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Using Direct Quotations


It is important to make it clear to your reader why you are using a direct quote. Be careful not to "quote and run"--don't just string one quote after another without telling the reader the context and importance of each quote to your argument. Remember, all quotes MUST be cited. Be sure to check your particular citation style guide for proper quote format.

There are several ways to incorporate quotes in your writing, for example:

1. As a continuation of your sentence, e.g.

The Beatles wrote lyrics that claimed, "all you need is love" (Beatles, 1967).

2. As a complete sentence, e.g.

McIsaac (2004) stated that, "more than 40 % of students ride bikes to college" (p.21).

3. As a blocked quote. This format is typically used with quotations of 40 words or longer. It begins with an introduction to the quote using your own words, followed by a colon and indent from the left margin, as in the following example from Walden University:

Today, digital cameras have practically taken over photography. As Johnson (2010) explained:

Digital cameras now make up 90% of all camera sales at the leading electronic stores. This increase in sales can be partially attributed to the widespread use of email and social networking, which has encouraged the sharing of digital photos. Now, many people, from students to grandparents, prefer to take pictures digitally so they can upload and share those photos. (p. 23)

Along with the use of email and social networking, phones and iPods that feature cameras have also replaced regular, film photography.


Direct quotations are copied word for word from an original source; they can be a useful and powerful way to support your ideas. It's good practice to use direct quotes sparingly in academic writing, and only under certain circumstances.

The following guidelines from the University of Toronto recommend using direct quotes in cases where:

  • the language of the passage is particularly elegant, powerful or memorable
  • you want to confirm the credibility of your argument by enlisting the support of an authority on your topic
  • the passage is worthy of further analysis
  • you wish to argue with someone else's position in considerable detail