English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

English: skills for learning

6 Quoting

Quoting another author’s exact words is particularly appropriate when they express an idea or give a description in a particularly powerful and unique way. Quotations can be used to:

  • provide evidence that supports your point
  • add an important detail to your text
  • help highlight a point you have made
  • give authority to your point.

However, it is inappropriate to include a large number of quotations in assignments. This is because tutors are mainly interested in seeing how students talk about the things they have learned and how they apply theories and interpret information. If students do so by mainly using somebody else’s words, they will not be able to display their understanding very effectively.

When writing quotations, make sure you follow these guidelines:

  • the quotation contains the exact words used by the author
  • the quoted text is placed within inverted commas
  • the quoted text fits grammatically in the text
  • the meanings expressed by the original author are not changed
  • the author of the quoted text is acknowledged.

Activity 12

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Read the following short text.

It is true that, within any particular society at any particular moment, rich people are on average happier than poorer ones.

Now decide which of the following sentences quotes the text correctly and why this is so. You may also find it helpful to make some notes about why you think the other sentences are incorrect. Then compare your answers with mine.

  1. It is well known that ‘rich people are on average happier than poorer ones’.
  2. In the western world, rich people are happier than poorer ones (Layard, 2005).
  3. Layard (2005) states that ‘rich people are normally happier than poorer ones’.
  4. Layard (2005) argues that ‘rich people are on average happier than poorer ones’.
  5. According to Layard (2005) in some countries ‘rich people are on average happier than poorer ones’.
  6. Another important point ‘rich people are on average happier than poorer ones’(Layard, 2005).
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


The correct answer is:

4 Layard (2005) argues that ‘rich people are on average happier than poorer ones’. This quotation is correct because it follows the guidelines outlined above.

Incorrect answers

  1. The author has not been acknowledged.

  2. The author has been correctly acknowledged but, as there are no inverted commas, the reader cannot tell if these are all Layard’s own words or a paraphrase. Another problem is that the sentence changes the point made in the original text by adding the words ‘in the western world’.

  3. The quoted phrase is different from the original as it uses ‘normally’ instead of ‘on average’.

  1. The original text is correctly quoted, but the sentence that contains it changes the point made by Layard. Layard stated that rich people are happier in any society while this sentence states that this happens only in some countries.

  2. The quotation does not fit grammatically into the sentence. The sentence should start like this: Another important point is that …


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371