Quick Guide on Using Evidence in an Essay Integrating Quotations in a Sentence

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Quick Guide on Using Evidence in an Essay

Integrating Quotations in a Sentence

A quote should never appear in a sentence by itself; you need to provide a context for the quote.

POOR ~ Beer drinking has been a popular social activity for thousands of years. "Since the Egyptians first fermented grain along the banks of the Nile, beer has been a part of almost every society."
GOOD ~ Beer drinking has been a popular social activity for thousands of years. According to Paul Williams, "since the Egyptians first fermented grain along the banks of the Nile, beer has been a part of almost every society".1
BETTER ~ Beer drinking has been a popular social activity for thousands of years. Anthropologist Paul Williams writes that "since the Egyptians first fermented grain along the banks of the Nile, beer has been a part of almost every society".1
BEST ~ Beer drinking has been a popular social activity for thousands of years. In his book The Birth of Beer, anthropologist Paul Williams writes that "since the Egyptians first fermented grain along the banks of the Nile, beer has been a part of almost every society."1
There are many ways to begin introduce the author of a quotation; some common phrasings are:

In the words of X, . . . According to X, . . . In X's view, . . .

Familiarize yourself with the various verbs commonly used to introduce quotations. Here is a partial list:









compares concludes




explains illustrates






points out





Each verb has its own nuance. Make sure that the nuance matches your specific aims in introducing the quotation.

Vary the way you introduce quotations to avoid sounding monotonous. However, you should never sacrifice precision of phrasing for the sake of variety.

Altering a Quotation

If you need to alter your quotations in any way, be sure to indicate just how you have done so. If you remove text, then replace the missing text with an ellipsis—three periods surrounded by spaces:

In The Mirror and the Lamp, Abrams comments that the "diversity of aesthetic theories . . . makes the task of the historian a very difficult one."1
Many people overuse ellipses at the beginning and end of quotations. Use an ellipsis in either place only when your reader might otherwise mistake an incomplete sentence for a complete one:

Abraham Lincoln begins "The Gettysburg Address" with a reminder of the act upon which the United States was founded: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation . . .."1

Do not use an ellipsis if you are merely borrowing a phrase from the original:

In "The Gettysburg Address" Abraham Lincoln reminds his listeners of the principles that had inspired the creation of "a new nation."1

If you need to alter or replace text from the original, enclose the added text within square brackets. You may, for example, need to alter text to ensure that pronouns agree with their antecedents.

Do not write,

Gertrude asks her son Hamlet to "cast your nighted colour off."1
Square brackets allow you to absorb Gertrude's words into your own statement:

Gertrude asks her son Hamlet to "cast [his] nighted colour off."1

Alternatively, you can include Gertrude's original phrasing in its entirety as long as the introduction to the quotation is not fully integrated with the quotation. The introduction can be an independent clause:

Gertrude implores her son Hamlet to stop mourning the death of his father: "cast your nighted colour off."1

Long Quotations

Quotations loner than four lines need to be set apart from the body of your text. Omi quotation marks, indent the entire quotation and continue to double space the entry:

Although Dickens never shied away from the political controversies of his time, he never, in Orwell's view, identified himself with any political program:

The truth is that Dickens' criticism of society is almost exclusively moral. Hence his lack of any constructive suggestion anywhere in his work. He attacks the law, parliamentary government, the educational system and so forth, without ever clearly suggesting what he would put in their places. Of course it is not necessarily the business of a novelist, or a satirist, to make constructive suggestions, but the point is that Dickens' attitude is at bottom not even destructive. . . . For in reality his target is not so much society as human nature.1

Other important style rules:

  • After an author and work has been introduced, subsequent references only require the author’s last name

  • Use single quotation marks for any quotation within a quotation

  • Final punctuation can be altered for grammar and must always be absorbed as part of the quotation, whether they belong to you or to the author you are quoting. When using footnotes, the period remains inside the quotation mark, while the footnote number goes outside:

According to Schama, Louis XVI remained calm during his trial: "The Terror had no power to frighten an old man of seventy-two."1

Paraphrasing and Summarizing

To paraphrase means to express someone else's ideas in your own language. To summarize means to distill only the most essential points of someone else's work. But above all, think about how much of the detail from your source is relevant to your argument. If all your reader needs to know is the bare bones, then summarize.

