Examples Of Explanatory Quote Essays

Body paragraphs in academic essays contain evidence that supports debatable main ideas that appear in topic sentences, and responsible writers make sure to introduce, cite, and explain quotes and paraphrases used as evidence.

INTRODUCE: Introduce all your quotes using introductory phrases.  Here are some examples:

  • According to Michael Smith, “you should use the author’s first and last name when you cite that author for the first time in your paper” (1).
  • As Smith explains, “you can introduce your quotes with a number of different phrases” (1).
  • Smith suggests that “if the introduction to your quote isn’t a dependent clause, it doesn’t need to be followed by a comma” (1).
  • Smith observes the following in his article: “When you use a colon to introduce a quote, you need a complete sentence preceding the colon” (1).

CITE: Provide appropriate parenthetical citations for all quotes and paraphrases (but not summaries).  Check the appropriate style guide for guidelines, e.g. MLA, APA, and Chicago.  Here are some guidelines for MLA style citation:

  • If the author’s name appears in the introduction to the quote or in the paraphrase, it doesn’t have to appear in the parenthetical reference, as the citations above illustrate.
  • If the author’s name does not appear in the introduction to the quote, the name must appear in the parenthetical reference.  See the following example of a cited paraphrase:

Some professors at UM take points off of your final paper grade if you don’t cite paraphrased or quoted material correctly (Smith 1).

EXPLAIN: Make sure to explain your quotes.  Provide analysis that ties them back to your main idea / topic sentence.  In other words, comment on the evidence in order to incorporate it into the argument you’re making. 

Here’s an example of a whole academic body paragraph that illustrates ICE: introduction, citation, and explanation:

Despite their competence as readers and writers, these young teachers have just begun to understand and participate in the changing ecology of literacy described above, particularly in adopting a view that digital writing is worthy of attention in schools. Grabill and Hicks argue that “[u]sing ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) isn’t enough; critically understanding how these writing technologies enable new literacies and meaningful communication should also be a core curricular and pedagogical function of English education” (307). While our experience as teacher educators, especially in the context of Kristen’s course, shows us that adopting this perspective is difficult, we feel that there are compelling social reasons to do so.

(Sample paragraph taken from page 62 of Turner, Kristen Hawley, and Troy Hicks. “‘That’s not Writing’: Exploring the Intersection of Digital Writing, Community Literacy, and Social Justice.” Community Literacy Journal 6.1 (2011): 55-78. Print.)

Activity: With a partner, work to fix the introductions and citations in the paragraph below.

Don DeLillo characterizes the American National Identity as consumerism. The Gladneys are DeLillo’s depiction of the typical American consumerist family. “That night, a Friday, we gathered in front of the [television] set, as was the custom and the rule, with take-out Chinese.” (DeLillo 64) In this excerpt DeLillo ritualizes the process of a family night around the television. DeLillo does not simply state that this is a tradition passed down through culture, rather by using the word ‘rule’ he is invoking a moral imperative that elevates the event from a cultural phenomenon to a religious ritual. In another instance where consumerism is ritualized Jack is watching his daughter Steffie sleep when, “She uttered two clearly audible words, familiar and elusive at the same time, words that seemed to have a ritual meaning, part of a verbal spell or ecstatic chant. Toyota Celia (DeLillo 148).” This quotation shows that not only is consumerism an external ritual but it also permeates our unconscious to the point that we imitate commercials in our sleep.

On the NJASK 6th -8th graders may be given an Explanatory Essay about a quote.  You will have to read a famous quote or adage and explain what it means.  You will have 30 minutes.  Below is the QUIET formula which will help you organize your ideas and support your explanation.


If only the NJASK had funny quotes...

QU-1st paragraph- Explain what the QUOTE means to you.  Introduce all the ideas of the essay.

I– 2nd paragraph- Give an example about how the quote is true for you as anINDIVIDUAL.

E– 3rd paragraph- Give an example about how the quote is true for EVERYONE.

T– 4th paragraph- Retell what the whole essay was about.  Explain what can be TAUGHT from this quote.

QU Paragraph–

(indent—–>) This quote means _______________________________ (explain what you think this quote means to you).  Another way to say this quote is ________________________________________ (put the quote in your own words).  I will prove how this quote is true not only for myself but everyone.  Finally, I will conclude with what we can be taught by this quote.

I Paragraph–

(indent—–>)  An example that demonstrates this quote is true for me is _____________________________.  (Add  two or three Concrete Details (CD’s) that tell a story that happened in YOUR life, or make one up, that proves the quote is true).  This confirms that the quote is true because ________________________.

E Paragraph–

(indent—–>) Not only is this quote true for me, but it’s also true for everyone.   An example that establishes this quote is true for everyone is ____________________________________.(Add two or three Concrete Details (CD’s) that tell a famous story, or make one up, that proves the quote is true for EVERYONE).  This confirms that the quote is true because ________________________.

T Paragraph–

(indent—–>)  In conclusion, it’s obvious this quote is universal.  We have seen two examples that prove this quote is true.  A lesson we should all take away from it is ___________________________________________________.

Note: I did not make up the QUIET formula nor the terms used in the Jane Schaffer writing method, but have modified them to fit the needs of NJASK test takers.

Copyright © 2011 David Mach

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