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How to Start an Essay With a Quote

Last Updated: September 7, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 434,075 times.

Writing an effective introduction can be one of the most intimidating aspects of writing an essay. While there are many different approaches to writing introductory paragraphs, you may want to consider beginning your essay with a quotation. Finding the right quotation and using it well within the framework of your own words can ensure that your essay is off to a great start.

Finding the Perfect Quotation

Step 1 Avoid clichés and overused quotations.

  • Quote a person saying something that someone would not expect them to say.
  • Quote someone who is not universally famous.
  • Use a well-known quote but contradict it.

Step 3 Research the quote’s context.

  • Determine whether the audience will be familiar with the person who you are quoting. If it is someone obscure or you think they will not be familiar, consider providing additional (brief) details.
  • Do not use a quote that could be offensive to the audience unless you plan to contradict the quotation.
  • Strike a balance between assuming your audience knows everything and assuming they know nothing. You should be clear and informative but not insulting to the intelligence of your reader.

Step 5 Hook your reader.

Quoting Correctly

Step 1 Introduce the quotation appropriately.

  • Use the quote as a sentence predicate. The subject of the sentence will be the person who said the quote, and the verb will most likely be a synonym of “said.” For example, "Jane Smith said, 'blah blah blah.'"
  • Preview the content of the quote. Use your own (grammatically correct) sentence to preview or paraphrase what the quote will say, then insert a colon or comma, then the (grammatically correct) sentence-length quotation. For example: "Once Jane Smith said something completely awesome: 'the awesome thing she said.'"
  • Begin with the quote. If you begin with the quote, be sure to place a comma after the quote and then provide a verb and attribute the quotation to the source. For example: "'Blah blah blah,' said Jane Smith."

Step 2 Punctuate the quote appropriately.

  • The quote only needs to be capitalized if it begins the sentence or if the first word of the quote is a proper noun, like the name of a person or a place.
  • In American usage, end punctuation should be placed inside the quotation marks. For example, “this is the quote.”
  • Paraphrased material (someone else’s idea put into your own words) need not have quotation marks around it, but should be attributed to the original speaker.
  • If you introduce the quote with the speaker’s name and a verb, provide a comma before the beginning of the quotation. For example: "Jane Smith said, 'blah blah blah.'"

Step 3 Attribute the quote correctly.

  • Be particularly aware of quotations found on social media such as Pinterest, or on quote aggregators such as Brainyquote. These sources are notorious for mis-attributing and even making up famous quotes.

Step 4 Be true to the meaning and context of the quote.

  • You may also need to substitute a word (like a name rather than a pronoun) for clarity. If you need to substitute a word, place square brackets around the word to indicate that you made a change. For example: "Jane Smith said, 'blah [blady] blah.'"
  • Be sure to keep the original intent of the quotation when making changes. Changes should be made only to preserve clarity or to change length, not to manipulate the content of the quotation.

Incorporating the Quotation into Your Introduction

Step 1 Introduce the quotation.

  • In your introduction, you need to be clear about what you're going to talk about and how you're going to talk about it.

Step 3 Connect the quotation to your thesis.

  • Be sure that the quotation you use supports your thesis.
  • Be sure that using the quotation enhances, rather than distracting from, your argument. [12] X Research source

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Find a quote that is meaningful to you, not just one you found in a list on the internet. If the context and wording of the quote speak to you, you’re more likely to connect it to your essay effectively. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0

starting essay with quote

  • Some college professors never want to see a quotation begin an essay. Because the method is often overused, there is some bias against it. You can overcome this by doing it very well. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 1

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Write an Essay

  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/cliches/
  • ↑ https://www.esu.edu/writing-studio/guides/hook.cfm
  • ↑ https://www.ccis.edu/student-life/advising-tutoring/writing-math-tutoring/introduce-quotations
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/punctuation/quotation_marks/index.html
  • ↑ https://www.ursinus.edu/live/files/1160-integrating-quotespdf
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/quotations/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/quotations/
  • ↑ http://www.otago.ac.nz/classics/otago055219.pdf

About This Article

Jake Adams

To start an essay with a quote, introduce the quote by including the name of the author, such as, “John Keats once said…” When you include the quote, put quotation marks around it and make sure to put any punctuation inside the quotation marks. If the quote is long, you can use only part of it or remove sections as long as you insert an ellipses. Once you’ve introduced the quote and the author, provide some context for the quotation and how it ties into the thesis of your essay. For tips from our English reviewer on how to find the perfect quotation to start your essay, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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A Guide to Starting an Essay with a Quote: The Best Ways!

How to Start an Essay: Easy Tips to Help You Get Started

Key things you should know when picking the right quote for your essay, need professional help to understand how to begin an essay, how to begin an essay with a quote examples.

How to start an essay with a quote ? Have no idea how to start narrative essays for high school? Are you looking for good essay samples to follow when composing your paper? Don’t know how to start an analytical essay? Writing an effective opening paragraph that will inform, motivate your reader can be challenging for schoolchildren/college students. It is an important step in the writing process everyone should take.

