Types of Quotes
What constitutes a quote that must be cited? A quote is anything that someone other than you said, and all quotes must be cited. The only time you don’t have to cite information is when it’s common knowledge. (Common knowledge must be information as common as the sky is blue, or February 30th does not exist.) Quotes can be cited either within the text, or as footnotes or endnotes.
These examples come from Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale (Seal Books, 1985).
When you use the words someone else used. These must be in quotation marks, and you can’t change any of the words. You can, however, use an ellipsis (…) to show that you’ve left a few words out.
“We slept in what had once been the gymnasium” (Atwood 3).
“We slept in… the gymnasium” (Atwood 3).
Indirect or paraphrased quotes
When you used your own words to convey the general meaning of someone else’s words.
The main character in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale begins by describing their dormitory, which had once been a gymnasium (3).
About 40 words or less, depending on the format you’re using. Short quotes can be used right inside the text, without starting a new sentence or paragraph.
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale begins with “We slept in what had once been the gymnasium” (3).
More than 40 words or so, depending on the format. Long quotes are usually written as a separate paragraph, with indented margins on both the left and the right sides. You don’t need to use quotation marks because it’s already physically separated from the main text.
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone (Atwood 3).
Statistics, quantities, dates, etc. All numerical information should be cited unless, of course, they’re common knowledge.
The setting for Historical Notes on The Handmaid’s Tale is a June 25, 2195 (Atwood 281).