Integrating Quotations | Part 2 (CMS)

Introduction

Once you’re familiar with how to introduce a quotation using a signal phrase, you’re ready to learn the more advanced rules on this page. You don’t have to memorize every rule, but try get a general sense of things and then consult specific sections when you have questions.

Additional Rules

Block Quotations

According to the official Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.), passages longer than a paragraph need to be set off as a block quotation. However, for users of Turabian style (the student friendly version of CMS) the minimum length is much less: passages of five or more lines can be turned into a block quotation.

Here’s an example of properly formatted block quotation:

Annabel Spotchek argues that

The invention of sliced bread made life considerably easier for early twenty-century men and women. However, not a few male writers blamed sliced bread for an increase in feminism. They argued that freed from the drudgery of cutting bread, women were able to take up the cause for universal suffrage and start working in factories. Such men were happy to acknowledge that sliced bread had brought some improvements (particularly in the toasted sandwich department), but they felt that the new technology was responsible for a significant deterioration in their quality of life. (Spotchek, Sliced Bread [New York: Loafer Publishing, 1999], 44)

While Spotchek correctly notes the importance of sliced bread, she ignores …

Note the following rules:

  • Single space block quotations, but leave a space before and after
  • Indent the entire block quotation one tab space
  • Retain original paragraph indents, except for the first paragraph.
  • After the block quote, don’t indent your next line unless you actually intend to start a new paragraph.
  • The citation is usually added in parentheses rather than in a note.

As mentioned, most of the time you can integrate a block quotation just like a regular quotation. Do be cautious, however, about continuing your sentence after a longer passage.

Finally, if you introduce your quotation with a complete sentence, then you can use a period instead of a colon (unless you’re using an introductory phrase such as as follows).

Quoting Poetry

Here are the essential rules for quoting poetry.

If you’re quoting two or more lines of poetry (three or more in a footnote), use a block quotation:

In “The Fly,” Ogden Nash mixes humour with theology:

God in His wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why.
(1-2)

The citation is usually placed on its own line, though you can decide where. You can also insert an extra line between the poem and the citation.

For poems with lines of regular length, the text should be left aligned (indented one tab space). If a poem has irregular spacing then you are allowed to centre the text (based on the longest line):

One wonders whether Ella Pencil’s poem “Spaced Out” parodies itself:

This is yet                another poem that
relies on            unu-
sual
spacing to make
an impression.

(1-5)

As much as possible, however, try to retain the original formatting of the poem. If a poem contains very long lines, you can indent a run-over line slightly (less than a tab):

Finally, if you do decide to integrate longer quotations in the body of your text, use a slash (/) to indicate each line break:

In “The Fly,” Ogden Nash mixes humour with theology: “God in His wisdom made the fly / And then forgot to tell us why” (1-2).

For stanzaic breaks, use a double slash ( // ), with spaces on either side.

Quoting Drama

When you quote a passage from a play, distinguish the names of the speakers by, for instance, using all caps:

In David Baird’s play Broken Glass, the leaders of the main political parties are divided about how to stem the tide of illegal immigrants from the Vatican:

PRIME MINISTER GATTUSO. We cannot allow any more of these robed people into our country.
ANDREA PEERLESS, wiping his brow. I can’t accept such a heartless …
PRIME MINISTER GATTUSO. heartless? It’s simply a matter of restoring order. We cannot have these people parading through the streets in their funny costumes.
(3.4.15-19)

Use italics for stage directions. Note also that in a print format you can apply hanging indentation to each speaker’s lines.

Citations of plays are usually by act, scene, and line number.

Quotes within Quotes

A quote within a quote is placed between single quotation marks:

My friend Natasha told me about a conversation she had with Nibaa after their American lit class: “The other day, Nibaa said, ‘I don’t understand why Moby-Dick is a classic. Much of it reads like a manual on how to run a ship.'”

In the unusual event that you’re dealing with a quote within a quote within a quote, you would revert back to double quotation marks.

If you’re not quoting anything more than the entire quote within a quote, then just use double quotation marks:

Natasha told me what her friend Nibaa had to say about Moby-Dick: “I don’t understand why Moby-Dick is a classic. Much of it reads like a manual on how to run a ship.”

