Thesis Statement Government Control Quotes

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” —Thomas Edison

Edison was right. It takes a lot of hard work to be a genius. I’m here to tell you that it takes a lot of hard work to be a good writer too.

One of the first steps you can take to be a good writer, and to improve your essay writing, is to craft a strong thesis statement.

It’s a given that almost any essay you write needs a thesis, so why not make sure yours is the best it can be?

Yep, 99% perspiration is grueling. I get that. I cannot reduce the amount of effort it will take for you to actually write your paper, but I can help with the 1% inspiration by giving you 110 good thesis statements to help you write a better essay.

Good Thesis Statements: Quick and Dirty Tips for the Genius at Work

If you’re going to write good thesis statements, you need to know what makes one good. Here are a few quick tips you need to follow:

  • A thesis statement must be a statement. (Obvious enough, right?) It’s called a thesis statement for a reason, so don’t make your thesis statement a thesis question.
  • A thesis statement must be in your own words. Don’t use a quote as your thesis statement.
  • A thesis statement is essentially a mini-outline of your paper. It tells your readers the focus, stance, and direction for your paper.
  • A thesis statement must be specific. Use specific word choices and language to tell readers exactly what you will be writing about.

If you want a little more detail about how to craft your own thesis statement, read How to Write a Thesis Statement in 5 Simple Steps.

Okay, let’s move on to those 110 good thesis statements I promised.

110 Good Thesis Statements for a Better Essay

I’ve divided the list of thesis statements by various types of papers. If you don’t see your paper type here, don’t worry. You can still use these good thesis statements as inspiration and rework one to fit your assignment.

Good thesis statements for a better argumentative essay

The goal of the argument essay is to convince your readers of your viewpoint. The key to an effective argument essay is to choose a debatable topic that you can support with evidence (usually from credible outside sources).

Here are two more resources to help you write a great argument essay:

If you’re ready to start the search for an argument essay thesis statement, here are 11 good thesis statements to get you started:

1. Although the use of drones has been praised as an effective tool in combat, the reality is that drones can be extremely dangerous, inaccurate, and often kill innocent civilians.

2. One of the most effective strategies to ensure young children do well in school is to provide them with a nutritious diet.

3. Before enrolling in kindergarten, all eligible students should be vaccinated.

4. Internet addiction is a disease that requires professional intervention and treatment.

5. Social media websites are personal sites, and employers have no right to monitor employees’ personal lives, reprimand them, or fire them based on personal conduct on social media websites.

6. All grocery products containing GMOs should be clearly labeled.

7. In order to create an effective student-centered learning environment, elementary class sizes should be limited to no more than 20 students.

8. Though social media is designed to connect people, it actually causes many to become more isolated.

9. Standardized tests should be abolished as they do not truly measure a student’s intelligence or ability.

10. Photoshopped ads should be banned as they create unreasonable and unachievable body images.

11. Parents should not publicly shame their children because it does not effectively teach children a lesson, it is a form of bullying, and it can be emotionally damaging.

Not inspired by any of these thesis statements? Try one of these:

Good thesis statements for a better compare and contrast essay

A compare and contrast essay is just like it sounds. You need to compare (by examining the similarities) and contrast (by examining the differences) two concepts or ideas.

If you aren’t quite sure how you should structure your essay, don’t worry. We can help. Start by reading these:

If you know how to write this type of essay but need help with thesis statements, here are (yep, you guessed it) 11 that will help!

12. Both Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres are successful talk show divas, but their differences in humor and insight create a strong contrast between the two hosts.

13. Buying products at the Dollar Store means that customers will likely pay less for a product than they would at a convenience store, but a Dollar Store usually sells off-brand products in smaller sizes.

14. Coffee and energy drinks both offer people a jolt of caffeine, but when comparing the nutritional value and safety, the two drinks differ greatly.

15. At first glance, it seems as though teens and toddlers have nothing in common; however, even though teens have (in theory) more intellectual ability than toddlers, their moodiness and lack of reason makes the two age groups strikingly similar

16. Living on a small or large college campus means that students will live in close proximity to each other and have some amount of independence, but access to social interactions and cultural activities can vary widely depending on the size of the college.

