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How to Quote: a Guide to Citations

Updated on June 4, 2015

Overview: How to Properly Quote

Citations are used to show credibility for the information presented. They are also important for giving due credit to the ideas of others. Therefore, they're a a critical aspect of academic and scholarly work and are used whenever a writer wants their ideas to be taken seriously.

Any time information is gathered from a source and presented in the text of a document (whether it be print or electronic), the author must cite the origin of that information. The clearest method of referencing and citing a source is done by placing the pertinent information in quotations within the context of the document.

The following article will provide a basic overview of when and how to cite a source in a written work.

Basic Citation Examples

Below are examples that show how to reference a book in a research paper. Please keep in mind that the information presented here is fictional and provided for use as example only.

Citing a Credible Source:

Imagine you are writing a report on diets. You have a book by John Smith, MD called Cut the Fat: American Successes at Losing Weight. On page five, Dr. Smith writes, "Chances are, every American has known someone who can be described as physically overweight. According to the latest research, at least 40% of Americans have weight problems during their lifetime and 50% of them seek medical help."

You want your first paragraph to introduce the American weight problem. You could write:

Citing a source (M.D.)
Citing a source (M.D.)
  • The source is cited in that the reader knows that the assertion "Many Americans are overweight" is backed up by a credible source (someone with an M.D. is reliably credible).
  • Also, the name of the author and book are provided, and the appropriated text is presented in quotations marks to show that that portion of the text is from a different source.

Parenthetical Citations:

Let's now tinker a bit and add what is called a parenthetical citation:

An example of a parenthetical citation.
An example of a parenthetical citation.

Notice that the book title, author, and page number were taken out of the text. This is still correct, because by adding the parenthetical documentation at the end of the quote, the author and page number are provided.

References or Works Cited:

Assuming that you have more than one source for this paper, there will be a list of references (commonly called a Works Cited page) at the end of the document that list, in alphabetical order, the author's full name, full title of the book, date published, and other publication information is provided so the curious reader may refer to that book on her own. The reference may look similar to this:

An example of a work cited.
An example of a work cited.
  • All works cited in the text of the document must have a reference at the end of the paper.
  • When referencing a whole book, page numbers are generally not needed and are only necessary near the quoted or paraphrased information in the text in order to show the reader precisely which page the information appeared on.
  • There is enough information about the source given contextually, or in the text in the first example to steer the reader to the correct Works Cited listing and no parenthetical documentation is needed.

In the next example, the author's name has been reintroduced into the text. It is therefore only necessary to provide the page number parenthetically:

Using Phrases:

When taking information from a source and adding it into your own text, you may find that you only need phrases. See below:

Paraphrasing and Removing Quotes:

It is also possible to paraphrase—or summarize—the information, thereby making quotes unnecessary:

  • Although quotes are not used here above, it still remains especially important to provide a reference so that the reader does not have to wonder how the author knew that bit of information.

Basic Tips

  • Such "borrowed" information should be used to further the writer's own argument and should be presented in context.
  • The information appropriated or "borrowed" from an outside source should be seamlessly placed within the context of the text.
  • The writer should take care to present the "borrowed" ideas as the original author intended. They should not be taken out of context or misconstrued to meet the writer's needs.
  • It is important to provide as much information about the source as necessary in the citation.


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    • profile image

      gepeTooRs 19 months ago

      I feel this is among the such a lot important information for me. And i am happy studying your article. But wanna commentary on few general issues, The web site taste is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D. Just right task, cheers

    • profile image

      Nomnikelo 23 months ago

      I would love to write in short-terms , improve my grammer ,Straight answer short with all information , to film ''Sometime in April''

    • profile image

      Jerry 3 years ago

      I would like to use words from a prison slang dictionary on a website. Do I need to cite the source whenever I use a word or definition and how do I document the source to avoid plagiarism concerns?

    • profile image

      jamesalamo 3 years ago

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago


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      IDK hates grammar 4 years ago

      I didn't get my answer from this site. you should fix it so it can answer your question better!!!

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      Liboppova 4 years ago

      I accustomed to obtain on top of lifestyle yet these days We have developed any amount of resistance.

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      Confused 4 years ago

      How do you cite a quote from a website with a known author but no page number?

    • profile image

      Mega rosmawati 5 years ago

      how do we quote a text that does not have the source?

      it's just a short text with its title.


    • profile image

      Lilean 5 years ago

      what if you want to interuppt a quote then pick it up were you left off?

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      quoteciter 5 years ago

      @Need help in an hour?: for example, the book is called "Unseen" by Paul Jennings and the info you need is on page 5. The book is published by Penguin Group in Sydney in 1998. This is your quote: Jennings, Paul. Unseen. Sydney, Penguin Group Inc., 1998

    • profile image

      One who knows 6 years ago

      useful but it would be helpful to respond to comments.

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      Anonymous 6 years ago

      So you do not need an author's permission? Just wondering


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      Anonymous 6 years ago

      What about special cases, such as manga?

    • profile image

      J Dawg 6 years ago

      What if you are quoting a book and that quote ends in a question mark?

    • profile image

      Need help in an hour? 6 years ago


      I'm writing a paper due tomorrow(eep!) and i need to quote something from a textbook. I have the page number (12) and the name of the book, but how do i quote it?

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      Rosalind 6 years ago

      dear bob,

      Indeed you can. You use a ". . ." as a substitute for the missing information to show that you have skipped the info.

      For instance,

      “He was sorry for the birds, especially the small delicate dark terns. . . the birds have a harder life than we do except for the robber birds and the heavy strong ones. Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel? She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel and it comes so suddenly and such birds that fly, dipping and hunting, with their small sad voices are made too delicately for the sea” (29).

      However, you mmust put a space between the dots.

      Hope this helps

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      bob 6 years ago

      can you quote something and skip info in the middle of a quote

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      Ruth Marie  6 years ago

      How do you quote from a PDF link that has no page numbers?

      Thank you

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      some dude 6 years ago

      "... in the same way the interpretant becoming a sign, and so on ad infinitum" (2.303)

      dear "Help"

      this is probably from the bible ofr some other religious book.

    • qwidjib0 profile image

      qwidjib0 6 years ago from IL

      Very useful indeed :)

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      Gabrielle 7 years ago

      How do you cite a quote from a book if it streaches from the bottom of one page to the top of annother?

    • balthasarcontent profile image

      balthasarcontent 7 years ago from San Diego, CA, USA

      helpful hub on an eternally confusing topic

    • profile image

      Riley 7 years ago

      What if you are quoting from a book, and the sentence ends in a question mark?

    • profile image

      Help 7 years ago

      What do the numbers that appear after a quote mean, these numbers are not page numbers but some kind of reference. however, they are not mentioned in the reference or bibliography. An example:

      "... in the same way the interpretant becoming a sign, and so on ad infinitum" (2.303)

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      reginald j. symington 8 years ago

      "Nato's muddled expansion is so fraught with competing strategies that is has simultanieously threatened Moscow and made overtures to Russia to join the alliance itself."