Adding Emphasis

It may happen that you want to emphasize something in a quotation. To do so, italicize the words in question, and then add a phrase such as “emphasis added,” either in a parenthetical citation or in a footnote:

Birnwick and Flintstone noted that “most of the penguins who watched Madagascar or Happy Feet showed little reaction to scenes that involved penguins dancing” (95; emphasis added).

Alternative phrases are “italics mine,” “italics added,” and “emphasis mine.” Users of Turabian style should note that such a phrase may also be added in square brackets within the quotation (right after the italicized passage).

Most of the time, though, you don’t need to add any emphasis. Assume that your reader is smart enough to figure out what’s significant about the quotation.

Ellipses

Sometimes when you quote you may want to skip part of the quotation.

To indicate the omission of words, phrases, or entire lines, you must use an ellipsis (plural ellipses), which is just a fancy word for three spaced periods. Here’s an example:

Simeon Winchester studied the 1500 meter race in Oslo in 1981, and argued that “people love to see the pacemaker succeed . . . against all odds.”1

If it fits the syntax, feel free to retain original punctuation such as commas, colons, and question marks before or after the ellipsis.

If you indent a longer quotation of poetry and you skip one or more lines, use a line of dots (roughly the length of the typical line) between the quoted passages:

In the “The Lady of Shalott,” Tennyson appears to allude to the shadows in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave:

And moving thro’ a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.

(46-48, 71-72)

Be careful that when you use an ellipses the grammar and meaning of the quoted passage still make sense.

Also, you do not have to add ellipsis marks at the beginning or end of a quotation. We know that the quoted text has been cut out of a larger passage. The only exception is if a sentence trails off on purpose (for dramatic effect).

If you end one sentence before the ellipsis, and start a new one afterwards, then you will end up with four spaced periods (one regular period and three for the ellipsis). Here is an example:

Computer programmers “read on average one book per year. . . . They get most of their knowledge from watching Youtube videos.”1

Square Brackets

You can edit quotations by inserting your own words in square brackets.  Here are some areas where this is useful:

1. When you want to clarify or explain something in the original passage

A recent study by Abel Williams and Cain Jones found that “even when participants knew that a name brand item was of the same quality or worse [than similar non-brand products], such knowledge did not significantly affect purchasing behaviour.”1

2. When you want to insert some words to make the grammar work:

Sniggle and Popper claim that the story of “Sleeping Beauty provide[s] a powerful analogy to a person in a coma.”1

Do note, however, that in CMS style you do not have to use square brackets to change the first letter of a quotation from lowercase to uppercase, or vice versa.

3. If there’s a mistake in the quotation (let’s say a spelling error), you can insert [sic] behind it to indicate that the mistake belongs to the original author of the quotation:

According to Bert Rottweiler, “Carl Jang’s [Sic] theory of the anima and animus can be explained by means of the concept of yin and yang.”1

If you’re following Turabian style you can fix the spelling without noting the mistake. You can also avoid coming across as pedantic by rewriting slightly:

Bert Rottweiler argues that Carl Jung’s use of the terms anima and animus “can be explained by means of the concept of yin and yang.”1

In other words, try to minimize the use of square brackets.

Paraphrasing

A paraphrase is when you sum up a passage in your own words and provide an appropriate citation. Quotations take up a lot of space, so paraphrases can be a useful way of incorporating the ideas of others.

Let’s say you want to paraphrase the following passage (found online on Adler University’s website):

Perhaps Adler’s most influential concept – and the one that drives Adler University today – is that of social interest. Not to be confused as another form of extraversion, social interest should be viewed as an individual’s personal interest in furthering the welfare of others. Collaborating and cooperating with one another as individuals and communities can progress to benefit society as a whole.

Here’s how you might paraphrase part of this passage:

Alfred Adler’s most important contribution was his emphasis on a person’s social interest.1

Be careful that you don’t use entire phrases from the original text. This is how not to do it:

Adler’s concept of social interest is not another form of extraversion, but refers to a person’s interest in further other people’s welfare.1

When too many specific words or phrases are copied directly from the original passage, you may be guilty of plagiarism, even when you have cited your source.

