Quotation Marks

Use double quotation marks (" ") to enclose phrases or entire sentences that were taken word for word from someone else. Quotation marks are not needed for paraphrasing.

Example: The dog he brings on the trip is eleven and “too old and arthritic to be allowed in December water” (Hall 372), but the fisherman selfishly brings him along anyway.

Use single quotation marks (' ') for a quotation within a quotation.

Example: Berlin (1998) says, “[The] school [of cognitive rhetoric] has been the strongest proponent of addressing the ‘process’ rather than the ‘product’ of writing in the classroom” (p. 480).

Example: Brooks (2008) says the student needs to “‘own’ the paper and take full responsibility for it” (p. 169).

Punctuation with Direct Quotations

Always place periods and commas within quotation marks.

Example: With the slogan of "Literacy as Freedom," the UNLD created six "Education for All" goals aimed to meet all learning needs by 2015.

Example: Gocsik (2004) says that “in talking with writers, we can share our reading responses with them, and so point them to what is and is not effective about their work.”

Place the period outside the quotation marks if a parenthetical citation appears after a direct quotation.

Example: Their focus on writing as a discipline can be linked with Faigley’s (1986) belief that “the study and teaching of writing should aspire to disciplinary status” (p. 528).

Use a comma after verbs that introduce and precede a direct quotation.

Example: Purcell-Gates (2001) explains, “[Children] begin to learn about reading and writing from birth, in their homes and communities, as they observe others using print for various real life purposes and as they begin to ‘join in’ these activities and experiment with their own forms of reading and writing” (p. 404).

Don't use a comma when "that" precedes a direct quotation.

Example: Purcell-Gates (2001) explains that “[Children] begin to learn about reading and writing from birth, in their homes and communities, as they observe others using print for various real life purposes and as they begin to ‘join in’ these activities and experiment with their own forms of reading and writing” (p. 404).

Use a colon to introduce direct quotations.

Example: She only gives in to marrying Rochester because of Richard’s threats: “...she had given way, but coldly, unwillingly, trying to protect herself with silence and a blank face” (Rhys 82-83).

Example: Gilad explains: “Here’s the reality: The goal of most proofreading tests...is to cram in as many mistakes as possible—and to try to screw you up in the process. Actual proofreading projects are never rifle with as many errors as the tests taken by would-be proofreaders...” (155).

Block Quotations

Block quotations are long quotations that are formatted differently to stand out from the rest of the text. The criteria for a block quotation depends on the citation style you are using. For instance:

  • In APA, quotations that are 40 words or longer are placed in block format.
  • In MLA, quotations that are over 4 lines long are placed in block format.

For both APA and MLA, format block quotations the same.

  • Remove the main quotation marks.
  • Indent the entire quotation.
  • Place the period before the in-text citation at the end.


Powers (1993) stated that changing the tutor’s attitude might be more effective than trying to change the writer.

Our experience of the past two years has convinced us that we will increase the effectiveness of ESL conferencing only when we understand, accept, and respond to the differences between the needs of ESL and native-speaking writers. Attempts to reform or reshape the participants in the conferences are unlikely to prove effectual; we must reexamine and revise the method itself. (p. 46)

You can introduce a block quotation in one of a few ways:

  • with a complete sentence ending in a period.


Wright’s response appeared in “Between Laughter and Tears,” printed in New Masses on October 5, 1937.

...Turpin's faults as a writer are those of an honest man trying desperately to say something; but Zora Neale Hurston lacks even that excuse. The sensory sweep of her novel carries no theme, no message, no thought. In the main, her novel is not addressed to the Negro, but to a white audience whose chauvinistic tastes she knows how to satisfy. She exploits the phase of Negro life which is “quaint”; the phase which evokes a piteous smile on the lips of the “superior race.” (“Contemporary”)

  • with a complete sentence ending in a colon.


Sexist attitudes such as this conquered the Victorian Era. John Ruskin, a champion of women’s rights, bravely stated the following:

We are foolish, and without excuse foolish, in speaking of the “superiority” of one sex to the other, as if they could be compared in similar things. Each has what the other has not: each completes the other, and is completed by the other: they are in nothing alike, and the happiness and perfection of both depends on each asking and receiving from the other what the other only can give. (1545-1546)

  • with a non-complete sentence ending in a colon.


Holmes’ assistant, Watson, explains:

...the best plans of Mr Sherlock Holmes were beaten by a woman’s wit. He used to make merry over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late. And when he speaks of Irene Adler, or when he refers to her photograph, it is always under the honourable title of the woman. (Doyle, “Scandal” 1482)

Alterations to Direct Quotations

In most cases, you will quote direct passages exactly as they appear in the original text. Sometimes, though, the original passage may be too long or may not fit grammatically within your sentence. Alterations can be made but they must be obvious to the reader.

Insert or alter a word for a quotation to work grammatically with your sentence, by inserting the change in brackets [].

Example: An “angel of the house” had a stereotyped personality. She “cultivate[d] fragility” and “lean[ed] always on the arm of [a] gentleman” (Altick 53).

Example: James Berlin states that “the three rhetorics that have emerged as most conspicuous in classroom practices today [are] the rhetorics of cognitive psychology, of expressionism, and of [...] social-epistemic” (477-478).

Use ellipses (...) to remove words or phrases from a direct quotation, for the sake of length or cohesion. Be careful that your omission does not misrepresent the original author's views. Surround the ellipses in brackets [], to show they are not a part of the original text.

  • Insert three-period ellipses (...) for omitted words at the beginning or middle of a sentence.
  • Insert four-period ellipses (....) for omitted words at the end of a sentence, to account for ending punctuation.

Example: She even encourages Margaret to visit the mills and become acquainted with the latest factory technology: “[...]I can only say I shall be glad to procure her admission to [...] my son’s mill. Every improvement of machinery is, I believe, to be seen there, in its highest perfection” (Gaskell 98-99).

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