Why to Quote
- To capture the author's metaphoric or vivid language
- To call attention to terms an author is using
- To show how the author's argument proceeds through specific phrases
In the following passage, the text in bold uses language reminiscent of a passage in the New Testament to discuss the Bohemian movement in nineteenth-century America:
This might be a good quote to use to support the argument that adherence to a Bohemian philosophy mirrored religious devotion, or to emphasize how Bohemianism has a portable, loose, or unstructured creed.
Writers may also want to select quotes strategically to make a point about the quality of another person's prose. An example of this occurs in the following passage in which a literary critic selects a quote from Lady Audley's Secret (in bold) to support his argument that the author's prose is often sensational and silly:
One could also use the same quote, however, to argue that Robert Audley has nerves of steel and is unmoved by danger. To support this argument, choose other examples and quotes from the novel in which Audley displays courage.
Tip and Tricks:
- Avoid quoting long passages of text just to make the paper longer-- this doesn't fool anyone, and it may weaken the paper.
- Try only to use quotes that support your ideas, develop your arguments, or offer constructive counter-arguments; avoid the impulse to hit a quote quota (unless you have a quota to fulfill-- in which case, see the first item).
- Quotes (seldom) fall from the sky and land *SPLAT!* in a paper. Connect the quote to the topic you're developing in the paragraph; avoid ending paragraphs with dangling quotes. See the How to Quote, or "Love at First Cite" section for examples of how to "spin" quotes.