There are many ways to include ideas from outside sources. In this section of the textbook, we will focus on quoting.
Sources are used to add credibility and emphasis to your essay. When you read about your topic to prepare to write, you will want to make notes of specific sources that influenced your position on the topic and the supporting details you chose for support. After you have decided that information from the original source would be best to include word-for-word, you will follow these steps.
The first step is to read about your topic in reputable sources. If you are unsure if a source is trustworthy, talk with either your writing or reading teacher.
While you are reading, create a system for saving the information that is helpful for creating your essay structure and developing your ideas. You may choose to do this with sticky notes, the copy/paste function in a word document, or highlighting. At this stage, you will find larger sections of text that you won't actually use directly in your writing.
Once you have created your essay outline, you can begin to connect these sources you identified as helpful to specific paragraphs.
For quoting, you will need to focus in a small section of the source (up to 40 words, but typically shorter) that will strengthen your main idea and supporting details. Quotes are best used when the original words from a source are:
Below is an example of an original paragraph-length source which was narrowed down to a relevant and precise quotation that could be added to a paragraph.
"Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers."
Even though the quotation uses someone else's words, this is still your writing. This means a quote should not just be dropped into the middle of a paragraph. There need to be transitions in and out of a quote to show that it is there for a specific purpose other than to meet the assignment rubric expectation of a certain number of sources. Good writing requires you to show that the source is used strategically to enhance your writing.
The introduction you decide to use for the quote will vary depending on your purpose in using those words. Here are some possible reasons why an author may choose to include a direct quote for support:
The reason for including the quote can often decide how it would be best introduced. Here are some examples of how each of the above purposes could be introduced based on purpose:
When you quote information, you copy the information exactly as you found it. You need to put the source material in quotation marks and include the in-text citation in parentheses. See the example below.
In her own words, Clara Lemich stated "I am a working girl... One of those who are on strike against intolerable conditions. I am tired of listening to speakers who talk in general terms. What we are here for is to decide whether we shall strike or shall not strike. I offer a resolution that a general strike be declared now." (PBS: American Experience, n.d., para. 3).
These introductions preceed the quote to create a bridge between your own supporting ideas and the additional perspective of your source. By smoothy incorporating someone else's words into your own, you remain in control of the essay.
Just as you needed to create a bridge from your original thought into the direct quote using an introduction, you will need to transition back to your own words. The most effective way to do this is to elaborate on why this quote is relevant. Even if the reasons for including the source feel obvious to you as an author, the cohesion of the paragraph will be much stronger when you include a commentary or reaction to the source before moving into your next supporting thought.
Take a look at the the example quote in a complete context.
In her own words, Clara Lemich stated "I am a working girl... One of those who are on strike against intolerable conditions. I am tired of listening to speakers who talk in general terms. What we are here for is to decide whether we shall strike or shall not strike. I offer a resolution that a general strike be declared now." (PBS: American Experience, n.d., para. 3). This quote is a powerful example of Clara's role in inspiring the strike of 20,000 exploited garment factory workers.
Notice that the author does not simply summarize the quote or give an overly general "this is important" response. This quote is contextualized by showing that this fact focused on time and place fits into a larger discussion about causes. Even without seeing the topic sentence, this quote in context signals that the main idea of the pargraph (topic sentence) has to do with learning more about the causes of landslides.
At the beginning of this chapter about descriptive writing, you learned that academic descriptive writing is typically situated within a larger purpose. The use of descriptive supporting ideas and details is to add strength and interest to the thesis. This contextualized quote is an excellent example of how this can be done.
*It is possible to include longer direct quotations, but that is not covered in this textbook.
The following quotes come from an article about Miguel Hidalgo, a famous Mexican revolutionary leader. Read the example topic sentences below and choose short quotes from these paragraphs that could be used to support each topic sentence.
"Hidalgo was the second child born to Cristóbal Hidalgo and his wife. He studied at a Jesuit secondary school, received a bachelor’s degree in theology and philosophy in 1773 from San Nicolás College (now Michoacán University of San Nicolás de Hidalgo) in Valladolid (now Morelia), and was ordained a priest in 1778. He had an uneventful early career, but in 1803 Hidalgo assumed his recently deceased elder brother’s duties as parish priest in Dolores (now Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato state). His interest in the economic advancement of his parishioners—for example, through the introduction of newer methods of agriculture—and his political convictions regarding the oppression of the people by the Spanish authorities caused the latter to regard him with suspicion." (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2022, "Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla," para. 2).
"While Hidalgo’s exact words are debated, scholars generally agree that he challenged his people to throw off the yoke of European colonial oppression and to refuse to remain slaves of Napoleon (who then occupied Spain in the First French Empire). He chanted “Death to bad government!” with such vociferous conviction, that each year on Sept. 15, the President of México initiates the following day’s independence ceremonies with a reenactment." (The National Bell Festival, n.d., "What is Mexico's Grito de Dolores?," para. 4).
"On the morning of September 16, 1810, the priest Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla summoned the town of Dolores Hidalgo, through the ringing of the bells of his church, to rise up in arms against the domination of the Spanish." (Agroasemex, 2019, "209th Anniversary of the beginning of the Independence of Mexico," para. 1, translated from Spanish).
Choose one of the individuals below. After skimming the article, practice choosing and introducing a quote in each of the following ways:
The following quotes come from research about Martin Luther King Jr. Add commentary for each of the quotes to connect them to the topic sentence. These quote commentaries should be independent of each other. You are not writing a paragraph.
TS: Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered for being a nonviolent reformer.
Use the source information and original quote to create an in-context quote. You should choose a small part of this quote, introduce that part of the quote, and then add commentary.
Jane Goodall Institute
Author: No name listed
Date: No Date
Title: Our Story
"When she discovered that the survival of their species was threatened by habitat destruction and illegal trafficking, she developed a breakthrough approach to species conservation that improves the lives of people, animals and the environment by honoring their connectedness to each other" (The Jane Goodall Institute, n.d., "Our Story," para. 1).
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