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How to Quote a Book

Three Methods: Incorporating Quotations into Your Text Quoting Books in MLA Format Quoting Books in APA Format Community Q&A

When you’re writing an essay, using a quote can help validate your argument and make your writing stronger. Whether your paper is required to be in MLA or APA format, it’s easy to quote and cite a book the right way.

Steps

1

Incorporating Quotations into Your Text

  1. Image titled Quote a Book Step 1

    1
    Be clear why you are using a quotation. A quotation should provide a new point of view, or bolster a point you are trying to make. Elaborate on the quoted text, provide context, and explain why it supports your argument. [1]

    • Quotations are often used to support ideas that might be disputed or are not common knowledge. An idea like, “Most people never live to see 100,” doesn’t need to be backed up by a quotation, but something like, “Many writers have described the power of fiction,” should probably be supported with quotations.
    • One can sometimes emphasize a particular point by backing it up with a quotation from a particularly impressive author.
    • Quotations can also add stylistic flare to your prose. For example, a sentence like, “When Shakespeare “shuffled off this mortal coil,” he likely had no idea the impact his work would make on Western culture” is a bit more interesting than if the same sentence started simply, “When Shakespeare died…”
  2. Image titled Quote a Book Step 2

    2
    Work them into your text so they read like normal sentences. To do this, you will usually use a signal phrase like, “According to the author,” or something to that effect. Thus, “Nick Caraway describes humans as, “boats against the current,”” works, while “Nick Caraway has a sad view of people, “boats against the current,”” does not. [2]

    • If you are having trouble deciding if you’ve incorporated a quotation correctly, try reading it aloud to yourself. It can be easier to tell if a sentence works when you speak it.
    • Some examples of verbs used in signal phrases are claims, adds, writes, argues, asserts, confirms, points out, admits, concludes, observes, and implies. [3]
  3. Image titled Quote a Book Step 3

    3
    Use brackets and ellipses to add or subtract words. Sometimes a quotation will support your argument perfectly, but be impossible to work into your text without making changes. In such cases, you will need to use brackets or ellipses. [4]

    • Insert new words into quotations by putting them inside brackets.
    • Remove existing words by replacing them with an ellipsis.
    • Note that this is only appropriate if you maintain the basic meaning of the quotation. It should not be used to twist an author’s words into something other than what she intended.
    • As an example, one could change the Nabokov quotation, “…art–not an “escape” (which is only a cleaner cell on a quieter floor), but relief from the itch of being,” into the sentence, “…art [is] not an “escape”…but relief from the itch of being.”

2

Quoting Books in MLA Format

  1. Image titled Quote a Book Step 4

    1
    Insert short quotations into the body of the paragraph. A quotation shorter than four lines of prose or three lines of verse does not need to be its own freestanding block of text. It can simply be incorporated into the paragraph in which you are using it. It should begin and end with double quotation marks. [5]
  2. Image titled Quote a Book Step 5

    2
    Make long quotations into freestanding blocks of text. When quoting an excerpt longer than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, start by writing a signal phrase introducing the quotation, as you would with a shorter one. Begin the quotation on a new line below this. [6]

    • Indent the whole quotation one inch from the left.
    • Double-space it (in an MLA style research paper, everything should be double spaced).
    • Do not use quotation marks.
  3. Image titled Quote a Book Step 6

    3
    Include an in-text citation after the quotation. The author’s last name and the page on which the quotation can be found should be included in parenthesis at the end of the quotation, before the next punctuation mark. This is called a parenthetical citation, and will help your reader locate the full citation in your bibliography or works cited page. [7]

    • For example: “Maybe the best definition of art is simply “beauty plus pity” (Nabokov 251).”
    • If you reference the author’s name before the quotation, you don’t need to repeat it in the parenthesis following the quote. For example: “Nabokov defined art as “beauty plus pity” (251).”
  4. Image titled Quote a Book Step 7

    4
    Make a Works Cited page. This should begin on a separate page at the end of your research paper or essay. Label it “Works Cited,” in centered, non-italic text (without the quotation marks) at the top of the page. [8]

    • Double-space the page, but do not skip spaces between citations.
    • Do not indent the first line of each citation, but indent all subsequent lines by 0.5 inches from the left.
  5. Image titled Quote a Book Step 8

    5
    Put the full citation in your Works Cited page. Order your citations alphabetically by the authors’ last names. The basic format of an MLA style book citation is: Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication. [9]

    • There are many variations on this basic format based on factors like how many authors the book has, and whether it is something like anthology, an ebook, or a self-published book. If the book you are quoting does not fit neatly into this formula, consult a resource like The Purdue Online Writing Lab. [10]

3

Quoting Books in APA Format

  1. Image titled Quote a Book Step 9

    1
    Insert short quotations into the body of the paragraph. A quotation shorter than forty words does not need to be its own freestanding block of text. It can simply be incorporated into the paragraph in which you are using it. It should begin and end with double quotation marks. [11]
  2. Image titled Quote a Book Step 10

    2
    Make long quotations into freestanding blocks of text. When quoting an excerpt longer than forty words, start by writing a signal phrase introducing the quotation, as you would with a shorter one. Begin the quotation on a new line below this. [12]

    • Indent the whole quotation 1/2 inch from the left.
    • Double-space it (in an APA style paper, everything should be double spaced).
    • Do not use quotation marks.
  3. Image titled Quote a Book Step 11

    3
    Use a parenthetical citation. You need to cite the author, year of publication, and page number (preceded by “p.”) The best way to do this is to use a signal phrase with the author’s name in it, followed by the date of publication and the page number in parenthesis. For example: “Smith (2011) insists that, “Quoting books is not difficult, but it can take time to get the hang of” (p. 15).” [13]

