Tag Archives: quote

Master the mechanics of quote integration

by Haley Schabes

When writing a paper, it is important to integrate the quotes you are using correctly. You never want to just “drop” a quote into your paper. Dropped quotes interrupt the flow of your paper and risk leaving your paper without a sense of cohesion.

There are four ways to correctly integrate a quote into your writing:

  1. Introduce it with a complete sentence and a colon (:)
  2. Use an introductory phrase and a comma (,)
  3. Include the quote as part of your sentence without punctuation
  4. Use only small snippets from the quote in the flow of your own sentence


Now this might be a bit hard to understand, so let’s give some examples for each:

How to introduce a quote with a complete sentence and a colon:

In Experience and Education, John Dewey explains that failure is important to learning: “Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes” (Salkind 393).

Notice: If you use a complete sentence to introduce a quote then use a colon (:) before you place the quote. Don’t be tempted by a semicolon or comma.


How to use an introductory phrase and a comma:

John Dewey explains the importance of failure in learning when he says, “failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes” (Salkind 393).

Notice: Place the comma between the introductory phrase and the quote. You can introduce the quote using verbs such as says, states, believes, asks, questions, and many others.


How to include a quote without punctuation in a sentence:

In Experience and Education, Dewey explains that “failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes” (Salkind 393).

Notice: The word “that” replaces the use of the word “says” from the previous example. If you use the word “that,” you do not use a comma in the sentence to introduce the quote.


Finally, here is an example of how to use snippets from a quote in your own sentence:

Dewey explains that failure is not an obstacle for “a person who really thinks” but is “instructive” (Salkind 393).

Notice: You do not need punctuation if the quote fits into the flow of your own sentence.

WARNING: In all of the above, you do need to CITE the quote. For more on citing and quote integration, click on the “citation” category at the top of this post and you’ll find more posts and lessons on the subject.

Happy quoting!

Haley Schabes is a senior majoring in business administration and minoring in education, economics, and Asian studies. Her current aspiration is to teach English abroad after college.


Works Cited: Salkind, Neil J. “F.” Encyclopedia of Educational Psychology. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2008. p. 393. Google Books. Web. 16 September 2016.

The bibliographic research journal

by Shamus Jarvis

As any scholar who has composed an extensive paper can attest, the research process plays an essential role in developing a thought-provoking and original piece of scholarship. Effective research methods include not only identifying appropriate sources, but also properly documenting those sources so that one can utilize the information gleaned from various books, journals, etc. when it comes time to write the paper.

A bibliographic research journal is one such method of documentation that is less formal than a complete annotated bibliography, but is nonetheless an exceptionally helpful tool to use when engaging in a project that will necessitate extensive research. Comprised of three essential elements—1) a proper citation, 2) a summary of the source, and 3) notable quotations—a bibliographic research journal allows one to record an author’s main thesis and identify other key ideas in an organized manner.

While you should format your own bibliographic research journal in a way that best suits your research needs, I will offer my personal format preferences as a guideline for what the journal might look like.

  1. The first piece of information included for each journal entry should be a properly formatted citation. Be sure to consult your professor as to which citation style he or she expects you to use (MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.).
  2. Next, create a summary of the source. What is the author’s principal thesis? Does he or she articulate any especially innovative ideas within the source? Be sure to include only summary information; do not comment on whether or not you agree with the author. This section should be roughly one paragraph long and only contain the author’s ideas.
  3. Thirdly, include quotations from the source. This is an appropriate section in which to jot down your initial reactions to a particular idea or the source as a whole. Do you mainly agree or disagree with the author? Does the source seem credible? Does the author reference any sources that you have already investigated? All of these are reasonable questions to ask yourself when examining a source.

If you anticipate analyzing a significant number of sources (e.g., fifty or more), it might be wise to include a slightly abbreviated summary section in order to save yourself some time. Again, a bibliographic research journal is entirely for your own benefit, and as you become a more proficient researcher, you will undoubtedly develop your own note-taking style that suits you well.

Shamus Jarvis is a senior theatre and English double major. He will direct a one-act play and present his postcolonial reading of Lord of the Flies later in the semester.

