When preparing a thorough research paper, it is important to know the rules for citations, especially using quotation marks when citing information. According to the Modern Language Association (MLA), there are specific rules when you should, or should not, be using quotation marks when citing information. To avoid over-using quotation marks, or misusing them, consider the following rules.
Quotation marks (“ ”) are a form of punctuation that set some text apart from other text. They are used for things that people have said, or that are being drawn verbatim from a piece of writing.
Quotation marks are also used when citing particular sources, including:
For example, if you might quote the acclaimed poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow like this, “In his poem, “The Village Blacksmith,” Longfellow celebrates the family, the working man, and the value of hard work.”
There are primarily two forms of quotation marks – double quotes “ ” and single quotes ‘’ which have different uses.
Double quotation marks are used to set aside the spoken word, or a quote from a piece of literature, or a name of a song, episode, short story, poem, or article. Single quotation marks are used to set aside quotes within quotes. Here’s an example,
In the story, Janice explained that “‘If I was of such a mindset, I would have surely died long ago!’”
In essence here you are quoting a line in a story, which is an actual quoted, spoken word by a character in that story.
You will also commonly use quotation marks within parenthetical references. So, when creating a works cited reference, you will need to refer to the name of the article, short story, song, or poem within quotations, within the parenthesis for the citation.
Quotation marks may also be used when citing words that are used as definitions, or as special-case terms or words with unusual spellings.
If you are quoting more than four lines of material in your research paper, do not use quotation marks. Such a long quotation can be difficult to follow if kept within the body of your paper. Instead, separate this text with two tabs from the left margin, and block indent the entire quotation. The only exception to not using quotation marks in this instance is when you are actually quoting speech within the long quote. In such a case, put only the speech portion of your quote in double quotation marks.
When you are quoting a specific line of literature, you must include quotations around that line, followed by appropriate punctuation within the quotations. According to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, you must consider the following spacing rules when working with quotations:
According to MLA, only periods and commas are to be placed within quotations. All other forms of punctuation remain outside of the quotes. However, this holds true within American English constructions of quotations.
British English writing, as well as that from Canada and former British territories, will not follow the same rules of punctuation with quotation marks. In those cases, periods and other punctuation is commonly kept outside quotes.
When writing an article or well-researched report, be sure to keep in mind these rules for using quotation marks when citing information. Keep a rule guide handy for easy referencing as you write.