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Ninth Step in Essay Writing:
Using Citations and Quotes

Adding quotations and citations to an essay is an important part of developing the body of your work and they should be used to support your central thesis and any argument(s) you decide to include in the paper. If you ignore these essential components then you are in effect saying you are an authority in that field and have not relied on any external sources. Or, otherwise, if you are simply offering uncited evidence, then you are using the work of other authors and taking all the credit for yourself. This is a serious breach of the rules; it is known as plagiarism and you could get a failed grade for it. Therefore, it is much better to use quotations and other in-text citations from your research notes to add strength to your claims or arguments. If you have researched your topic properly, you will have probably collected a significant amount of factual material and interesting quotes that can be incorporated into your work. Do not forget that if you require any assistance with a writing project from a professionally qualified US writer, then WritingLeader willing to help you out.

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Using Quotations and Citations in an Essay

If you are to create a good quality essay, it is essential to understand all the concepts, guidelines, rules and methodologies that apply to such a task. Practice is by far the best means of improving your writing skills, but it is still possible for less experienced writers to produce excellent essay papers by breaking down this seemingly impossible task into more manageable chunks. When one is feeling overwhelmed by an assignment, it is tempting to procrastinate and indeed it might seem as if there are no other options available.

Helpful hint:  It is a good idea to keep all relevant facts and quotes that may be useful for your essay in a document or spreadsheet. This means you will have easy access to these as well as ensure you do not overlook any essential information later.

Another crucial aspect of writing an essay is managing your time effectively. This means efficiently allocating enough time to each step of the process in order to thoroughly study the various implications of the topic, identify good sources, generate topic ideas and devise questions that will help formulate a thesis. Then you will need to sift through this information and digest it if you are to arrive at well-considered conclusions that correctly reflect your personal opinions and the facts you have collected. Research often leads one towards numerous points and current debate on a particular topic so reading useful material can help with selecting or refining your thesis as you go along.

How Quotes and Citations are used to Build Arguments

A considerable amount of time, thought and effort is needed to develop a strong thesis, but there is an effective method for doing this. The essential ingredient of any solid argument is sound research so that you can intelligently structure any information you find to support it. Opinions and factual information provided by scholars are a good foundation upon which to build an argument. To show that you have researched your topic, argument or field of study properly and you fully understand it, it is necessary to read, digest and correctly reference and cite every source you use. While this might seem like a time consuming and tedious task, it is vital in order to distinguish your own thoughts, opinions and words from those provided by other subject matter experts.

This shows your tutor that you have studied all relevant facts, understood them, and interpreted them to create an effective and coherent essay that addresses the given topic directly and supports your thesis. Rather than just claiming that some particular thing is true, a text is given greater credibility when supported by plenty referenced material from other experts in the field. If you are to avoid the plagiarism be careful to cite every piece of external material you use, even if you do not quote it directly. Additionally, you should be careful to acknowledge every other author and their work on the reference or works cited page, which should be added at the end of your essay. Failure to folllow these basic requirements may result in a failed grade for your work and possibly your entire course. In the worst case scenario, you may even be expelled from your school or college, depending on the circumstances or severity of the situation. Needless to say, plagiarism is an entirely unnecessary practice which can has a negative impact on your educational record.

Quoting and Paraphrasing

When you decide to use another person’s work or ideas in your essay there are two primary and acceptable methods for doing this, which are quoting or paraphrasing. A direct quotation or quote is a piece of text that is taken exactly as it is (verbatim) from another source. It is permissible and indeed recommended to use these abundantly in an essay to demonstrate you have researched and studied all related materials, whether these are facts, figures or opinions, and understood all the implications.

Phrases are a collection of words that express some meaning or thought and they can form a partial or an entire sentence. In this context, the act of paraphrasing is nothing but summarizing the ideas or words of another person, during which you may even include your own analysis with the use of words that are slightly different from the original words. A high-level essay requires the use of properly cited paraphrasing to demonstrate that you have read, absorbed and are capable of re-applying various research material.

There are occasions when it is more appropriate to use quotes than to paraphrase a piece of text. These include a situation when an author uses a unique phrase or set of words to express their own opinion or in cases where a specific set of figures or numbers are used and cannot be reworded without rendering their meaning inaccurate or ludicrous.

Helpful hint: An appropriate use of citation is when a writer needs to directly quote a personal opinion or a particular set of numbers and/or statistics. It is better not to try paraphrasing another person’s unique opinion, numbers or statistics unless you cannot avoid doing so.

Sometimes it is necessary to use quotes within quotes and this should be presented with the help of single quotation marks. It is also permissible to use brackets when there is a change in tense, to swap a pronoun for a related noun, or to use a plural word. This can help you fit a quote more smoothly into a particular sentence without changing its meaning. Take this quote for instance: “Shakespeare wrote several highly acclaimed plays; he was a prolific writer.” A paraphrasing of this might read, “As a prolific writer, he [Shakespeare] is responsible for writing numerous very influential plays.” While these are merely examples, it is necessary to cite any direct quotations. There is no excuse for confusion or being lazy when citation is concerned. Just one instance of forgetting to cite a source can lead to charges of plagiarism, even if it is accidental or was considered a misinterpretation of the style rules.

