Anglistisches Seminar Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Siegel der Universität Heidelberg

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Quoting and citing sources

As you do your research, it is crucial to keep track of the sources you use and the information you glean from them.  When taking notes, be sure to indicate whether each passage is a direct quote, a paraphrase, a summary in your own words or your own, original idea.  Also note down the page number as well as full bibliographic information for each source. Otherwise you may end up wasting time tracking down sources or even plagiarizing inadvertently when you write your paper.

In order to prove or demonstrate your argument with evidence, information, and examples, you will often need to cite material directly from your primary or secondary sources. This is done by extracting whatever you would like to cite—word-for-word and without any changes in format, punctuation, or emphasis—and placing it between double quotation marks “like this.” Generally, you should try to use short quotations and integrate them into the flow of your own words, “like this,” rather than set them off from your words using a colon: “not like this.” Similarly, if you want to quote a sentence, try to introduce and integrate it, e.g., Jones argues that “this is a good way to integrate quotations.”

Quotations longer than 4 lines in length should be set off from the body of your paper as a block quotation (Blockzitat). Such citations do not require quotation marks.

If you want to add material to, or omit material from a citation, in order to clarify and improve the overall flow of the sentence, you should always use square brackets, as follows:

  • Adding/changing a letter: “[t]his was essential”; “[H]ere it is interesting to note”

  • Adding/changing words: “This is what [Jones] claims”; “He decide[s] in favor of the motion”

  • Omitting material: “This is what they stated […] in the end” (Since you select where quotations begin and end, you never need to elide […] at the beginning or end of a quotation)

  • Indicating that you are aware of a spelling or other gross error in the text you are citing: “Keats admired Shakespair [sic] very much”

  • Indicating whether emphasis is yours or used by the author cited: “This is the most crucial concept [my emphasis]”; “Another way to proceed would be to reverse the traditional approach [emphasis in original]”

  • Indicating/emphasizing an original word when using a translation: “The academic elite valued intellectual cultivation [Bildung] above intelligence."

When you have not used any direct quotations but you want to cite a source more generally—without giving page numbers or giving a range of page numbers—you can use the following abbreviations:

  • To suggest that the reader “see” or “compare” another source: in English: (cf. Butler 1994); in German: (vgl. Butler 1994).  Use this format if you need to refer to other authors or studies that you do not address directly in the paper at hand.  For example, in a section justifying your selection of Smith's model, you might write a sentence like this: "Smith's model is still the most commonly used even though a few scholars have pointed out its limitations (cf. Drake 2009, Jones 2011).

  • To indicate a range of “following” pages: (Butler 24ff).  This citation suggests that Butler begins a relevant discussion on page 24.

For further details about the formatting of quotations see "Formatting & Formal Elements" (above).

Sometimes, you will only want to paraphrase or summarize information from your primary and secondary sources. In such cases, you do not need to use quotation marks (unless you borrow language directly from your sources), but you still need to indicate that you are relying on, paraphrasing, or summarizing the words of others by including a citation in your text that gives the page number(s) of the original text:


In a panopticon, isolating people physically, but in a way that they can be constantly watched and their actions recorded, facilitates the exertion of power over them (Foucault 3).



Letzte Änderung: Föhr am 08.August 2015
Verantwortlich: Lusin, Föhr