Quite right Quote: We help you to find the right citation, show you how indirect citation works and have eight fixed citation rules for direct citation for you. So nothing stands in the way of the best grade for your scientific work.

Correct citation in a scientific paper

In this article you will find an overview of all the important citation rules that you need for scientific work. First of all, here is all the important information about the two best-known citation methods: the German footnote and the American Harvard quotation.

The correct citation: Harvard or footnote?

Both literal (direct) citations and analogous (indirect) citations must be marked. So you can work scientifically accurate and avoid unintentional plagiarism. Choose a citation method and remain consistent throughout your work.

Depending on the subject area and the university, the common citation methods may differ. In the linguistic or English subject area one often relies on the American citation method (Harvard system). In other areas of humanities such as German studies or history, it is customary to use German citation (with footnotes). We explain both ways of quoting.

The German system (footnote system)

The advantage of the German citation system is that the flow of reading is not constantly interrupted and even small annotations can be written in the footnotes. Once learned, it is not difficult to apply this system over and over again. Below is everything you need to know about this common citation method.

The source references are indicated by footnotes (small numbers above) after the direct or indirect quotation. If the reference refers to only one word, the footnote – regardless of punctuation marks – is always immediately behind it.

The actual footnote, so the source is located at the bottom of the page, on which your quote is located. The footnotes are separated at the end of the page by a dash.

The footnote count is automatic and adapts even when the order changes.

Your footnote usually uses a short title. The complete source can be found in your bibliography. At many universities, it is customary to provide complete details in the first footnote of the respective source and only a short title from the second. The short title usually consists of the last name of the author, the title of the work and a page number. Again always be consistent.

If you use the same source in your footnote twice in a row, you can say “Ibid.” (“Ibid”) for a direct quote. and with an indirect quote “Cf. ibid. “rather than entering the short title every time.

Footnotes always start big and always end with a dot.

The font size within the footnotes is always 10 pt. and the line spacing is simple.

The American system (Harvard system)

This system uses short references in parentheses that are immediately after the quote in the body text. The basic principle looks like this: “Quote (author name year: page)”. The full references appear only in the bibliography of your work. The Harvard system may seem less complicated at first, but it also affects the reading flow a bit. Both the German and the American system have their advantages. Maintain what your university or lecturer prefers.

The source references are directly behind the quoted word, the direct or indirect quotation.

For Internet resources, the author, institution or website name and year are also in brackets. You will only be able to specify a page number in rare cases (for example in the case of a PDF).

In an indirect quote you write before your source “compare” (stands for “compare”). In contrast to the footnotes, which always have to start big, you can write small here. This also applies to “ibid.” (“Ibid.” For the same source) and “cf. ibid. “(” compare ibid. “for indirect citation of the same source).

Correct Quote: 8 citation rules for direct playback

If you follow these eight rules, you can not go wrong in direct quoting. They are applicable to scientific papers of all kinds and will help you with any citation problem that might come your way.

The quoted text is taken true to the original by the author.

The direct quote must be reproduced exactly as you found it. This also means punctuation and even mistakes have to be taken over. The errors must always be marked with [sic] or [sic!]. This note means “this is the source” in Latin.

Errors due to old spelling (e.g., ‘instead of’) need not always be pointed out. This can vary depending on the university, sometimes depending on the lecturer. The sharp S, however, is still very well known to most people and is usually not considered a mistake.

Length of the quote

In principle, literal quotations should always be used sparingly. Otherwise, you might get the impression that you are too lazy or not creative enough to rewrite the sentence with your own words. However, there are no objections to a few literal quotations, especially when they bring certain facts to the point.

If your quote exceeds three lines, it must be indented. Details on the exact formatting can be found in the guide of your university. In general, the quote is indented by at least one centimeter and is one to two sizes smaller (10 or 11 pt) than the continuous text (12 pt). To save space, the line spacing is simple, instead of 1.5 lines as in the continuous text. Sometimes it is up to the student how exactly he formats indented quotes. The most important thing, however, is to always stay consistent.

Quotes are mandatory

The quote must always be identified by double quotation marks in the body text. Otherwise, you could be accused of plagiarism. The only exception: the quote is so long that it has to be indented. Then the quotes disappear and the literal quote is indicated by a smaller font size and the indentation of all citation lines.

The right punctuation

Students ask themselves this question again and again: Where does the point actually belong at the end of a direct quote? It depends. If you quote a complete sentence, the point can remain within the quotation marks, you quote it, so to speak: “This is a completely quoted sentence.” Then you continue with your text as usual. If you cite only a part of the sentence and finish it in the middle, the point outside the quotation marks is set: “This is not a completely quoted sentence”.

The quote in the quote

It is not uncommon for authors to cite other authors in the literature. If you find a quote in your quote and would like to continue to quote it, you can mark it with single quotes. Here is an example to illustrate: “This is, This is a quote in the quote ‘a quote”.

It is important to include the quote in the citation in the footnote and in your bibliography. The source can be found in the bibliography of this book.

Changes in the quote

Sometimes you really want to quote something exactly and correctly, but the phrase you found does not seem to fit in your sentence structure. Everything you try sounds kind of wrong and wrong. There is a simple solution: change the literal quote and adapt it to your sentence.

Here it is important to mark any change with square brackets and not to change the meaning of the sentence. If individual letters are omitted, empty square brackets [] suffice. When exchanging or supplementing letters, the respective letter or letters are in square brackets.

For example, if the original sentence reads, “Literal citations are changeable, but only if you mark the changes.” Theorem can theoretically be changed in this way: An important rule in quoting is: “characterize the change [].” You should only change the quote with this method if it is really necessary.

Omissions in the quote

If you have a passage in front of you that you really want to quote correctly, but some sentences, phrases or words are completely superfluous in the middle, you can use this clause […]. It symbolizes that you left something out at this point. Here’s an example:

Long version:

“It is very important to shorten long quotes sometimes. Otherwise, the impression could arise that only the pages should be filled with them and that the author did not want to bother to reformulate the quotation. It creates more space for your own thoughts and formulations. “

Short version:

“It is very important to shorten long quotes sometimes. […] There is more room for your own thoughts and formulations. “

Highlighting in the quote

Highlighting in a scholarly work (for example, homework, bachelor or master thesis) is never bold. Possible variants are when words are shown in italics, g e s p e r r t or underlined. This also applies to the direct quote. If you, as the author or the author you cite, highlight something, this must be marked. If you should do a highlighting, you should use this bracket at the end of the quote for labeling: [Highlight. d. Ed.] Or longer [emphasis added by the author]. If it is the cited author who made this emphasis, you use this bracket: [emphasis in original].

Correct Quote: This is how indirect quotes work

Certainly you will often use indirect quotations in your scientific work. With the help of an appropriate reproduction of the statement of an author, you can draw supportive comparisons within your work or critically illuminate the foreign statements.

When you rewrite the testimony of another, you have accomplished an important accomplishment necessary for scientific work. With literal quoting, you should be sparing. But do not forget your own statements despite many indirect quotations.

Indirect quotation marks

You do not have to put quotes in quotes. However, since you have taken some thoughts from someone else, you have to set a comparison. If you want to quote correctly, you write in the German citation “Cf.” and your source in the footnote. In the American citation, you write “Cf.” and your source in parentheses after your analogous but reformulated sentence.

A hint, if you want to quote correctly

Even if you think that the correct reformulation of the quote could come from you, you should always specify a comparison. Lecturers usually know the literature very precisely and can recognize, if you did not come to this idea by yourself. A comparison more or less does not hurt, so rather be honest and give a reference to the source.