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How to Use Quotations and Citations in an Essay

Written by Bonnie Adair
Posted: February 12, 2021
Last update date: March 22, 2024
8 min read

Obviously, when we write an academic essay, we can’t create new information or take it from the air. In most cases, or always, there are sources for our thoughts. Therefore, we need to reference them. However, we may also want to quote this source directly in our work. And that’s when the need for correct quotation comes in.

Quotations play a pivotal role in essays, serving as a key technique for integrating information from external sources.

This article will guide you through several aspects of using quotations effectively:

  • understanding quotation significance,
  • mastering the art of accurate quoting,
  • how to identify the original source from which the quotation was derived
  • correct punctuation in quotes, and discerning the variations among different citation styles.

7 Strategies for a Smooth Transition into Quotations

Quotations are extremely vital in the academic environment. The quote in the essay is like a unique ingredient in your favorite meal. However, simply putting them in is insufficient. You must do things in such a manner that everything flows smoothly. There are a few ways to start a quote. Let’s have a look at some of them:

Direct Introduction

When you put quotes in an essay, simply state the source and introduce it directly. For example, you could say, “Eckhart Tolle, in ‘The Power of Now,’ said: ‘You create a good future by creating a good present.'”

Signal Phrases

Use signal phrases to attribute the quote to its source: “According to,” “As [author] argues,” or “In the words of.” For instance: “According to Shakespeare, ‘All the world’s a stage.'”


Give a little background before you embed a quote. “In the context of environmental sustainability, Jane Goodall states, ‘What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.'”

Setting the Scene

Sometimes, you want to create a picture before dropping the embedded quotation. Set the stage for the quote by describing the situation or background. For instance: “As the sun dipped below the horizon, reflecting hues of orange and pink, she whispered, ‘It’s moments like these that stay with us forever.'”

Contrasting Views

This is like presenting a contrasting viewpoint or argument. You could say, “While some argue for the benefits of technology in education, Neil Postman contends, ‘Education is suffering from… the intrusion of industrialism.'”

Interjecting Commentary

Provide a remark or analysis before or after it. For instance: “In the face of adversity, Winston Churchill’s famous words resonate: ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue those counts.'”

Question or Challenge

Ask a question before dropping the quote to create curiosity or stimulate thought: “What role does technology play in shaping our society? Marshall McLuhan sheds light on this with his statement, ‘The medium is the message.'”

Thus, using quotes isn’t just about putting them in. It’s about introducing them in a way that fits smoothly into your writing. By using the correct ways to embed quotes, they will not interrupt the flow of your writing. If you need more information on the subject, we have an idea. PapersOwl’s essay assistance is an excellent option to go deeper into the subject without losing your academic mind.

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Maintain the Flow of Your Writing While Using Quotations

Incorporating quotes into your work should feel easy.

  • Introduce the one you quote, and use signal phrases for smooth transitions.
  • Mix your comments with the cited content.
  • Use strategic punctuation (colons, semicolons, or ellipses) and insert quotes in an essay.
  • Establish the reliability of the source.

This guarantees that your thoughts blend effortlessly with the quoted insights. Indeed, quotes should not make your life harder. It’s vice versa ─ they must help you upgrade your work.

Proper Use of Punctuation with Quotations

Punctuation with quotations is a crucial aspect. We use quotation marks to integrate quotes into an essay, which look like these “”. If you use punctuation incorrectly, it may cause some grammatical trouble. However, these rules are easy to remember.

  • Period outside of quotes is a common mistake you can see. However, in American English, commas and periods typically go inside quotation marks. Colons and semicolons go outside.
  • Question marks and exclamation points vary based on context. Use a question mark or an exclamation point within the closing quotation marks if the punctuation is related to the citation itself. If the punctuation applies to the entire sentence, place it outside the closing quotation marks to end a quote in an essay.

✏️Example of a quote in an essay:

  • She said, “Hello.”
  • He said, “I may forget your name, but I never forget a face.”
  • Marco asked, “Do you need this pen?”.

There are also single quotation marks, which can be confusing. In American English, they are exclusively used for adding a quote within a quote:

✏️“One of my students always said, ‘Quotations are confusing,’” our professor said.

Impact of Formatting Quotations

Formatting quotations can enhance the overall visual appeal of your essay. One creative technique involves using block quotations for longer passages. This distinguishes the quoted material. Additionally, it provides a visual break, drawing attention to the content’s significance. It’s a great way to end a paragraph with a quote.

Consider employing formatting elements such as italics or bold text for emphasis. Additionally, experiment with indentation and spacing to get a neat and organized appearance.

Let’s compare two quotes in essays. The examples will aid in understanding the impact of formatting.