17. American Idol and The Voice are both reality television shows that search for the hottest new music star, but the type of contest and voting differ between the programs.

18. Online courses and traditional face-to-face courses are similar in that students enrolled in either type of course will complete courses in their degree programs, but courses differ greatly when it comes to the amount of flexibility offered and the level of time-management required.

19. Renting a home can be costly, but it allows the renter to move more frequently; on the other hand, home ownership provides an investment opportunity but requires people to live in one place.

20. While Democrats are generally considered to be liberal and Republicans are generally considered to be conservative, the two political parties are actually quite similar in their ideologies.

21. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like telegrams and Twitter have anything in common, but even though the technology is light years apart, the messages are comparable.

22. People think comparing apples to oranges is impossible, but the two fruits are actually quite similar.

Not excited about any of these topics? Read 49 Compare and Contrast Essay Topics to Help You Get Started.

Good thesis statements for a better evaluation essay

An evaluation essay is similar to a review because you need to examine both the positive and negative aspects of something. However, there’s a big difference between a review and an evaluation essay.

In an evaluation essay, you’ll need to choose specific criteria to use in your evaluation, and you’ll need specific evidence to support your statements.

Ready for examples? Check out these ones.

23. Agent 99 is the greatest agent in television history because she is talented, witty, and can out-smart any villain.

24. The 1960s was the most influential decade in music history due to its social and political protest songs.

25. Playstation 4 is a superior gaming system due to its multimedia capability, storage capacity, and overall performance.

26. Even though fans get a better view of the action when watching a basketball game on television, watching a game live is much better because fans get to experience the energy and atmosphere that only a stadium filled with people can provide.

27. A private school can be costly, but attending a private high school provides students with an exceptional learning environment due to smaller class sizes, caring faculty and staff, and a structured learning environment.

28. Direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising can be annoying but is effective because it uses catchy slogans, memorable ads, and likable characters.

29. A fish is the perfect pet because it does not need human interaction, is low maintenance, and can be left alone for extended periods of time.

30. Though many feel that online dating is not safe, it is actually better than traditional dating because people can select criteria, find like-minded individuals, and make contact online before meeting in person.

31. Breaking Bad has a number of memorable characters, but it does not live up to the hype; the show has too many long, drawn-out scenes and predictable plots lines that make the series merely average

32. Running can be a good way to stay in shape or lose weight, but the sport is too dangerous and can leave runners with numerous injuries (especially in later years).

33. Even though the song 99 Bottles of Beer is cliche, it is the best drinking song ever due to its catchy and easy-to-memorize lyrics.

Still stuck? Get more inspiration here: 20 Evaluation Essay Topics to Spark Your Next Paper.

Good thesis statements for a better literary analysis essay

A literary analysis essay quite simply requires you to analyze literature. The goal of this paper is not to summarize the plot. The goal is to analyze the essay and examine things like theme, symbol, or character.

Need a little more help understanding how to write this essay? Read Literary Analysis Essay Tips from a Kibin Editor and 8 Components of a Smart Literary Analysis.

Once you know how to write the paper, of course, you’ll need a topic and thesis statement. Thus, without further ado, I give you 11 literary analysis essay thesis statements.

34. One of the most prominent symbols in Macbeth is not the literal blood that is spilled, but the figurative blood that plagues Lady Macbeth.

35. In The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the wallpaper symbolizes her room as a cage in which she is imprisoned.

36. Even though many argue that science fiction is unrealistic, society should pay closer attention to the genre because science fiction often becomes science fact.

37. The Hunger Games parallels American society today as one of its key themes is the stark difference between those with wealth and power and those without.

38. Love is the most powerful symbol in Romeo and Juliet.

39. Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening poem appears simplistic; however, an analysis of its word choice and rhyme scheme reveals a complex and meaningful discussion of the power and beauty of nature.