What strategy can help avoid mistakes? Remember that the most important purpose of your academic piece of writing is to persuade readers of your point of view based on evidence from in-depth research. Consider including the following key points in order to succeed:

  • At the essay’s beginning, tell the public about the main idea your paper covers. Introduce your essay’s subject in a clear manner
  • Focus on your paper explaining your audience the central issue of your discussion. You can do it in various ways. Pose a question, immediately suggesting answers that will be argued; state a thesis; it is possible to combine these two approaches. It’s up to you to choose the most effective way

Can you start an essay with a quote? Definitely, yes! This is one of the killer ways to hook the reader. Bear in mind that when you are thinking how to begin an essay, you should take steps to make your readers fully understand why they might want to continue reading. This is the key

  • You have to catch your reader’s attention with a hook - encourage him/her to read the entire paper. Your goal is to persuade the audience that your text is worth reading
  • You should orient your readers. You need to provide necessary information and explanations to help your audience follow your arguments. You can do it by answering basic questions of who, where, what, how, when, and why or by providing a short overview of the sources you’ll be analyzing

Do you wonder how these strategies work? Order a model paper on your topic that will be written according to your specific requirements. It will serve you as an example to help you learn how to start essay with quote and other effective ways capable of attracting the reader. You can get the helping list of the best argumentative essay topics online easily.

College essays are long projects. Sometimes, many people find them overwhelming but if you break the writing process into small parts and try to complete your draft step by step, you can expect you will feel more confident and work more productively. Let’s discuss how to start a paper with a quote, taking manageable steps.

First, choose a topic that you find intriguing. Define the purpose of your project and evaluate your options. The most successful strategy is to write about a subject that you are passionate about. Conduct research and study the available sources of information. Before you get started with your piece of writing, make a detailed outline to organize your thoughts, sort your ideas into certain categories, and determine natural links between your thoughts. Now, you are ready to write an introduction.

Follow the tips below to create an impressive introduction. There are 4 simple tips that will help you to cope with this task quickly and easily. Let’s get started!

1. How to start an essay introduction? To attract your readers’ attention, begin with the killer language means. Brainstorm ideas on an attention grabber and add a couple of sentences that lead to your thesis. Use one of the strategies that we’ve already discussed.

Beginning an essay with a quote is a good idea. Finally, use the outline or a mind map of your ideas and create a thesis statement – a sentence or a couple of sentences, the aim of which is to tell your audience about the point you will be arguing about in your paper. A thesis is the last sentence of your introduction.

You may need to return to your introduction after you’ve finished the final draft to clarify the focus, change, and rewrite the beginning of your paper several times to ensure that you are able to engage your readers and establish your authority.

2. How to start essay with quote? Do you wonder “ Can I start an essay with a quote?” Definitely, yes! It’s a rather popular way to begin an essay. You should find the right quote that fits your purpose and use it within the framework of your own words. How to begin an essay with a quote? Check the list with the most effective tips on how to put a quote in the beginning of an essay.

  • Avoid the frequently used quotations and clichés that are familiar to everyone because they will bore your target audience making them think that you have been lazy to search for the original quotes
  • Explain how the quote connects to your point
  • Select a quotation that your audience can understand and relate to
  • Make sure the quote exactly fits the tone of your academic paper
  • When introducing a quote , always acknowledge the source. Follow the requirements of a specific citation sty le

These tips on how to start an essay with a quote will help you pick the right quote that will impress your reader. No matter what sort of opening you choose, make sure it is related to the focus of your paper and serves a good tool for establishing the context, or plays a significant part in your thinking and analysis. Your opening should be clear, direct, and specific. Try to avoid too broad and general openings because they can make your paper look boring

3. How to start a paragraph in an essay? The next step is writing the body paragraphs. Talking about how to start a paragraph in an essay, we should say that all body paragraphs will have the similar basic structure. Write one of your main ideas in the outline as a topic sentence in a paragraph. Then, add supporting ideas. Back each supporting idea with relevant examples, statistics, and other details and make sure you provide enough information to link these smaller ideas together. You will have to write as many body paragraphs as you have main ideas in your outline.

4. How to start a conclusion for an essay? We’ve come to your paper’s final part. Let’s discuss how to start a conclusion for an essay. The length of a conclusion depends on the length of your paper and its complexity. There is no set formula for how to do this the right way.

Your task is to review the key points and provide a final perspective on your subject. Write 3 to 5 strong sentences. Make sure they reinforce your thesis statement and briefly remind your readers about the significance of your topic, and the research you have conducted. After writing your conclusion, check your paper’s organization and logical flow of ideas, paying attention to the smallest details. Fix grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.

As you see, writing high-scoring essays can be complicated and time-consuming but we hope that our simple tips on how to start a good essay will help you succeed in creating impressive beginnings for your admissions, argumentative, persuasive and other types of essays.

Some students think that it is as easy as ABC to start with a quote. However, it is a misconception as you need to learn how to do this the right way. There are certain things you should take into account when looking for the best quote. You should be patient as the search may take you more than one day. You should look through a number of sources to find a saying of a person that will be exactly what you need. Most students give preference to the sayings of famous people. It may sound surprising but this is not the best way to impress the reader.

It is better to find a quote of a person who isn’t well-known. You can use a part of a long quote not to bore your reader in the very beginning of your paper. If you have found an interesting saying, don’t rush to use it for your piece of writing. You need to conduct research on the history of the quote and create a successful methodology . Learn more about its origin to know what context it was first used in. Choose those sayings that were unexpected and creative.

Lack great ideas for a powerful introductory paragraph? Looking for the answer to the question “Can you start a paper with a quote?” Order a custom paper written by an experienced writer on our site and forget about your worries concerning academic writing. If you face a problem with completing a difficult task assigned to you by your college teacher or university professor, take advantage of the well-written professional examples that we offer to students of all academic levels, regardless of the complexity of the topic.

