But never sacrifice precision of phrasing for the sake of variety. If your quotation is lengthy, you should almost always introduce it with a full sentence that helps capture how it fits into your argument. If your quotation is longer than four lines, do not place it in quotation marks.
Instead, set it off as a block quotation:. Hence his lack of any constructive suggestion anywhere in his work.
Examples of Summary, Quotation and Paraphrase
He attacks the law, parliamentary government, the educational system and so forth, without ever clearly suggesting what he would put in their places. For in reality his target is not so much society as human nature. The full-sentence introduction to a block quotation helps demonstrate your grasp of the source material, and it adds analytical depth to your essay. But the introduction alone is not enough. Long quotations almost invariably need to be followed by extended analysis.
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Never allow the quotation to do your work for you. Usually you will want to keep the quotation and your analysis together in the same paragraph. Hence it is a good idea to avoid ending a paragraph with a quotation. But if your analysis is lengthy, you may want to break it into several paragraphs, beginning afresh after the quotation. Once in a while you can reverse the pattern of quotation followed by analysis. A felicitously worded or an authoritative quotation can, on occasion, nicely clinch an argument.
There is some flexibility in the rule that block quotations are for passages of four lines or more: For example, when you are quoting two or more lines of poetry , you will probably want to display the verse as it appears on the page:. What dire offense from amorous causes springs, What mighty contests rise from trivial things. If you choose to integrate verse into your own sentence, then use a slash surrounded by spaces to indicate line breaks:. If you need to alter your quotations in any way, be sure to indicate just how you have done so. If you remove text, then replace the missing text with an ellipsis —three periods surrounded by spaces:.
If the omitted text occurs between sentences, then put a space after the period at the end of sentence, and follow that by an ellipsis. In all, there will be four periods. See Orwell on Dickens, above. Many people overuse ellipses at the beginning and end of quotations. Use an ellipsis in either place only when your reader might otherwise mistake an incomplete sentence for a complete one:. If you need to alter or replace text from the original, enclose the added text within square brackets.
You may, for example, need to alter text to ensure that pronouns agree with their antecedents. The introduction can be an independent clause:. Gertrude implores her son Hamlet to stop mourning the death of his father: You must preserve the punctuation of a quoted passage, or else you must enclose in square brackets any punctuation marks that are your own. There is, however, one important exception to this rule.
Using Quotations | Writing Advice
You are free to alter the punctuation just before a closing quotation mark. You may need to do so to ensure that your sentences are fully grammatical. Do not worry about how the original sentence needs to be punctuated before that quotation mark; think about how your sentence needs to be punctuated. Note, for example, that if you are using the MLA system of referencing, a sentence always ends after the parenthetical reference.
Do not also include a period before closing the quotation mark, even if there is a period there in the original. My imagination was always stirred by the scene of the solar eclipse in Pharaoh, by Boleslaw Prus. I wondered about the shock of the disoriented crowd when they saw how their ruler was apparently able to switch off the light. Getting immersed in this essay by Annie Dillard has a similar effect.
It produces amazement and some kind of primeval fear. After the eclipse, nothing is going to be the same again. This suicidally beautiful essay will teach you a lot about the appreciation of life. She was American, but her culture was grounded in Mexico. In this way, she and her people were not fully respected in either of the countries. This essay is an account of her journey of becoming the ambassador of the Chicano Mexican-American culture.
In terms of style, this essay is flawless. Mary Ruefle — On Fear. Most psychologists and gurus agree that fear is the greatest enemy of success or any creative activity. Mary Ruefle takes on this basic human emotion with flair.
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Susan Sontag — Against Interpretation. In this highly intellectual essay, Sontag fights for art and its interpretation. I always hated when at school they asked me: Hell if I know! I will judge it through my subjective experience! This is a heartwarming, coming of age story about a young girl who waits for her breasts to finally grow. As it happens, the size of breasts is a big deal for women.
Carl Sagan was one of the greatest proponents of skepticism, and an author of numerous books, including one of my all-time favorites — The Demon-Haunted World. He was also a renowned physicist and the host of the fantastic Cosmos: A Personal Voyage series, which inspired a whole generation to uncover the mysteries of the cosmos.
He was also a dedicated weed smoker — clearly ahead of his time. Internet is flooded with a large number of articles and videos that are supposed to tell you what to do with our lives. Most of them are worthless, but this one is different. Please, read the essay and let it help you gain fulfillment from your work. John Jeremiah Sullivan — Mister Lytle.
A young, aspiring writer is about to become a nurse of a fading writer — Mister Lytle Andrew Nelson Lytle , and there will be trouble. This essay by Sullivan is probably my favorite one from the whole list. The amount of beautiful sentences it contains is just overwhelming. It also takes you to the Old South which has an incredible atmosphere. Joan Didion — On Self Respect. Normally, with that title you would expect some straightforward advice about how to improve your character and get on with your goddamn life — but not from Joan Didion.
