Editing a Paper with Direct Quotes: Things You Should Remember
General Rules for Use
- Like ordinary quotation marks, those that are used to quote sources always come in pairs. When editing your paper, make sure you never open a quotation and neglect to close it.
- When quoting a complete sentence, make sure that the first letter of the quote is capitalized.
- There is no need to use a capital letter when the source material is a fragment or a partial quote.
- When you interrupt a direct quotation in the middle of the sentence and then return to it, there is no need to capitalize the second half of the quotation.
- All concluding punctuation, whether comma, period, question mark, etc., must appear before the final, closed quotation mark. (Punctuation rules may vary based on the style guide you are using.)
- When you encounter a text with an obvious spelling or grammatical error, do not correct it. All direct quotes must be added exactly as written; instead, insert the word sic after the error and enclose it in square brackets. A Latin terms that means "thus," so" or "just as that," sic lets readers know that the quote is identical to the original and that the error is not yours.
- Do not use too many direct quotations in your paper, as they will limit the amount of original material, which is what your instructors want to see. They do not want to read reports that rely too heavily on the thoughts and ideas of others. Therefore, you should use direct quotations sparingly, and keep them short when you do.
- Instead of direct quotations, paraphrase or summarize long passages that contain several salient points. This will give you greater control over your paper and allow you to state things as you want them without being constrained by the original text.
- Use direct quotations when an author says something better than you ever could. But always make certain that the quote is relevant to your topic. In other words, don't just add quotations because you think you have to. That's surefire way to end up with a poorly-focused paper.
- The best time to use a direct quotation is after you've made an important point. Adding a quote from a luminary in the field can strengthen what you have to say. Just make sure you introduce them and that your sentences flow smoothly from your words to ones quoted.
Rules for Long Quotations
- APA standards: When a quotation is longer than 40 words, indent each line of the quotation five spaces, and double-space it.
- Chicago standards: When a quotation is two or more sentences and longer than four typed lines, indent each ling four spaces from the left margin, and use single spacing within the quotation.
- MLA standards: When a quotation is longer than four typed lines, indent a full ten spaces from the left margin, and use double-spacing within the quotation. The end of the last sentence should be marked with a colon, which denotes the end of the quotation and the continuation of your own writing.
How to Alter Direct Quotations
How to Use Parts of Quotations