Do you wonder how they can be helpful? Simply using them, you will get a perfect understanding of how to start an essay on your topic, write a good introduction , organize your argument in the three body paragraphs, create an impressive conclusion, back your points with appropriate evidence and quotes from the relevant sources. We will provide you with the perfectly written model papers that can help you in creating your own pieces of writing.

Our experts are ready to help you 24/7. Don’t hesitate to contact us whether you face a need to complete your paper urgently or just want us to review your work! Our team of professionals will wait for your order for assignment writing being ready to provide a helping hand and expert advice, which you may lack.

Entrust us to write your paper and enjoy your free time, which can be spent on things that really matter to you now. You won’t regret choosing us as your reliable academic helper! Want to check if this is true? Read what our loyal customers say about our top quality services! Join them and pass your paper with flying colors!

If you do use a quote, you must introduce it correctly so that the reader understands why it is there and who said it. Don’t just shove it in and hope the reader knows why you have included it. So say something like:

Regarding survival rates for gladiators, Johnstone states: “Gladiator shows were hardly the bloodbaths we see in modern films and TV programs. If there were five fights in a day, on average only one would end in death.” This shows that the risk of death may have been low enough to entice free men to become gladiators.

You must also explain how the quote helps to answer the essay question (here the question would be: ‘Why would free men become gladiators in ancient Rome?’). Be explicit: don’t leave it up to your reader to work it out.

Karl Marx, writer of the pamphlet The Communist Manifesto, proclaims, “Communism abolishes all eternal truths…instead of constituting them on a new basis” (Marx 81). In other words, communism throws out all beliefs, not only ones that counter the ideas of communism. Marx’s insistence on “abolishment” reflects the greater implication that communism not only represents a change in a political system or a belief, but also negates all previously accepted aspects of life. This would require a radical change of heart for all people. Marx’s call for the abolishment of truths requires too much change in people’s lives; his ideas are not ideal to change society.

How to Start an Essay with a Quote

Many students are interested in the question: Can I start an essay with a quote? Our answer: of course, you can! The main thing that you should pay attention to is the expediency of this quote. It should be intriguing, catchy, and involving. Below you will find many useful tips that will help you attract the attention of your audience from the very first phrase of your essay.

When Would You Want to Start with Quote?

Relevance is a very important quality. Sometimes the same method can be successful and unsuccessful at the same time. For example, you certainly cannot imagine a research essay that begins with a quote about love. Such stories are boring and old-fashioned. Students think that quotes will help make their essays interesting and compelling. But not the phrase itself is important, but its meaning, context, your interpretation. You can’t just start the paper with a quote and forget about it. Each sentence of your essay should respond to the first of them.

This means that you can use a quote if your essay is devoted to reflective, artistic, literary topics. It can be a paper of comparison and opposition, a literature review. An appropriate quote can be selected for an analytical or critical essay. Many students use quotes for their admission essays, so this is often perceived as a cliché.

Use the quote to start the essay when you realize that you do not have another hook. The reader will see a familiar or intriguing phrase and will want to know what your paper is about. In addition, this will automatically add you a score. After all, if you quote Nietzsche or Dostoevsky, you are probably very smart and have done solid work on your essay.

The Pros and Cons of Starting with a Quote

It cannot be denied that the decision to begin essay with a quote has its advantages and disadvantages. There is no universal rule that will be the same for all papers. Check out the list below to understand your situation and make the right choice.

  • They help you set a proper tone. They briefly convey a large layer of information that can resonate with the readership. Any other means will require more time and effort for these purposes.
  • A powerful or controversial quote always captivates readers. A strong quote is something that immediately attracts attention. Note that not every phrase can be involving. Choose a shocking, humorous, controversial, or thoughtful quote for your essay. Think about how you can use it as a hook to interest readers.
  • Quotes point out the main idea of your essay. This is a great opportunity to check if you have a good essay. If you can explain it in one phrase, you’re on the right track. The quote with which you start the paper will become that phrase.
  • The authority of the source is working for you. Using a quote from a great man who has achieved significant success in his goal, you give great authority to your words. Just imagine: you are supported by Lincoln or Einstein. Which of the readers dare to argue with their statements?
  • It is a cliché. In fact, this cannot be called a big problem if you picked up a good quote that matches the essence of your paper. But sometimes it can limit you. Starting an essay with a quote, you can’t try with some other tricks, e.g. storytelling.
  • Searching for the right quote is time-consuming. Sometimes you need to spend a lot of time before you find the right quote. In the end, you can even use the far from the best option simply because you took the time to do it.
  • Quotes might “outshine” your thesis. A really good quote can take all the attention away. Meanwhile, you still need to write an interesting thesis statement. It will seem weak against the background of a quote, not from your authorship.
  • The authority of the source can work against you. Many great personalities are controversial. They say the right thing but in a certain context. When choosing a phrase, think in what context it was expressed and how much this corresponds to the meaning of your paper.

The Key Points of Selecting the Right Quote

In order to start an essay with a quote, you need to choose a good phrase. Some students consider this task to be pretty challenging. Here are some tips to help you with this:

  • Understand the purpose of the quotation use. You can’t just take any phrase and count on the attention of your readers. There are many more original ways to start an essay. Therefore, if you decide that a quote is a good idea, use our tips. Here are a few questions that you must answer before choosing the right phrase.
  • Does the quotation have an original or unusual meaning that is difficult to explain in other words?
  • Do you interpret this phrase correctly?
  • What did the author write about? What is the historical and cultural context?
  • Is the author of a quote an authoritative expert? Would he or she agree with your points? Does this person have an opinion for your target audience?
  • Are you in favor of or against the idea that is indicated in the quote?
  • Is your quote pretty popular or completely unknown?

