Literature Resources


Quoting, Paraphrasing, & Summarizing

General Tips

Integrating Quotes: Details

Overview of Integrating Quotes

Integrating Quotes: Extended Play

Integrating Quotes: Brief Version

Paraphrasing& Summarizing

Quotations: Introduction

Remember, your papers should demonstrate what you have to say about a subject. Therefore, the content and support of the text, as well as the style of the writing, should demonstrate your analysis. Whenever you use a direct quotation you replace your voice with that of another individual. Too many quotations can overpower the style of your own writing. Quotations should fit into your argument, not vice versa. All quotations should be integrated to fit within your text.

Some General Tips

It is wise to avoid placing direct quotes in the parts of your paper where you state and restate your thesis--the introduction, topic sentences, and conclusion. Even though it may seem like the perfect place to put that "cool" quote, think twice about it, because quotes are best used to support your own analysis. You will not wish to begin or end your paper with someone else's words, or make it appear as if all the major points in your essay came from someone else.
It is best to try to use short quotes in your essay, rather than simply filling space with many long quotes. It is also essential to spend time analyzing the quotes you put into your paper.  
Meticulous accuracy is also essential when using quotations. Change nothing from your source without indicating that you've done so -- not spelling, not capitalization, not paragraph structure. (Exceptions are below.)
Like the rest of your paper, your quotations and how you use them should make sense. If you quote part of another work, it needs to make sense within the body of your paper. The quotation also needs to make sense in terms of syntax (with complete sentences, grammar, mechanics, and so forth). In other words, the quotation--as with the rest of your text--must be clear in terms of both content and form.


Integrating Quotes--Overview of Technical Details

When quoting from the story, make sure you include a page number in parentheses with each quote. Notice that the quotation marks come before the parentheses and that the period comes afterwards. Also notice that there isn't a "p." or "pg." with the page number in parentheses. Finally, notice that it is generally not necessary to include the name of the author of the primary text if it is a work assigned to the class as a whole.

Example: Miss Emily has many relationship to the townspeople, including "a tradition, a duty, and a care" (469).

When incorporating secondary sources (works that comment upon the work being analyzed), be sure to include the last name of the author in the parenthetical citation unless you have used that author's name in the sentence as part of the integration process. Also notice if you have a co-authored piece, the names of both authors must appear. There is no comma between the author's name and the page number.

Example: According to scholars Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, biographical information presents Gilman as "a rebellious feminist besides being a medical iconoclast" (1467).

Example: Biographical information presents Gilman as "a rebellious feminist besides being a medical iconoclast" (Gilbert and Gubar 1467).

Notice that the first time you use an author's name, use their complete name (Raymond
Carver). After that, you may simple use their last name (Carver). The first time you refer to an author that you intend to quote as a secondary source, you may also find it helpful to provide a brief mention of their credentials to comment upon the subject.

Example: In "Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," Marxist theorist Fredric Jameson notes....


Integrating Quotes (The Brief Version)
There are three basic techniques for integrating quoted material.

You may choose to integrate short phrases from the work into your sentence.

Example: The ritualistic and primitive nature of the event is suggested in Old Man Warner's repetition of the saying "Lottery in June, corn be here soon" (705).

Integrate quotes into your sentence by using a colon. Remember, a colon introduces a complete sentence.

Example: Paul conflates luck with money: "I thought when Uncle Oscar said filthy lucker, it meant money" (874).

With long quotes of more than four typed lines, integrate using block quotes. Introduce the quote with a complete sentence, sometimes followed by a colon. The quote should be double-spaced and should be block-indented two tabs from the left margin. Omit quotation marks with block-indented quotes and place the page number in parentheses after the end punctuation.

The isolation of the hunger artist is suggested by Kafka's descriptions:

No one could possibly watch the hunger artist

continuously, day and night, and so no one could

produce first-hand evidence that the fast had really been

rigorous and continuous; only the artist himself could

know that, he was therefore bound to be the sole

completely satisfied spectator of his own fast. (789)


Details: Eliminating or Adding Things to Quotes

Ellipses are three dots { . . . } to indicate you have eliminated some words from the quotation. Note that there is a space between each dot.

Example: M. Loisel's life also changes because of this need to keep her secret: "He compromised all the rest of his get the new necklace" (980).

When you short quotes or singular words, no ellipses are necessary unless you leave something out in the middle of the quote.
Also, do not use ellipses to indicate that you have left out the beginning of a sentence; only missing words from the end or somewhere in the middle of a sentence need to be indicated with ellipses. The same applies to eliminated sentences in between other (parts of) sentences.


Changing or Adding Words

When you're quoting a line as part of your own sentence, you may alter or omit the closing punctuation of that line to make compatible with your own sentence's punctuation. For instance, you may insert a period where there was none if your sentence should end, or omit a period from the original if your sentence continues.

Original: "They look like white elephants," she said.

Example: The unspoken subject of their conversation is implied in Jig's line, "They look like white elephants" (653).

Use brackets to indicate any changes you make to quotations in order to integrate them with the style or clarity of your sentences (for reasons of pronouns, verb tense, capitalization, or comprehension).

Original: Her knees were tumors on sticks, her elbows chicken bones.

Example: The horror and seriousness of the situation is quickly detailed by vivid imagery: "[Stella's] knees were tumors on sticks, her elbows chicken bones" (1137).

Be careful of changing too much within such a short quotation. This tends to make the quotation awkward. In general, if you have to change more than two items in a short quotation, it's better to find another way to write it. Another option is to paraphrase the quote (see below).


