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College essay writing tutorial: direct quotations

Direct quotes add substance to any college essay. Using direct quotes add the voices of experts, which only strengthens the argument that your essay is attempting to make. Direct quotes can also add creativity and style to any essay.

What a Direct Quote Is

A direct quote is the exact words that someone else says. It is not dialogue, but a sentence, phrase, line, or more from another piece of writing like an essay, novel, speech, or news article. When you use a direct quote in your essays, you always put quotation marks at the beginning and ending of the quote. Direct quotes will improve your argument because they bring experts actual words into your essay.

Explain the Quote

When you add a direct quote to your essay, you will want to explain the quote so the reader understands how it fits. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” This quote from Benjamin Franklin shows his thoughts about what people should do with their lives. The surface meaning of the quote shows that he believes that people should write to have it read of complete actions that are worth sharing. On a deeper meaning, Franklin shows us that we should live our lives to the fullest. You should not include direct quotes without any explanation or your readers will wonder what those words are doing in your essay.

Provide the Attribution in the Correct Style

Each time you include a direct quote, you will need to provide the attribution. This will depend on the type of documentation style that your professor assigns. In some cases, you might not have to include the name of the person who wrote those words. If you explain the quote, you can use the original writer’s name, especially if it is a recognizable name.

Practice Makes You Better

Every writer needs to practice writing. The best way to perfect using direct quotes in writing is actually do it. You will learn to include them without breaking the flow of your essay. You will also learn how to punctuate them. In the Maya Angelou quote, the full quote is surrounded by quotation marks, but the words “Maya Angelou is a natural writer” is surrounded by single quotes, because she is sharing someone else’s words in her writing.