One of the mistakes that many students make is overuse of quotations in the introductory paragraph. It is generally recommended that students should avoid starting or ending their introductory paragraphs with a quotation. With numerous alternatives one has for writing the introduction, would it be a great idea to begin an essay with a quote or should it be reserved for the body of the paper?
No, you should not begin your paper with a quote if there are no clear guidelines to do so. Starting an essay with a quote could weaken your argument because it constitutes an idea from another author so early in the paper.
If you have to quote in the introductory paragraph, make sure it is extremely relevant and short.
When adding a quote in the first paragraph, it makes more sense to choose one that aligns with the purpose of the essay and to integrate it within your own words. The introductory paragraph is extremely important for your writing as it establishes the overall tone of the paper and presents the reader with the main argument. That is why it often includes a thesis statement and an overview of the arguments to be presented in the entire writing.
Disadvantages of Using Quotes to Start a Paragraph
- Quotes are cliché – If the quote is extremely compelling and straight to the point, this is ordinarily not a problem. This introduction where you implement a quote, however, expressly limits various essay-starting strategies, such as one in which you could relate astounding or unusual incidents that would emphasize the issue you’re discussing.
- It is difficult to identify and match quotations to your writing – As a student, you have very limited time for going through hundreds of quotes to find on that is short, and matches the theme of your paper.
- Quotation at the beginning of the essay rushes the culmination. It’s worth noting that a good quotation can be the most intensive sentence in an entire paper. Thus, it would make more sense to avoid using it as the very first sentence. Instead, you should reserve it for when the momentum would reach its highest value.
When not to Start a Paper with a Quote
There is nothing wrong with some learners starting their essays or research papers using quotes because they think the phrases are interesting. But carefully written introductory sentences generally have more freedom than quotes and are thus more effective. Here are the moments when you should not start a paper with a quote:
- When the paper is shorter than 1,100 words. Short essays require concise writing and unless required for your paper, keep quotes out at all cost.
- When presenting an original argument as the thesis statement.
- When you want to share personal experiences.
- When the purpose of the essay or paper does not match the meaning of the quote.
Again, quotes tend to impede your innovation because they so clearly communicate someone else’s ideas. Therefore, if you have anything more interesting and illuminating to discuss with your readers, it is preferable to avoid them.
Additionally, you are only given room to summarize or paraphrase another author’s quotations, thus you are restricted in your ability to express yourself.
Exceptions to Using Quotes at the Start of an Essay or Paper
You can include quotations in the initial paragraph, but exercise caution. The general rule is that you should provide a clear explanation along with the quote to help the reader comprehend its importance in the writing.
While it is acceptable to begin any form of essay with a quote, make sure the quotation you use comes from a reliable academic source.
Take relevant quotes then follow it with a good explanation because it might help your reader relate to your thesis statement while also grabbing their attention. In any academic paper, authors frequently utilize quotes to grab readers’ interest.
What Types of Quotes Can You Use to Start an Essay?
- Direct quote – Consider starting your essay with a direct quote, a paraphrased version, or its summary. When you use a direct quote, you must write the sentences exactly as they appear in the source.
- Paraphrased quotes – These are quotes that you have rewritten in your own words without altering their original meaning. Care is needed to avoid changing the style and message that needs to be passed across.
- Summarized quotes – For summary of a quote, we are talking about one that is expressed succinctly while still conveying the original meaning and concept of the text.
Any form of quotation you employ should be used with caution so as not to alter the original author’s intended meaning.
How to Choose a Good Quote to Start an Essay
These are the best practices for choosing a good quote to start your paper:
1. Pick Quotes Relevant to the Topic of the Paper
To start, carefully read the writing prompt to determine the topic your instructor wants you to address. This will make it simple for you to select a quote that is pertinent to the topic’s main idea.
The quote you select should not only be relevant to the main issue of the essay, but also stick in readers’ minds. This is crucial since it keeps readers’ interest and helps them relate to the opening phrase while reading the rest of the essay.
2. Quote only from Credible Academic Sources
By this, I mean sources like peer-reviewed journals, reliable government websites, real company websites, text books, and so on. It’s tempting to make your own quote and use it in the opening sentence of your essay. Don’t do it. If it doesn’t come one or any of the above credible scholarly sources, then it can’t be a good fit for your paper.
3. Make Quotes Clear and Short
Why use a lengthy quote that the reader will find difficult to even recall?
If it’s longer than necessary, even if it’s fascinating and adheres to the main idea of the essay prompt, you shouldn’t include it in the paper.
Instead, keep it simple and direct. Choose a quote that will be simple for the reader to remember during the first 30 seconds of reading. Short quotes also improve clarity, making it easier to convey the intended meaning and provide evidence for your claim.
4. Explain the Significance of the Quote
Don’t elaborate on the meaning of the quote if you decide to begin your essay with one. This has two benefits as stated below:
First, adding additional context to a quote strengthens your writing. Second, additional detail permits you to convey the clarity so you don’t lose a reader, in addition to making your information simple to comprehend.
Make sure to explain how each citation pertains to your topic, supports your argument or thesis, or illustrates a scenario or problem. This is crucial in the event that the link is not immediately accessible since otherwise, you run the danger of using a quote that is irrelevant to the context.
5. Cite the Source of the Quote
It is crucial that quotations are accurately recognized because they contain the words or ideas of other authors.
Depending on the citation style, additional information such as exact page, line, or paragraph numbers, may be required when quoting sources. This is done to help accurately identify material and eliminate any plagiarism concerns.
If you anticipate extensive public outreach, you should be extremely cautious with this element given how seriously plagiarism if frowned upon by US academic institutions and society.
6. Consider your audience
It is important to be mindful of the audience when choosing a quote. For example, it would typically be understandable only to those who have studies in the same restricted discipline as its practitioners. Pick quotes that are appropriate in this situation – not ones that are overly simple or clear. Other factors, such as an audience’s age, expertise, gender, interests, etc., could also be taken into account.