40. First-person narration in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is the perfect and most effective perspective from which to tell Pecola’s story.

41. A Raisin in the Sun makes a poignant commentary on race in America and its effect on the American Dream.

42. Though The Lorax by Dr. Seuss seems, at first glance, to be only a simple children’s book, it presents a serious cautionary tale about environmental destruction.

43. The poem The Jabberwocky illustrates that some themes are universal and that even a poem filled with made-up words can effectively discuss the struggle of good vs. evil.

44. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oates and the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” represent the acceptance of violence against women.

Not connecting with any of the above thesis statements? Use the resources below for more inspiration:

Good thesis statements for a better persuasive essay

If you’re writing a persuasive essay, your goal is to persuade or convince your audience. You need to assume that your audience (whether it be your teacher, friend, or neighbor) hasn’t yet formed an opinion on the subject. It’s your job to help them form that opinion.

Need a visual to help? Check out this infographic. Prefer a standard (but very useful) article? Read How to Write a Persuasive Essay That’s Convincing.

If you’re ready to start work on your thesis, here are 11 (more) to choose from!

45. Campus dining offers too many fast-food options and should offer more nutritious eateries for students.

46. People who experience the winter blues need to get outside and enjoy winter activities.

47. The Affordable Care Act must be amended as many hourly part-time employees are struggling because their hours (and thus wages) have been cut.

48. Rifle hunting is safe for older kids and can be a wonderful bonding experience between parent and child.

49. People with non-offensive visible tattoos should not be made to cover them at any work environment.

50. Cities should change zoning laws so that more areas allow the practice of urban farming.

51. Clothing companies take advantage of teens by unnecessarily charging higher prices for popular teen brands.

52. Schools should eliminate homecoming king and queen competitions because they are essentially popularity contests.

53. Fifteen year olds are not mature enough to complete driver’s education courses; thus, they should complete driver’s education at 16, and the legal driving age should be raised to 17.

54. There should be price caps on movie theater food.

55. College students should only be required to take courses for their majors, and they should not have to take general education courses.

If these 11 aren’t working for you, try these resources for inspiration:

Good thesis statements for a better problem-solution essay

The problem-solution essay is another one of those essays that’s just like it sounds. It focuses on writing about a problem and its potential solution.

If you aren’t sure what type of problem you should focus on, read How to Write a Problem-Solution Essay That Solves a Real Problem or Problem-Solution Essay Tips from a Kibin Editor

If you’re still looking for an idea for your paper or if you need a thesis statement, here are 11 ideas.

56. The top 1% of the population holds the wealth in the US; in order to create a more equitable society, this wealth must be redistributed.

57. In order to solve the ongoing problem of gun violence in schools, administrators need to increase security measures by adding locked doors and metal detectors.

58. High school football players must be monitored more closely after injuries in order to prevent serious complications.

59. Many students are burdened with student loans long after graduation; to alleviate this problem, the government and universities should provide more scholarships and grants.

60. Parents need to monitor their children’s online activities more closely in order to help reduce Internet dangers, such as cyberbullying and online predators.

61. In order to make cycling safer within the city, more bike lanes need to be added.

62. Students who have continued problems with roommates need to improve their communication skills.

63. Too many college students are in debt because of excessive credit card use, but the solution lies with changing the marketing and predatory practices of credit card companies rather than with the students themselves.

64. To help control childhood obesity, sugary drinks should be banned from schools.

65. Therapy dogs should be issued to veterans in order to help reduce anxiety and the effects of PTSD.

66. Families with young children should practice technology-free days in order to help promote creativity and foster communication within the family.

If the above 11 topics don’t inspire you, check out these 20 Problem-Solution Essay Topics to Help You Get Started.

Good thesis statements for a better process essay

If you’re writing a process essay, you’ll need to explain to readers how to do something. This type of essay is not meant to be a simple how-to list. Rather, it should be instructive and thoroughly explain a process.

If you guessed that I have 11 thesis statements to get you started, you’re right!

