6 Things You Need to Know When Using A Quotation

By March 28, 2016 No Comments

If you want to write a solid and effective article, you need to put considerable research into your topic. This could be in the form of data, statistics and opinions or findings of other journalists. Sometimes, your piece might contain an interview or refer to spoken material. Using these sources does wonders for the quality and depth of your piece. Therefore, it is important to understand how best you can use quotations in your writing.

quotes (1)

Quotations help maintain accuracy of the narrative, when you are expressing ideas or information which are not your own. They also act as illustrations to your argument ensuring that your article is easier to understand. Quotations are also a smooth way to identify your sources and references. Moreover, quotations by eminent experts also add value to your research.


A study by NASA in 2015 concluded that, ‘2015 was the hottest year recorded in the last century.’

Avoid excessive quoting. The focus of the article should be on your argument, and interpretation instead of a compilation of quotes. Hence, use quotations when there is specific language which you want to reproduce for impact or information. Quotes should be used when you want to inform your readers of the exact words used by a person in order to be true to your source and readers. You can also quote an extract from a speech or writing, if you wish to analyse in detail and engage with the matter, so you can break it down subsequently.

A common confusion is deciding between single and inverted commas while quoting phrases or extracts. Sometimes, the norm differs, depending on whether you use the American style which uses double, or the British style which uses single inverted commas. There is no one set rule, although you must use them consistently, and the opening and closing commas must be either single or double, but not both. However, using double inverted commas is typical seen while describing dialogue or speech.


Chris said that, ‘Dinner was amazing.’
and not:
Chris said that, “Dinner was amazing.’

Instead of introducing every quotation with ‘X said that…’, you can use a variety of introductory verbs, such as maintains, writes, opines, states, argues, claims, observes and the like. This adds flavour to your writing and prevents the text from appearing repetitive.

Instead of writing: A study by NASA said that…,
you can write: A study by NASA concluded that…

While quoting an extract, several times you might have to remove text from the original for the flow and focus of your piece. In such a case, replace the text with an ellipsis (three consecutive periods). If you want to include a quote but the quote changes the grammatical structure of your sentence, then you may replace a word with the right one, by including the new one in a square bracket.

Chris told Anna, “You must visit my country.”

While quoting it, instead of writing:
Chris told Anna that she must “visit my country.”
You may write:
Chris told Anna that she must “visit [his] country.”

Another common question that writers ask, is whether a comma or a period which is part of the whole sentence, should be put inside the inverted commas or outside.  This again is entirely your choice, depending on the style you follow. In the American style of writing, commas and period tend to be inside the inverted commas, whereas in the British style, they can fall either inside or outside.


Period before quote
A study by NASA in 2015 concluded that, ‘2015 was the hottest year recorded in the last century.’

Period after quote
A study by NASA in 2015 concluded that, ’2015 was the hottest year recorded in the last century’

Hoping your daily quota of quotes is fulfilled for the day, happy writing!


About Mrinalini Shinde

Leave a Reply