The group assignment on introducing and explaining quotations that you completed last week demonstrated that you have a number of questions about the stylistic conventions of presenting quotations in academic writing. This blog post addresses several of those questions.
Does a Comma Follow the Signal Phrase?
Usually a comma follows the signal phrase. For example:
- According to author Jonathan Kay, “Scrabble treats language the way computers do—as arbitrarily ordered codes stored in a memory chip.”
However, a comma does not follow the signal phrase if the quotation is an extension of that phrase. For example:
- Author Jonathan Kay observes that “Scrabble treats language the way computers do—as arbitrarily ordered codes stored in a memory chip.”
Is the First Word of the Quotation Capitalized?
If the quotation is a complete sentence, the first word is capitalized. For example:
- Maryanne Wolf states, “The possibility that critical analysis, empathy and other deep reading processes could become the unintended ‘collateral damage’ of our digital culture is not a simple binary issue about print vs. digital reading.”
If the quotation is not a complete sentence, the first word is not capitalized. For example:
- Maryanne Wolf claims “that critical analysis, empathy and other deep reading processes could become the unintended ‘collateral damage’ of our digital culture,” and that risk “is not a simple binary issue about print vs. digital reading.”
What if I Need to Change the Case of a Letter?
If you need to change the case of a letter to comply with style rules, bracket the letter to denote the change. For example:
- Jonathan Kay recalls, “[A]n insider once told me an unsettling story of a contestant who tried to score an illegal word by taking advantage of his disabled opponent’s difficulty in accessing the computer used to determine which words are admissible.”
How Do I Cite Someone Whose Words are Quoted or Paraphrased in a Source?
The abbreviations qtd. (for quoted) and ctd. (for paraphrased) are used to indicate that the words are not the words of the author of the source but rather the words of someone he/she quotes or paraphrases. For example:
- As the scholar Tami Katzir observes, “[T]he negative effects of screen reading can appear as early as fourth and fifth grade–with implications not only for comprehension, but also on the growth of empathy” (ctd. in Wolf).
Do I Need to Include an Ellipsis if I omit the Beginning or the End of a Quotation?
Because it’s understood that the words you are quoting are usually preceded and followed by other words, an ellipsis does not appear before or after a quotation. An ellipsis is only necessary if you omit a word or words within the passage you are quoting.
Wordplay Day! To up your game and increase your word power, review the tips and tools on the Scrabble website as well as my blog posts devoted to the game.