67. People who want to attract potential dates need to set up an appealing online profile.

68. In order to make a good first impression at a job interview, a candidate must be properly prepared.

69. Limiting technology use before bedtime and maintaining a dark bedroom can help cure insomnia.

70. Getting a new haircut and buying a new outfit can be a fun and surprisingly effective way to boost one’s self-esteem.

71. Students who want to improve their grades can do so by developing more effective study habits.

72. Buying and reselling antiques can be a quick and easy way to earn extra income.

73. Using good soil, watering properly, and weeding frequently are the keys to a productive vegetable garden.

74. By learning two simple poses, one can take the perfect selfie.

75. To decide on a college major, students should enroll in a variety of courses and speak with people who work in their potential fields of study.

76. To reduce out-of-pocket costs for college, students should plan ahead by earning good grades in high school and applying for scholarships.

77. Skipping late-night snacks, cutting back on alcohol, and cooking more homemade meals can help people lose weight and become healthier.

Didn’t find a topic you connect with in the above list? Read 15 Process Essay Topics That Make Sense, or check out these process essay topic ideas from the Young People Institute.

Good thesis statements for a better pros and cons essay

There are positive and negative aspects to just about any topic. Analyzing these aspects is at the heart of any good pros and cons essay.

Here are 11 pros and cons essay thesis statements to inspire you!

78. While allowing adoptees to have access to their birth records can help them learn their biological histories, parents who wish the records to remain sealed may consider this to be a violation of privacy.

79. Lending a friend money can bring satisfaction from helping someone out, yet that satisfaction can easily turn to anger if the friend does not pay back the loan.

80. Legalizing drugs in the US can help stop violence and trafficking; however, legalization can also cause more drug addiction problems.

81. Buying cheap shoes means that a person can have a closet full of footwear, but the downside is that most cheap footwear is extremely uncomfortable.

82. Taxing sugary soda is a step to improving health and forcing manufacturers to produce healthier products, but the taxation of soda would likely have little impact on an individual’s consumption.

83. Using public transportation can be cheap and earth-friendly, but it can also be inconvenient and dangerous.

84. Camping can be an amazing way to experience nature; however, a stay at a campground can feel more like living in a small city rather than a peaceful commune with nature.

85. Though homeopathic medicine can help alleviate some health problems, it can also be harmful and potentially dangerous to one’s health.

86. Being an early riser allows people to start the day early to accomplish their goals, but it also means that they are too tired in the evening to enjoy all that late nights have to offer.

87. Procrastination may be beneficial to students who work well under pressure, but it can also mean that students fall short of time and end up doing poorly on assignments.

88. Requiring women to enlist to selective service offers them the opportunity to serve in all military capacities, but some consider it unethical.

Need some more inspiration? Check out these resources:

Good thesis statements for a better reflective essay

The obvious description of the reflective essay is one in which you reflect. This brief description actually gets to the core of the essay. You need to think about an event, a person, or experience that changed or affected you, then reflect upon the personal growth that occurred as a result.

To help you get started, here are 11 thesis statements to reflect upon.

89. The day my supposed best friend accused me of cheating on a math test taught me that not everyone can be trusted.

90. The day I adopted my daughter changed my life forever.

91. A chance encounter with a firefighter made me enroll in the fire academy.

92. Returning to my grandparents’ home always reminds me of the importance of family.

93. After logging the amount of time I spend on social media each week, I decided that my time would be better spent offline.

94. Lying to my mother and telling her my brother broke the television remote taught me a valuable lesson about honesty.

95. The Sunday tradition of making pancakes with my dad is one I hope to carry on with my children.

96. The cancer-free diagnosis was a moment of unimaginable joy, relief, and disbelief all at once.

97. Getting out of an abusive relationship made me realize how strong I really am.

98. One minor car accident made me realize the importance of careful driving.

99. Volunteering for my church helped me become closer to my community and my spiritual beliefs.

Still stumped on what to write about? Read 15 Reflective Essay Topics to Inspire Your Next Paper. Have a topic in mind but don’t quite know what to do next? Use This Reflective Essay Outline to Get Your Paper Started.

