and create
"an irresistible truth [in which] 2 x 2 = 5" (34).
(Notice that the words "in which" inside brackets
are my own insertion. I needed to add them so that the sentence
would flow grammatically.)
- B.F. Skinner, a social constructionist, believes that
our behavior is "a genetic endowment traceable to the
evolutionary history of the species" and that whatever
predispositions or character we have developed, it is a
consequence of our environmental immersion rather than innate
character (78). (I chose to quote partially here to be
accurate with Skinner's definition, but I didn't want to
quote too much from Skinner because his writing may be difficult
for my audience to understand.)
- Poet Wallace Stevens, when asked about his literary influences,
explained that he was "not conscious of having been
influenced by anybody and ha[d] purposely held off from
reading . . . Eliot and Pound" in order to refrain
from unconsciously imitating their works and ruining his
originality (234). (Note the ellipses. I omitted several
words to shorten the quotation around the essential point
I wanted to communicate. I also had to change "have"
to "had," and so wrote ha[d] to indicate the alteration..)
its original meaning, "to kidnap" -- is a serious
academic offense that can result in your failure of the course
possible suspension from the university. It is important that
you know what plagiarism entails so that you can avoid the
consequences. Ignorance is no excuse.
In short, plagiarism
occurs whenever a student attempts to pass off someone else's
ideas or phrasing as his or her own, rather than giving due
credit to the author. Even if the student mentions the source,
if he or she fails to put quotation marks around phrasing
not his or her own, it is considered plagiarism, because the
student is attempting to pass off phrasing that does not belong
to him or her.
You can learn more
about plagiarism in two easy ways:
Take this excellent ten question plagiarism
prepared by Indiana University. Highly recommended!
I have compiled a number of websites,
Word documents, and Powerpoints on MLA style, created by
different instructors and organizations who present the complexities
of in-text citation and works cited.
You can also do some practices
with in-text citation.