Direct Quotations & Stand-Alone Quotations

25 Feb

A direct quotation is a “report of the exact words used in a discourse” or something someone said or wrote, exactly as it originally appeared. Typically, we use direct quotations in our writing to emphasize a point or provide an example, establish credibility, or illustrate a concept. When we come across something in a text that we want to use in our writing, we include it by formatting it with double quotation marks around it to indicate it is a direct quotation.

For example, let’s say we are writing a paper for one of our classes and we are considering this article as a possible source. In the article, we see some interesting information that we would like to use in our paper:

Researchers found that women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations who protectively had their ovaries removed reduced their risk of ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer by 80%, and their overall risk of death by 77%.

Let’s say that we really like the wording of our sentence, and we want to include it in our paper as a direct quotation. We know that we would need to include a parenthetical citation (in either APA Style or MLA Style, depending on our instructor’s specifications), and we know that we need to put double quotation marks around the quotation to indicate that it is a direct quotation:

“Researchers found that women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations who protectively had their ovaries removed reduced their risk of ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer by 80%, and their overall risk of death by 77%” (Falco & Ford, 2014, p. 12).

While our quotation is a complete sentence and is therefore grammatically correct, we still have one final thing to consider. As it appears above, our quotation has become a stand-alone quotation. It is grammatically correct, it is formatted appropriately, and it is properly cited, but it needs a little bit more.

Stand-alone quotations happen when we include a direct quotation without using some of our own writing to connect that quotation to the rest of the paragraph. Although it is grammatically correct, appropriately formatted, and properly cited, we need to use some of our own writing at the beginning or the end of the sentence to tie the quotation into our writing and to eliminate the stand-alone quotation. For example:

According to the article Study: Women with BRCA1 mutations should remove ovaries by 35, “Researchers found that women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations who protectively had their ovaries removed reduced their risk of ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer by 80%, and their overall risk of death by 77%” (Falco & Ford, 2014, p. 12).

How we tie-in the direct quotation is up to us as writers. In the above example, we used it as a place to identify the title of the article – which is a great strategy if we are mentioning the source for the first time. In other situations, we may tie-in the quotation by analyzing it or working it into the natural flow of our sentence. The options are endless – but we need that tie-in to avoid leaving the quotation standing alone!

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4 Responses to “Direct Quotations & Stand-Alone Quotations”

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  1. Word Crimes! | The Christ College Writing Center - August 27, 2014

    […] Direct Quotations & Stand-alone Quotations  […]

  2. National Punctuation Day | The Christ College Writing Center - September 24, 2015

    […] used to indicate the beginning and end of a quotation. Please click the link to learn more about Direct Quotations and Stand-alone Quotations. Remember to include a quotation mark at the beginning of the quotation (this is an opening […]

  3. Grammar Tips: Winter Review! | The Christ College Writing Center - December 9, 2015

    […] Direct & Stand-alone Quotations […]

  4. Resources for Getting Started | The Christ College Writing Center - March 1, 2016

    […] Direct Quotations and Stand Alone Quotations […]

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