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Extended Rules for Using Quotation Marks

Summary:

A rundown of the general rules of when and where to use quotation marks.

Contributors:Sean M. Conrey, Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 06:03:37

Altering the Source Material in a Quotation

The responsibility of representing other people's words accurately lies firmly on the shoulders of the author. Inaccurate quotes not only defeat the purpose of using a quote, they may also constitute plagiarism. However, there are approved methods for altering quotes for either clarity or succinctness.

Quote length

If the original quote is too long and you feel not all the words are necessary in your own paper, you may omit part of the quote. Replace the missing words with an ellipsis.

Original Quote: The quarterback told the reporter, "It's quite simple. They played a better game, scored more points, and that's why we lost."
Omitted Material: The quarterback told the reporter, "It's quite simple. They . . . scored more points, and that's why we lost."

Make sure that the words you remove do not alter the basic meaning of the original quote in any way. Also ensure that the quote's integration and missing material still leave a grammatically correct sentence.

Quote context

If the context of your quote might be unclear, you may add a few words to provide clarity. Enclose the added material in brackets.

Added Material: The quarterback told the reporter, "It's quite simple. They [the other team] played a better game, scored more points, and that's why we lost."

Quotations within a Quotation

Use single quotation marks to enclose quotes within another quotation.

The reporter told me, "When I interviewed the quarterback, he said they simply 'played a better game.'"

Quotation Marks Beyond Quoting

Quotation marks may additionally be used to indicate words used ironically or with some reservation.

The great march of "progress" has left millions impoverished and hungry.

Do not use quotation marks for words used as words themselves. In this case, you should use italics.

The English word nuance comes from a Middle French word meaning "shades of color."

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