Loyola University Maryland

Department of History

When and How to Quote

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To avoid inadvertent plagiarism, adhere to the following rules:

Placing Quotations

  • Quotations fewer than three lines may be inserted directly into double-spaced text, enclosed in quotation marks. (For example: Karl Marx said that "Property is theft"). Do NOT forget the second set of quotation marks, which shows the end of the quoted section.
  • Quotations longer than three lines should be indented and single-spaced. In this case, you MUST NOT enclose them in quotation marks. You may use an ellipsis (...) to show where you have deleted irrelevant material from a quoted passage.

Use Quotations Wisely

Do NOT let quotations do the work for you; state your own arguments in your own word. Your arguments should be clear, even if all quotations were to be removed. Quotations are not proof of scholarship or objectivity, but are instead ways to provide examples of your arguments.

Choose Quotations Carefully

Do NOT use long, dull quotations. These same rules apply to passages you wish to paraphrase. Do NOT simply "cut and paste" together a paper from selections you have paraphrased from other authors. Your instructor will grade you on the basis of the originality of your work. Remember, all paraphrases must still be footnoted.

Do NOT Use Anonymous Quotations

If you must quote, make sure that your reader knows, from the text, what is being quoted. "George III is a tyrant" means different things if it was said by Thomas Jefferson or by the British Prime Minister Lord North. So make sure that your text contains phrases like, "Jefferson charged," or "Lord North admitted," or "Bancroft wrote" before direct quotations. The only exception is when you are quoting frequently from the same source and it is clear to the reader whose words are being quoted.

Use Relevant Quotations

Include NOTHING in your paper, no matter how quaint or curious, that is not connected or not important to your argument or thesis.

Document Facts That Are Not Common Knowledge

Just because some date appears in several books does not mean that you are not required to cite a source for it in your paper. Later, after you have developed the habit of documenting fully, this rule will be modified -- but at this stage you MUST document facts that are not common knowledge. You will have MORE notes than direct quotations.