Details: Keeping Your Voice Yours

Particularly when quoting literature (instead of secondary sources), using the most effective part of a quotation as part of one of your own sentences will result in a stronger style. Instead of quoting the entire piece, use more of your own text.

Instead of: To describe Arnold Friend, Oates says, "He spoke in a simple lilting voice, exactly as if he were reciting the words to a song" (1057).

Example: Oates describes Arnold Friend's voice as " if he were reciting the words to a song" (1057)


Integrating Quotes (The Extended Play Version)
Embedding Quotes: Introducing, Paragraphing, & Integrating

Always integrate quotations into your text. Never just throw a quotation in an essay without an introduction and analysis.

Introducing Quotes

You should use your own words to introduce a quotation and its purpose in your paper. The following introduction maybe be conventional and boring, but it achieves its purpose.
Fredric Jameson believes postmodernism can address the specific issues of living in contemporary society. He suggests: "The political form of postmodernism, if there ever is any, will have as its vocation the invention and projection of a global cognitive mapping, on a social as well as a spatial scale" (93).
Notice how the use of the colon to introduce Jameson's full sentence, the page number reference in parentheses, and the fact that the parenthetical reference doesn't include the author's name because it was already mentioned at the beginning of the sentence. In addition to a topic sentence, a detailed discussion of the quote would follow its introduction. While this is not stylistically exciting, it does the job.


Paragraphing & the Sandwiching Technique

To integrate a quotation properly within a paragraph, a writer may use one sentence to introduce the quotation, a second sentence that includes the quotation, and a third sentence to comment on the significance of the quotation. This is particularly important for block quotes.

Embedding a quote is sometimes called "sandwiching," meaning to place another's words and ideas between your own. This is to ensure that the paper and its analysis remains in your control. The idea here can be simple:

  • introduce the quote with your own words and a general context as to why you would place them in your paper;
  • place the quote as is, or alter words as needed (see below), including your own words if possible; and
  • analyze the quote, commenting on its importance to your paper.
The lottery is primitive, superstitious, and perhaps pagan. Although its meaning is forgotten on one level, is connection with fertility rituals is suggested in Old Man Warner's repetition of the saying "Lottery in June, corn be here soon" (705). Its use of a simple rhyme scheme that is centered around a cause and effect implies the outcome of the lottery will be a crop. Blood begets life in the form of food.


More Sophisticated Techniques for the Integration of Quotes

An even more sophisticated technique for embedding quotations involves using words and phrases from a quotation and integrating them into a sentence of your own. Remember to place the directly quoted words or phrases in quotation marks.
Atwood's "Happy Endings" demonstrates that metafiction can operate as "[a]n aesthetic of cognitive mapping" that will enable individuals to "begin to grasp [their] positioning as individual and collective subjects and regain a capacity to act and struggle which is at present neutralized by [their] spatial as well as [their] social confusion" (Jameson 93).
Notice here that only part of sentences are used. In the first use, it is a specific phrase that wouldn't not work as well if replaced by another's words. In the second, it is Jameson's claim as to what the "cognitive mapping will do. Both quotes are subordinated to Atwood's story; this sentence claims that "Happy Endings" is Jameson's "cognitive map."
Notice also the use of brackets that indicate the author of the paper has changed Jameson's words for clarity. In the first case, [a] indicates a lower-case 'a' has been substituted for an upper-case 'A' in keeping with the direct quote's subordination to my sentence. In the second, [their] has been substituted for "our" to more smoothly fit with my use of "individuals."


Paraphrasing & Summary

Because direct quotes replace your words, be sure to quote only sentences, passages, or words that you wish you would have said or that cannot be expressed in a better way. Direct quotes should be vivid and memorable. Save direct quotations for brilliant comments, controversial statements, or personal testimony that strengthen your argument. Mundane sentences or statistics, for the most part, do not need to be directly quoted, and should be paraphrased instead.
If a quotation is long, or if you can say it better or more concisely, you may wish to paraphrase (restate it in your own words). This is particularly true if it is the ideas and some of the details of the quotation rather than the exact words that you wish to convey. If you are primarily interested in major plot points or actions that illustrate your analysis, you may wish to use summary.
Remember that you must credit your sources even when paraphrasing or summarizing. Like direct quotations, keep paraphrasing to a minimum because it is your ideas and argument that will convince your readers. Summary should only be used to further your analysis; in other words, you should not summarize every moment of the story but only those aspects that contribute to your thesis.

Example of Direct Quotation (Block):

Mme. Loisel becomes a common woman:

She came to know what heavy housework meant and the

odious cares of the kitchen. She washed the dishes, using

her rosy nails on the greasy pots and pans. She washed the

dirty linen, the shirts, and the dishcloths, which she dried

upon a line; she carried the slops down to the street every

morning, and carried up the water, stopping for breath at

every landing. And, dressed like a woman of the people,

she went to the fruiterer, the grocer, the butcher, her

basket on her arm, bargaining, insulted, defending her

miserable money sou by sou. (981)

Example of Paraphrase:
Mme. Loisel becomes a common woman. She engages in manual labor, including kitchen work the ruins her fingernails, scrubbing laundry, emptying garbage and lugging heavy loads. More tellingly, she finds herself interacting with other common people, bargaining and watching her pennies (981).
Example of Summary:
Mme. Loisel becomes a common woman, doing the everyday manual labor of the household after dismissing their help (981).


Information on this pages is considered common knowledge within literary studies. Individuals seeking more information may find it helpful to consult one of the following books (a short list among many): A Contemporary Reader for Creative Writers, Writing Essays about Literature, The Story and Its Writer, A Web of Stories, or Fictions.