How to Quote a Book In An Essay

We all have gone through the process of essay writing, be it on a school or college level. This writing can be taken into account or given more regards if you add quotes to it. Incorporating direct quotes into your writing is an excellent way to expand upon and back up your ideas with solid, fact-based evidence.

Additionally, quotes help to support your argument and can be used to develop your topic ideas or thesis statement. But there is a defined pathway of how to quote a book in an essay.

How to quote a book in an essay

It doesn’t matter which style of writing you are using- all literary styles require the use of proper citations whenever you are including words that are not your own work.  In case, you are not giving proper credit to the original source, or don’t know how to quote a book in an essay, you are committing plagiarism. 

According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, “The word ‘plagiarize’ can mean trying to pass off someone else’s ideas, work or words as your own, or using those ideas, work or words without giving due credit to the source.” There are several websites and app to check plagiarism so it’s better to know and understand how to quote a book in an essay.

 The primary 3 citation styles are APA, MLA and CMS. In this article, we will show different types of quotations, how to use them, where to use them. Also, we will discuss in brief about the formatting and citation styles so that we are properly able to perform the art of how to quote a book in an essay.

How to quote a book in an essay: Key Points

Primary Quotation Styles

MLA quotation style- MLA stands for Modern Language Association and when using this MLA formatting style in an essay, you need to indicate the writer’s name, as well as the number of the page you have taken the material from( for printed sources). When quoting poems, the number of the page will be replaced by verses. Here we don’t mention the year of the citation itself. 

However, we will have to mention the date in a comprehensive bibliography section at the end of the paper. We also have to provide proper information for citations. This style is used by Literature, language and art students.

Ex- Johnson claims that “individuals who enjoy literature are more open-minded towards other people” (59)

APA quotation style- APA stands for American Psychological Association. When using APA formatting style, you will be required to mention the writer’s last name as well as the number of the page, similarly to the MLA style. The main difference between the two formatting styles is that in APA style you are also required to mention the year and use “p.” before the number of pages. 

This style is mostly followed for writing Research Papers on Social Science and engineering. At the end of your paper, you need to provide the proper list of “References”

Ex- As stated by Johnson (1999), “going to the gym is a great way of staying in shape” (p. 21)

CMS quotation style– This is the most respected style in the US and world. It was introduced in 1906 by the University of Chicago.  Chicago Style formatting mostly uses Endnotes or Footnotes at the end of the pages to cite a reference.

However, at the end of the research, you do have to attach the extensive list of references. This style is followed by the students of humanities, physical science, social science and history.

The above-mentioned styles are popularly used in modern days, though there are few other formatting styles that are not that popular. Therefore, these styles are important if you want to know how to quote a book in an essay to avoid plagiarism.

Different types of quotes

Following are the different types of quotes in this section of how to quote a book in an essay.

  1. Using Short quotes– When using the quotation, a fragment that includes less than 4 lines of narration or 3 verses of a poem is regarded as short. When you use a short quote, include it directly in your paragraph, along with your own words. To help the reader understand the quote and why you are using it, write a full sentence that includes the quote, rather than just lifting a sentence from another work and outing it into your paper. Remember the following steps whenever include such citation- 
  • Use double quotes on the fragment
  • Mention the writer’s last name 
  • Indicate the number of the page

When it comes to the writer’s last name, you have two options: you can either mention it before the citation or add it in brackets after the citation. The number of the page, which has to be placed at the end of the quote, doesn’t need to be accompanied by the letter “p” or any other symbol. 

A lead-in or an introductory Para of few sentences is a must to write in your own words before adding the quote. If you cite any book without presenting and referring to the context of it properly, your audience will have trouble understanding them. Therefore, write a couple of lines to present the context and then proceed by adding quotation marks to the fragment. You can also use your introduction to introduce the author in place of using their name parentheses at the end. 

Ex- Certain critics believe that literature “is heading in the wrong direction nowadays” (Johnson 145)

You can also write additional comments regarding the quote, for example- A lot of individuals think that “literature is pointless nowadays,” (Johnson 34), while many others claim the exact opposite. 

When quoting a poem, you need to write specific verses, separated by the following symbol of ‘/’. 

Ex- As pointed out by Johnson, “Nothing is nicer/than a dog yawning” (6-7), and a lot of people who like dogs would agree with him. 

2. Using long quotes- The definition of long quotes differ in both the quotation styles. In the MLA citation style, a fragment that includes over 4 lines of narration or 3 verses of a poem is regarded as lengthy or block quotation. According to APA manual, quotations that are 40 words or more are considered block quotations and are formatted differently than regular short quotations which are-

  1. Block quotations start on their own line
  2. The entire block quotation is indented 0.5 inches, the same as the indentation for a new paragraph, and is double spaced. The text after block quotation begins on its own line, with no indentation. 
  3. Block quotations are not surrounded by any quotation marks.
  4. The punctuation at the end of the block quotation goes before the citation. The ending citation is included on the last line of the block quotation. 
  5. You should not end your paragraph by block quotation because any quotation you use as evidence in your writing should be followed by analysis in your own words as part of the same paragraph. 