Do not think that your first sentence should be written as soon as you decide on the topic of the essay. We recommend that you come up with a quote after your paper is ready. Then you will have a full understanding of this text: what idea it conveys, what arguments you use, how exactly you transmit your ideas to readers. Use the brainstorming method and write out all the quotes that seem suitable for you. And then answer the questions above. This will help you get rid of bad options and find the best solution.

5 Steps to Begin an Essay with a Quote:

Actually, starting a paper with a quote it’s not at all difficult. Here are five steps to help you do this:

  • Decide on your goal. What do you expect from an essay? Do you want to convince readers of a certain point of view? Inspire them? Maybe make them laugh? Each of these situations requires its own approach. You cannot use the same quote in all of these cases. Setting a goal will help you narrow your choices.
  • Consider your audience. If you write for professionals, you can use sources well known to people in this field. For a wider audience, you can use popular quotes. Consider the following features: gender of the audience, age, range of interests, area of ​​work, knowledge of the history of the United States or other countries, etc.
  • Select the right quote. It is the most important step of how to start an essay with a quote. You should consider all the information you have and make a choice. You may line one good quotation, but it doesn’t mean you should use it. Sometimes it is better to try the more appropriate one that conveys your ideas. Strong phrases are bright, but they require a lot of text to explain them. This is your next step.
  • Think over an explanation. You must provide your readers with an explanation supporting the quote. They need to understand how this phrase relates to your thesis or argument. This is not always obvious. In this case, people simply do not pay attention to the quote at the beginning of the essay.
  • Mention the source. Depending on the specific requirements of your professor, you must provide information about the sources used. American schools are very strict about plagiarism. Do not underestimate this aspect.

Mistakes You Should Avoid Starting an Essay With Quote

The first mistake you can make is banality. Quotes such as “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” or “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” very boring. They have been used hundreds of times and do not carry any new meaning.

The second mistake is the lack of context. Readers cannot always understand why you used this particular phrase. This will make them feel stupid. People do not like to feel stupid. Write essays in plain language and explain such things.

The third mistake is a too loose interpretation of the context. Make sure you understand the quote correctly and don’t use it for your own purposes. If you did it on purpose, explain it to readers.

Examples of Quote Introductions

Examples are what help students get the big picture. You can read the theory for a long time, but you still cannot understand what actions you should take in practice. Therefore, we have selected some good examples for you. Use them to come up with your own quote for your introduction:

  • ‘It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.’ This quote of Buddha is pretty relevant these days. People think of how they can communicate with this world, but they forget to communicate with themselves. Each of us has one’s own fears, inner anxiety, and doubts. It is important to get rid of them in order to try something new and great.
  • ‘If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home, and love your family.’ Maria Theresa was a smart woman with an amazing mindset. Her popular quote reminds us that there is nothing more important than family. There is no point in fighting for the happiness of other people if your loved ones need you at this moment.
  • ‘To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.’ Big wins always start with big steps. Sometimes, when you want to succeed, you have to bet absolutely everything that you have at stake. You may lose, but you may win. 

Now you know how to start an essay with a quote. We recommend that you do not procrastinate or put off writing a paper until the last day. Make sure you have enough time. But this does not mean at all that you are obliged to write an essay and look for a good quote-hook for it. We understand that students want to have fun in their free time. Perhaps you work, and your head is busy with more important things than selecting quotes. Fortunately, we know how to help you. Place your order on our website, and we will select a professional author for you. Your essay with an attractive quote will be ready on time and at a very competitive price!

Written by Stephany James

Stephany is an expert with a big number of hobbies. Apart from working at Cornell University (which she graduated five years ago), she loves cooking and jogging. When Stephany is not helping students with their English and French assignments, she is writing a book of her own on the nature of habits and motivation.

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Suggested ways to introduce quotations

When you quote another writer's words, it's best to introduce or contextualize the quote. 

How to quote in an essay?

To introduce a quote in an essay, don't forget to include author's last name and page number (MLA) or author, date, and page number (APA) in your citation. Shown below are some possible ways to introduce quotations. The examples use MLA format.

1. Use a full sentence followed by a colon to introduce a quotation.

  • The setting emphasizes deception: "Nothing is as it appears" (Smith 1).
  • Piercy ends the poem on an ironic note: "To every woman a happy ending" (25).

2. Begin a sentence with your own words, then complete it with quoted words.

Note that in the second example below, a slash with a space on either side ( / ) marks a line break in the original poem.

  • Hamlet's task is to avenge a "foul and most unnatural murder" (Shakespeare 925).
  • The speaker is mystified by her sleeping baby, whose "moth-breath / flickers among the flat pink roses" (Plath 17).

3. Use an introductory phrase naming the source, followed by a comma to quote a critic or researcher

Note that the first letter after the quotation marks should be upper case. According to MLA guidelines, if you change the case of a letter from the original, you must indicate this with brackets. APA format doesn't require brackets.

  • According to Smith, "[W]riting is fun" (215).
  • In Smith's words, " . . .
  • In Smith's view, " . . .

