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How To Use Quotations Effectively?


Quotations are the repetition of words used by somebody in the past. When you repeat the speech or spoken words of a character from a play or novel, you are said to be quoting that character.

Use of quotes requires quotation marks, speech marks or inverted commas to denote repetition.

Take the example of a lawyer who is trying to convince the jury of his argument in an essay. No matter how convincing he is, without evidence the jury cannot be completely influenced.

The same applies to quotations, which like evidence convince the audience of the truth in your theory.

Therefore quotations have the purpose of backing a person’s ideas but not as replacement of the ideas or the means of telling a story. Quotes help in exploring the usage of themes, characters and language in a play or novel. Normally there needs to be some sort of context to accompany the quote, explaining the intrigue involved.

Use of quotes can be compared to the preparation of a sandwich or burger.

The introduction to the quote is like the bread that is required. Once the idea is conveyed, some context for the quote should explain its relevance.

The quote itself is like the meat content in a sandwich. Though tasty, it is enhanced when two pieces of bread accompany it.

The second piece of bread is equivalent to a comment on the quote explaining its interest factor and significance in elaborating a certain aspect or character.

As a rule, avoid excessive use of quotations as it may suggest that original ideas on the subject are lacking. Otherwise quotations can be handy in adding emphasis to the ideas, instead of replacing them. This is especially the case if the quotation is attributed to a noted name, sounds unique or outstanding or if it is being used in elaborating a rather unusual or controversial subject.

It is not advisable to use a quotation solely by itself in the assumption that it would be self-explanatory. The essence of the quotation needs to be specified, as does the explanation about its relevance to the subject involved. It may also be necessary to convey one’s interpretation or perspective on it.

Quotations can be considered very similar to examples in their use for clarifying an idea. It is essential to realize that the role of quotations is limited to adding support and helping to elaborate the ideas being dealt with.

What they are not meant to do is to act as substitutes for the ideas as they are useless by themselves. Quotations usually require some sort of interpretive phrasing following the quotation to indicate that the meaning of the quotation is being explained and how it helps in establishing a certain viewpoint. These phrases include: Thus it is clear, therefore it is apparent, and consequently it can be seen, etc.

Quotations work best when the original words are accurately reproduced.

Proper punctuation is a must for quotations. At times quotations require acknowledgement of any omissions from the original words and editorial comments to clarify vague ideas and correct grammar. Like in the case of paraphrasing and summarizing, there needs to be an introduction to the quotation, apart from explanation of its relevance by merging the quotation within the text and naming the source involved.

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