You can learn more from this essay than from whole books about self-improvement. Susan Sontag — Notes on Camp. After reading this essay, you will know what camp is. You will vastly increase your appreciation for art.
All the listicles we usually see on the web simply cannot compare with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson — Self-Reliance. Written in , it still inspires generations of people. It will let you understand what it means to be self-made. It contains some of the most memorable quotes of all time. Emerson told me and he will tell you to do something amazing with my life. The language it contains is a bit archaic but that just adds to the weight of the argument.
You can consider it to be a meeting with a great philosopher who really shaped the ethos of modern United States. He sees right through the hypocrisy and cruelty behind killing hundreds of thousands of innocent lobsters — by boiling them alive. This essay uncovers some of the worst traits of modern American peoples. After reading this essay, you may reconsider the whole animal-eating business. The famous novelist and author of the most powerful commencement speech ever done is going to tell you about the joys and sorrows of writing a work of fiction.
But you love that child and you want others to love it too. If you ever plan to write a novel, you should definitely read that one. And the story about the Chinese farmer is just priceless. Margaret Atwood — Attitude. This is not an essay per se, but I included it in the list for the sake of variety. Soon after leaving the university, most graduates have to forget about safety, parties and travel, and start a new life — one filled with a painful routine that will last until they drop. Read that one as soon as possible. To summarize the story would be to spoil it, so I recommend that you just dig in and devour this essay during one sitting.
No need for flowery adjectives here. To me, Terence McKenna was one of the most interesting thinkers of the twentieth century. McKenna consumed psychedelic drugs for most of his life and it shows in a positive way. Many people consider him a looney, and a hippie, but he was so much more than that. He had the courage to go into the abyss of his own psyche, and come back to tell the tale. He also wrote many books most famous being Food Of The Gods , built a huge botanical garden in Hawaii , lived with shamans, and was a connoisseur of all things enigmatic and obscure.
Take a look at this essay, and learn more about the explorations of the subconscious mind. Eudora Welty — The Little Store. By reading this little known essay, you will be transported into the world of the old American South. There are all these beautiful memories that live inside of us. They lay somewhere deep in our minds, hidden from sight. The work by Eudora Welty is an attempt to uncover some of them and let you get reacquainted with some of the smells and tastes of the past.
The Search for Marvin Gardens contains many layers of meaning. It also presents a historical perspective on the rise and fall of civilizations, and on Atlantic City which once was a lively place, and then, slowly declined, the streets filled with dirt and broken windows. A dead body at the bottom of the well makes for a beautiful literary device. Who was this woman? Why did she do it?
Slouching Towards Bethlehem is one of the most famous collections of essays of all time. In it, you will find a curious piece called On Keeping A Notebook. This one touched me because I also lived in the New York City for a while. They go like this: As the sound of sirens faded, Tony descended into the dark world of hustlers and pimps.
Anyway, this essay is amazing in too many ways. You just have to read it. George Orwell — Reflections on Gandhi.
George Orwell could see things as they were. No exaggeration, no romanticism — just facts. He recognized totalitarianism and communism for what they were and shared his worries through books like and Animal Farm. He took the same sober approach when dealing with saints and sages. Today, we regard Gandhi as one of the greatest political leaders of twentieth century — and rightfully so. But did you know that when asked about the Jews during the World War II, Gandhi said that they should commit collective suicide, and that it: But overall he was a good guy. Read the essay and broaden your perspective on Bapu of the Indian Nation.
George Orwell — Politics and the English Language. Orwell give you some writing tips. Written in , this essay is still one of the most helpful documents on writing in English. Orwell was probably the first person who exposed the deliberate vagueness of political language. He was very serious about it and I admire his efforts to slay all unclear sentences including ones written by distinguished professors. To make this list more comprehensive, below I included twelve more essays you may find interesting. Oliver Sacks — On Libraries. Noam Chomsky — The Responsibility of Intellectuals. Chomsky did probably more than anyone else to define the role of intelligentsia in the modern world.
There is a war of ideas over there — good and bad — intellectuals are going to be those who ought to be fighting for the former. Sam Harris, now famous philosopher and neuroscientist, takes on the problem of gun control in United States. His thoughts are clear and free of prejudice. Author of the NYT best seller The 4-Hour Workweek shares an emotional story about how he almost killed himself, and what can you do to save yourself or your friends from suicide. Edward Said — Reflections on Exile. The life of Edward Said was a truly fascinating one. Born in Jerusalem, he lived between Palestine and Egypt, and finally settled down in United States where he completed his most famous work — Orientalism.
In this essay, he shares his thoughts about what it means to be in exile.