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Academic Integrity

Guide to having academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism


Quoting is when you decide to use the exact words of the original source.  Part of the key to successful quoting is the word "decide": you should choose to quote in certain situations, including when the original words/phrasing is unique or so well-written that you could not re-state it without sounding awkward or changing the meaning.  

A good example of unique wording that you would quote is the memorable opening to the movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

In most cases, try to limit your quotes to a sentence or less, unless you have a specific reason for a longer quotation.  A common usage of a longer quotation is to include a source's opinion or explanation in their own words.  The below example is from Walden University's Writing Center:

Computer users often disagree about which operating system is best: Mac or PC. Oyler (2010) stated that one operating system is not better than the other, but that one may be better suited for different purposes than the other. She explained by saying that

Macs are often the best option for users who wish to work with video or picture manipulation. Macs are also very user friendly, which may benefit consumers who are new to computers. PCs, however, run Microsoft Office Suite the best. Therefore, students might find that a PC is their best option because it can run Microsoft Word and PowerPoint the smoothest. (Oyler, 2010, p. 48)

Conversely, Jones (2010) disagreed with the statement that Macs work with graphics such as video and pictures better than PCs, stating that PCs can be modified to work as well as Macs.


As mentioned above, quotations do not need to be full sentences.  Sometimes only a few words or phrases, combined with your own words, will convey not only the source's ideas but your understanding of them.  In the example below, the expert (Carmona) gave a more specific label to the 'situation,' and adding the use of the word "astounding" gives the reader a better sense of Carmona's level of concern.

Example: Carmona (2004) advised the subcommittee that the situation constitutes an "epidemic" and that the skyrocketing statistics are "astounding" (p. 37)

Citation rules for Quoting:

  • All of the source's original words MUST be enclosed in quotation marks
    • Unless you are quoting 40 or more words--then you have what is called a "block" quote.  You do not use quotation marks but indent the quoted text 1/2 inch from the left as shown in the example from Oyler above (also see "Long quotations" at Purdue OWL)
  • You must be sure the wording is exactly the same as the original source
  • An in-text citation is required, including the page number(s)