Final Advice

It’s always important to remember why you are using quotations in the first place. An essay is not just a patchwork of quotations. Think of yourself more as a curator at a museum. You get to put on a show and tell a story. You organize the spaces and write the captions. In the same way you need to help the reader make sense of the ideas of others.

So don’t let the quotations swamp your own analysis. Introduce every quotation carefully and be sure to explain, interpret, and apply quotations before you move on with your argument.


For more information about the CMS guidelines for integrating quotations, see especially chapter 13 of the Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.), and chapter 25 of Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (9th ed.).

Integrating Quotations | Part 1 (CMS)

Introduction

If you want to see dramatic improvement in your writing, then focus on integrating quotations. It’s an area where many people struggle. Whereas in ordinary speech we easily introduce the words of others (he said; she was like), it somehow seems more difficult in writing. That’s why learning the rules is time well spent.

In fact, being able to integrate quotations will give you the confidence to interact with the ideas of others, to be part of a larger discussion. Quoting is not just about referencing a few lines of text that seem vaguely relevant. It’s about having a conversation.

On this page we’ll cover the basics of integrating quotations. All examples follow Chicago Style rules.

The Basics

The parts of a quotation

In academic writing, nearly every quotation is made up of three parts: a signal phrase, the quote itself, and some kind of citation:

Signal Phrase + Quote + Citation

Example: As Kurt Ramble has argued, “Urban farming should be incorporated in the elementary school curriculum.”1

The signal phrase consists of your own words that signal to the reader that there’s a quotation coming.

The quotation can be long or short. If it’s quite long then it may have to be formatted differently as a block quotation.

As for the citation, in this guide we will be using footnotes, but you could use parentheses if you’re following MLA or APA conventions. The footnote number is usually placed at the end of the relevant clause or sentence.

Now that we know the three basic parts of a quotation, we can zoom in a little more. Most quotations share the following details.

This graphic shows the main parts of a quotation using Chicago Manual of Style rules

The bibliographic information should generally be included in the footnote. Note that you do not have to mention the author’s name in your signal phrase:

Drinking a can of coke has an immediate effect on the body: “Because you have just swallowed your entire daily intake of sugar, your liver goes into overdrive and turns sugar into fat.”1

Finally, you can mention the title of a source in your text, but try do so mostly if the title is directly relevant to your argument or if you are using multiple works by the same author.

Types of Signal Phrases

Quotations are categorized by the way they are introduced, and there are three different signal phrases.

The short expression

One of the easiest ways to introduce a quotation is to announce who the speaker or author is and to add a verb that describes the way in which the idea is expressed:

As Jonathan Truculent once observed, “The best part of the pizza is the crust.”1

As Iris Evans suggested, “Cell phones and tablets have increasingly overlapping capabilities.”1

There are plenty of other verbs that work equally well (usually in the present tense):

argues, believes, notes, states, implies, observes, writes, etc.

Note that many of these constructions are introduced by the conjunction as:

As Smith argues …

Now it should be pointed out that your signal phrase can include quite a bit more than the author and the verb. Here are some instances where the “short expression” is not all that short:

As Imagen Randolph suggested, in a salacious memoir that caused quite a scandal, “There was always inappropriate behaviour at his parties.”1

Connelly mentions the contrary opinion of Judge Gavel, who writes, “No jury should convict on those grounds.”1

It was George Fandangle (1882), the nineteenth-century antiquarian, who famously wrote about the Greek philosopher Stroumboulopoulos, “Just like the popular culture he analyzed, he is now mostly forgotten.”1

Notice, however, that at the core of these signal phrases we still have the author and the verb. In all such cases we can use a comma between the signal phrase and the quotation.

Checklist for the short expression:

  • Does your signal phrase include at least a subject and a verb (e.g., He suggests?)
  • Does your signal phrase end with a comma?
  • If your quotation started at the beginning of a sentence in your source, have you kept the capital?
  • Is the quotation a complete sentence?
  • Have you added a proper citation (usually a footnote)?

