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Quotations are a fundamental attribute of Wikipedia. Quotations—often informally called "quotes"—provide information directly; a brief excerpt can sometimes explain things better and less controversially than trying to do so ourselves. This page sets out guidelines for such use in Wikipedia articles.


A quotation is:

"an exact reproduction of verbatim text that must be left unedited set off from its surroundings by either quote marks or formatting elements attributed to a reliable source"

A paraphrase is:

"text attributed to a reliable source"

Quotations vs. Paraphrases
Quotations Paraphrases
Formatting elements Yes No
Exact reproduction of verbatim text that must be left unedited Yes No
Explanation Yes
Credit Yes
Attribution reliable source


PD/free material do not use quote marks but the text must be:

  • attributed


  • given a footnote, or
  • given a link to the original text

How to use quotations[edit]

Quotations must be verifiably attributed to a reliable source. When taking material from another source always give credit. (see WP:PROVEIT). For when text must be quoted see the plagarism and non-free content guidelines. For how to to attribute quotes properly see WP:MOSQUOTE and WP:CITE. A good faith search in an effort to find a source before removing a quote is appreciated (see WP:UNSOURCED and WP:PRESERVE):

  • Attribution should be provided in the text of the article, not exclusively in a footnote or citation. A reader should not have to follow a footnote to learn whose words a quote is.
  • Editors should try to work quotations into the body of the article and should always be introduced with a lead that introduces them, putting them in context and providing any necessary explanation. A stand-alone quotation of itself is not a proper paragraph. Rather than inserting quotes in a stand-alone quote section, consider moving them to our sister project, Wikiquote, where a simple list of quotations would be better suited. Wikipedia is not a list or repository of loosely associated topics such as quotations. A Wikipedia article is, at its core, encyclopedic, and not an opportunity to list the best and worst quotations pertaining to an article's subject. If there are many quotations, please move them to Wikiquote and place a Wikiquote template on the article to inform readers that there are relevant quotations regarding the subject.
  • As an editor, it is your responsibility to read the source of the quotation thoroughly to prevent misrepresentation.

Editors should avoid long quotations where possible. Long quotations crowd the actual article and remove attention from other information. Many direct quotations can be minimised in length by provided an appropriate context in the surrounding text.

Do not put quotations in italics unless the material would otherwise call for italics (such as for emphasis and the use of non-English words (see the Manual of Style. Indicate whether using the italics in the original text or whether they were added later. For example:

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! [emphasis added]

Quotations must always be clearly indicated as being quotations. For information regarding the use of punctuation with quotations, including the use of quotation marks within quotations, see the Manual of Style: "Quotation marks".

Quotations should generally be worked into the article text, so as not to inhibit the pace, flow and organization of the article. Longer quotes may need to be set apart, generally through the use of wikitext templates such as {{Quote}}, {{Quotation}}, or {{Cquote}}, or HTML blockquote tag. As a matter of style, quoteboxes should generally be avoided as they draw special attention to the opinion of one source, and present that opinion as though Wikipedia endorses it. Quoteboxes may be acceptable in certain circumstances, especially when the quote is itself notable, and a major part of the article's topic.

Overusing quotations[edit]

While quotations are an indispensable part of Wikipedia, try not to overuse them.

Overuse happens when:

a quotation is used without pertinence

This means that a quotation is visually on the page, but its pertinence is not explained. Anywhere.

Also, do not use too many quotes because using to many quotes detract from the encyclopedic feel of Wikipedia.

Quoting copyrighted text[edit]

Brief quotations of copyrighted text may be used to illustrate a point, establish context, or attribute a point of view or idea. Copyrighted text must be attributed. If not used verbatim, any alterations must be clearly marked, i.e. [square brackets] for added or replacement text, an ellipsis (...) for removed text, and emphasis noted after the quotation as "[emphasis added]" or "[emphasis in the original]". Extensive quotation of copyrighted text is prohibited.

When to use quotations[edit]

Use quotations when:

  • using a unique phrase or term from someone's speech or writing. (For example Oscar Wilde's witticism "The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable".[1])
  • dealing with a potentially controversial statement. Using the actual spoken or written words can help avoid controversial statements by editors. (e.g. Using "Coulter stated that '[w]e need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' crème brûlée. That's just a joke, for you in the media.' ",[2] instead of writing in the passive narrative voice of the an article that Coulter called for the killing of a Supreme Court Justice.)

When not to use quotations[edit]

Try to avoid quotations in the following circumstances:

  • A summary or paraphrase of a quotation is often better where the original wording could be improved. Consider minimising the length of a quotation by paraphrasing, by working smaller portions of quotation into the article text, or both.
  • Where the same quotation has been used elsewhere in the article, avoid duplicating it, which is regarded as in poor style.
  • Where a quotation presents rhetorical language in place of more neutral, dispassionate tone preferred for encyclopedias, it can be a backdoor method of inserting a non-neutral treatment of a controversial subject into Wikipedia's narrative on the subject, and should be avoided.
  • A quotation that does not directly relate to the topic of the article or directly support the information as it is presented should not be used, to avoid original research.

Quotations and fair use[edit]

Quotation involves copying of another's work without permission, but is generally considered one of the uses permitted under fair use in the United States. However, just as with fair-use images, fair-use quotation has limitations:

  • The copied material should not comprise a substantial portion of the work being quoted, and a longer quotation should not be used where a shorter quotation would express the same information. What constitutes a substantial portion depends on many factors, such as the length of the original work and how central the quoted text is to that work. In one extreme case, Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises, 400 quoted words from a 500-page book were ruled to be infringement. Editors are advised to exercise good judgment and to remain mindful of the fact that while brief excerpts are permitted by policy, extensive quotations are forbidden.
  • The quotation must be useful and aid understanding of the subject; irrelevant quotations should be removed.
  • Intersperse quotations with original prose that comments on those quotations, rather than grouping all the quotations together, or constructing articles out of quotations with little original prose.
  • All quotations must be attributed to their source.

Unlike fair-use images, quotations are permitted on talk pages and project pages where they are useful for discussion, but the requirements listed above should still be observed.

A special case is the use of quotations purely for interest or decorative purposes on user pages. By consensus such quotations are acceptable as long as they are limited in extent, particularly if they comment on the attitudes of the user in question; but because the claim of fair use is weaker, the restrictions on extent must be more strictly enforced.

None of these restrictions apply in the case where the work being quoted is either public domain or available under a GFDL-compatible free license; in this case, we need not invoke fair use, and the use and extent of the quotation is purely a content and style decision.

See also[edit]

ar:ويكيبيديا:اقتباس it:Wikipedia:Citazioni ca:Viquipèdia:Citacions fr:Wikipédia:Citation


  1. ^ Oscar Wilde: the critical heritage, by Karl E. Beckson, p. 306 citing act one of A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde.
  2. ^ Associated Press release, Coulter Jokes About Poisoning Supreme Court Justice, Fox News, January 27, 2006

External links[edit]