Writing does not come naturally to everyone. Despite going about our day-to-day lives constantly communicating with others, suddenly having to put it all down on paper raises a huge road block for some people. In addition to combining all our thoughts into a cohesive and organized message, there are so many extra "rules" that need to be followed. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, citations... just to name a few. Adding quotes to the mix seems to open up a whole new can of rules.
Don't forget to check your paper for plagiarism!
Do you know when you should quote? Are you aware of how many quotes are acceptable in a paper? How long should each quote be? Some of the answers might vary slightly, depending on who you submit your writing to and what type of writing it is. However, there are general guidelines you should use as a reference. Along with these, there are sites that help unsure writers. These sites allow you to practice various skills and review tips.
The main time to quote would be if you are using someone else's words. Hopefully, that's a given. Quotes should be inserted to add "something" to an essay or report. If a quote does not bring anything new to the writing, then don't use it. Often, people feel obligated to insert quotes in essays and end up sticking them in just to have them. Don't waste your time or the reader's time. Only include them if they are of value.
Again, this could vary somewhat, but the standard rule is to make sure at least 80% of the paper is yours. Meaning if you were to do a total word count for your paper and then a word count of just the quoted material, the quoted total would not be more than 20% of the word count for the entire paper. Wrote 1,000 words? No more than 200 of those words should be in quotes.
There isn't anything written in stone regarding how long an individual quote can be. However, typically assume citing long quotes is worse than using short ones instead. This is because the majority of any essay or paper should be from your mind and thoughts. Even if your total word count for quotes is under 20% of the overall count, an individual quote should not be lengthy.
It's best to assume that, under the majority of circumstances, a quote should not include more than one sentence from its source. More than that turn s into a whole paragraph or block of someone else's writing. It is also assumed that information from sources will be paraphrased, not simply quoted. Paraphrasing is a more difficult skill, since you need to absorb the information, truly understand, then synthesize it in your own words.
This also connects to "When To Quote," from above. Often, there is a phrase or a few key words that are important or intriguing from a source. If you are paraphrasing well, then you only need to quote those key words that are obviously phrased by a different author. Using an entire sentence or more can make the quote seem less pertinent and necessary.
A few sites offer writing support if you try searching the internet. But some of those sites require payment for a professional's opinion or critique of your work. Other sites don't follow through on their promise to really help you. A site to support your writing development should provide tips and support, as well as allow you to practice your writing in one way or another.
That being said, no perfect site really exists. However, a combination of two particular sites would provide the unsure writer with a variety of help. English Practice is actually a site for those learning English, but don't knock it 'til you try it! It's the perfect way to get a quick review on basics and higher level work, while keeping everything clear and concise. The language is purposely simplified, which is only an asset to those needing some extra support.
After you review various components of writing, you can practice constructing an essay on Essay Punch. The site provides guided questions that walk you step-by-step through writing an essay. Be warned: this should be for essay practice and not creating an actual essay to submit for a grade or for work. The essay will be in a cookie cutter format, without much originality or uniqueness. It's simply to practice the steps of writing a thesis, supporting details, examples, and a conclusion.
Though writing may not be a natural comfort for many people, there are ways around it when you are required to produce something. Follow the various guidelines, so that your own writing isn't overshadowed by someone else's words.
Then practice, practice, practice!
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