The formal introduction

Next, we have a more stately way to introduce quotations. The formal introduction consists of an independent clause that typically makes a claim about the quotation that follows. The quotation then acts as proof or evidence of the signal phrase:

Godfrey Boggart, on the other hand, claims that opera is a dead art form: “While classic operas like Carmen or The Magic Flute are still being performed, most new operas receive little public attention and are in any case overshadowed by musicals.”1

Note that the formal introduction does not need to have a verb of expression (writes, believes, argues, etc.). It just needs to be a complete sentence that allows us to make sense of the quotation.

In addition, just as with the short expression, the quotation is usually a complete sentence too. The one exception is if the quotation is an appositive phrase:

To describe the reasoning of toddlers, child psychologist Martin Frost coined a humorous portmanteau word: “toddlerlogical.”1

If you find this an awkward construction, then just use the next method of integrating quotations: the run-in quotation.

Checklist for the formal introduction:

  • Are both the quotation and your introduction complete sentences? (exception: the quotation is an appositive noun)
  • Does your quotation start with a capital?
  • Does your introductory phrase end with a colon?

The run-in quotation

Often you can combine your signal phrase with the quotation to form one complete sentence. In that case you don’t need any punctuation in between. You will have to be selective about which words you quote, as the transition needs to be seamless.

The transept “first became popular in Romanesque architecture, and it gave the basilica the appearance of a Latin cross.”1

Buchanan contends that “despite being the longest ice age, the Huronian era remains understudied.”1

Notice that the signal phrase may include the author and a verb of expression, but neither is essential. The key is that the signal phrase and the quotation need to be combined to form a complete sentence.

So there you have it: if you pick one of the three signal phrases you should have no trouble introducing your quotations.

Checklist for the run-in quotation:

  • Do your words combine with the quotation to form a complete sentence?
  • Have you left out all punctuation before the quotation?

Minor variants

Occasionally you may come across a quotation that has no signal phrase. It’s just sitting there, all by itself in the middle of a paragraph. Kind of sad really, as the reader may have no idea what to make of it. Our advice is to play it safe and always provide a signal phrase.

A more acceptable variant is where the order is flipped around, and the signal phrase comes afterwards:

“The high costs of drugs are as much an effect of government intervention as a by-product of free market capitalism,”1 writes economist Hugo X. Santana.

In such cases the signal phrase is usually a short expression (see above).

You can even place the signal phrase in the middle if you like:

“The high costs of drugs,” writes economist Santana, “are as much an effect of government intervention as a by-product of free market capitalism.”1

This way of integrating the quotation (placing the signal phrase later in the sentence) is of course much more common when the words are spoken rather than written down:

“I will shoot anyone who thinks gun control is unnecessary,” shouted Ella Pringle, at a rally in Utah.

Another acceptable variant is to introduce the quotation with a short prepositional phrase:

According to Virgil Cain, “Japanese gymnasts have managed to improve their elasticity by eating copious amounts of calamari.”1

Just make sure your signal phrase and the quotation form a complete sentence.

While you’re free to experiment, in academic prose it’s best to place your signal phrase before the quotation. Otherwise your reader won’t immediately know what to make of the quotation and has to wait for an explanation.

Continuing after the quotation.

You might be asking yourself, do I need to end every sentence right after the quotation? Can I extend the sentence?

Yes you can.

The only caution is that continuing after the quotation is best done when your signal phrase runs right into the quotation (see above) and when the quotation is relatively short. Here is an example:

Odysseus is “the man of twists and turns” (1.1), an apt description of both his character and his wanderings coming home from Troy.

This is also a great way to string together a number of shorter quotations:

Matilda Anderson, in a recent address to the Anthropophagy Society, argued for a “redefinition of cannibalism” so that the restaurant industry “might have a new source of protein.”1

If you feel uncomfortable about extending your sentence after the quotation, then just use a period and start a new sentence. Don’t fudge it by adding semi-colons.

Checklist for continuing on after the quotation:

  • Do your words combine with the quotation(s) to form a complete sentence?
  • Have you left out all punctuation before the quotation?
  • Have you put the parentheses immediately after each quotation?
  • Have you put punctuation after the parentheses as appropriate?

Conclusion

Now that know how to introduce a quotation with a signal phrase, check out part 2 of our guide on quoting to learn about all those finicky exceptions! Don’t worry though–with a bit of practice you’ll master the rules soon enough.