How to write a research paper without feeling overwhelmed

by Laura Tibbetts

  1. Find a topic that interests you. Even if professors assign an overall topic for the paper, the topic will often be broad enough for you to find some aspect of it that interests you.
  1. Get sources. Use the library, I-Share, and databases to collect as many sources as you need about your topic.
  1. Research! Skim or browse through all the sources you’ve found, taking note of information that strikes you as particularly relevant to your topic or that provides an interesting opinion/perspective. Be on the lookout for short passages where an author expresses an idea clearly and concisely, because those passages may be useful to quote later in your paper. This stage of the process would also be a good time to start a bibliography so that you can keep track of your sources.
  1. Formulate a thesis. Based on the research you’ve done and the different opinions you’ve found on your topic, come up with a specific and arguable thesis—one that shows what the focus of your paper will be and illustrates your opinion about a question/perspective on your topic that came up in your research. Your thesis can always evolve as you write your paper.
  1. Outline. Now that you have a specific topic and thesis, make a basic outline with an introduction, conclusion, and the main topics supporting your thesis that you want to cover in the body of your paper. Add a few supporting points under each main topic. After making the basic outline, expand it by adding details to all of your paragraphs in the outline, and include specific quotes, paraphrases, or summaries from what you’ve found in your research (don’t forget to cite your sources!). Sandwich the research in between your own thoughts and opinions about the research. (See “A quote sandwich to remember.”)
  1. Make the outline into full sentences. You essentially already have your paper—now you just need to turn all the phrases in your outline into full sentences. You may need to add transitions so that everything flows smoothly, as well as introductory and concluding sentences to each paragraph.
  1. Revise and edit. This is arguably the most important step in the process of writing a paper, so make sure you leave enough time for as much revising as possible. It doesn’t matter if your initial paper is terrible; as long as you devote enough effort to this stage, you could still end up with a great paper.

One of the benefits of this process is that if you follow it, you entirely avoid the problem of staring at a blank page and trying to create a paper out of thin air. Breaking up the process into steps has made writing research papers much less overwhelming for me, and I hope you find it useful as well!

Laura Tibbetts is a French and art major, and her favorite college academic experience so far has been studying abroad in France.

Quotation alteration

by Shamus Jarvis

As a follow-up to my recent post describing how to integrate quotations effectively, I would like to explain how to modify quotations in order to further help you achieve a seamlessly integrated quotation.

There are two tools (or punctuation marks) used to modify a quote:

  1. Ellipses
  2. Square brackets [ ]

An ellipsis (…) signifies an omission from a quotation. This punctuation mark is especially useful if you are quoting a particularly lengthy passage and want to limit the amount of quoted material that appears in your essay. For example, assume I wanted to integrate the following quote from Sense and Sensibility into my paper: “‘I felt myself,’ she added, ‘to be as solemnly engaged to him, as if the strictest legal covenant had bound us to each other’” (Austen 133).

By omitting a couple of words from the passage, I can call my reader’s attention to specific phrases that are significant to whatever claim I am making, thereby increasing the strength of the quotation: Marianne’s decision to correspond with Willoughby through written letters reflects her misconstrued notions concerning the state of her relationship with him, causing her to later admit that “[she] felt [herself] … to be as solemnly engaged to [Willoughby], as if the strictest legal covenant had bound [them] together” (Austen 133).

You will notice that this integrated quotation combines both methods of quote modification. The square brackets indicate pronouns that I have substituted in order to clarify the subject of the quotation. It is important to recognize that as a result of these substitutions, I have not altered the meaning of the original quotation. Square brackets are useful in altering certain words so that your quotation is grammatically correct within the context of the sentence that appears in your paper.

As a result of utilizing these two punctuation marks in altering quotations, you should be able to produce an effective integrated quote that fluidly transitions between your own words and the quotation.


Shamus is about to begin his final year of study at Principia College and looks forward to spending part of his upcoming fall semester studying abroad in England.

A quote sandwich to remember

by Shamus Jarvis

When writing any research paper, there is a common temptation to incorporate numerous quotations into the paper with the expectation that a lot of external quotes, lacking interpretation, will lend authority to your argument. Unfortunately, an overabundance of quotes actually detracts from a writer’s thesis because the writer’s own voice becomes overshadowed by the various scholars that he or she is quoting in the paper. Although there is no specific rule regarding a maximum or minimum number of quotations a writer should include in each paragraph of a research paper, writers should endeavor to include original thought as much as possible and use quotations sparingly and judiciously.

In order to use quotations effectively to support your thesis, ensure that the following three elements accompany every source that you cite in your paper:

  1. a signal phrase to introduce the quote,
  2. the actual quotation, and
  3. explication that describes the significance of the quote.

