When writing term papers, the correct design of the text is no less important than its semantic load. In particular, this concerns quotations. Mistakes with these elements of the text are one of the most common, and in one form or another, they are committed by most students. Now we will detail how to design quotes in academic works according to the basic styles of formatting.

There are some general recommendations for the formulation of quotes.

Abuse of direct quotations is a sign of the poor quality of work, its deliberately “inflated” volume. In addition, non-unique quoted text excerpts reduce the overall uniqueness of paper. This parameter is fundamental in many universities, and its unsatisfactory value leads to a decrease in the student’s score.

Too large quotations, occupying almost a third of the page are unacceptable. The reasons are the same – a reduction in the uniqueness of the work, and therefore its quality. Large quotes are only permissible in exceptional cases, for example, when it is necessary to analyze a fragment of a work of art, to consider the means of artistic expressiveness used by the author, the manner of presentation, etc.

Quoting references is not always appropriate. Mention of different kinds of dictionaries and reference books is not recommended, references to such literature are only allowed in the introduction and if it is necessary to define terms.

How to Make a Quote

There are two ways how to cite a website/book/an article/quote in an essay:

  • Direct;
  • Indirect quotation.

In turn, direct quotes can be entered into the text of the work in several ways, depending on the style of formatting:

  • With indication of the author and source directly in the text (MLA, APA formatting style);
  • With reference to the author and the source (Chicago, Harvard referencing style).

MLA citation format

The theme of the correct design of borrowed items has recently become much debated. More serious attention to plagiarism and several scandals related to theses of famous people led to stricter citation requirements in scientific works. Scientific work without citation is impossible. The fine line between plagiarism and citation is the observance of the rules established by scientific styles.

It is very easy to use in text citations in an essay in MLA style. It is necessary to mention an author and a page number from where the citations were borrowed. This rule applies when citing a book or a scientific article. When a student is citing a source with no more than two authors, it is required to mention their names, but if it is necessary to cite a work by three or more creators, it is reasonable to mention only the first surname and add et.all.

When quoting electronic resources and other sources, this rule is slightly modified. In this case, it is also advisable to mention an author if this name is known, but if it is not so, it will be enough to mention the title of the website in the brackets at the end of the citation. The important point in citing a website MLA is the fact that the website should be reliable and end with domain .edu and like that.

It is also possible to cite a movie, any other video, or an interview. In this case, a student should mention whom the MLA quote belongs to and indicate timely frameworks during which this phrase was said. This time should be mentioned in brackets.

Well-known facts, events, phenomena, names and common phrases do not need to be cited.

How to Properly Cite Sources in an Essay

The most important rule of citation is to accompany the quote with reference to a certain source from the list of used literature. The absence of a reference in the citation or the absence of a quotation with a reference is a serious mistake in the design of the work.

How to cite references/information/sources in an essay?

You need to adhere to the following rules:

Be sure to put the quotes when the source text is copied word-for-word. Otherwise, such a quote will become plagiarism.

  • The text of the quote must be complete. Arbitrary shortening of the text is unacceptable.
  • When referring to the author, indicate his surname and initials.
  • Do not start the paragraph with the quote, initials or surname of the author.
  • All references in the work should be made in the same style.

In scientific works such a kind of citation as paraphrase is common. It is the paraphrasing of a quotation in one’s own words. In this case, the reference to the author is also mandatory, as well as the preservation of meaning in the retelling. The paraphrase is appropriate in the following cases:

  • Providing generalized information when referring to several sources;
  • A summary of the voluminous theoretical concept;
  • Voluminous quotations, not applicable for a direct mention.


There are special options for quoting text used in special cases. Such options include citation by secondary sources, mention of foreign authors and terms, self-citation and citation of legislative acts.

Citation on secondary sources is possible only at the stage of acquaintance with the topic and problems of research, and also to determine the conceptual apparatus of work. All quotations that are used in this manner must be carefully verified by primary sources.

Citation of legislative acts should be strictly based on primary sources, especially since all legal and subordinate acts are publicly available. The citation of the secondary sources will look out of place and completely unjustified. You need to make sure that the current version of the law is being used and that the law has come into force.