If you would like to print a version of this page, please download our handy Guide to Integrating Quotations Using the Chicago Manual of Style Rules.

Integrating Quotations | Part 1 (APA)

Introduction

If you want to see dramatic improvement in your writing, then focus on integrating quotations. It’s an area where many people struggle. Whereas in ordinary speech we easily introduce the words of others (he said; she was like), it somehow seems more difficult in writing. That’s why learning the rules is time well spent.

In fact, being able to integrate quotations will give you the confidence to interact with the ideas of others, to be part of a larger discussion. Quoting is not just about referencing a few lines of text that seem vaguely relevant. It’s about having a conversation.

On this page we’ll cover the basics of integrating quotations. All examples follow APA style rules. Note that APA papers tend to include few direct quotations, as paraphrasing is the preferred method of citing sources. Quotations are normally reserved for definitions, to capture an author’s apt phrasing, or to interact with the specific wording of the source (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 8.25).

The Basics

The parts of a quotation

In academic writing, nearly every quotation is made up of three parts: a signal phrase, the quote itself, and some kind of citation:

Signal Phrase + Quote + Citation

Example: As Kurt Ramble (2006) argued, “Urban farming should be incorporated in the elementary school curriculum” (p. 78).

The signal phrase consists of your own words that signal to the reader that there’s a quotation coming.

The quotation can be long or short. If it’s quite long then it may have to be formatted differently as a block quotation.

As for the citation, in this guide we will be using parentheses, but you could use footnotes or endnotes if you’re not following APA conventions. When citing multiple pages, use the abbreviation pp. instead of p.

Now that we know the three basic parts of a quotation we can zoom in a little more. Most quotations share the following details.

Parts of a Quotation Formatted Using the APA Style Rules

You’ll notice that this passage is not crammed full of bibliographic information. Most of the time you need mention only the author, the date of publication, and the page or line number. You can also place all this information in the final parentheses:

Drinking a can of coke has an immediate effect on the body: “Because you have just swallowed your entire daily intake of sugar, your liver goes into overdrive and turns sugar into fat” (Sindhu, 2011, p. 41).

Any other details should be saved for the final references list. For example, you should mention titles mainly if they are directly relevant to your argument or if you are citing multiple works by the same author.

Types of Signal Phrases

Quotations are categorized by the way they are introduced, and there are three different signal phrases.

The short expression

One of the easiest ways to introduce a quotation is to announce who the speaker or author is and to add a verb that describes the way in which the idea is expressed:

As Truculent (2015) wrote, “The best part of the pizza is the crust” (p. 314).

In 2018, Evans suggested, “Cell phones and tablets have increasingly overlapping capabilities” (p. 58).

There are plenty of other verbs that work equally well (APA normally uses the past tense):

argued, believed, noted, stated, implied, observed, etc.

Note that many of these constructions are introduced by the conjunction as:

As Smith argued, …

In addition, sometimes you might use a verb that indicates not how the idea is expressed, but how it is received:

We read, …

Now it should be pointed out that your signal phrase can include quite a bit more than the author and the verb. Here are some instances where the “short expression” is not all that short:

As Randolph (2017) suggested, in a salacious memoir that caused quite a scandal, “There was always inappropriate behaviour at his parties.”

Connelly (2012) mentions the contrary opinion of Judge Gavel, who wrote, “No jury should convict on those grounds” (as cited in Connelly, p. 23).

It was Fandangle (1882), the nineteenth-century antiquarian, who famously wrote about the Greek philosopher Stroumboulopoulos, “Just like the popular culture he analyzed, he is now mostly forgotten” (p. 117).

Notice, however, that at the core of these signal phrases we still have the author and the verb. In all such cases we can use a comma between the signal phrase and the quotation.

Checklist for the short expression:

  • Does your signal phrase include at least a subject and a verb (e.g., He suggested?)
  • Does your signal phrase end with a comma?
  • If your quotation started at the beginning of a sentence in your source, have you kept the capital?
  • Is the quotation a complete sentence?
  • Have you put the appropriate closing punctuation after the parentheses (e.g., a period) rather than at the end of the quotation?

