Using Quotations in Academic Writing

An important part of academic writing is including the ideas of others into your own writing.

Quotations should be used sparingly in academic writing.

If the original author said something in a particularly striking way, or you believe that there's no better way of saying the same thing you can quote directly from the original.

A quote should be within quotation marks “like these”. If it's small you can include it within the main body of your own text, but if it's a larger piece you could set it apart, in an indented paragraph, from your main text.

Whichever method you use you must give an in text citation and include the full reference in the reference section.



Examples of Quoting

I'll use the following paragraph from ‘The Origin of Species’ 6th Ed. by Charles Darwin as an original passage, from which I'll quote, paraphrase and summarize.

  • It is, no doubt, extremely difficult even to conjecture by what gradations many structures have been perfected, more especially among broken and failing groups of organic beings, which have suffered much extinction; but we see so many strange gradations in nature, that we ought to be extremely cautious in saying that any organ or instinct, or any whole structure, could not have arrived at its present state by many graduated steps. There are, it must be admitted, cases of special difficulty opposed to the theory of natural selection; and one of the most curious of these is the existence in the same community of two or three defined castes of workers or sterile female ants; but I have attempted to show how these difficulties can be mastered. Darwin, C (1872), On the Origin of Species, 6th Ed.

You could quote a small part of the text with an inline passage.

  • Understanding how the small changes lead to the evolution of species is difficult but we should be careful to claim that any structure “could not have arrived at its present state by many graduated steps” (Darwin, 1872).

You should note that the words in the quotation are exactly the same as in the original passage, it is within quotation marks and that the original source has been quoted within the sentence, that the quote is part of, the full stop comes after the citation.

If you needed to quote a larger part of the passage, it should be set apart from the main body of your own writing.

  • Evolution is based on many very small steps building to a larger change in a species:

    “It is, no doubt, extremely difficult even to conjecture by what gradations many structures have been perfected, more especially among broken and failing groups of organic beings, which have suffered much extinction; but we see so many strange gradations in nature, that we ought to be extremely cautious in saying that any organ or instinct, or any whole structure, could not have arrived at its present state by many graduated steps.” (Darwin, 1872)

    These small steps are very difficult to observe so some people do not believe in the theory of evolution.

Here the whole passage is set apart from the main text, but it's still incorporated in a set of quotation marks and the citation is included at the end, after the full stop, as it is not part of the quotation.

They should be used very sparingly and the second type where a large block of text has been quoted should be used even less. It is much better to either paraphrase or summarize, so that the original has been rewritten in your own words and incorporated into your own writing.



Return to Writing Help from Using Quotations in Academic Writing



Return to Excellent Proofreading and Writing Homepage from Using Quotations in Academic Writing


Back to top of page






Proofreading service

Proofreading blog

Sitemap

Contact us

Privacy policy 

Terms and conditions

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.


Back to top of page


By Jolyon Dodgson, copyright © 2011-2017. 

Excellent-Proofreading-and-Writing.com - Proofreading and writing help for excellent first impressions. 

Google