Should I Quote This?

One of the hardest things to teach college history writers is when and how to use quotations.  Emily Conroy-Krutz , who teaches history at Michigan State University, agrees.  Here is a taste of her post at the Teaching U.S. History blog:

As I read over the drafts of my students’ research papers, I found myself commenting on one writing issue over and over again: quotations. There were different types of issues with quotations. Some students needed to work on how to incorporate quotes into their own writing. There were lots of block quotes. Most students needed to think about how and when to quote at all in the first place. Multiple papers included overly long quotes of things that really didn’t need quoting at all. Some papers quoted historians using theoretical concepts or introducing characters that then didn’t come up in their own papers. These issues were incredibly common, and if I think about it, they are issues I see in papers across multiple courses I teach.

Quotations are a tricky thing to master. Quote too little, and it might seem like you haven’t read or don’t have evidence to back up you assertions. Quote too much, and a paper reads like a copy-and-past compilation of other people’s words. Striking the right balance can be hard, especially when getting your bearings on claiming your own authority as a writer.

To help her students on this front, Conroy-Krutz developed this flowchart:

Quoting Chart

I will be definitely be using this chart in my classes next year.  Thanks, Emily!

Read the entire post here.