The formal introduction

Next we have a more stately way to introduce quotations. The formal introduction consists of an independent clause that typically makes a claim about the quotation that follows. The quotation then acts as proof or evidence of the signal phrase:

Godfrey Boggart (2011), on the other hand, claimed that opera is a dead art form: “While classic operas like Carmen or The Magic Flute are still being performed, most new operas receive little public attention and are in any case overshadowed by musicals” (p. 49).

Note that the formal introduction does not need to have a verb of expression (writes, believes, argues, etc.). It just needs to be a complete sentence that allows us to make sense of the quotation.

In addition, just as with the short expression, the quotation is usually a complete sentence too. The one exception is if the quotation is an appositive phrase:

To describe the reasoning of toddlers, child psychologist Martin Frost (2015) coined a humorous portmanteau word: “toddlerlogical” (p. 205).

If you find this an awkward construction, then just use the next method of integrating quotations: the run-in quotation.

Checklist to the formal introduction:

  • Are both the quotation and your introduction complete sentences? (exception: the quotation is an appositive noun)
  • Does your quotation start with a capital?
  • Does your introductory phrase end with a colon?

The run-in quotation

Often you can combine your signal phrase with the quotation to form one complete sentence. In that case you don’t need any punctuation in between. You will have to be selective about which words you quote, as the transition needs to be seamless.

The transept “first became popular in Romanesque architecture, and it gave the basilica the appearance of a Latin cross” (Chevet, 2018, p. 5).

Buchanan (2016) contended that “despite being the longest ice age, the Huronian era remains understudied” (p. 3).

Notice that the signal phrase may include the author and a verb of expression, but neither is essential. The key is that the signal phrase and the quotation need to be combined to form a complete sentence.

So there you have it: if you pick one of the three signal phrases you should have no trouble introducing your quotations.

Checklist for the run-in quotation:

  • Do your words combine with the quotation to form a complete sentence?
  • Have you left out all punctuation before the quotation?

Minor variants

Occasionally you may come across a quotation that has no signal phrase. It’s just sitting there, all by itself in the middle of a paragraph. Kind of sad really, as the reader may have no idea what to make of it. Our advice is to play it safe and always provide a signal phrase.

A more acceptable variant is where the order is flipped around, and the signal phrase comes afterwards:

“The high costs of drugs are as much an effect of government intervention as a by-product of free market capitalism,” wrote economist Santana (2017, p. 19).

In such cases the signal phrase is usually a short expression (see above). Note too how the date and page number are in the same parentheses and come directly after the author, not after the quotation.

You can even place the signal phrase in the middle if you like:

“The high costs of drugs,” wrote economist Santana (2017, p. 19), “are as much an effect of government intervention as a by-product of free market capitalism.”

This way of integrating the quotation (placing the signal phrase later in the sentence) is of course much more common when the words are spoken rather than written down:

“I will shoot anyone who thinks gun control is unnecessary,” shouted Ella Pringle, at a rally in Utah.

Another acceptable variant is to introduce the quotation with a short prepositional phrase:

According to Virgil Cain (2014), “Japanese gymnasts have managed to improve their elasticity by eating copious amounts of calamari” (p. 44).

Just make sure your signal phrase and the quotation form a complete sentence.

While you’re free to experiment, in academic prose it’s best to place your signal phrase before the quotation. Otherwise your reader won’t immediately know what to make of the quotation and has to wait for an explanation.

Continuing After the quotation.

You might be asking yourself, do I need to end every sentence right after the quotation? Can I extend the sentence?

Yes you can.

The only caution is that continuing after the quotation is best done when your signal phrase runs right into the quotation (see above) and when the quotation is relatively short. Here is an example:

Odysseus was “the man of twists and turns” (1.1), an apt description of both his character and his wanderings coming home from Troy.

This is also a great way to string together a number of shorter quotations:

Matilda Anderson (2016), in a recent address to the Anthropophagy Society, argued for a “redefinition of cannibalism” so that the restaurant industry “might have a new source of protein” (pp. 1, 5).

If you feel uncomfortable about extending your sentence after the quotation, then just use a period and start a new sentence. Don’t fudge it by adding semi-colons.

