HOW TO WRITE CREATE A QUOTATION SANDWICH FOR THE ARTICLE “There is One Correct Way of writing and Speaking” – Anjali Pattanayak , as we discussed last week, entails taking the exact words from a source and putting them in quotation marks. To refresh your memory, we quoted from the eTrade commercial as follows: The commercial ends with an unseen speaker announcing, “Get investing advice for your family at eTrade.” (If you’d like to rewatch the original commercial, it’s available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFsuXZYufoo Links to an external site.
- Notice that the words in quotation marks are identical to the words in the commercial.
But there is more to quoting than simply taking the words of the source and sticking quotation marks around them. Let’s take a look at what quoting requires.
But First, How NOT to Quote (Dropped Quotations)
A common problem in student writing is known as “dropped quotations.” Consider the following example:
Some have argued that these personality traits are pre-existing, not brought on by their partner. “Individuals who have impulsive or aggressive personality traits will be likely to engage in dating aggression” (Ray). Still other scholars emphasize patterns of violence seen in the individual’s interactions with others.
There are a few problems with the passage above. First, the student does not introduce Ray (who is this person? Are they qualified to speak on this topic?) and does not clearly indicate that the quoted words are Ray’s. Further, we don’t have any explanation of what the author thinks the quotation means or of how this passage connects to the author’s argument. Instead, after the quotation, we see the author rushing on to the next point (“Still other scholars emphasize…)
So, how should the student have treated that quotation? Read on!
How to Quote (Building a Quotation Sandwich)
To quote effectively, you’ll need to do a little “cooking” — specifically, you need to create what the Graff and Birkenstein refer to as a “quotation sandwich.”
Think of the parts of a quotation as a sandwich:
Top slice of bread = the statement introducing the quotation (see Write What Matters 72: Signal Phrases and Transitions Links to an external site.for examples)
Filling = the quotation itself (make sure it is exactly as it appears in the original and that it is placed in quotation marks)
Bottom slice of bread = explanation of why you consider the quotation important and what you think it means (seeWrite What Matters 70: Framing Sources: MEA(L) Paragraphs and “Quote Sandwiches” Links to an external site.for examples)
Which one do you think students forget most often? If you guessed the bottom slice, the explanation, you are right! I think writers often assume that the meaning of the quotation is clear to the reader, or that its relevance to the central argument is apparent — or they are just in a hurry to get to the next point. Whatever the reason, don’t be that writer! The following phrases can help you introduce your explanation:
In other words, X is saying…
The essence of X’s argument is…
Here, X argues…
Revised Quotation (with the Quotation Sandwich technique):
Some have argued that these personality traits are pre-existing, not brought on by their partner. Northern Illinois University psychologists Amy L. Ray and Steven R. Gold point out, “Individuals who have impulsive or aggressive personality traits will be likely to engage in dating aggression” (Ray). Ray and Gold’s point is that dating aggression is often the result of particular personality traits. Still other scholars emphasize patterns of violence seen in the individual’s interactions with others.
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