4. Use a descriptive verb, followed by a comma to introduce a critic's words

Avoid using says unless the words were originally spoken aloud, for instance, during an interview.

  • Smith states, "This book is terrific" (102).
  • Smith remarks, " . . .
  • Smith writes, " . . .
  • Smith notes, " . . .
  • Smith comments, " . . .
  • Smith observes, " . . .
  • Smith concludes, " . . .
  • Smith reports, " . . .
  • Smith maintains, " . . .
  • Smith adds, " . . .

5. Don't follow it with a comma if your lead-in to the quotation ends in that or as

The first letter of the quotation should be lower case.

  • Smith points out that "millions of students would like to burn this book" (53).
  • Smith emphasizes that " . . .
  • Smith interprets the hand washing in MacBeth as "an attempt at absolution" (106).
  • Smith describes the novel as "a celebration of human experience" (233).

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Can You Start An Essay With A Quote? (What You Should Know)

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by  Antony W

February 28, 2023

start essay with quote

The opening paragraph can make or break your essay. Start with a hook and you stand the chance to grab your reader’s attention.

Implement some guesswork and write the introduction haphazardly, and you could lose them completely. But can you start an essay with a quote?

You can start an essay with a quote, but you must do so with caution. Accompany the quote with a clear explanation to help a reader understand how and why it fits in your work. More importantly, ensure the quote you include in your essay is from a credible scholarly source.

Understand that relevant, helpful, and equally credible quotes can capture the attention of a reader, not to mention easily related the thesis statement of your essay.

Key Takeaways

  • Quotes can help to spike readers’ interest, making it a powerful writing technique that gets them to read the rest of the essay.
  • If you include any quote in your essay, you must show how it fits into your work so that your readers understand its relevance.

Our custom essay writing service can help you get an essay on any topic completed on time. Whether you struggle with introducing your work or you’re not good at choosing the best quote to start the essay with, you can hire one of our expert writers for assistance.

What Types of Quotes Can You Include in an Essay?

You can use direct, summary, or paraphrase quotes in the introduction of your essay.

  • A direct quote contains all the words of a speaker. You should write it exactly as it is.
  • Paraphrased quotes are reworded statements written in your own words without changing the intended meaning.
  • A summary quote is one written in brief, and it retains the message of the original quote.

You can use any type of quote in your essay. Just make sure you don’t interfere with its original meaning as intended by its author.  

How to Choose a Good Quote to Start an Essay

Here’s how you can find the best quote to start any type of essay :

1. Choose a Quote Relevant to the Topic

Read the essay prompt to understand the nature of the assignment.

The first few minutes of going through the assignment brief should make it easy to choose a quote that’s relevant to the central theme of the topic.

Also, ensure that the quote is memorable because it will retain readers’ attention and give them the interest to read the rest of the essay.

2. Get Your Quote from a Credible Source

It’s easy to brainstorm and make up your own quotes.

Such quotes can be interesting enough to draw attention, but they won’t fit in an academic essay because they’re your own thoughts.

The quote you choose to start an essay with should come from a credible scholarly source.

If your teacher asks you where you got the quote from and you tell them you made it up, they’ll more than likely not read the essay past the introduction.

3. Use Clear, Short Quotes

It doesn’t make sense to start an essay with a long quote that a reader will struggle to remember.

Even if a quote is interesting enough to fit the central theme of the essay prompt, you should avoid it in favor of a short, clear quote.

If a reader can memorize the quote within the first 30 seconds of reading, go for it.

Such a quote is good for your essay because it enhances clarity, making it easy for the reader to understand the meaning and support for your argument.

4. You Should Explain the Significance of the Quote 

If you choose to start your essay with a quote, don’t explain to explain its significance in the paper.

There are two advantages to doing this.

First, explaining a quote further helps to strengthen your essay. Second, more explanation enables you to present the clarity so you don’t lose a reader, not to mention make your content easy to understand. 

5. You Should Provide Relevant Reference to the Quote 

Since a quote is someone else’s thoughts, you need to attribute it to the right author.

Besides, your readers will want to know where you got the quote from, and you must make it easy for them to find it. 

When Not to Start an Essay with a Quote

Some students prefer to start their essays with quotes because they find the phrases engaging, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But purpose-written opening sentences tend to have a broader latitude than quotes, and therefore more powerful than the latter. 

Again, quotes communicate someone else’s thoughts so much so that they tend to undermine your creativity. So it’s best to shy away from them if you have something more engaging and enlightening to share with your readers.

There’s also the problem of limited range of expression, as you don’t have the room to expand on another author’s quotations besides summarizing or paraphrasing it.

Because quotes require attribution, they can cause a reader to look aside, so you risk losing their attention during that first moment with your writing.  

Final Thoughts on Starting an Essay with a Quote

If one thing is for sure, it’s that’s you can start a great essay with a quote relevant to the theme of the topic. As long as you can find and attribute great quotes, you’ll be set and ready to write an essay that your instructor will find interesting to read.

However, if you want more freedom to express your thoughts and share something more enlightening with your target readers, then there’s no point starting your essay with a quote.

Get Essay Writing Help 

Writing an essay when you have tons of additional assignments to complete can be tough. That’s the case especially when you’re short on time but have a tight deadline to beat. You can simply reach out to us and we’ll help you get your essay assignment completed in good time.

At Help of Assessment, we have an established team of writers who dedicate their time and effort to writing high quality essays that will pique your instructor’s interest and earn you the marks you deserve. Plus, we’re far more affordable than many academic writing services online, and we put more effort in writing high quality essays for all our clients.