Checklist for continuing on after the quotation:

  • Do your words combine with the quotation(s) to form a complete sentence?
  • Have you left out all punctuation before the quotation?
  • Have you put the parentheses immediately after each quotation?
  • Have you put punctuation after the parentheses as appropriate?

Conclusion

Now that know how to introduce a quotation with a signal phrase, check out part 2 of our guide on quoting to learn about all those finicky exceptions! Don’t worry though–with a bit of practice you’ll master the rules soon enough.


For more information about the APA guidelines for integrating quotations, see especially sections 8.25-8.36 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

If you would like to print a version of this page, please download our handy Guide to Integrating Quotations Using the APA Style Rules

Integrating Quotations | Part 2 (APA)

Introduction

Once you’re familiar with how to introduce a quotation using a signal phrase, you’re ready to learn the more advanced rules on this page. You don’t have to memorize every rule, but try get a general sense of things and then consult specific sections when you have questions.

Additional Rules

Block Quotations

If your quotation consists of 40 words or more, you need to set it off as a block quotation.

In a block quotation, almost all the regular rules for quoting are inverted or changed. There are no quotation marks, the entire quotation is indented one tab space, and the final punctuation comes before the citation, and not after:

According to Dubrovnick (2011), many students taking psychology are looking for answers to the most fundamental questions of life:

For many students, psychology functions a bit like religious studies. While on the surface students are hoping to discover scientific explanations for the workings of the mind, secretly many are longing to make sense of a world in which spirituality is a fraught concept. These students hope that psychology will fill the void, that their psych prof will teach them what to believe. They couldn’t be further from the truth. (p. 45).

Here’s another way to cite the same information:

Many students taking psychology are looking for answers to the most fundamental questions of life:

For many students, psychology functions a bit like religious studies. While on the surface students are hoping to discover scientific explanations for the workings of the mind, secretly many are longing to make sense of a world in which spirituality is a fraught concept. These students hope that psychology will fill the void, that their psych prof will teach them what to believe. They couldn’t be further from the truth. (Dubrovnick, 2011, p. 45).

Do note that these examples use line spacing that’s more common online. In your essay you should double space all text, leaving no extra spaces between your block quotation and your own text.

Most block quotations are introduced by a formal introduction. The reason is that if you’re quoting a significant amount of text, you need to give it a fairly detailed introduction. Otherwise the reader may have a hard time making sense of the quotation.

In particular, you should avoid using a run-in signal phrase or continuing your sentence after the quotation, even though you will often see these things in older academic texts.

Finally, after the block quotation there is no need to indent your next sentence. Usually you will want to continue with your paragraph and explain the significance of the quotation.

Adding Emphasis

It may happen that you want to emphasize something in a quotation. To do so, italicize the words in question, and then insert (immediately afterwards) the words “emphasis added” in square brackets:

Churchill apparently joked, “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put [emphasis added].”

If you’re also citing a source, add it at the end as usual:

Birnwick and Flintstone (2009) noted that “most of the penguins who watched Madagascar or Happy Feet showed little reaction [emphasis added] to scenes that involved penguins dancing” (p. 95).

Most of the time, though, you don’t need to add any emphasis. Assume that your reader is smart enough to figure out what’s significant about the quotation.

Ellipses

Sometimes when you quote you may want to skip part of the quotation.

To indicate the omission of words, phrases, or entire lines, you must use an ellipsis (plural ellipses), which is just a fancy word for three spaced periods. Here’s an example:

 Winchester studied the 1500 meter race in Oslo in 1981, and argued that “people love to see the pacemaker succeed … against all odds” (2015, p. 46).

Be careful that when you use an ellipses the grammar and meaning of the quoted passage still make sense.

Also, you do not have to add ellipsis marks at the beginning or end of a quotation. We know that the quoted text has been cut out of a larger passage. The only exception is if your source already contains an ellipsis.

If you end one sentence before the ellipsis, and start a new one afterwards, then you will end up with four spaced periods (one regular period and three for the ellipsis). Here is an example:

Computer programmers “read on average one book per year. . . . They get most of their knowledge from watching Youtube videos” (Smith & Smith, 2016, para. 8).

