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How to Writing Essay:The Conventions of Quotation

The conventions of quotation

1. There are in general two instances when you may wish to use quotations from other writers' work:

Evidence - when quoting from other sources to support your own argument(s)

Reference - when a text is itself the subject of your essay and you need to refer

to it in your discussion.

2. The conventions of accurate quotation and referencing are relatively simple. They are based on the need for accuracy, consistency, and clarity. There are a number of slightly systems of notation. The three most common are:

the combination of a numbered quotation, plus an endnote giving the source

the short title system (which is a slight variation)

the Harvard system (US origin, but used elsewhere)

3. The whole purpose of these systems is that tutors marking your work should be able, if they wish, to check the accuracy of the quotations you use.

4. Evidence. In a discussion of the development of Marx's philosophy for example,

you might argue that his work was a natural development of his predecessors,

supporting your assertion by quoting David McLellan. He points out that

Marx began by paying tribute to the achievements of

Feuerbach, particularly in having shown that Hegel's

philosophy was no more than a rationalised theology. (1)

5. A bracketed number is added immediately after the quotation, and the source of your quotation is given as an endnote on a separate sheet at the end of your essay. (You might wish to place the information as a footnote at the bottom of the page, though this system can become rather complicated.)

NOTES

1. David McLellan, The Thought of Karl Marx, London: Macmillan, 1971, p.26.

Writing Essays © Clifton Press 1998 page 1

6. Note that this information is always given in the following order (and you should indicate the titles of books by using italics).

Author - Title - Publisher - Publication date - Page number

7. The material you quote is placed between two single quotation marks if it is run in as part of your text:

this is what David McLellan calls a 'rationalised theology' (1) in his discussion of the relationship between Marx and Hegel

8. If the length of the quote amounts to more than three lines of your own text

however, it should be indented separately, and no quote marks are necessary:

Marx began by paying tribute to the achievements of

Feuerbach, particularly in having shown that Hegel's

philosophy was no more than a rationalised theology,

and having discovered the true materialist approach

by starting from the social relationship of man to man. (1)

9. Your own argument should normally be offered first, and you then reinforce it



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