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How to Type Your Essays

How to Type, Document and Punctuate Quotations

1. Short quotations (fewer than three lines of poetry or four lines of prose) are indicated by quotation marks, and are typed normally, as part of your double-spaced paragraph. Use slashes and capital letters to indicate the line divisions in poetry.

Ex. 1A:

In the Song of Songs, the speaker (or Solomon) uses imagery and metaphors from the sensual world to praise the attributes of his beloved: "How much more delightful your love than wine, / Your ointments more fragrant / Than any spice!" (Song of Songs 4.10).

Long quotations should be set off from the main body of your paragraph by indentation, but these should be double-spaced, just as the main body of your text is double-spaced. Indent any prose quotation long enough to occupy four or more typed lines (that's about 50 or fewer words), and with poetry indent any quotation of more than three lines.

Be sure to type a long quotation of poetry line-for-line, just as it appears in the original text. In other words, do not convert it to paragraph-form.

Ex. 1B:

In the Song of Songs, the speaker uses a series of similes to describe different physical features of his beloved:
Your eyes are like doves
Behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
Streaming down Mount Gilead.

The particular similes that the speaker uses here are significant because they give us clues to his overall purpose in this poem.
When you indent quotations, do not use quotation marks. The indentation itself is enough to distinguish your words from the words of the writer you are quoting. Also note that when you indent this way, the parenthetical citation goes between the two sentences and not inside the first sentence, as in example 1A (embedded quotation).

2. All quotations should be followed by a parenthetical citation that allows the reader to look up this passage quickly and with ease. When quoting from the Tanakh, give chapter and verse. When quoting from the Iliad or the Odyssey, give book and line numbers. When quoting from anything else in one of our books or handouts, give the page number in our course-text.


Odysseus has high hopes for Nausikaa; he wishes her "a home, a husband, and harmonious / converse with him" (Book VI, lines 193-4).
Note the end-punctuation in this example. The final period comes after the parenthesis, so as to include the parenthetical information in the sentence to which it belongs. Note also that the end-punctuation works differently with embedded quotations like this one and indented quotations like 1B above. With indented quotations, the end-punctuation comes before the parenthetical citation because the reader can tell from the indentation which sentence the parenthetical citation belongs to.

3. Unless you are dealing with parenthetical material like that in number 2 above, always put:

periods and commas INSIDE quotation marks and
colons and semicolons OUTSIDE quotation marks.

4. Place question marks and exclamation marks according to context: If your whole sentence is a question or exclamation, put the mark of punctuation outside of the quotation marks.


Why does Priam appeal to Achilles' compassion? Why does he "put [his] lips to the hands of the man who killed [his] son" (Iliad, Book XXIV, line 591)?
If the quotation itself (but not the sentence surrounding it) is a question or exclamation, put the punctuation mark inside the quotation marks. For an example of this, see 1A above. Also note above that you must indicate with square brackets any word you change from the original. And here's another example of a question-mark inside the quotation:


In Genesis, God makes personal contact with Adam, asking him, "Where are you?" (3.9).
Note the final period, which is necessary to include the parenthesis in the sentence to which it belongs.

5. In general, the rule for integrating quotations into your own sentences is that your words plus the words of the quotation must equal one complete, normally punctuated sentence. The punctuation mark that you use between a quotation and your own words--if any at all--depends on the context.