Formatting Quotes

When making any argument, you need support for your position.  In essays, this support comes from in-text citations; quotes from outside sources which “prove” your point.  In order to avoid plagiarism (a form of cheating when you use someone else’s words as your own), you must follow certain conventions & rules when quoting from outside sources.

Use this “equation” to remember the rules for quoting:

Tag + Quote + Cite + Explanation = Good Support


·        This is a sentence or statement that introduces the quote.

·        Tags give context for quotes: who is speaking, to whom, when, why, etc.

·        Tags should be placed immediately before the quote.


·        Place quote in quotation marks (“ ”). 

·        Copy the quote word for word as it appears in the original text.

·        Any words that are not your own are quotes (i.e. you are using what someone else has said).  Don’t only use dialogue or text already in quotation marks (“  ”) for support.  Any and all words in another text are fair game for use as support.

·        Do not include ending punctuation.  All punctuation goes after the citation (see below).


·        A citation is a note that gives the author and location (page number) for the quote.

·        Cites should be placed immediately after the quotation.

·        Cites should be placed in parenthesis.

·        Include the author’s last name and the page number where the quote was found.

·        Only put author’s last name and the number of the page.  No “pg,” “pp,” “#,” or comma (,) needed.

·        Place all ending punctuation at the end of the citation (after the parenthesis). 


·        If you’ve chosen a quote for support, you’d better have a good reason for it.

·        Explain what this quote explains about the current point you are making.

·        Remember, assume your reader is “stupid.”  Assume your reader has no knowledge of your subject and explain how this quote connects to or proves the argument you are making.

·        If you cannot explain how quote is connected, choose another one.  Do not add quotes for the sake of adding quotes.  They are not to be used as “pepper” for “seasoning” your essay.

+ Quote + Cite + Explanation = Good Support

According to one Harvard study, “75% of all high school students have cheated more than once in order to get higher grades” (Newberger 34).  The predominant view is that students cheat because they don’t know the answers or haven’t studied properly.  However, current research seems to indicate that most cheaters are actually “good” kids trying to get ahead.

The first time Romeo sees Juliet at Capulet’s party he says, “Did my heart love until now? Forswear it, sight!  / For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” (Shakespeare 1.5.50-51).  This shows how immature Romeo is in relation to love.  Readers know he was in love before because of his reaction to Rosalind’s rejection.  For two to three scenes he bemoans being rejected, talks about how depressed he is, and actually only attends this party because he hopes to see Rosalind there.  Now, he is saying….

Quick Review

·        Lead in with a tag—this gives the reader a context to understand where the quote is coming from and why it is being used.

·        Place quotation marks at the beginning and end of the quoted material.

·        Ending punctuation is placed after the quotation marks and the parenthetical citation.

·        If you do not mention the author’s name in the tag, place it in the parenthetical citation followed by the page   number of the quote.  Do not include “pp,” “pg.” Or a comma (,) between the name or page number.


Proof-read before turning any writing in for a grade.  Ask yourself the following questions about your introduction:

1.     Do I have quotes for support in my body paragraphs?

2.     Are any quotes “floating?”  That is, are any quotes just thrown into the middle of a paragraph without a tag or explanation?  Are any quotes just standing alone?

3.     Do all quotes have cites at the end? Are cites properly formatted?

4.     Did I explain all of my quotes even though it may feel like I am restating the obvious?  Remember, my reader is “stupid” and needs me to explain.