What to do with Quotations


Always provide a frame for your quotations. This means, by definition, that they should rarely (if ever) begin a paragraph or end a paragraph. They should be nestled, safely and securely, in the middle. Here are some templates for such frames. I have described this as the State, Introduce, Explain concept. You’ll see mistakes on this corrected with the initials SIE.

Before a Quote

Tell us who is being quoted (a historian? a former employee at the IMF, an Avon salesman, a five-year-old, your sister). Imagine the rhetorical effect of introducing a quotation by saying it was written by the IMF chief executive versus saying it was written by your sister.

Here’s how:

As the prominent philosopher X states, “…”

In her book, Book Title, X argues that, “…”

X agrees when she writes, “….”

X disagrees, writing, “…”

X complicates matters further when she writes, “….”

Note that whenever you state the name of the author (x) in the signal phrase, you only need to cite the page number in the citation.

After a Quotation

Use the sentence after the quotation to tell us what you want us to take away from it.

Basically, X is warning that the proposed solution will only make things worse.

In other words, X believes …

In making this comment, X urges us to …

X’s point is that …

The essence of X’s argument is that…

When to Explain?

Most quotations need your interpretation in order for them to help your argument. Only very rarely, will no explanation be necessary.

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