Academic Writing World

Composing A Research Paper- What Is The Right Number Of Quotes?

Research papers are designed to get you to learn more about the topics that you are studying. It forces you to take a deeper look into a topic in the field and apply the things that you are learning about to create a solid study. You will need to include proof in your paper. The proof is presented in a few different ways.


If you want to present some information in your paper that is not common knowledge, you can paraphrase a source that you are reading. This means that you will put what you have read into your own words. You will read the source and then summarize it. You will need to cite this source in your paper because you have taken the information from that source and you must give that author credit for their ideas.

Direct Quote

A direct quote is when you use the exact wording from the text. This is usually used if you want to use part of a sentence or a whole sentence to help prove your points. You can use a direct quote if it is longer but you would need to put it in a different context in your paper. You would put parenthesis around sources that are about a sentence or less long and you would put longer direct quotes in a single spaced and indented box paragraph separate from the paragraph.

How many quotes?

You will have to meet your instructor’s resource requirements but you want to make sure that you aren’t just quoting a bunch of other pieces. This is your paper and you will use the quotes to enhance it but not to explain each and every thing you want to discuss. Therefore deciding how many quotes to use is important. You should concentrate on using no more than one quote per section or paragraph. You can use one to help explain the background information on your piece or one first thing to help draw your reader in. You can use one to prove each main supporting point in the paper. You can use one to enhance your conclusion. This is a hard question to answer mostly because if you are writing a ten page paper, you will need to have more direct quotes than a three page paper would need. Just try to keep it to one per paragraph and you should be fine.