Belk 207
389 Centennial Drive
Cullowhee, NC 28723
828.227.2274 tel
828.227.7915 fax


Lit Papers: Incorporating Quotes

While quotes do strengthen your paper, try not to use quotes just to take up space.  Quotes that are unrelated to your overall argument will stand out, seem awkward, and weaken your paper.

One of the most difficult things to do is to integrate the quote into your paper smoothly. Avoid just throwing a quote in without a transition. Be equally careful to avoid a clichéd introduction like, "On page 9, it says..."  The best way to find the perfect transition is by trial and error.  Keep “changing it up” until you find something that sounds nice to you.  If all else fails, (another blatant plug coming here) the Writing and Learning Commons is always here to help you.  Well, not always, just during the hours of operation.

You might notice that when Edna turns “her quick eyes upon Madame Ratignolle and lean[s] forward… to bring her face quite close to that of her companion,” the quote contains an ellipsis (a series of three periods).  Whenever you choose to leave words out of a quote in order to keep the flow of your paper from being interrupted, place an ellipsis in  place of the excluded words. 

Using that same quote, you might also notice the “[s]” that follows the word “lean.”  If you’re quoting a text and have a clash in verb tenses (example- you’re writing in the present tense and the text is written in the past tense), you can touch up the verbs in order to retain continuity.  However, you must always place the [s], [ed], [ing], etc, inside brackets, so that the reader knows that you have changed the quote.

Most importantly, always document anything you quote from the work. 

Next, learn how to prepare the ending.


Copyright by Western Carolina University      •      Cullowhee, NC 28723      •      828.227.7211      •      Contact WCU
Maintained by the Office of Web Services      •      Directions      •      Campus Map      •      Emergency Information      •      Text-Only

Office of Web Services