Good thesis statements for a better research essay

A research essay can be a complicated process, especially if you’ve never written one. To get started, make sure you read these helpful pieces of advice:

To get started with the thesis statement for your research paper, read these 11 examples.

100. Anti-war songs, such as “99 Red Balloons,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Russians” present a powerful message to listeners and can cause a society’s views on war to shift.

101. In order to best serve students with disabilities, they should be mainstreamed into traditional classrooms.

102. Though fad diets claim to help people safely lose weight, many are dangerous and can cause severe health problems.

103. An applicant’s body language can have negative consequences for a job interview.

104. The Internet and the ability to download and stream music has changed the music industry forever.

105. Graduating seniors should take a gap year between high school and college in order to explore, mature, and recharge before moving on to the next phase of their lives.

106. Long-term steroid use can have serious consequences to an athlete’s body.

107. Marketing to children can have negative effects on their self-esteem.

108. Though age discrimination is illegal in the workplace, both the young and the old face such discrimination.

109. High school athletes should not receive gifts, such as athletic equipment and shoes, from major corporations.

110. Many people undergo plastic surgery as a necessary medical procedure; however, some who undergo plastic surgery actually become addicted to such procedures.

Not sold on the above ideas? Read 25 Interesting Research Paper Topics to Get You Started.

110 Reasons You Need a Good Thesis Statement

Okay, I don’t have 110 reasons. I only have one (but it’s an important one, so pay attention). In most types of essays, you need a strong thesis to write a strong paper.

If one of my thesis statements has inspired you, but you still need to do a bit of work to make it your own, try our quick and easy Thesis Builder.

Don’t forget that a final (or almost final) copy of a paper can always use some expert feedback from a Kibin Editor!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

How much should I quote?

The focus of your essay should be on your understanding of the topic. If you include too much quotation in your essay, you will crowd out your own ideas. Consider quoting a passage from one of your sources if any of the following conditions holds:

  1. The language of the passage is particularly elegant or powerful or memorable.
  2. You wish to confirm the credibility of your argument by enlisting the support of an authority on your topic.
  3. The passage is worthy of further analysis.
  4. You wish to argue with someone else’s position in considerable detail.

Condition 3 is especially useful in essays for literature courses.

If an argument or a factual account from one of your sources is particularly relevant to your paper but does not deserve to be quoted verbatim, consider

  • paraphrasing the passage if you wish to convey the points in the passage at roughly the same level of detail as in the original
  • summarizing the relevant passage if you wish to sketch only the most essential points in the passage

Note that most scientific writing relies on summary rather than quotation. The same is true of writing in those social sciences—such as experimental psychology—that rely on controlled studies and emphasize quantifiable results. (Almost all of the examples in this handout follow the MLA system of citation, which is widely used in the humanities and in those social sciences with a less quantitative approach.)

Visit our handout on paraphrase and summary.

Why is it important to identify my sources?

Quotations come from somewhere, and your reader will want to know where. Don’t just parachute quotations into your essay without providing at least some indication of who your source is. Letting your reader know exactly which authorities you rely on is an advantage: it shows that you have done your research and that you are well acquainted with the literature on your topic.

In the following passage, the parenthetical reference to the author does not adequately identify the source:

The ancient Greeks never saw a need to justify wars that were waged outside the walls of the city state. “Hence we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war, together with the first notion that there are just and unjust wars” (Arendt 12). Yet the Roman conception of a just war differs sharply from more modern conceptions.

When you are making decisions about how to integrate quotations into your essay, you might imagine that you are reading the essay out loud to an audience. You would not read the parenthetical note. Without some sort of introduction, your audience would not even know that the statement about Roman antiquity was a quotation, let alone where the quotation came from.

How do I introduce a short quotation?

The following offers just one way of introducing the above quotation:

The ancient Greeks never saw a need to justify wars that were waged outside the walls of the city state. As Hannah Arendt points out in On Revolution, “we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war, together with the first notion that there are just and unjust wars” (12). Yet the Roman conception of a just war differs sharply from more modern conceptions.

