Quoting is a fundamental aspect of academic writing, allowing authors to directly reference the work of others to support their arguments, provide evidence, or highlight a particularly impactful statement.

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Effective quoting and citing sources is fundamental to any form of writing. However, different fields and disciplines prefer different citation styles, each with its own set of rules and formats. This article will guide you through the essentials of quoting others across three major citation styles: APA, MLA, and Chicago, providing clear examples to demystify the process.

APA Style

APA style is widely used in the social sciences. It emphasizes the author-date method of in-text citation and a comprehensive reference list at the document’s end.

  • Direct Quote: When quoting directly, include the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number. For instance, (Smith, 2020, p. 15).
  • Paraphrasing: If you’re paraphrasing someone else’s ideas, mention the author and year. For example, (Smith, 2020).
  • Quoting Longer Passages: For quotes longer than 40 words, format it as a block quote without quotation marks and include the author, year, and page number.
  • Multiple Authors: For two authors, use both names every time you reference their work (Smith & Jones, 2020). For three or more, list the first author followed by “et al.” (Smith et al., 2020).
  • Electronic Sources: If available, include a DOI or URL at the end of the citation. For example, (Smith, 2020, para. 4) or (Smith, 2020, Section Heading).

MLA Style

MLA style is preferred in the humanities, especially in literature and language studies. It features author-page format for in-text citations and a Works Cited page.

  • Direct Quote: Incorporate the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses. For example, (Smith 15).
  • Paraphrasing: Similar to direct quotes, but without the page number if not directly referencing a specific text portion. For example, (Smith).
  • Quoting Poetry: Use line numbers instead of page numbers. For instance, (Smith lines 10-12).
  • Multiple Authors: For a work by two authors, include both names (Smith and Jones 45). For three or more authors, use the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” (Smith et al. 76).
  • Electronic Sources: If no page numbers are available, use the author’s last name only. For sources without an author, use the title of the piece.

Chicago Style

Chicago style is versatile, widely used in both the humanities and social sciences. It offers two systems: the Author-Date system and the Notes-Bibliography system.

  • Direct Quote (Notes-Bibliography): Use footnotes or endnotes for citations, including the author’s name, the source title, and the page number.
  • Direct Quote (Author-Date): Similar to APA, include the author’s last name, the publication year, and page number in parentheses. For example, (Smith 2020, 15).
  • Paraphrasing (Notes-Bibliography): A note number leading to the citation detail at the bottom of the page or the end of the chapter.
  • Paraphrasing (Author-Date): Just the author’s last name and year of publication. For example, (Smith 2020).
  • Electronic Sources: For the Notes-Bibliography system, include a URL or DOI in the notes. In the Author-Date system, include it in the reference list.

Wrap Up

Quoting and citing the work of others is a critical component of responsible and ethical writing. Whether you’re drafting an academic paper, compiling research, or even writing a blog post, understanding how to properly attribute words and ideas to their original authors is crucial. Remember, the goal of quoting isn’t just to bolster your argument with the authority of others, but to engage in a larger conversation, acknowledging the contributions of those who have laid the groundwork before you.


How to cite a source quoted in another source using the Harvard referencing system?

To cite a source quoted in another source using the Harvard referencing system, you need to provide the name, date, and page reference of the original work first, followed by “cited” and then the name of the work in which you found the information.

What should be included when citing unwritten sources quoted in another source?

When citing unwritten sources quoted in another source, such as spoken words recorded in a text, include the name of the person, the name of the author, the date, and the page reference of the work where the quote or reference appears.

Why is it important to acknowledge the original source of information even if I haven’t read it directly?

It is crucial to acknowledge the original source of information even if you haven’t read it directly to uphold academic integrity and avoid plagiarism. Providing proper attribution gives credit to the original author and enhances the credibility of your work.

How can I ensure accuracy when citing sources quoted in another source?

To ensure accuracy when citing sources quoted in another source, make sure to verify the information as thoroughly as possible. Ideally, try to locate and consult the original source directly. If that’s not feasible, rely on reputable secondary sources and accurately follow the citation guidelines provided by your chosen referencing system. Double-check all details, including names, dates, and page numbers, to maintain precision in your citations.

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