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APA 7 Resource Center: Direct Quotes

Direct Quotes

Citing Direct Quotes

When should I use a direct quote in my paper? 

Direct quotes should only be used occasionally: 

  • When you need to share an exact definition 
  • When you want to provide specific evidence or information that cannot be paraphrased
  • When you want to use the original writer's terminology


Definitions of direct quotes: 

Short quotes

(fewer than 40 words)

  • use quotation marks around the quote
  • incorporate into the text of the paper

Long quotes

(more than 40 words) 

  • DO NOT use quotation marks
  • instead use a block quote (by indenting 0.5" or 1 tab) beneath the text of the paragraph
Quotes for webpages: 

Websites usually do not contain page numbers, therefore you need a different way to cite the information for a direct quote. There are two ways to do this: 

  • Cite by paragraph number - count down the website to see what number paragraph the direct quote is in and in the citation where you would place the page number, add = para. #
  • Cite by heading or section name - many websites are divided into sections, find the name of the section that contains the direct quote you are using and add that information where you would place the page number = Methods section

Square Brackets in Direct Quotes

[ ] Used when a writer needs to include additional information to a quotation. 

  • adding explanatory information 
    • Joey said "She [Pam] went to the store."
  • changing quote to fit a sentence 
    • "If you rest, you rust." - Helen Hayes 
    • According to Helen Hayes, "If [I] rest, [I] rust," so I must continuously work to achieve my goal of becoming an actress.
  • adding emphasis to certain words [italics added], [bold added]
    • Helen Hayes says, "If you rest, you rust," [bold added].

Ellipses in Direct Quotes

Ellipsis (plural:ellipses): a punctuation mark consisting of three dots (. . .

Used when omitting a word, phrase, line, paragraph, or more from a quoted passage. 


  • Alexander Graham Bell (2019) once said "When one door closes ... we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."
  • "Huckleberry came and went, at his own free will. He slept on doorsteps in fine weather and in empty hogsheads in wet; he did not have to go to school or to church ... he could go fishing or swimming when and where he chose...In a word, everything that goes to make life precious that boy had" (76).
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