Since the quotation is relatively short, the brief introduction works.

You could, however, strengthen your analysis by demonstrating the significance of the passage within your own argument. Introducing your quotation with a full sentence would help you assert greater control over the material:

The ancient Greeks never saw a need to justify wars that were waged outside the walls of the city state. In On Revolution, Hannah Arendt points to the role the Romans played in laying the foundation for later thinking about the ethics of waging war: “we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war, together with the first notion that there are just and unjust wars” (12). Yet the Roman conception of a just war differs sharply from more modern conceptions.

In these two examples, observe the forms of punctuation used to introduce the quotations. When you introduce a quotation with a full sentence, you should always place a colon at the end of the introductory sentence. When you introduce a quotation with an incomplete sentence, you usually place a comma after the introductory phrase. However, it has become grammatically acceptable to use a colon rather than a comma:

Arendt writes: “we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war . . .”

If you are blending the quotation into your own sentence using the conjuction that, do not use any punctuation at all:

Arendt writes that “we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justification of war . . .”

If you are not sure whether to punctuate your introduction to a quotation, mentally remove the quotation marks, and ask yourself whether any punctuation is still required.

Finally, note that you can deviate from the common pattern of introduction followed by quotation. Weaving the phrases of others into your own prose offers a stylistically compelling way of maintaining control over your source material. Moreover, the technique of weaving can help you to produce a tighter argument. The following condenses twelve lines from Arendt’s essay to fewer than two:

What Arendt refers to as the “well-known realities of power politics” began to lose their moral legitimacy when the First World War unleashed “the horribly destructive” forces of warfare “under conditions of modern technology” (13).

What verbs and phrases can I use to introduce my quotations?

Familiarize yourself with the various verbs commonly used to introduce quotations. Here is a partial list:

argueswritespoints outconcludescommentsnotes
maintainssuggestsinsistsobservescountersasserts
statesclaimsdemonstratessaysexplainsreveals

Each verb has its own nuance. Make sure that the nuance matches your specific aims in introducing the quotation.

There are other ways to begin quotations. Here are three common phrasings:

In the words of X, . . .

According to X, . . .

In X‘s view, . . .

Vary the way you introduce quotations to avoid sounding monotonous. But never sacrifice precision of phrasing for the sake of variety.

Visit the U of T Writing Website’s page on verbs for referring to sources.

How do I introduce a long quotation?

If your quotation is lengthy, you should almost always introduce it with a full sentence that helps capture how it fits into your argument. If your quotation is longer than four lines, do not place it in quotation marks. Instead, set it off as a block quotation:

Although Dickens never shied away from the political controversies of his time, he never, in Orwell’s view, identified himself with any political program:

The truth is that Dickens’ criticism of society is almost exclusively moral. Hence his lack of any constructive suggestion anywhere in his work. He attacks the law, parliamentary government, the educational system and so forth, without ever clearly suggesting what he would put in their places. Of course it is not necessarily the business of a novelist, or a satirist, to make constructive suggestions, but the point is that Dickens’ attitude is at bottom not even destructive. . . . For in reality his target is not so much society as human nature. (416)

The full-sentence introduction to a block quotation helps demonstrate your grasp of the source material, and it adds analytical depth to your essay. But the introduction alone is not enough. Long quotations almost invariably need to be followed by extended analysis. Never allow the quotation to do your work for you. Usually you will want to keep the quotation and your analysis together in the same paragraph. Hence it is a good idea to avoid ending a paragraph with a quotation. But if your analysis is lengthy, you may want to break it into several paragraphs, beginning afresh after the quotation.

Once in a while you can reverse the pattern of quotation followed by analysis. A felicitously worded or an authoritative quotation can, on occasion, nicely clinch an argument.

