13.15: Fitting a Quotation into a Sentence
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To use a quotation in our own writing, we need to fit it into a sentence of our own. There are several ways to work a quotation in so that it flows smoothly and fits logically and grammatically with our own words. Let's say we want to integrate the following opening sentence from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, as an example:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Below are three methods for bringing this quotation into a sentence.
Seamless Integration Method
Embed the quoted words, either a phrase or a whole sentence, as if they were an organic part of your sentence. With this method, if you read the sentence aloud, your listeners would not know there was a quotation. With this method, no additional punctuation is added before the quote. Here is an example:
Charles Dickens begins his novel with the paradoxical observation that the eighteenth century was both “the best of times” and “the worst of times” .
Signal Phrase Method
Use a signal phrase (author + verb) to introduce the quotation, clearly indicating that the quotation comes from a specific source. See 12.5: Quoting and Paraphrasing for more on choosing signal phrases. Use a comma after the signal phrase and before the quotation, as in the example below:
Describing the eighteenth century, Charles Dickens observes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” .
If you use the word that with your signal phrase in the pattern (author + verb + that), however, omit the comma and do not capitalize the first word in the quote, as in this version:
Describing the eighteenth century, Charles Dickens observes that “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” .
If your own introductory words form a complete sentence, you can use a colon to introduce and set off the quotation. This can give the quotation added emphasis.
Dickens defines the eighteenth century as a time of paradox: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” .
Adapted by Anna Mills from "Appendix C: Integrating Source Evidence into Your Writing" by Suzan Last and Candice Neveu in Technical Writing Essentials, provided by BCcampus, licensed CC BY 4.0.