Whenever you paraphrase, remember these points:

  • A reference to the author/work is provided

  • Accuracy to the author’s idea is maintained

  • The paraphrase must be entirely in your own words. You must do more than merely substitute phrases here and there. You must also completely alter the sentence structure.

An Example - The original passage is from Oliver Sacks' essay An Anthropologist on Mars:

The cause of autism has also been a matter of dispute. Its incidence is about one in a thousand, and it occurs throughout the world, its features remarkably consistent even in extremely different cultures. It is often not recognized in the first year of life, but tends to become obvious in the second or third year. Though Asperger regarded it as a biological defect of affective contact—innate, inborn, analogous to a physical or intellectual defect—Kanner tended to view it as a psychogenic disorder, a reflection of bad parenting, and most especially of a chillingly remote, often professional, "refrigerator mother." At this time, autism was often regarded as "defensive" in nature, or confused with childhood schizophrenia. A whole generation of parents—mothers, particularly—were made to feel guilty for the autism of their children.
What follows is an example of illegitimate paraphrase:
The cause of the condition autism has been disputed. It occurs in approximately one in a thousand children, and it exists in all parts of the world, its characteristics strikingly similar in vastly differing cultures. The condition is often not noticeable in the child's first year, yet it becomes more apparent as the child reaches the ages of two or three. Although Asperger saw the condition as a biological defect of the emotions that was inborn and therefore similar to a physical defect, Kanner saw it as psychological in origin, as reflecting poor parenting and particularly a frigidly distant mother. During this period, autism was often seen as a defense mechanism, or it was misdiagnosed as childhood schizophrenia. An entire generation of mothers and fathers (but especially mothers) were made to feel responsible for their offspring's autism.1
Most of these sentences do little more than substitute one phrase for another. An additional problem with this passage is that the only citation occurs at the very end of the last sentence in the paragraph. The reader might be misled into thinking that the earlier sentences were not also indebted to Sacks' essay.
The following represents a legitimate paraphrase of the original passage:
In An Anthropologist on Mars, Sacks lists some of the known facts about autism. We know, for example, that the condition occurs in roughly one out of every thousand children. We also know that the characteristics of autism do not vary from one culture to the next. And we know that the condition is difficult to diagnose until the child has entered its second or third year of life. As Sacks points out, often a child who goes on to develop autism will still appear perfectly normal at the age of one.1
Sacks observes, however, that researchers have had a hard time agreeing on the causes of autism. He sketches the diametrically opposed positions of Asperger and Kanner. On the one hand, Asperger saw the condition as representing a constitutional defect in the child's ability to make meaningful emotional contact with the external world. On the other hand, Kanner regarded autism as a consequence of harmful childrearing practices. For many years confusion about this condition reigned. One unfortunate consequence of this confusion, Sacks suggests, was the burden of guilt imposed on so many parents for their child's condition.2
Notice that this passage makes explicit right from the beginning that the ideas belong to Sacks, and the passage's indebtedness to him is signaled in more than one place. The single parenthetical note at the end of each paragraph is therefore all the citation that is needed. The inclusion of explicit references to Sacks not only makes the job of providing citations easier. It also strengthens the passage by clarifying the source of its facts and ideas. And it adds an analytical dimension to the paragraph: the passage doesn't just reiterate the points in Sacks' passage but lays out the structure of his argument. Note that the paraphrase splits the original into two separate paragraphs to accentuate the two-part structure of Sacks' argument. Finally, notice that not all the details from the original passage are included in the paraphrase.

A Summary moves much farther than paraphrase away from point-by-point translation. When you summarize a passage, you need first to absorb the meaning of the passage and then to capture in your own words the most important elements from the original passage. A summary is necessarily shorter than a paraphrase.
Here is a summary of the passage from An Anthropologist on Mars:

In An Anthropologist on Mars, Sacks notes that although there is little disagreement on the chief characteristics of autism, researchers have differed considerably on its causes. As he points out, Asperger saw the condition as an innate defect in the child's ability to connect with the external world, whereas Kanner regarded it as a consequence of harmful childrearing practices.1

Adapted from Jerry Plotnick’s publications found on the University of Toronto’s of UC Writing Centre website (http://www.uc.utoronto.ca/handouts)

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