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Cambridge LibGuides

Plagiarism: Quoting


If you copy or repeat a passage or use the exact wording from a source: book, speech or document this is quoting. You might need to quote text of a formal definition or standard to ensure the exact meaning is made clear to your reader. Perhaps there is an exact turn of phrase that is particularly significant and cannot be conveyed by paraphrasing. Use quotation sparingly. You could try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is the author eminent or an authority?
  • Are you directly quoting from literature?
  • Is the quotation particularly vivid or surprising?

If you are going to use a quotation then it is worth a comment. Tell the reader why you have chosen to use a particular quotation.

Advice for using short quotations (less than 2 lines)

  • Use quotation marks, single or double, but be consistent
  • Give the page number of the original in the text reference
  • Give a full reference in the references section at the end of your work
  • Run your quotation into the text, so it reads smoothly

Example: George Orwell’s advice on grammar for writers is still relevant today,

“Never use the passive, when you can use the active.” (Orwell, 1946, p.169)

Advice for using long quotations (2 lines or more)

  • Typically use this for extracts from a key text such as a policy document
  • Avoid extracts longer than 5 lines
  • Indent the passage – there is no need to use quotation marks
  • Give an in text citation
  • Give a full reference in the references section at the end of your work


The Prime Minister introduced the government’s strategy to tackle obesity in these terms:

Our ambition is to be the first major nation to reverse the rising tide of obesity […] by ensuring that everyone is able to achieve and maintain a health weight. Our initial focus will be on children: by 202 we aim to reduce the proportion of overweight and obese children to 2000 levels. (Department of Health, 2008, p.2)