How To Quote Someone/Something In An Essay

How to Quote Someone in an Essay

Quoting someone in an essay means using other writers’ information either directly or paraphrased to support your argument.  Writers are normally advised to acknowledge the sources of such information and should credit the authors by quoting them.  One of the basic rules in quoting is that each line should be quoted. However, you should have at least some two lines to elaborate it. Quoting processes include contextualization of the quote. You are advised to use methods such as Modern Language Association (MLA) which requires that you indicate the author’s last name and page. Secondly, you can use the American Psychological Association (APA) that requires you to indicate author and date. Others include Harvard, Chicago, and Turabian formats. Please remember that too many quotations may make your piece of work unclear and interrupt the flow of concept and argument.

How to Cite in MLA Style

When you have decided to include a brief explanation of the source you have referred to, ensure that you either paraphrase or use a direct quote.

MLA Citation Sample

Use of quotation: James et al. note that social customs prevalent in the southern United States is highest among the African-American race (165).


Social customs prevalent in the southern United States is highest among the African-American race (James et al. 165). Or use a direct quote as follows;

James et al. say, “Social customs prevalent in the southern United States is highest among the African-American race” (165).

Other examples include:

Beyoncé. “Pray You Catch Me.” Lemonade, Parkwood Entertainment, 2016,

Johnson, Claudia L. ” Let Me Make the Novels of a Country”: Barbauld’s” The British Novelists”(1810/1820).” Novel: A Forum on Fiction. Vol. 34. No. 2. Duke University Press, 2001.

How to cite in APA

Another method of citation is the American Psychological Association (APA). The style is mostly used in the citation of academic materials gathered from the social sciences. This includes in-text citations, endnotes and reference pages among others.  Just like the MLA style of citation, the APA also has general guidelines which include an in-text citation, authors, titles, volumes and issue number, page number, and dated sources as well as citing a source within a source.

In-text citation

When you intend to use short quotes in your essay using the APA style, and then you will have to indicate the author, year of publication and the page number preceded by “p.” The quote is usually introduced by a phrase with the author’s last name followed by the date of publication within the brackets.

For example:

Jones (1998) said, “Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time” (p. 199). Or

You can as well use the long quotes if they are 40 or more words in a free and standing block with no quotation marks. The quote should begin on a new line with ½ inch indention at the left margin. Ensure that you double space the quote with the page number coming after the period.

Jones (1998) says the following in his study:

Students were unable to use the APA citation style, with the majority missing the point on citing the title, page numbers, volumes and reference list. This issue can be linked to the failure of such students to buy the citation manual as well as failure to consult their tutors for assistance (p.99).

Or, You can as well paraphrase an idea of another author then cite the source. For example:

According to a research conducted by Jones (1998), APA style of reference is a complex format of citation to first-time students.

Citation of one, two or many others

When a work is done by two authors, name both authors in parentheses at any moment you provide the citation. Ensure that you use “and” between the authors’ names in within the text. However, it is recommended that you use the ampersand in the brackets.

For example:

a review was done by Bennie and Pete (2011) ascertain the argument that… (Bennie & Pete, 2011).

The same applies to organizations that are used as authors. In addition when there are three to five authors. Then mention all the authors in the parentheses or signal phrase at the first citation of the source not forgetting to use the word “and” within the test and ampersand in the bracket.

For example:

(Cornell, Sunday, Jude, Sun, & Harlow, 2000).

Consequently, the next citation of the same authors will require that you use only the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” in either signal phrase or brackets, for instance, (Cornell et al., 2000). The same applies to the citation of work with more than five authors only that at this time, you do not list all their last names at the first citation.

Unknown authors

Whenever you want to cite a work with no author, just cite the title in the parentheses or signal phrase. However, ensure that the title of books and reports are italicized while titles of the articles, web pages, and chapters are in quotation marks.

For instance:

(“Use of MLA,” 2017).

Authors sharing the Same Last Name

Always ensure that you use the first initials of the authors’ last names.

For example:

(F. Kennedy, 2011; L. Kennedy, 2005).

In some cases, you might find that same author has published two or more work in the same year. In such a case, use letters with lower cases (a, b, c) with the year when ordering the entries in the reference list. The lower cases are also used in the in-text citation. According to Barman (2011a), polygamy is…

Sources with no pages

Usually, most of the electronic sources lack pages therefore when including information from such items, ensure that you include the number of the paragraph where the information is found especially if the document has numbered paragraphs:

(Clement, 2012, para. 2).

However, in cases whereby such documents are not numbered but the titles are given then use the title and the location of the point.

 According to Salvador (2012)… (Intimacy at Workplace, para. 4).

APA citation Style Sample

Vaiman, V., Scullion, H., & Collings, D. (2012). Talent management decision making. Management Decision, 50(5), 925-941.

Francis, B., Robson, J., & Read, B. (2001). An analysis of undergraduate writing styles in the context of gender and achievement. Studies in Higher Education, 26(3), 313-326.

How to Cite in HARVARD Style

Harvard style is the author-date or the parenthetical style of referencing that allows your reader to identify the sources used and the location of such sources. The style normally requires that you cite the author’s last name, year of publication, title, and the publishing information. When using the style, ensure that you italicize the titles of the book, journals or magazines. In addition, Harvard requires that you all the names of 2 to 3 authors’ last names are mentioned. However, for more than 3 authors, you can either choose to list all of them or list only the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” ensure that you abbreviate the page range as pp. Example: pp. 60-80  or 97, 99-113 as well as p for a single page. Example: p.102.

Harvard Style Citation Sample


Zabrodska, K., & Kveton, P. 2013. Prevalence and Forms of Workplace Bullying Among University Employees. Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal. 25 (2), pp. 89-108. Retrieved on 9 March 2017 from Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost [accessed 9 March 2017].


Tallett, F. and Trim, D.J. eds., 2010. European Warfare, 1350–1750. Cambridge University Press.

How to make a Book Citation

Book with one author

MLA Style

Hendry, Chris. Human resource management. Routledge, 2012.

APA Style

Hendry, C. (2012). Human resource management. Routledge.

Harvard Style

Hendry, C., 2012. Human resource management. Routledge.

Book with two authors

MLA Style

Boni, William C., and Gerald L. Kovacich. I-way Robbery: Crime on the Internet. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999.

APA Style

Boni, W. C., & Kovacich, G. L. (1999). I-way Robbery: Crime on the Internet. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Harvard Style

Boni, W.C., and Kovacich, G.L., 1999. I-way Robbery: Crime on the Internet. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Book with more than two authors

MLA Style

Vaiman, Vlad, Hugh Scullion, and David Collings. “Talent management decision making.” Management Decision 50.5 (2012): 925-941.

APA Style

Vaiman, V., Scullion, H., & Collings, D. (2012). Talent management decision making. Management Decision, 50(5), 925-941.

Harvard Style

Vaiman, V., Scullion, H. and Collings, D., 2012. Talent management decision making. Management Decision, 50(5), pp.925-941.

How to make a Website Citation

When making a citation of a website, ensure that you include editor, author, and compiler. Ensure that the name of the site is italicized with capitals at the first letter of the words of the name of the site. Include version number, the name of the sponsor and publisher, date of its creation. In addition, include the URL, DOL or the permalink as well as date of access.


Adams, Clifton R. “People relax beside a swimming pool at a country estate near Phoenix, Arizona, 1928.” Found, National Geographic Creative, 9 March 2017,

Freitas, N. (2015, January 6). People around the world are voluntarily submitting to China’s Great Firewall. Why? Retrieved on 9 March 2017 from

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