Quotes are portions of text that are denoted as not originating with the author. When one author quotes another’s words verbatim, they must be correctly identified typographically, either with quotation marks or set off as a block quote. In fiction, character dialogue is enclosed by quotation marks.
Different Types of Quotes in Nonfiction Writing
To avoid plagiarism, it is important to cite your source every time you use someone else’s exact words. Let’s say, for example, you are writing an essay about Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. In the course of your essay, you refer to a passage on the third page of the book. You might want to quote some words directly from it (a direct quote). If you decide to include a passage with no words left out, you can simply enclose the passage in quotation marks and insert a page citation so the reader can find that passage in the The Handmaid’s Tale if they want to.
If using just some and not all of the author’s words is helpful, you can use an ellipsis (…) to show that you’ve left words out.
A different method you can use is an indirect or paraphrased quote. This is when you use your own words to convey the general meaning of someone else’s words. When a quote is indirect or paraphrased, quotation marks are not needed. But you still need to include a citation to show where you got the information you’re paraphrasing.
If a quoted portion of text is more than 100 words long (about six to eight lines on a typical page), it should be set off as a block quote. Block quotes are formatted as separate paragraphs with indented margins on both the left and right sides. You don’t need to use quotation marks in a block quote because it is already physically separated from the main text.
Quotation Marks in Discourse and Dialogue
Direct discourse or dialogue, whether in fiction or nonfiction writing, should be enclosed by quotation marks. Only the words of the person speaking and the punctuation associated with it should be enclosed; the words of the author (such as he said or she asked) should not be.
Not all discourse is spoken aloud. When you’re quoting a character’s thoughts, for example, you can decide whether you want to indicate it with quotation marks or not depending on your preference.
If the sentence quoted is interrupted by the author, there is no need to use a capital letter when the quote is resumed.
If a long speech spans more than one paragraph, there is no need to close the quotation marks between paragraphs and reopen them again as the new paragraph begins. Instead, simply using open quotes (“) at the beginning of each new paragraph until the speech has ended.
To learn more grammar rules concerning quotation marks, read our article about how to use them correctly.