What is quoting?
Quoting is where you copy an author's text word for word, place double quotation marks around the words and add a citation at the end of the quote. Quotes should be used sparingly. Using too many quotes can suggest you don't fully understand the text you are referring to.
In most academic writing, you should generally paraphrase from sources, rather than quote directly. Quoting more extended sections of text tends to be more common in arts and humanities subjects where it may be appropriate to quote frequently from sources that are being analysed or translated, like novels, plays or historical texts.
As you take notes, ensure you clearly mark where you have quoted directly from the source.
If you use a direct quotation from an author, you should:
- enclose it in quotation marks
- give the author, date and page number(s) that the quotation was taken from, in brackets.
If you are quoting from a website or webpage that does not have page numbers, you do not need to include anything to indicate this in the citation.
"Language is subject to change, and is not caused by unnecessary sloppiness, laziness or ignorance" (Aitchison, 1981, p.67).
Quotations more than two lines long
If the quotation is more than two lines:
- separate it from the rest of the paragraph by one free line above and below
- indent at left and right margins
- it may be in a smaller point size
- it is preceded by a colon
- it does not use quotation marks
- the citation includes author, date and page number(s) that the quotation was taken from.
One answer to this is that language has always been subject to change, just as everything else in the world is, and we should not feel that this is a bad thing. As Aitchison (1981, p.16) puts it:
Language, then, like everything else, gradually transforms itself over the centuries. There is nothing surprising in this. In a world where humans grow old, tadpoles change into frogs, and milk turns into cheese, it would be strange if language alone remained unaltered. In spite of this, large numbers of intelligent people condemn and resent language change, regarding alterations as due to unnecessary sloppiness, laziness or ignorance.
Aitchison clearly sees every change in language as neither good nor bad, but inevitable...
Editing a quote
You may want to make minor changes to a direct quotation. This is possible (as long as you don't change the meaning), but you must follow the rules.
- If you omit parts of the quotation, use an ellipsis. An ellipsis consists of three dots (...). Do not begin or end a direct quotation with ellipsis points. The reader already assumes that the quote has been excerpted from a larger work.
- If you want to insert your own words, or different words, into a quotation, put them in square brackets [ ].
- If you want to draw attention to an error in a quotation, for example a spelling mistake or wrong date, do not correct it; write [sic] in square brackets.
- If you want to emphasise something in a quotation that is particularly relevant to your essay, put the emphasised words in italics, and state that the emphasis is your own.
- If the original has italics, state that the italics are in the original.
Language changes are natural and inevitable. It has been argued that language:
gradually transforms itself over the centuries. In a world where [everything changes], it would be strange if language alone remained unaltered. In spite of this, large numbers of intelligent people condemn and resent language change (Aitchison, 1981, p.16, my italics).
According to Smith (1992, p.45), "Aitcheson [sic] appears to believe that everything changes; but this is questionable" (italics in original).