Signal phrases allow you to transition smoothly from your own words to those of the person being quoted. These phrases set up the reader for the quotation by indicating who is being quoted and including any needed context for the quote. For example, if a writer wanted to include a quote from a particular speech, he or she might use the following signal phrase: In his 2014 State of the Union Address, United States President Barack Obama stated, “Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.”

Immediately following the quotation, the writer must include careful explication that illustrates the significance of the quote. Explication goes beyond mere summary and instead helps the reader understand how the quote relates to the writer’s thesis. Depending upon how important a quote is in the context of a paper, writers should devote at least one sentence to explication so that the reader understands how the quotation relates to the writer’s argument.

It might be helpful to think of integrated quotations as a sandwich, with the quotation nestled between a signal phrase and explication. The following is an example of an effective integrated quotation “sandwich”:  As Caryl Phillips acknowledges in his introduction to Heart of Darkness[Signal Phrase] “One of the great paradoxes of the novel is that while Marlow dislikes Kurtz for having abandoned all decent standards, he also admires this ivory trader for having had the courage to fearlessly explore his ‘dark’ side” (xiii). [Quote] Through the paradoxical nature of Marlow’s feelings toward Kurtz, Joseph Conrad effectively establishes Kurtz as an enigmatic figure whose ultimate submission to the forces of darkness accentuates the moral conflict between barbarism and civilization throughout the novella. [Explication]

Remember, all quotations should relate to the writer’s central claim and must be followed with explication so as not to distract from a writer’s own words. Signal phrase + Quotation + Explication = an effective integrated quotation.


Shamus is in his third year studying Theatre and English at Principia and looks forward to studying abroad in England for the fall semester. He will appear in the production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale upon returning to campus in October.

Writing for the Christian Science periodicals

by Jeff Ward-Bailey

Writing a testimony or an article for the Christian Science Sentinel or Journal can be a lot of fun — because you’re sharing a healing that really made a difference in your life, or a spiritual concept that has spoken to you deeply. But it can also be challenging to feel like you’re describing your inspiration accurately, and in a way that will be easily understood by other readers.

I’ve been working as a staff editor at the Sentinel for a little over four years, working with authors — everyone from long-time Christian Science teachers to new Christian Scientists writing their first articles — to publish in print and on the web. I do a lot of work with teen authors, as well, and as you might imagine I sometimes get submissions from Principians sharing their experiences! I’ve found there are a few elements that really make articles and testimonies sing. So if you’re struggling to write about a healing, you might find these points helpful:

  • It’s okay to sound like you! It’s easy to assume that “writing spiritually” means “writing in the style of Mary Baker Eddy” — using flowery language, liberally sprinkling phrases like “malicious animal magnetism,” and employing words like “illume” and “infinitude.” There’s nothing wrong with these conventions per se, but a testimony or article is often much clearer if it’s written in a more straightforward style. Think of the way you’d describe a healing to a friend who isn’t familiar with Christian Science. You probably wouldn’t drop a buzzword like “chemicalization” without explaining what it means, right? Simplifying your writing — and not feeling the need to conform to 1880s-era literary conventions — often makes for a stronger piece.
  • There’s no quota on quotes. Sometimes people assume that there need to be a certain number of quotes from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in their piece. By all means, if a certain passage jumped off the page at you, you should talk about it in your article! But you should never feel pressured to shoehorn a quote in to your piece if it really doesn’t apply.
  • Try to strike a balance. Many successful articles and testimonies include both a narrative (a healing or experience) and solid metaphysics. If your piece has both these elements, think about using the narrative as a framework and weaving the spiritual details in — in other words, maybe you could talk a little bit about a healing or experience you had, then use the spiritual lesson you learned from that experience as a jumping-off point to make a broader metaphysical argument. Feel free to include whatever details you want to communicate with the audience!
  • Don’t sweat it! All the editors at the magazines are happy to hear from contributors. You shouldn’t feel nervous about sending in a piece, even if you don’t feel that it’s perfectly written. The editors are happy to work with authors one-on-one to get a piece sounding just right. And you wouldn’t believe how many strong pieces I’ve received from people who really didn’t think of themselves as writers!

The wonderful thing about Sentinel and Journal articles is that they’re all written because the author had an amazing experience or insight and wanted to communicate it with others. If you let that desire to share be your guide as you’re writing, you can’t go wrong.

This guest post is from Jeff Ward-Bailey, who was a Principia College writing tutor before he became a staff editor at the Christian Science Sentinel about four years ago.