  1. In J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Dumbledore imparts wisdom, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
  2. In “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Dumbledore says, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends”.

The first quote looks more appealing and draws the reader’s attention to itself. Meanwhile, the second one has punctuation mistakes and may be lost in the text.

An effective tool for presenting information is to set up a quote in an essay. Besides, it can visually engage your readers.

Mastering Various Citation Styles with Finesse

In PapersOwl, we have already covered the citation rules topic. However, we would like to talk about it here since it can assist us in explaining a quote in an essay usage.

It is essential to mention the same author’s sources wherever possible. References serve as direct indicators for whatever information you are employing. Citing sources shows readers that a piece of information in your work is not your own.

The most popular citation styles are APA, MLA, and Chicago.


In APA format for the paper, we cite the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses.

According to recent studies, sleep patterns significantly impact cognitive function (Johnson, 2020).


For citing while writing an essay in MLA style, we indicate the author’s name and page number, e.g., (Jones 45).

The novel explores themes of identity and self-discovery (Doe 72).


In Chicago style, citations can be either footnotes or endnotes. A full citation is added to the bibliography.

The economic implications of globalization are vast and multifaceted.¹

¹Smith, John. Globalization and Its Effects. Chicago: University Press, 2018.

Citation can sometimes be confusing. Not in the modern world, though. Now, you can check your references and citations in the citation generator online. It will help you write an outstanding essay with flawless quotes and citations.

Tips on Embedding Quotations in an Essay

You should also understand how to incorporate a quote into an essay naturally. You can not just put a paragraph from the book you’d read. Here are some tips:

Start a Quote With an Active Verb

To use quotes in an essay seamlessly, begin with an active verb. Use them to enhance subtlety and successfully communicate the speaker’s tone.

Use a Descriptive Verb

Incorporate descriptive verbs to increase the impact of your quotations. These verbs provide depth to your quotations and fill your story with context.

Select Proper Quotations

Add quotes in an essay that are relevant to your topic and give useful information. Moreover, make sure your quotes are brief and clearly support your views. Make relevance, trustworthiness, and clarity your top priorities.

Don’t Overuse Quotes

When you overuse quotes, it is a sign to your teacher that you don’t know how to paraphrase well. How many quotes per paragraph you should use depends on your work length. We recommend using one quote for every five paragraphs. The perfect approximate amount looks like this:

  • 2 quotes for a 1500-word paper;
  • 3 quotes for a 2000-word paper;
  • 4 quotes for a 3000-word paper.

Try to Paraphrase Long Quotes

When dealing with lengthy quotes, try paraphrasing them for more concise integration. This ensures that you understand how to write quotes in an essay and explain them in your own words. At the same time, be careful not to change the meaning of the quote!

How to Start an Essay with a Quote

To start a paper with a quote, you must choose one that brings up the proper tone of your paper. The quotation source must be credible and fit your essay context. Finally, each phrase you pick must support your assertion while demonstrating your case proficiency. All of that’s important because the purpose of quotes is to make a good hook for essay and grab the attention of your target audience, which happens via knowledge and trust.

Using a Quote as a Hook: When and Why?

When crafting any type of paper, it’s crucial to use quotes that are not only attention-grabbing but also relevant to your topic. Many great essay examples written by PapersOwl specialists are proof of that. These experts know how to make quotes a powerful tool to engage readers. Taking into consideration their experience, we provide you with examples of when you could use one:

  • When introducing a new topic or a newly found case: A good quotation will show relevance in such situations. It will gain people’s attention while showcasing new topics and establishing their importance.
  • If you are in the writing process of a historical essay: In such situations, any quotation from any case-related historical figure may provide context and spark interest in readers.
  • Personal experience: For such essays, quotations not only can grab one’s audience but serve as proof of your experience with this case. They show your perspective and give a deeper nuance when writing arguments, which affects those reading your paper.
  • To support written arguments’ main point: It’s an outstanding way to start by hooking all readers up while backing up your claims.
  • When challenging their beliefs: This is perfect for argumentative essays where you have to challenge their commonly held view. Such quotations engage with people and make them think and be eager to read more.

Using a quote relevant to your case is necessary, so always ensure you use a proper one that creates parallels between all sections. If you don’t see a proper connection, you can seek help from experts who edit essay theses. Many professional editors at PapersOwl can easily edit your text flow and create an effective introductory paragraph by providing reworded statements or better quotations. Additionally, they may help check all relevant sources for credibility, see if they deeply relate to your topic, and if they support your claims or bring controversy.

Fine-Tuning Your Quotation Skills

In summary, quotations are an important addition to your accurate academic essay. Using quotes in essays can improve your work. They also help you understand more about the subject of your paper. Thanks to this guide, it will be easy to embed a quote of any type into your academic work.

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