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About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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How to Use a Quote in an Essay

Benjamin Oaks

Table of Contents


MLA in-text citation how-to

You can take a quote from different sources of information, such as books, magazines, websites or printed journals. Using quotes in an essay serves three goals:

  • Present additional evidence to support your point of view or oppose a claim or idea;
  • Help a reader better understand a topic under analysis;
  • Strengthen your argumentation on a topic using another writer’s eloquence.

Since quotes are mostly used in Humanities, you’ll have to follow MLA citation referencing guidelines. The Modern Language Association citation manual implies two types of quotes – short and long.

  • Short quote – Is less than 4 lines of typed text and can be embedded directly into a sentence;
  • Long quote – Is more than 4 lines of typed text and requires a separate content block in an essay without quotation marks.

Writing college essays, the recommendation is to use short quotes.

Parenthetical citation

Referring to the works of other authors in-text is done using a parenthetical citation . Such a method implies the author-page style of quoting. For example:

When it comes to writing, King suggests: “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” (5)

Given the MLA in-text citation already contains King’s last name, you shouldn’t mention it in the parenthesis. If the author’s name isn’t mentioned in-text, it has to be specified in a parenthetical citation.

When it comes to writing, there’s a quote I like the most: “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” (King 5)

According to MLA guidelines, at the end of the essay, there has to be the Works Cited page . It contains the full reference featuring author’s full name, the full title of the source, the volume, the issue number, the date of publishing, and the URL (if the source was found online). Here’s an example of the full referencing in the Works Cited:

King, Larry L. “The Collection of Best Works.” Oxford University Press, vol. 2, no. 3, Jan.-Feb. 2017, http://www.prowritersdigest.com/editor-blogs/inspirational-quotes/72-of-the-best-quotes-about-writing.

How to start an essay with a quote?

Starting an essay with a quote is a matter of controversy. Experts in the pro camp suggest that a quote at the beginning of an essay helps make a powerful statement right from the start. Moreover, an interesting, captivating quote grabs the reader’s attention right from the start.

Experts from the against camp suggest that when you begin an essay with a quote, you miss on the opportunity to present your own take on the subject matter. In their opinion, when writing the introduction, you have to rely only on your words. Whereas quotes are most useful in the main body, serving as an additional argumentation. In conclusion, a quote can be placed, too.


How to use quotes in the middle of an essay?

Main Body is the place you’re meant to state a quote or two, depending on the length of a paper. A standard 5-paragraph essay will imply you to use 2-3 quotes in the main body. More quotes aren’t necessary for such a short assignment. Two quotes in the main body will do just fine.

In the main body paragraph, a quote is placed in the middle of the passage . First, you introduce a focal sentence of a paragraph highlighting your point of view regarding a topic. After that, you provide the evidence data and argumentation, among which is a relevant quote. And finally, you smoothly transit to the next body paragraph or the conclusion. Here’re three examples of how to present a quote in one of the main body paragraphs.

Accurate integration of a citation in a text is key. Or the whole passage will sound off.

People who want to become a writer don’t really need any piece of advice. “Those (…) who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”

College essay quotes have to be naturally embedded in a text .

People who want to become a writer don’t really need any piece of advice: “Those (…) who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”

There’s also the way to write an essay with quotes in the smoothest way possible.

People who want to become a writer don’t really need any piece of advice. They simply “know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”

See how organically a quote is inserted in a sentence? That’s the best-case scenario of using a quote in a sentence.

How to end an essay with a quote?

Sometimes, ending an essay with a quote is better than merely restating your thesis statement. Citations can be taken from both primary and secondary sources. Good quotes to end an essay might be of your course professor’s. According to essay writing websites , quotations taken from the words of subject authorities and thought leaders will do great, too.

A quote ending an essay helps meet 5 objectives:

  • Provide a solid closure to your essay;
  • Fortify your point of view;
  • Give one final argument in favor of your thesis statement;
  • Establish your authority on a topic;
  • Helps your essay stand out.

Having a quotation at the end of an essay gives a good chance to score an “A”.

15 tips for using quotations in an essay

  • Look up quotes in academic sources in the first place;
  • Rely on the printed matter rather than internet sources;
  • Avoid citing information from Wikipedia;
  • Give context to every quotation you use;
  • Always use quotation marks to avoid plagiarism-related troubles;
  • Explain why the quote you’re about to use in a text is important;
  • Seek to integrate quotes smoothly in a sentence for the best effect;
  • Each quotation has to be attributed to the original source using parenthesis;
  • Gather 10-15 quotes relevant to your topic and then sift through 5 quotes that will serve you best;
  • Use the exact wording, punctuation, capitalization and sentence structure as in the original;
  • Watch your punctuation when using quotes in a sentence;
  • Avoid misquotations, as it’s a sign of a careless attitude towards the assignment;
  • Use an ellipsis (…) to withdraw a part of a quote you don’t actually need;
  • Try to use short quotes rather than long;
  • Avoid quoting quotes, as it’s where students make mistakes most often.

5 motivational quotes for essay writing

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“I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.”

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work . … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”

“To defend what you’ve written is a sign that you are alive.”

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Can You Start a Paper with a Quote?

Can you begin an essay with a quote?