Square Brackets

You can edit quotations by inserting your own words in square brackets.  Here are some areas where this is useful:

1. When you want to clarify or explain something in the original passage

A recent study by Williams and Jones (2017) found that “even when participants knew that a name brand item was of the same quality or worse [than similar non-brand products], such knowledge did not significantly affect purchasing behaviour” (p. 14).

2. When you want to insert some words to make the grammar work:

Sniggle and Popper claimed that the story of Sleeping Beauty “provide[s] a powerful analogy to a person in a coma” (2016, p. 33).

Do note, however, that in APA style you do not have to use square brackets to change the first letter of a quotation from lowercase to uppercase, or vice versa.

3. If there’s a mistake in the quotation (let’s say a spelling error), you can insert [sic] behind it to indicate that the mistake belongs to the original author of the quotation:

According to Rottweiler, “Carl Jang’s [sic] theory of the anima and animus can be explained by means of the concept of yin and yang” (2017, p. 44).

In these instances you can avoid coming across as pedantic by rewriting slightly:

Rottweiler argued that Carl Jung’s use of the terms anima and animus “can be explained by means of the concept of yin and yang” (2017, p. 44).

In other words, try to minimize the use of square brackets.

Quotes within Quotes

A quote within a quote is placed between single quotation marks:

My friend Natasha told me about a conversation she had with Nibaa after their American lit class: “The other day, Nibaa said, ‘I don’t understand why Moby-Dick is a classic. Much of it reads like a manual on how to run a ship'” (N. Smith, personal communication, August 2, 2019).

In the unusual event that you’re dealing with a quote within a quote within a quote, you would revert back to double quotation marks.

If you’re not quoting anything more than the entire quote within a quote, then just use double quotation marks:

Natasha told me what her friend Nibaa had to say about Moby-Dick: “I don’t understand why Moby-Dick is a classic. Much of it reads like a manual on how to run a ship” ((N. Smith, personal communication, August 2, 2019).

Finally, when you apply these rules to a block quotation, remember that a block quotation doesn’t have any quotation marks around it, so any internal quotation can be set off by double quotation marks.

Paraphrasing

A paraphrase is when you sum up a passage in your own words and provide an appropriate citation. The APA style actually recommends that most of your citations should be paraphrases; direct quotations are normally reserved for  definitions, for capturing the author’s specific wording, or for interacting with a particular passage.

Let’s say you want to paraphrase the following passage (found online on Adler University’s website):

Perhaps Adler’s most influential concept – and the one that drives Adler University today – is that of social interest. Not to be confused as another form of extraversion, social interest should be viewed as an individual’s personal interest in furthering the welfare of others. Collaborating and cooperating with one another as individuals and communities can progress to benefit society as a whole.

Here’s how you might paraphrase part of this passage:

Alfred Adler’s most important contribution was his emphasis on a person’s social interest (“Adler,” n.d., para. 10).

Be careful that you don’t use entire phrases from the original text. This is how not to do it:

Adler’s concept of social interest is not another form of extraversion, but refers to a person’s interest in further other people’s welfare (“Adler,” n.d., para. 10).

When too many specific words or phrases are copied directly from the original passage, you may be guilty of plagiarism, even when you have cited your source.

To avoid any suggestion of unscrupulous copying, be sure also to cite a page or paragraph number. While this is less essential for APA style than for, let’s say, MLA style, it is nevertheless a good practice.

Final Advice

It’s always important to remember why you are using quotations in the first place. An essay is not just a patchwork of quotations. Think of yourself more as a curator at a museum. You get to put on a show and tell a story. You organize the spaces and write the captions. In the same way you need to help the reader make sense of the ideas of others.

So don’t let the quotations swamp your own analysis. Introduce every quotation carefully and be sure to explain, interpret, and apply quotations before you move on with your argument.


For more information about the APA guidelines for integrating quotations, see especially sections 8.25-8.36 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

Integrating Quotations Exercises

Introduction

The best way to get better at integrating quotations is by practicing! And rather than wait until you get an assignment back from an instructor, why not be proactive and master the rules beforehand?

Note: the following exercises use the MLA guidelines, but in the future we will also add separate pages for the APA and CMS styles.

Exercises