Direct Quote

What Is Direct Quoting?

Using an author or speaker’s exact words. The material is copied word- for- word from a source without changes to the original.

Characteristics of a Direct Quote

  • Is copied word-for-word
  • Uses quotation marks
  • Uses a signal phrase to introduce information about the source before the quote (learn more about signal phrases)
  • Credits original source
  • Is less than 4 typed lines (short quote)
  • Is more than 4 typed lines (block quote)

When quoting works longer than 4 lines, use a block quote format:

  • Indent 1/2 inch from the left margin
  • Do not use quotation marks
  • Include in-text citation at end of quote 
  • Introduce block quote with a complete sentence followed by a colon

Block Quote Example:

block quote example


When to Use Direct Quoting 

  • When you cannot easily express the same idea in your own words
  • When using your own words would lessen the impact of the original language
  • When original writing has striking or memorable author statements, expert opinions
  • When you plan to argue against a writer’s ideas and want to accurately state them
  • Don’t over quote. Overusing direct quotes lessons the impact of your writing and the demonstration of the control and knowledge over the subject matter.
  • Don’t use two direct quotes in a row.

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MLA in Minutes by Sami Lange; Vicki Brandenburg; and Leila Palis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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