One of the mistakes that many students make is overuse of quotations in the introductory paragraph. It is generally recommended that students should avoid starting or ending their introductory paragraphs with a quotation. With numerous alternatives one has for writing the introduction, would it be a great idea to begin an essay with a quote or should it be reserved for the body of the paper?

No, you should not begin your paper with a quote if there are no clear guidelines to do so. Starting an essay with a quote could weaken your argument because it constitutes an idea from another author so early in the paper.

If you have to quote in the introductory paragraph, make sure it is extremely relevant and short.

When adding a quote in the first paragraph, it makes more sense to choose one that aligns with the purpose of the essay and to integrate it within your own words. The introductory paragraph is extremely important for your writing as it establishes the overall tone of the paper and presents the reader with the main argument. That is why it often includes a thesis statement and an overview of the arguments to be presented in the entire writing.

Disadvantages of Using Quotes to Start a Paragraph

  • Quotes are cliché – If the quote is extremely compelling and straight to the point, this is ordinarily not a problem. This introduction where you implement a quote, however, expressly limits various essay-starting strategies, such as one in which you could relate astounding or unusual incidents that would emphasize the issue you’re discussing.
  • It is difficult to identify and match quotations to your writing – As a student, you have very limited time for going through hundreds of quotes to find on that is short, and matches the theme of your paper.
  • Quotation at the beginning of the essay rushes the culmination. It’s worth noting that a good quotation can be the most intensive sentence in an entire paper. Thus, it would make more sense to avoid using it as the very first sentence. Instead, you should reserve it for when the momentum would reach its highest value.

When not to Start a Paper with a Quote

There is nothing wrong with some learners starting their essays or research papers using quotes because they think the phrases are interesting. But carefully written introductory sentences generally have more freedom than quotes and are thus more effective. Here are the moments when you should not start a paper with a quote:

  • When the paper is shorter than 1,100 words. Short essays require concise writing and unless required for your paper, keep quotes out at all cost.
  • When presenting an original argument as the thesis statement.
  • When you want to share personal experiences.
  • When the purpose of the essay or paper does not match the meaning of the quote.

Again, quotes tend to impede your innovation because they so clearly communicate someone else’s ideas. Therefore, if you have anything more interesting and illuminating to discuss with your readers, it is preferable to avoid them.

Additionally, you are only given room to summarize or paraphrase another author’s quotations, thus you are restricted in your ability to express yourself.

Exceptions to Using Quotes at the Start of an Essay or Paper

You can include quotations in the initial paragraph, but exercise caution. The general rule is that you should provide a clear explanation along with the quote to help the reader comprehend its importance in the writing.

While it is acceptable to begin any form of essay with a quote, make sure the quotation you use comes from a reliable academic source.

Take relevant quotes then follow it with a good explanation because it might help your reader relate to your thesis statement while also grabbing their attention. In any academic paper, authors frequently utilize quotes to grab readers’ interest.

What Types of Quotes Can You Use to Start an Essay?

  • Direct quote – Consider starting your essay with a direct quote, a paraphrased version, or its summary. When you use a direct quote, you must write the sentences exactly as they appear in the source.
  • Paraphrased quotes – These are quotes that you have rewritten in your own words without altering their original meaning. Care is needed to avoid changing the style and message that needs to be passed across.
  • Summarized quotes – For summary of a quote, we are talking about one that is expressed succinctly while still conveying the original meaning and concept of the text.

Any form of quotation you employ should be used with caution so as not to alter the original author’s intended meaning.

How to Choose a Good Quote to Start an Essay

These are the best practices for choosing a good quote to start your paper:

1. Pick Quotes Relevant to the Topic of the Paper

To start, carefully read the writing prompt to determine the topic your instructor wants you to address. This will make it simple for you to select a quote that is pertinent to the topic’s main idea.

The quote you select should not only be relevant to the main issue of the essay, but also stick in readers’ minds. This is crucial since it keeps readers’ interest and helps them relate to the opening phrase while reading the rest of the essay.

2. Quote only from Credible Academic Sources

By this, I mean sources like peer-reviewed journals, reliable government websites, real company websites, text books, and so on. It’s tempting to make your own quote and use it in the opening sentence of your essay. Don’t do it. If it doesn’t come one or any of the above credible scholarly sources, then it can’t be a good fit for your paper.

3. Make Quotes Clear and Short

Why use a lengthy quote that the reader will find difficult to even recall?

If it’s longer than necessary, even if it’s fascinating and adheres to the main idea of the essay prompt, you shouldn’t include it in the paper.

Instead, keep it simple and direct. Choose a quote that will be simple for the reader to remember during the first 30 seconds of reading. Short quotes also improve clarity, making it easier to convey the intended meaning and provide evidence for your claim.

4. Explain the Significance of the Quote

Don’t elaborate on the meaning of the quote if you decide to begin your essay with one. This has two benefits as stated below:

First, adding additional context to a quote strengthens your writing. Second, additional detail permits you to convey the clarity so you don’t lose a reader, in addition to making your information simple to comprehend.

Make sure to explain how each citation pertains to your topic, supports your argument or thesis, or illustrates a scenario or problem. This is crucial in the event that the link is not immediately accessible since otherwise, you run the danger of using a quote that is irrelevant to the context.

5. Cite the Source of the Quote

It is crucial that quotations are accurately recognized because they contain the words or ideas of other authors.

Depending on the citation style, additional information such as exact page, line, or paragraph numbers, may be required when quoting sources. This is done to help accurately identify material and eliminate any plagiarism concerns.

