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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Inserting quotations

Here are some general rules on inserting quotations in your dissertation:

  • quotations from primary sources should be in the original language


  • there is no need to provide an English translation unless the language used is not one taught within the Faculty


  • use single inverted commas for quotations; do not place in bold or use italics


  • use double inverted commas for quotations within a quotation:

Valenzuela suggests that this idealization of woman leads to a restriction of the female voice: ‘nos lavaron a muchas de nosotras la boca con agua y jabón cuando decíamos alguna de esas llamadas palabrotas, las “malas” palabras’.


  • for quotations of less than two lines’ length, simply incorporate them into your paragraph:

In La traición we see Toto trying to preserve the association of outer beauty with goodness and virtue. When he sees Sangre y arena, he feels deceived by Rita Hayworth, whose beauty is not matched by a kind and good nature: ‘es una artista linda pero que hace traiciones’ (81).


  • offset quotations of longer than two lines by increasing both the left-hand and the right-hand margins by 1 cm and leaving a line free before and after the quotation. Quotation marks are omitted for quotations offset in this manner.

[…] The novel asserts Colón’s genealogical predisposition to Paradise:

En su camareta consultó el mapa secreto, producto de tantos años de búsquedas, violaciones de correspondencia e intuiciones. (Todos pudieron leer las mismas cosas en los textos sagrados y profanos, pero sólo el elegido –el de la estirpe de Isaías– podría recibir la síntesis final.) (162)

All these readings imprint in Colón a paradoxically ambiguous and precise image of Paradise, one linked to fiction, cosmology, the Jewish longing for a homeland and Caribbean topography. […]


  • quotations should usually be introduced with a comma or a colon, but shorter quoted phrases may also be incorporated without punctuation into the syntax of your sentence. Some examples:

with a comma -

As Mike Featherstone argues, ‘the possibility of the nation therefore depends upon the development of the book, the novel, and the newspaper alongside a literate reading public capable of using these sources throughout the territorial area and thus able to imagine themselves as a community’.

with a colon -

The suspension of time in exile is best summarized in a quotation by Cortázar in which he likens exile to death: ‘El exilio […] es como una muerte inconcebiblemente horrible porque es una muerte que se sigue viviendo conscientemente’.

without punctuation:

Valenzuela recognizes the ‘poder de manipulación’ of these well-constructed rumours which combines ‘el miedo supersticioso’ with ‘una vaga promesa de salvación por la magia’.


  • use three dots enclosed in square brackets to indicate one or more words omitted from a quotation (usually because they are not relevant to your point):

A character in ‘Simetrías’ explains: ‘Es importante evitar el olvido […]. Hay que recordar esas paredes que han sido demolidas con el firme propósito de borrar el cuerpo del delito’.


  • if the quotation forms part of a longer sentence in your dissertation, the closing quotation mark should precede the full stop (or any other kind of punctuation):

In No quiero volver a casa the black screens inserted between the sequences represent the silence of the many beings that ‘dejaron de ser’.