APU Careers & Learning

Note-Taking Habit #2: Quoting

quotation-marks-classwork7Quotations can be key to many papers and books. Many historians lead their chapters with a quote, which obviously inspired the contents within. Forming good habits around quoting in your notes will ensure that you avoid sloppiness or worse, plagiarism.[1]

When you quote, make sure you do the following:

  • Always use quotation marks.
  • Always cite your source as completely as possible. If you do not have time to write out a full reference, then an abbreviated reference can suffice (e.g., Keegan 1994, 84; or Keegan, A History of Warfare, 1994, 84).
  • Never abbreviate a quote. This almost will always burn you, as you will fail to reconstruct the exact quote perfectly.
  • Create a photocopy of the quoted page or save a PDF whenever possible. Although you may feel you are a good transcriber, some of the best historians have messed up a word or two, which diminishes credibility.

Thus, when taking notes and quoting something, the following format is ideal:

John Keegan, A History of Warfare (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), 84.

“What science cannot predict is when any individual will display violence. What, finally, science does not explain is why groups of individuals combine to fight others.”

With the reference at the top of the page, you can write down more quotes and then use short citations (e.g., Keegan 1994, 84).


[1] Many of these ideas come from experience, but also inspired from Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers, 7th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2007), 41.

By Scott Manning
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor

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