Block quotation tends to make the spotlight on itself leaving your content of the article. So if possible, try to quote smaller portions of the piece of text and incorporate these into your own voice. 

Ex- Computer users often disagree about which operating system is best, Mac or PC. Olyer (2010) stated that one operating system is not better than the other, but that one may be better suited for different purposes than the other. She explained by saying that 

Macs are often the best option for users who wish to work with video or picture manipulation, Macs are also very user friendly, which may benefit consumers who are new to computers. PCs, however, run Microsoft office suite the best. Therefore, students might find that a PC is their best option because it can run Microsoft Word and PowerPoint the smoothest. (Oyler, 2010, p. 48) 

Conversely, Jones (2010) disagreed with the statement that Macs work with graphics such as video and pictures better than PCs, stating that PCs can be modified to work as well as Macs. 

3. Insert leave out or words in the quotation- This may be helpful when you are required to modify the significance of the quote to some extent, for the purpose of providing an adequate context or eliminating certain parts that may be irrelevant to your ideas. You can use the symbols “[” and “]” to introduce your own words to offer information regarding the context of a citation. 

Ex- Peter Johnson, a contemporary author of short stories, stated that “A lot of individuals [who are novelists] have an attitude of superiority towards authors of short stories, which is wrong” (25) 

Sometimes you can use ellipses (…) when you wish to leave out a fragment that is irrelevant to your paper. But be careful while omitting, don’t eliminate words to change the meaning of the original text. 

Ex- Johnson thinks that a lot of college students “don’t regard teaching as an activity… as serious as management” (67) 

4. Putting a commentary or Paraphrasing– Most of the time, block quotations require a commentary which is not used in a short quote. At a minimum, write 2-3 sentences analyzing the quote and linking it back to your thesis. If you don’t explain your quote well, then it’s not helping your ideas. Also, commentary helps to take back the highlight to your content.

You can also paraphrase your long quote which is restating someone else’s ideas in your own words. You don’t need to use the direct quote around a paraphrase but you need to cite it. You still need to provide the commentary that links the paraphrased material back in your thesis and ideas. 

You will also have to put up works cited or reference page in order to fully be able to perform the steps of how to quote a book in an essay. Each style has its own requirements for listing your reference sources and you have to follow them for proper presentation. For MLA formatting, you will prepare a Works Cited page; APA formatting requires a References page and Chicago style formatting will have either a References page or Bibliography, endnote and footnote.

Therefore, it is very important to understand how to quote a book in an essay before following the required procedure.


Is it OK to start an essay with a quote?

Yes, it’s quite okay to start an essay with a quote. But preferably you should start with something catchy or engaging to keep your reader interested and stick to your content.

How do you put a quote in a quote?

The best way to put a quote within a quote is to use single quotation marks inside double quotation marks. Ex- Bobbi told me, “Delia said, ‘This will never work.’” 

How do you quote someone else’s words?

You can simply quote someone else’s words by putting double quotations around the direct quote. Also, you can leave a blank line before and after the quote and indent the whole quote from the left margin and don’t use quotation marks. 

How do you end an essay with a quote?

You can end your essay with a proper quote but remember to include the following things in your quote- 

  1. Things that will fortify your point of view.
  2. Give one final argument in favor of your thesis statement. 
  3. Things that will establish your authority in the topic. 

Do you need permission to use a quote?

No. If you are giving proper credits to the author and citing them properly, you don’t need to ask for permission. And that’s been the whole motto of this article. 

How do you know if a quote is copyrighted?

You can check online if the quotes are copyrighted or not. You can check the online trademark database on the USPTO website. 

How do you credit a quote?

To credit the quote, write the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parenthesis after the quote. If you state the author’s name in your sentence, the name must be followed by the year of publication in parenthesis and the quote must be followed by the page number. 

What is it called when you quote someone in an essay?

It’s called ‘Quoting’ when you quote someone. 

How many words can you quote without permission?

Well, it depends from author to author and publisher to publisher in case of taking quotes without permission. Few can set permission for using 25 words while few can set up to 300 words whereas few can give it for free. Intellectual property is the latest playground for litigation so be very careful while using other’s quotes or words. 


So in this article, we see how to quote a book in an essay and different ways of formatting. Also, we see different types of quotes and different add on required in these. Remember if you don’t cite, you are under plagiarism.

Also read: How to put an accent over a letter

Author: Editor

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