Finding and Verifying Quotes
Whether for the annual Inspirational Quotes Contest or finding quotes for a paper or speech ... Choose quotes that can be verified.
Why We Verify Quotes
To verify a quote, one needs to know who said it, where it was said, and when it was said so readers can find the original source of the quote.
Many people turn to free Web sources or "quote a day calendars" to find quotes. Usually these types of sources attribute the quote to an individual, but do not give enough information about the quote's source to check if the quote is correct. Verifiable quotes include citations to help find the original quote.
Here are two sample quotes with citations from the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Sixth Edition (2004):
"Ev'ry corner that you turn you meet a notable With a statement that is eminently quotable!" (Ira Gershwin, 'Of thee I sing' (title of song and show) 1931)
". . . It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations." (Winston Churchill, My Early Life (1931) ch. 9)
With the citations provided, as in the examples above, one can locate the lyrics of the Gershwin song or the book and chapter by Winston Churchill and check if the quotes are correct in the cited texts.
Finding and Citing Quotes
One can always take a quote directly from a book, song, speech, poem, essay, interview, film, etc. The library also offers various quotation books and electronic database tools. Additionally, there are reputable sites on the Web that are useful for finding quotes.
As you find quotes, it is important to make note of the information about the original source of the quote, whether you are formally citing for a research paper or even if you are providing an informal attribution. Be sure to document the author of the quote, what work it was found in, the date of the work, the publisher, and a chapter (or additional method for finding the quote within a larger work). A page number is also very helpful.
The goal is to create a map back to the original source for the reader. Not only does this help verify the quote, adding value and giving legitimacy to it, but a reader can go back and view it in its original context if they wish.
If you are creating formal citations and need more information, please see the library's online guides to MLA, APA, or other citation styles.
Quote Collections Available at the Library
If you want quotation sources that are collections of quotes that give good citations and can be searched by author or topic, try one of the selected sources below.
Browse selections in our online catalog here or check out the items below:
Print Sources in the Library
Quotation Books On the Reference Shelves (upstairs):
- Cassell Dictionary Of Contemporary Quotations
- Dictionary Of Quotations,
- Bartlett's Familiar Quotations : A Collection Of Passages, Phrases, And Proverbs Traced To Their Sources
- The international thesaurus of quotations
- Magill's quotations in context
- Oxford dictionary of humorous quotations
- The Oxford dictionary of modern quotations
- Simpson's contemporary quotations
- The Macmillan book of proverbs, maxims, and famous phrases
- The Oxford Dictionary Of English Proverbs
- Webster's New World Dictionary Of Quotations
- The Home Book Of Quotations, Classical And Modern
- The Oxford Dictionary Of American Quotations
- The Yale Book Of Quotations
Quotation Books In the General Collection (downstairs):
- Familiar Quotations : A Collection Of Passages, Phrases, And Proverbs Traced To Their Sources In Ancient and Modern Literature
- The Oxford Book Of Aphorisms
- The Great Quotations
- Political quotations : a collection of notable sayings on politics from antiquity through 1989
Online Quotation Books Through the Databases
Credo Reference Book Collection contains eight online quotation books. To search all of Credo for quotes by author or topic, click here. Be sure to scroll down to the Quotations Tool search box and enter your search terms there.
Or explore books included:
- Bloomsbury Biographical Dictionary of Quotations
- Bloomsbury Thematic Dictionary of Quotations
- Book of Bible Quotations
- Collins Dictionary of Quotations
- Film Quotations: 11,000 Lines Spoken on Screen, Arranged by Subject, and Indexed
- Rawson's Dictionary of American Quotations
- Respectfully Quoted
- Simpson's Contemporary Quotations
Finding Quotations on the Open Web
Be careful! Most free Websites do not have adequate citations.
The Bartleby site http://www.bartleby.com/quotations/ verifies quotations with citations from the following online books:
- Bartlett, John. 1919. Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. Including over 11,000 quotations, the first new edition of John Bartletts corpus to be published after his death in 1905 keeps most of his original work intact.
- Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989. The 2,100 entries in this eminently researched collection form the constellation of collected wisdom in American political debate.
Furman University's, Mathematical Quotations Server. Well cited quotations in mathematics.
Westfield State College's Mathematical and Educational Quotation Server. Well cited quotations on mathematics and education.
Garson O’Toole's, Quote Investigator, blog investigates quotes. Search the blog for investigated quotes or request new investigations.
The Phrase Finder. Many quotes are actually restated old sayings and expressions. Use the Phrase Finder to look up phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions.
Sources for Quotations in the Sciences. Library of Congress reference guide on finding sources for quotations in the sciences.
Summer 2014--LMS | Revised, Fall 2016--MMM