Embedding Quotations

This resource was prepared by the Business Communications Lab at the Sam M. Walton College of Business
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Quotations cannot stand alone as their own sentences. Therefore, quotations from your sources should fit smoothly into your own sentences, whether you are using written or oral communication. This is called embedding quotations.

How do I embed quotations into my writing?

There are three main strategies for embedding quotations. To add variety to your writing, consider using all three strategies.

Strategy 1
Use a signal phrase. A signal phrase includes the name of the author and either “according to” or a signal verb. A signal phrase ends with a comma, unless it comes at the end of the sentence. It typically comes before the quotation but can also come after or even in the middle of it. Examples:

According to Gee, “One thing we build with language is significance” (98).

Gee writes, “One thing we build with language is significance” (98).

“One thing we build with language is significance,” according to Gee (98).

“One thing we build with language,” Gee writes, “is significance” (98).


Note: To give variety to your writing, you should use several different signal verbs. Here is a list of some common signal verbs:

writes               emphasizes       suggests            contends          claims               agrees

argues              remarks            states               observes          continues         disagrees

Strategy 2
Use a complete sentence followed by a colon. Examples:

Fahnestock summarizes the most emphatic parts of a sentence: “If the opening and ending of a sentence are positions of relatively greater emphasis, elements in the middle of the sentence are deemphasized” (206).

We do not use just one dialect or register: “Often…speakers and writers shift into a different language variety” (Fahnestock 87).

Strategy 3
Make the quotation fit the grammar of the sentence. Words like “that” or “which” can be useful here. Examples:

Glaser reminds us that “your aim is to keep subjects, verbs, objects, and complements close together” (154).

Extra attention should be given to a sentence’s prosody, which is “a sound contour or a certain music of utterance” (Fahnestock 204).

Historian Earl Lane argues that “almost all Americans assumed the war would end quickly” (223).

Excessive quotation can suggest to readers that “you have not relied enough on your own thinking” (Lunsford 278).

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