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High school: Integrating quotations

EssayJack
EssayJack 30.03.2020

When you're in high school, you'll know that essays you write in English or History or Political Science or Law classes all require you to use quotations from outside sources to help illustrate the points that you raise. Great. But how do you integrate those quotations smoothly? How do you avoid inadvertently plagiarising or simply parachuting someone else's words into YOUR essay? Easy...we've got some suggestions for you!

 

ALWAYS remember these 2 things

The 2 most important things to remember when integrating a quotation (i.e. someone else's words) into your own writing are: 1) cite your source and 2) work the quoted passage into the grammar of your own sentence.

 

1) Cite your Source

What we mean here is that any time you reference someone else's words, you need to give credit where it's due. If you are unsure of whether something is common knowledge (i.e. so obvious you don't have to cite it) or whether the idea was first raised by someone else, err on the side of caution. It's better to cite unnecessarily than to not cite at all.

When it comes to direct quotations, it's even more obvious that you must cite. This is where citation format - APA, MLA, Chicago Manual of Style etc. - comes into play. Some instructors prefer footnotes, some endnotes, some parenthetical notation, and some a combination of the two. No matter what format your instructor wants, remember to cite your source and show where a quotation comes from!

 

2) Work the Quoted Passage into the Grammar of your own Sentence

When you find a really great quotation to support the point that you are making in your writing, it's best if you can integrate it into your own sentence. Do not just parachute it in on its own. For instance, Aldous Huxley writes: "Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly ," and goes on to assert that words will  "go through anything." Do you see what I did there? I took the main quotation from Huxley -- "Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything" -- and then I worked it into my own sentence.

 

Here's an example...

Example Quotation:  "Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences," Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Example Integration: In The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, poet Plath exclaims: "Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences," demonstrating the core importance of writing to her identity.

 

Practice integrating quotations

Take the following quotations and work them into 1-2 sentences that provide the key information required below. If you're really brave you can then post your snippets to social media and ask us for our feedback!

  • Who is the speaker/author?
  • What is the circumstance of the quotation? (i.e.; briefly note at what point in the story/poem/article the quotation appears)
  • Why does this quotation matter?

Some quotations for you to play with that we love:

 

"I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in," Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson
--Robert Louis Stevenson

 

"Be sure you know the meaning (or meanings) of every word you use," in a letter to a girl named Thomasine (a seventh-grader whose teacher had assigned her students to write to a famous author for writing advice!!!), December 14, 1959
--C.S. Lewis

 

"A word after a word after a word is power," which is the title of a 2019 documentary in which Atwood discusses her work.
--Margaret Atwood

 

"Tears are words that need to be written," Aleph
--Paulo Coelho

 

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