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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):

Quotation Books In the General Collection (downstairs):

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:


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:

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