Rail yard background, from the Library of Congress

Connections

A Hypertext Resource for Literature

back one section Section back one page Page    Page 7.5.1    Page forward one page Section forward one section

Quotation and Citation

After this page, the materials in this section will focus on the mechanics of quotation: how to punctuate quoted material, how to format citations of other works, how to differentiate between quotation and paraphrase. For now, on the other hand, I want to emphasize the general importance of quoted material, or "evidence," as I generally call it. When a paper presents well-quoted evidence from other works, that evidence allows the writer to help the reader understand the context in which the paper's ideas lie. As a result, the reader can better understand the contribution that the paper is making to that context; in other words, careful quotation allows a paper to be more creative and original than a paper that muddles lines between borrowed and original thoughts.

The best critical writing establishes a strong critical voice of its own but also helps the reader hear other voices through quotation. Such writing can create the effect of a stimulating conversation. The same principles often apply to other kinds of writing as well; most branches of professional writing require careful quotation and documentation, for instance, and journalistic writing gains much of its force from quoted material. For a more light-hearted example, the satirical journalism of The Onion relies heavily on creating many distinct quoted voices. In critical prose, quote your sources whenever possible and refer back to the specific words of those quotations to remind your reader of the environment in which your paper takes a place.

back one section Section back one page Page    Page 7.5.1    Page forward one page Section forward one section