Using Quotations


Quoting the words of an author is one of the academically acceptable methods for providing support for a point or backing up your argument.  Quotations need to be grammatically incorporated into the natural flow of your writing.  Here is a part of a paragraph written by a student.  Notice how she has incorporated quotations into her paragraph.


Working long hours under stressful conditions, especially in fast-food restaurants, appears to promote some forms of delinquent behavior.  Lou DeRosa, a 29 year old manager of a McDonald's, said, "This is a survival job.  A lot of people can't handle it."  In addition to low wages and a hot, high-speed work environment, some employees complain of poor treatment by managers.  Through Mark Kershaw's own experience as a manager he agrees that "there are some managers who treat them like slaves."



Punctuating Titles of Works


The general rule is that we underline or italicize the titles of long works and put quotation marks around the titles of short works. So the names of books, movies, magazines, newspapers, and record albums get underlined or italicized:


The Great Gatsby

Citizen Kane


The Atlantic Constitution


But we put quotation marks around the titles of essays or articles, short stories, songs and so on. The first word in titles is always capitalized and every major word after that.


Introducing Quotations


Suppose you are going to quote from an article by Leon Cheung and Marlene Johnson.  The article is entitled "Three Issues in AIDS Research," and it appeared in Current Social Issues, a magazine.  In the first reference to this article, you would give the names of the authors, the complete title of the article, and the name of the magazine.  Here are three ways of doing this:


In their article, "Three Issues in AIDS Research" in Current Social Issues, Leon Cheung and Marlene Johnson write, "Now that we have . . . ."


In "Three Issues in AIDS Research" in Current Social Issues, Leon Cheung and Marlene Johnson write, "Now that we have . . . ."


According to Leon Cheung and Marlene Johnson in "Three Issues in AIDS Research" (Current Social Issues), "Now that we have . . . ."



Note that these three sentences are based on two simple patterns.  The first two follow this pattern:


In + title, + authors write, + quotation (or paraphrased claim)


The third sentence uses a different pattern:


According to + authors in title, + quotation (or paraphrased claim)


Then in later references, you would simply use the last names of the two authors with no further mention of the title of the article or the name of the journal:


Cheung and Johnson write, "The evidence shows . . . ."


According to Cheung and Johnson, "The evidence shows . . . ."


Warning:  A Problem

Sometimes students start a sentence with a prepositional phrase, particularly some beginning with in, and then get stuck continuing.  Introductory prepositional phrases are handy for referring the reader to a document previously mentioned, as in these cases:


In this article

In this book

In Cheung and Johnson's essay


In such cases, remember that the word after the in (article, book, essay) cannot be the subject of the sentence.  For example, the following sentence is incorrect:


In this article stated that Ethiopia is once again facing a famine.


Students sometimes try to solve this problem by putting the word it in as the subject, but this is incorrect as well.  Avoid using the word it as the subject when it refers to a noun immediately preceding it.  AGAIN the following sentence is INCORRECT:


In this article, it stated that Ethiopia is once again facing a famine


How do you handle such a situation?  It helps to remember that articles and books don't talk or "state"; authors do.  If you know the name of the author, use that as the subject of the sentence:


In this article, Fernandez states that Ethiopia is once again facing famine.


If you don't have access to the author's name just substitute "the author states."