    • If the author’s name is not included in the signal phrase, include the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number (all separated by commas) in the parenthetical citation following the quotation. For example: “He insists that “Quoting books is not difficult, but it can take time to get the hang of” (Smith, 2011, p. 15).”
  4. Image titled Quote a Book Step 12

    4
    Make a reference list. This should begin on a separate page at the end of your research paper or essay. Label it “References,” in centered text (it should not be bold, italicized, underlined, or in quotation marks) at the top of the page. [14]

    • Double-space the page, like the rest of the paper, but do not skip spaces between citations.
    • Do not indent the first line of each citation, but indent all subsequent lines by 0.5 inches from the left.
  5. Image titled Quote a Book Step 13

    5
    Put the full citation in your reference list. Order your citations alphabetically by the authors’ last names. The basic format of an APA style book citation is: Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work. Location: Publisher. [15]

    • There are many variations on this basic format based on factors like how many authors the book has, and whether it is something like anthology, an ebook, or a self-published book. If the book you are quoting does not fit neatly into this formula, consult a resource like The Purdue Online Writing Lab. [16]

Community Q&A

Search

Add New Question

  • Question
    Are book titles supposed to be underlined?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer

    No because book titles are italicized, not underlined.
    Thanks!

    Yes
    No
    Not Helpful 0
    Helpful 2

  • Question
    If you leave out portions of a sentence and couple it to another sentence as an abstract, how do you show the missing portion?
    Donagan
    Top Answerer

    Substitute an ellipsis for the missing words.
    Thanks!

    Yes
    No
    Not Helpful 2
    Helpful 5

  • Question
    Where do I put a period in quotes ending with ellipses?
    Donagan
    Top Answerer

    The ellipsis takes the place of the final period.
    Thanks!

    Yes
    No
    Not Helpful 1
    Helpful 3

  • Question
    Is the book title italized in a paper?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer

    Yes. Book titles are italicized in a research paper, thesis, etc. following APA, MLA and Chicago formats.

    Thanks!

    Yes
    No
    Not Helpful 2
    Helpful 2

  • Question
    If I used the book as a reference but I am not quoting directly from it, how do I list the reference in the paragraph?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer

    An in-text citation is written with the author’s last name and date of publication in parentheses, ex. (Joyce, 2008) if there is no quote.
    Thanks!

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    Not Helpful 3
    Helpful 1

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    Quick Summary

    If you want to use a quotation from a book when you’re writing an essay, try to work the quotation into the text as naturally as possible so it reads like a normal sentence. Connect the quote to the point you’re making by saying something like “Thoreau summed this up by saying…” or “Mark Twain once argued…” To make the quote as concise and relevant as possible, replace unnecessary passages with ellipses or use brackets to add or change words if necessary.

    Did this summary help you?

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    Sources and Citations

    1. http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/quotations
    2. http://department.monm.edu/english/mew/signal_phrases.htm
    3. http://department.monm.edu/english/mew/signal_phrases.htm
    4. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/03
    5. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/03
    6. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/03
    7. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02
    8. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/05
    9. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/06
    10. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/06
    11. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/02
    12. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/02
    13. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/02
    14. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/05
    15. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/08
    16. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/08

    Show more… (13)

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    If you need help writing an essay on a book, you have come to the right place. Known also as literary essays, this type of essay can be equated more or less to a modern day book report. Once you get your thoughts organized it can be a really easy task.

    Getting Started

    Here are the basic steps:

    1. Select a book – This may already be done for you, if you are currently enrolled in either an English or literature class.

    2. Determine the goal for the length – Keep in mind that an essay on a book would already have a predisposed assigned number of words. Let’s set the word count (for the sake of illustration) at 500 words. A 500-word essay is pretty comprehensive and would allow you enough words to describe the plot of the story while having time to disseminate what themes are present and what morals are being conveyed.

    3. Decide on a format and style – You will probably be told to use either MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (Amercian Psychological Association) standard writing style.

    So, if you were assigned a 500-word essay, using MLA format , then you would need to use a Times New Roman, 12-point font, with a one-inch (all around) page margin and double space throughout the essay.

    4. Read the assigned book. Let’s say (once again for the sake of illustration) that you were assigned to read a book entitled “The Count of Monte Cristo.” You would need to be familiar with the themes that are within the story behind “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

    Sample Help Writing an Essay on a Book

    So you have your book, the formatting is complete and you know the word count for the essay. Half the battle is won regarding writing this essay. Basically, you would begin your essay introducing the book.

    For example, you might begin your essay like so:

    “The Count of Monte Cristo” is a action-adventure book written by the popular French author, Alexandre Dumas. 

    So your first sentence is pretty straightforward and tells what book you read and who the author is. The second, third, and fourth sentences give a bit of background on the storyline and then the fifth sentence concludes the first paragraph yet provides a smooth transition into the second paragraph. The last sentence may go something like this, 

    While the plight of revenge of Edmond Dantes was engaging, the idea of forgiveness was completely remiss throughout the text. 

    You may consider opening the second paragraph with a quote from the book or something that really stood out thematically to you as a reader. Here is another example of a leading sentence that you would start out your second paragraph with. 

    “Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”

    The good thing about writing an essay on the book is that you can present both sides of any argument that may pervade the storyline of the book. The sky is literally the limit on what information you can present.

    Possibly one of the most memorable quotes in the entire book, this quote gives a solid basis to move forward to the next thought. Spend the next sentences exploring the quote that set the tone for the second paragraph. Then, spend the next few paragraphs engaging your reader with your view on the book and what you have learned.

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    Help Writing an Essay on a Book

    If you need help writing an essay on a book, you have come to the right place. Known also as literary essays, this type of essay can be equated more or less to a modern day book report. Once you get your thoughts organized it can be a really easy task.








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