Helpful hint: When quoting a source, use only the most relevant words or parts. Avoid using irrelevant content or unnecessary “filler” material.

Most tutors and/or professors are not keen on seeing quotes being randomly dropped into the text, either just in the beginning of a sentence or as a lengthy block of information. Dropping quotes at the start of a sentence, especially without referencing or citation, constitutes bad writing practice and it is nothing else but plagiarism.

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A lot of readers like to see what is known as “mixed quoting” in a written paper. This is a practice when the writer manipulates the quote so that it fits seamlessly and elegantly into their text. This method is the most popular and correct way to uses quotes. The effect is better where quotes are smoothly incorporated within the text.

Signal Phrases or Words

There are times when a quotation just has to be inserted at the start of a sentence. In these cases, the use of a signal phrase or word is an effective way of indicating the transition into a quote. Some signal words that are highly effective and have powerful impact are: argues, attests, believes, cautions, cites, contends, examines, explores, explains, feels, demonstrates, describes. Any of these words may be aided by or used in conjunction with other words, such as: how, why, that, etc. When an author’s name and year of publication is included in a sentence, it is not necessary to add in-text citations to the end of that sentence. In any case you should always follow the appropriate style guide and the instructions provided by your tutor.

You may have noticed that the signal words listed above convey certain feelings or implications that can have an influence on the reader and subtly reveal your opinion of the quote in question. Some signal phrases or words such as “examines” or “describes” are neutral and merely repeat the author’s words without hinting at a positive or negative implication. However, other words such as “argues,” “believes,” “feels” or “contends” hint that the quote is the author’s key argument and usually suggest a positive slant. In contrast, a word such as “cautions” can indicate that the quote is conveying something negative.

Other signals for the introduction of a quote are “as stated by [author],” “in the view of [author]” in the exact words of [author]” or “according to [author]” and similar options. It is common practice to use ellipses (“…”) to leave some unnecessary words out of a quote without changing its meaning in any way. To show you are an authority on a particular subject, make sure you use the mixed quoting technique and in-text citation. Rather than being restrictive these rules are intended to be constructive to empower the writer. Do not feel limited to any particular signal phrase or word, especially if you think it sounds awkward. Provided you apply correct referencing to any quotes or instances of paraphrasing, choose signal words that you feel comfortable with and that are right for your particular argument.

Using Style Guides for Citation and Referencing

The rules for most citation styles are given in style guides or manuals which are meant help you understand how to correctly cite any quotes or paraphrasing you use. Essentially most courses or classes use one of three style guides for the for citing references. It is important to note these guides are not restrictive for the sake of it. Indeed, the fact they are very specific is to provide writers with a uniform structure to enable them to clearly express their thoughts and ideas. The three most popular style guides are:

  1. APA (the American Psychological Association), which is mostly used in subjects, such as nursing, psychology and the sciences;
  2. MLA (the Modern Language Association), which is mostly used for subjects, such as literature, the liberal arts and humanities;
  3. CMS (the Chicago Manual of Style), which is commonly used in subjects, such as economics and history;
  4. Turabian, which is a less known variation of CMS.

In addition to these, there are a number of less common or more obscure styles that you may be asked to follow. These include: 1) AMA (the American Medical Association), 2) the Harvard style guide and 3) the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) guide. All of these styles have their own particular requirements for citing sources or referencing any external works you use. Although every referencing page must list the author’s name, the title, year of publication and publisher’s name, each style has its own valid reasons for stipulating how this information is presented and requires every writer to follow the applicable rules in order to properly account for the sources.

The APA style requires writers to provide the author’s name, year of publication and, where direct quotations apply, the paragraph or page number. The MLA style, partly because it deals with literary works, requires writers to acknowledge authorship in addition to title and the applicable page number of the referenced text. While the CMS style deals with all of the above, it additionally uses the footnote system to ensure citations are not too obtrusive in the body text.

Conclusion

Regardless of the style manual, the type of references used, the thesis of your assignment, producing a high-quality paper is nothing but a question of following the prescribed instructions. It is essential to use quotes, references, in-text citation and paraphrasing to build a convincing argument based on meticulous research work, all of which lead to conclusive analysis and an effective summary of your subject matter. Please refer carefully to the appropriate style guide to make sure you are following all of the rules. Every aspect of the relevant style guide must be strictly followed if you are to make your final paper more legible and prevent plagiarism. This means attending to even the smallest detail such as the APA rule about using a single first name initial in the references section or the MLA rule about not putting a comma between the author’s name and the page number. There are some website services where you can enter the relevant information to get automatically-generated reference pages and in-text citations, but these services should be used cautiously. Any auto-generated citations and references should be thoroughly checked to ensure they are accurate and complete.

You can proudly show you are a master of your subject and showcase your diligent effort through meticulous research, the correct use of in-text citations, quotations, paraphrasing and the construction of an accurate reference page without resorting to plagiarism or any unreliable automation tools.