helping students become stronger, more confident writers and communicators
“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.” James Beard
I love sandwiches. In fact, to say I love sandwiches would be an understatement. Sandwiches are a staple for me. I occasionally like to buy them from a deli or bakery, as it’s important to me to experience the work of a fellow sandwich connoisseur; however, I do spend a great deal of time making them in my own kitchen.
I like to use a variety of breads – dark Jewish rye, croissant, focaccia, rosemary olive oil. The choices are endless, but once I’m finally able to decide on what type of crust I’d like, I’m usually much faster at choosing the meat and cheese. I like to keep it simple. Honey ham, bacon, grilled chicken, or herb turkey. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll pull the Havarti cheese out of the refrigerator. If I’m feeling ordinary, I’ll choose pepper jack. Sometimes I’ll add banana peppers or jalapeños if I’m feeling especially risqué. And then there’s the ultimate question: romaine lettuce or spinach? Both are healthy for you, but you usually don’t get the crisp texture when you use spinach.
Last, but not least, there are condiments – I try to mix up my sandwiches by using different sauces or salad dressings. For instance, I’ll choose a pesto mayo if I’m making BLTs or horseradish mustard if I want the sandwich to be a little spicier.
Now what the heck does this have to with writing a paper, you might ask? Everything. Quotations within a paper are like well-made sandwiches– they introduce you to something flavorful, support that flavor with all the key ingredients, and allow you to enjoy every last bite of it without wondering why it was so good in the first place.
I’m sure you’re wondering if I spend this much time detailing my quotations as my sandwiches.
I do, for the following reasons:
1. Before you use a quote in your paper as evidence, you must first introduce it so that the reader knows it’s coming and you can transition smoothly from your thoughts to evidence or information from your source. It is important to introduce your quote so you do not confuse your reader about its relevance or appropriateness.
Think of this as your first slice of bread. You can integrate the quote as part of a sentence or separate it from the paragraph entirely as a block quote, so long as you provide information for why you’re putting it there. A block quote is a particularly long quotation and the formatting for it varies depending on the citation style (MLA, Chicago, or APA). Often, it is any quote longer than four or five lines, single-spaced, and indented twice from the margin.
2. After you incorporate the quote into the paper, you will want to provide it with not only an analysis of the quotation but also an explanation for why it’s important. Think of your quote and its analysis as the meat, cheese, lettuce, and condiments of a sandwich: these are the key items that you want to address so your reader knows why you chose the quote. The amount of discussion varies on the length of the quote. Sometimes students find it useful to write at least three or four good sentences to fully explain or analyze the quote. Also, if you are using a block quote, you will want to begin your discussion of the quote without any indentations and resume typing in a double-spaced format.
3. Lastly, ask yourself: how does the quote connect to your thesis or the main point that you’re making in the paragraph? This is where that other slice of bread becomes handy. You want to conclude your discussion of the quote with a statement that refers back to your thesis or main point of the paragraph. This slice of bread, or final statement, ties your thoughts and the evidence together more cohesively.
And there you have it. You have made a quote sandwich.
Now doesn’t that sound delicious?