There is some flexibility in the rule that block quotations are for passages of four lines or more: a shorter passage can be represented as a block quotation if it is important enough to stand on its own. For example, when you are quoting two or more lines of poetry, you will probably want to display the verse as it appears on the page:

In the opening heroic couplet of The Rape of the Lock, Pope establishes the unheroic nature of the poem’s subject matter:

What dire offense from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things. (1-2)

If you choose to integrate verse into your own sentence, then use a slash surrounded by spaces to indicate line breaks:

In Eliot’s The Waste Land, the symbols of a mythic past lie buried in “A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, / And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief” (22-23).

How do I let my reader know I’ve altered my sources?

If you need to alter your quotations in any way, be sure to indicate just how you have done so. If you remove text, then replace the missing text with an ellipsis—three periods surrounded by spaces:

In The Mirror and the Lamp, Abrams comments that the “diversity of aesthetic theories . . . makes the task of the historian a very difficult one” (5).

If the omitted text occurs between sentences, then put a space after the period at the end of sentence, and follow that by an ellipsis. In all, there will be four periods. (See Orwell on Dickens, above.)

Many people overuse ellipses at the beginning and end of quotations. Use an ellipsis in either place only when your reader might otherwise mistake an incomplete sentence for a complete one:

Abraham Lincoln begins “The Gettysburg Address” with a reminder of the act upon which the United States was founded: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation . . .” (1).

Do not use an ellipsis if you are merely borrowing a phrase from the original:

In “The Gettysburg Address” Abraham Lincoln reminds his listeners of the principles that had inspired the creation of “a new nation” (1).

If you need to alter or replace text from the original, enclose the added text within square brackets. You may, for example, need to alter text to ensure that pronouns agree with their antecedents. Do not write,

Gertrude asks her son Hamlet to “cast your nighted colour off” (1.2.68).

Square brackets allow you to absorb Gertrude’s words into your own statement:

Gertrude asks her son Hamlet to “cast [his] nighted colour off” (1.2.68).

Alternatively, you can include Gertrude’s original phrasing in its entirety as long as the introduction to the quotation is not fully integrated with the quotation. The introduction can be an independent clause:

Gertrude implores her son Hamlet to stop mourning the death of his father: “cast your nighted colour off” (I.ii.68).

Or it can be an incomplete sentence:

Gertrude implores her son Hamlet, “cast your nighted colour off” (1.2.68).

How is punctuation affected by quotation?

You must preserve the punctuation of a quoted passage, or else you must enclose in square brackets any punctuation marks that are your own.

There is, however, one important exception to this rule. You are free to alter the punctuation just before a closing quotation mark. You may need to do so to ensure that your sentences are fully grammatical. Do not worry about how the original sentence needs to be punctuated before that quotation mark; think about how your sentence needs to be punctuated. Note, for example, that if you are using the MLA system of referencing, a sentence always ends after the parenthetical reference. Do not also include a period before closing the quotation mark, even if there is a period there in the original. For example, do not write,

According to Schama, Louis XVI remained calm during his trial: “The Terror had no power to frighten an old man of seventy-two.” (822).

The period before the closing quotation mark must go:

According to Schama, Louis XVI remained calm during his trial: “The Terror had no power to frighten an old man of seventy-two” (822).

However, if you are using footnotes, the period remains inside the quotation mark, while the footnote number goes outside:

According to Schama, Louis XVI remained calm during his trial: “The Terror had no power to frighten an old man of seventy-two.”1

In Canada and the United States, commas and periods never go outside a quotation mark. They are always absorbed as part of the quotation, whether they belong to you or to the author you are quoting:

“I am a man / more sinned against than sinning,” Lear pronounces in Act 3, Scene 2 (59-60).

However, stronger forms of punctuation such as question marks and exclamation marks go inside the quotation if they belong to the author, and outside if they do not:

Bewildered, Lear asks the fool, “Who is it that can tell me who I am?” (1.4.227).

Why is Lear so rash as to let his “two daughters’ dowers digest the third” (1.1.127)?

Finally, use single quotation marks for all quotations within quotations:

When Elizabeth reveals that her younger sister has eloped, Darcy drops his customary reserve: “‘I am grieved, indeed,’ cried Darcy, ‘grieved—shocked'” (Austen 295).

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