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When to quote and when not to.

Avoid quoting for the sake of quoting; ensure that the quoted material does actually add to, illuminate, explain or illustrate the point you are making, or that it highlights a problem that you are going on to tackle.

In these examples, the quoted material adds nothing to the argument and should be avoided.

Antipholos invites the merchant to dine at 'my inn'.

Vincent's brain based theories have resulted from many years of studying 'cognitive processing' (Cognitive Psychology, p789).

If you use a direct quotation, you must include enough contextual and introductory material that your reader can make sense of the quotation. It is also highly important that the sentence including the embedded quotation makes sense as a whole. This can be a particular problem if the quoted material is from an ancient, old English source.

In both the examples, the quoted passages make sense on their own, but do not fit with the rest of the sentence to make a coherent and grammatically correct whole. In such cases you must not alter the quoted material to make it fit with the rest of your sentence.

Vincent stresses the importance of 'retrieval from long term memory is a vital cognitive skill that can be practiced by children from the age of three' (Cognitive Psychology, p789).

According to Vincent's clinical notes, his patient has 'problems often occur when he is recalling newly learned vocabulary from working memory, but he has a fully functioning long term memory' (Cognitive Psychology, p789).

Some rewording of the sentence surrounding the quoted material is needed to make the whole sentence make sense.

Vincent notes of one of his patients: 'problems often occur when he is recalling newly learned vocabulary from working memory, but he has a fully functioning long term memory' (Cognitive Psychology, p789).

It is utterly unacceptable to alter the language of the quoted material to make it fit with the form of the rest of your sentence.

Martin Luther King said that 'he had seen the promised land.' (Incorrect)

Martin Luther King said of himself: 'I have seen the promised land.' (Correct)

It is also unacceptable to quote selectively and so misrepresent the original material or to misattribute a quotation.

Original text: I found the film so awful, the fact that it was ever released is incredible.

Quotation: One critic said that he found 'the film ... incredible.'

Original text: Smith reported that a friend of his thought that all car drivers should be made to pay £50 a year to cyclists.

Quotation: Smith thinks that 'all car drivers should be made to pay £50 a year to cyclists.'

Quoted material should not be altered, even if it contains spelling or other errors. Errors in the quoted material can be indicated by inserting the word [sic] italicised and in square brackets after the error. You should, however, not use a quotation to highlight the grammatical or other shortcomings of the writer. If possible, arrange your own sentence so that the errors in the quoted material are not repeated.