If you anticipate extensive public outreach, you should be extremely cautious with this element given how seriously plagiarism if frowned upon by US academic institutions and society.

6. Consider your audience

It is important to be mindful of the audience when choosing a quote. For example, it would typically be understandable only to those who have studies in the same restricted discipline as its practitioners. Pick quotes that are appropriate in this situation – not ones that are overly simple or clear. Other factors, such as an audience’s age, expertise, gender, interests, etc., could also be taken into account.

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How To Write a Quote In an Essay? Opening And Ending Quotes

EssayEdge > Blog > How To Write a Quote In an Essay? Opening And Ending Quotes

Embedding direct quotations in your essay is a great literary tool to reinforce your arguments and nurturing ground for developing the main ideas and further contemplation of the topic. However, using quotations also hides lots of pitfalls.

The statements of a brilliant thinker within your field are considered a way to make your essay stand out from the piles of other writings. No wonder a major number of students fall for that and aspire to use quotations from eminent persons. Nonetheless, over the course of time, using aphorisms within writing became the synonym for “triteness”. So, we collected some tips which will help to use quotations properly, make your statements more haunting, and not evoke sights in your essay readers.

However, if you don’t want to puzzle over all these rules but still want to stay on the safe side and not become accused of plagiarism, you can always reach out to the help of our essay proofreading service.

Table of Contents:

How to Start an Essay with a Quote?

It seems pretty compelling and pathetic for almost every student to cite someone at the very start of their paper. So, you probably also think that you can start an essay with a quote and be on a roll. However, in reality, there is no more worn-out way to start an essay. Firstly, the words said by another person don’t make you appear an egghead or well-read. In the age of the internet, it is worth nothing for everyone to open the first website that comes across and copy some quotes.

Moreover, starting an essay with a quote may make you appear passive and show that you don’t really understand what you are writing about. Putting quotations in such places often makes an impression that you try to replace analysis rather than support it by using quotes. Try to understand that the teacher or professor wants to see your thoughts and understanding of the topic. In order to distance yourself from the cited words and maintain your active voice in the essay, stick to the following phrases:

  • According to [Name] …
  • [Name] argues that “…”
  • [Name] highlighted that “…”
  • The argument of … is that “…”
  • [Name] provides a compelling insight into the issue …

Although creating the introduction is probably the most arduous part of writing an essay, integrating citations into the main part of the text also has some specialties. Below you will find more advice that can help to nail your writing.

Don’t use too long quotations

Embedding long quotations will make your writing swamped with the statements of other people and show a lack of your own word count. If you find a quote that perfectly matches your paper, don’t just “copy-paste” it. It’s much better to select the most striking part of the quote than to paraphrase and analyze the rest. Such an approach will show both that you have read some literature on the topic and that you have your own thoughts and understanding.

Always support your quotes with argumentation and examples

Don’t give quotes a role that isn’t assigned to them in your text: quotes shouldn’t speak for you. They can’t stand as an explanation for your argument as such. On the contrary, the quotations must be surrounded by personal reflections. The citation must serve as a ground for further analysis. You can choose the quote that supports your major arguments and develop it into further ideas. Or choose the one that contradicts your previously made statements and try to prove this quotation wrong.

Need help? Check out EssayEdge editing services:

To recap, it’s crucial that citations in the text must be accompanied by your personal thoughts, arguments, and examples.

Stop citing Shakespeare

It’s essential to pick up the most appropriate quote that will fit well into the general text canvas and complement your ideas instead of interrupting them and confusing the reader. Don’t go for the quotation just because it’s famous. While searching through dozens of quotes, keep in mind that citations must be the glue used to tie the statements and arguments in your paper. This way, you definitely won’t suck up on choosing the right one.

Another piece of advice, or rather prayer – don’t use inspirational quotes from your Facebook account. It had become a platitude a long time ago. Also, steer clear of hackneyed and ubiquitous citations from well-known writers or philosophers. Today, you won’t surprise anybody with it, especially considering the fact that you don’t even have to read the full text to provide these quotes.

Cite Properly

Although using citations is quite a common practice, only a handful of people really know how to write a quote in an essay correctly. It’s always worth following some rules whenever you are using words that are in fact not yours. The neglection of indicating the original source can lead to accusing you of committing plagiarism. The most common referencing formats are APA, MLA, and Harvard. They usually include the second name of the author, the year of work publishing, and the page from where you took the quote. It’s quite a broad topic to cover these styles’ peculiarities in this article. So, if you are interested in the proper citation, use additional sources to find out more.

To Conclude

As you can see, citing only seems to be easy. In reality, it’s pretty tricky and takes a lot of details into consideration. Below you can find some popular questions that also bother those who are in the process of writing their paper.

What size of citation is desirable?

As was already mentioned, it’s better to avoid using long quotes. It’s actually preferable that your citation doesn’t exceed one line. This way, you will have enough space for your own thoughts.

How many quotes can I use?

Overusing quotes is a terrible idea, because it will make an impression that you can’t paraphrase well. Generally, one quote in every 750 words is a maximum that you should reach.

Can I quote my grandmother?

If it fits in the overall picture of your essay and doesn’t sound too cliché, then yes. However, it is still desirable to avoid such things as it was already done a thousand times before.

Can I use quotes inside quotes?

If you can replace it somehow, do it. Because it’s a pretty tempting thing which is accompanied by specific rules. Usually, the chance to write a poor example of such a quote is significantly higher than to do it properly and well-sounding.

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