How to quote correctly?

Seminar work usually does not hang in a vacuum but uses information, arguments, or opinions from other sources. Good work with references to literature and quotations is not only a key part of the author’s ethics and formal editorial principles, but is also imposed by law. Before you hand over your seminar, make sure it is perfect in this direction as well. We will advise you on how to do it.

Why do we quote?

By correctly citing and referring to sources, you will show that you have read relevant literature on the topic, can find it, study it and present it. This is a skill that college students should be particularly familiar with. In this way it will also be shown to what extent the work is original or just repeating something that has already been said elsewhere.

Of course, we do not feel ourselves just because teachers know that we are oriented in literature and our work has its own benefit. If we do not mention our sources and do not quote properly, we commit plagiarism – publishing foreign ideas or research results as our own. It is not just an ethical offense, but also a violation of copyright law. By citing you will also show which authors and texts you follow, which you criticize, and so on, allowing the reader to track down the information they have received and verify its accuracy.

Why learn to quote in time?

At first, citing and compiling a list of literature may seem complicated and lengthy. In high school, quoting is not always required, but in college it is taken for granted (often without explaining how to proceed in it). The sooner you master the basic rules, the better. When writing a graduate thesis you will have a lot of other worries than revealing the melts and pitfalls of quotes. And if you can do everything in high school, you won.

What do you need to know and be able to cite correctly?

What is quoted and what is not

To quote correctly, you need to know first of all what to quote and what should not. It is true that they do not censure the knowledge and ideas that you have reached, and the well-known facts. In particular, the problem may be to distinguish what is generally known. This category includes everything that goes into general education and the basics of the field to which the text relates. However, if you literally take over the entire text of the well-known facts, you must quote.

If you write that World War II ran from 1939 to 1945, it is a well-known fact. But if you literally take the entire paragraph with this information from the Internet encyclopedia, you have to quote.

It makes it most difficult for students to discern what belongs to the basic knowledge of the field. Since the basics contain introductory textbooks, manuals or dictionaries, it is usually recommended not to quote this type of resource.

For example, in this article, we do not quote sources for citation reasons because they are generally known and valid facts and are not literally taken over from a foreign text. On the contrary, we quote the experience of a particular teacher and author because this is not a well-known fact.

Remember that you must also properly report sources for past images, graphs, tables, and so on.

How to quote?

The citation itself has two components: firstly, you must state the accepted text correctly, and also refer to its source.

There are two basic ways to use foreign information or ideas in your text: quotes and paraphrases. In the quotation, you include the literal wording of your source and put it in quotation marks. On the contrary, paraphrase is a free repetition of thoughts and is not given in quotes. But for both, the original text needs to be reproduced accurately. So in the quote really literally and in the paraphrase keep the meaning. Also, remember to keep the original citation context or paraphrase.


“The most difficult for the students, but quite easy for the practitioner, is to decide what belongs to commonly used or known findings, concepts, and facts within the discipline I study.” 


It is most difficult for students to discern what belongs to the fundamentals of the studied field. 

At the same time it is necessary to add a reference to the source in the text. The specific way of referring to literature is governed by individual citation standards, of which there are many. If the teacher does not exactly give you the standard, the choice is yours. Just remember to follow one standard throughout. Further, we will only look at one of the standards of Bibliographic citation. Content, form and structure, which is widespread in the EU.

As with the quotation in general, we can distinguish two parts when referring to literature. One is the reference to the source immediately after the accepted passage, the second is the full bibliographic citation of the source in the bibliography.


References in the text serve for the basic identification of the source from which the citation or paraphrase is drawn.

The ISO citation standard distinguishes three ways of referencing sources:

Link directly in text (first element and date): in this case, you reference the resource in parentheses directly after paraphrase or quote. The link contains the first element of the bibliographic record (usually the author’s or authors’ name) and the release date. If you mention the first element (name) in the text, you will only include the date in brackets.

Numerical references: after citation or paraphrase, you add a number in the upper index or in parentheses that corresponds to the source number in the bibliography. The list of references is then compiled in the order that corresponds to the order of reference to the sources in the text (ie not alphabetically). If you link to one resource at different locations, you still use the same number as the first link.

It is most difficult for students to decide what is among the basic knowledge of the field in the citation.

Ongoing Notes: After citation or paraphrase, you will re-enter the number in the upper index or in parentheses, which now refers to the footnote number (notes may be placed on the corresponding page, at the end of the chapter or at the end of the entire text). In the footnote, you will include either a link in the form of the author’s name and the full title, or the entire bibliographic citation. If you link to one resource multiple times, you will always create a new note.

It is most difficult for students to decide what belongs to the basic knowledge of the field. 1 The relevant footnote will include a reference to the source or a full bibliographic citation.

It’s up to you which method you use. Again, once you decide for one, you have to keep it throughout the text.

You can list the page numbers in all cases, but you don’t have to. If you want to, attach the abbreviation “s.” And the appropriate page number to the link. Although this is not an obligation, it is good to state the page numbers so that readers can possibly find the original text more easily.

What to do with two immediately following references to the same resource? If you use the numeric reference method, you simply use the same number a second time. Conversely, if you are working with the method of intermediate notes or links directly in the text, you can repeat the second link or use the abbreviation “ibid.” Or “ibid” or “ibid.” However, once a link to another source is placed between the two references to the same document, these terms are not used.

Bibliography – bibliographic citations

Finally, a list of literature, the so-called bibliographic citations of sources, remains to be drawn up. Contrary to the basic source identification reference, the bibliographic citation contains data for its complete identification.

See below for a bibliographic citation of the most common resource types.

The list is compiled either alphabetically (the first element and date method, the continuous note method) or in the order you referred to the sources in the text (numeric reference method). If the references in the text already state all the basic elements of the bibliographic citation, the bibliography does not have to be done.

Bibliographic citation always consists of basic and optional elements. Basic elements must always be given, but only if the particular document allows it. E.g. for some publications it is not possible to trace the author or older books do not have an international standard book number (ISBN). Optional elements may not be present, usually you decide on them yourself or in accordance with the teacher’s instructions.

In the patterns below, we only provide basic elements.

Book, proceedings

Pattern: AUTHOR. Name. Edition. Place: publisher, year. Standard number.

What do we advise?

Avoid too long literal quotes. If you adhere to all the quotes, nothing can be criticized from a formal point of view. But it does not look good if you are just copying foreign text in your work. A better-than-long quote is also often a paraphrase of the main idea.

Always use primary sources. Sometimes you will find a quote in the source you draw from and you want to take it. This is possible, but is recommended only when you do not have access to the original source and cannot draw directly from it.

Don’t unnecessarily inflate the bibliography. Do you want your literature list to be astonished at first sight? Be careful, however, to refer to everything in the bibliography and to see if some resources are redundant (eg textbooks).

Check to see if you have errors in links and bibliographic references. Like other text, citations should not contain errors and typos, whether in the author’s name, publication title, release date, or more.

Conclusion in conclusion

  • Determine which parts of your text need to be quoted and which are not
  • Correctly distinguish quotations and paraphrases, quote quotations
  • Reproduce the original text precisely in quotations and paraphrases
  • Choose a citation standard and follow it throughout
  • For the quoted or paraphrased section, provide a reference to the source and include a full bibliographic record of that source in the bibliography
  • Make sure that the bibliography contains only what you are referring to and whether there is anything you are referring to in the list