Using Quotations and Citing Sources

Using Quotations and Citing Sources



Using Quotations and Citing Sources

Using Quotations and Citing Sources in an Argument Analysis Essay

When Should You Quote?


  • When you want to convince your reader you are being fair
  • Especially when you are responding to a writer’s definition of a key term
  • When you want to show an example of the writer’s style – her use of language, her tone
  • Avoid long quotations unless you believe they are absolutely necessary
  • Better to paraphrase an argument in your own words and use quotes sparingly
  • Often it is quite sufficient to quote a key phrase or word
  • Particularly in argument evaluations, be careful not to distort the meaning or tone of the original by quoting out of context, or by quoting so little information that the reader is misled or confused about the original. A fair analysis will try to capture the emphasis and tone of the original writer.

For example:

“Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, till he has at least some glimpse of hope that there will be ever some hearty and sincere attempt to put them in practice.” (Swift 184)

Swift rejects any other solution to the problem of poverty in Ireland, as can be seen by his claim “…let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients…” (184)

Swift rejects any other solutions to the problem of poverty in Ireland unless such solutions are seriously addressed and there is “…at least some glimpse of hope that there will be ever some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice” (184).

The Long and Short of Quotations


Long Quotations (4 lines or more) 

  • Should be set off from your text
  • Indent and single space
  • Once you indent, you do not need to use quotation marks
  • You still need to cite the author and page number (or just the page number if you have mentioned the author’s name in the sentence).

Short Quotations

  • Embedded within the sentence
  • Must be consistent grammatically with the rest of your sentence
  • Set off by quotation marks
  • Cite author and page number

How to integrate quotations into your essay


Example #1

In the first sentence of  “A Modest Proposal,” Swift establishes his deep pain regarding the poverty in Ireland:  “It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town [Dublin], or travel in the country…” (179).

Example #2:

Readers who misunderstand Swift’s irony might be offended when he proposes that “…a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food…” (Swift 180).

 Example #3

Swift’s irony is most bitter when he attacks the greed of the Irish landlords by pointing out, “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children “ (183).

  • The first time I refer to the text I am analyzing, I introduce the quote by citing the author and the text. This means that I do not need to cite the author again at the end, just the page number.  If later in the essay I refer to Swift as “he,” I will have to cite both name and page number at the end (e.g. Swift 180)


  • On my Works Cited Page, I will have a full citation under Swift, so the reader knows that I actually read this text reprinted in another text (Current Issues and Enduring Questions). Remember your Works Cited page literally lists only the authors you have cited in your text – your reader should be able to immediately locate the author you have cited in your Works Cited page by matching the citation to the one within the text. 


  • Place the quotation marks around the quoted material, immediately followed by the page reference.
  • Commas and periods go inside quotation marks, except when the quotation comes at the end of the sentence when the period follows the page reference. Notice how I placed the comma inside the quotations around “A Modest Proposal.”


  • Semi-colons and colons go outside closing quotation marks.

e.g. Swift argues “I can think of no one objection that will possibly be raised against this proposal”;  however, he is obviously being ironic. (184)

  • The essay title itself is enclosed in quotations:  rule of thumb is that short works (essays, articles, poems, short stories) are enclosed in quotation marks;  long works (novels, movies, plays, long nonfiction texts) are underlined or written in italics


  • I introduced my first quotation with a colon and my second and third with no punctuation, since the quotation follows “that” or “when.”   The punctuation you use depends on the overall structure of your sentence.


  • When I modified Swift’s sentence to clarify “this great town” to a contemporary reader, I enclosed my clarification with square brackets.  Any time that you clarify or modify the original like this, use square brackets around your modification.


  • I indicated by three dots when I omitted part of the original sentence. These are called ellipsis points.  If I omitted something in the middle of the quote, I would indicate that I have cut material by using ellipsis points there.
    • e.g. 

Later in Swift’s essay, he claims  “this prodigious number of children…is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance”(179).


  • Make sure that, when the quotation is embedded in your sentence, you are grammatically consistent so you don’t shift tense or person.


e.g Swift’s proposals about how to deal with a disastrous national economy seem surprisingly relevant to economic discussions of today;  he talks, for example,  “of using neither clothes nor household furniture except what is of our own growth and manufacture” (184).


  • Avoid failing to cite ideas as well as quotations.
  • When you paraphrase or summarize a particular point in the writer’s argument, you must still cite it.  Failure to do this often leads to a student being accused of plagiarism.


 e.g. When Swift proposes boycotting imported goods and clothing as a way to revive the economy of eighteenth century Ireland, his ideas resonate with many Americans struggling with today’s economy (184).

Works Cited

  • In English, we use the MLA format which is modeled for you in Chapter 6.  Keep an MLA guide like this one in front of you.  Identify the type of source you are citing, so you can follow the proper guidelines to get all the information down that is required, with all the correct punctuation


  • Basics –organize by author’s last name, then first name, exactly as you have cited the author within the text.
  • Indent second and following lines in each citation


  • Make sure you include all the relevant information about the title, the work in which it was published, the place it was published, the publisher, the date and the pages if you are citing one of the articles or essays from our text.


Practice using the essay you have chosen to analyze


Here is a model for “A Modest Proposal”

Swift, Jonathan.  “A Modest Proposal.” In Current Issues and  
Enduring Questions. 6th Ed. Editors Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. Boston:  Bedford St. Martins, 2002. 179-185.


Title Page

The Title of Your Essay



Your Name
The Class
The Date Submitted
The Professor’s Name

Source: http://occonline.occ.cccd.edu/online/ldanzige/Using_and_Citing_Sources.doc

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Using Quotations and Citing Sources


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Using Quotations and Citing Sources