Integrating quotations from outside sources into your own writing can be tricky, especially when it comes to punctuation. Oftentimes we are tempted to let quotations stand on their own, especially since many quotations are complete sentences. However, it is important to remember that not everyone reads and understands a quotation the same way that you do. For this reason, it is important to introduce the quotation with some of your own words so that the reader can understand how and why you are using this specific quotation. Placing a quotation into your writing without introducing it in your own words makes the quotation feel out of place. This guide will introduce you to four simple ways to integrate quotations into your writing. Although there are other ways of integrating quotations, following these guidelines – and making sure you have your punctuation correct – will ensure that you are correctly integrating quotations into your writing every time.
Use a signal phrase.
Signal phrases are the most common way to introduce quotations and integrate them into your writing. Signal phrases are not their own sentences. Instead, they are short phrases that introduce the quotation, separated from the quotation with a comma:
- Example: Gloria Anzaldúa asserts, “La facultad is the capacity to see in surface phenomena the meaning of deeper realities, to see the deep structure below the surface.”
- Example: Anzaldúa argues in favor of the Spanish spoken on the U.S./Mexico border when she states, “Chicano Spanish is not incorrect, it is a living language.”
Here are some common verbs for you to use in signal phrases:
Use a complete sentence separated from the quotation with a colon ( : ).
This is an easy way to introduce quotations in your own words. Just remember to use the correct punctuation! You want to use a colon ( : ) to separate the quoted sentence from your own, not a semicolon ( ; ) or a comma:
- Example: In her most celebrated work, Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldúa introduces a new way of historicizing that breaks with the traditional: “Anzaldúa presents history as a serpentine cycle rather than a linear narrative.”
- Example: Gloria Anzaldúa expresses her linguistic heritage by mixing Spanish and English in her writing: “Humildes yet proud, quietos yet wild, nosotros los mexicanos-Chicanos will walk by the crumbling ashes as we go about our business.”
Use short quotations of only a few words and integrate them directly into your own sentences.
By integrating short quotations into your sentences, you avoid having to worry about specific punctuation rules. When doing this, however, it is important to make sure you are only pulling out brief phrases, and that you are always putting them inside of quotation marks (“”):
- Example: In Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldúa describes Coatlicue as both “life-in-death” and “death-in-life.”
- Example: Gloria Anzaldúa describes the mestiza as an “officiating priestess” and argues that the mestiza is “like corn,” crossbred to survive.
Blend your own words with words from your quotation without any punctuation.
This way of integrating quotations is similar to the second method, except instead of a comma, you will use the word “that.” Please note you will still need to use a signal phrase!
- Example: In Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldúa claims that “[r]oses are the Mexican’s favorite flower.”
In the example above, the R was originally capitalized because it begins Anzaldúa’s sentence. However, since this quotation now appears in the middle of your sentence, the R no longer needs to be capitalized. To adjust this quotation to respect the rules of capitalization while acknowledging that you have made a change to it, the lowercase R is now enclosed in brackets.
- Example: Gloria Anzaldúa argues that “we internalize identification, especially in the forms of images and emotions.”
The key to properly integrating quotations is knowing when and how to punctuate correctly. Above all, don’t forget your quotation marks (“”)! Although there are other ways of integrating quotes, following these four simple guidelines will ensure that you are always integrating your quotations correctly and effectively!