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How to cite a quotation alone?
June 18, 2013 9:33 AM   Subscribe

What is the proper way to cite a quotation alone, not in the context of a paper, without any other text around it?

Googled it, but only got info on common ways to quote within a paper, MLA, APA, etc.

I'm working on a web page with a splash page that is to contain a Marie Curie quote only, by itself and nothing else, and the proper citation looks ridiculous. However, this webpage will be seen by science professionals, and I don't want to look like an idiot or be accused of plagiarism.

Here's what I think is proper (but of course may be wrong):

"I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale. We should not allow it to be believed that all scientific progress can be reduced to mechanisms, machines, gearings, even though such machinery also has its beauty."

~Marie Curie as quoted in Madame Curie : A Biography (1937) by Eve Curie Labouisse, as translated by Vincent Sheean, p. 341

But can I do something simpler and still be correct? Like:

~Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

or, should I use her birth name as her first name:

~Maria Curie (1867 – 1934)

?

Also, what is the standard mark to put before the author? ~, or -, or nothing?

I hope it's not a stupid question, and if it wasn't to be seen by academics I wouldn't even worry about it. But you know how academics are. :)
posted by Arachnophile to Writing & Language (8 answers total)
 
Not stupid, but there's no "right" answer when it comes to making up your own house style, which is what you're doing. As long as you make it clear that you're quoting someone, and who that is, and that it's clear enough that your reader can find the original in context if they want, then do as you will.
posted by rtha at 9:40 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Quotes and citations, and you're meaning them, are an element of formal writing. You're using quotations to spruce up a website, which is informal. I wouldn't worry too much about proper format. You're not backing up an argument or building off of previous research.

You're using a quote as an epigram. Most epigrams I've seen are just the quotation and the person who said/wrote it, for example.

If you want to use more information, you can include the dates of birth and death for the speaker/writer or the date the words were spoken/written. Optional, really, if you assume your users are familiar with Marie Curie.

If you're really worried about your users double-checking you, perhaps have the epigram link to a full citation or use a footnote. Something that doesn't interfere with your visual style.
posted by Boxenmacher at 9:45 AM on June 18, 2013


You know, since there are no rules and you seem to want to make sure that your audience can find who you're talking about, what about this:
I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale. We should not allow it to be believed that all scientific progress can be reduced to mechanisms, machines, gearings, even though such machinery also has its beauty.

~Marie Curie
(Or link directly to the text on google books or something.)

This is the internet! Go crazy!
posted by phunniemee at 9:45 AM on June 18, 2013


Whew! Thanks for the relief. I looked up the term "house style", and including all of your comments, I feel much better. I appreciate the information about the informal writing being ok on the web. I'm so used to scientific papers being so tedious in their rules on references that I was utterly confused when I wanted to write one single quote! Thank you!
posted by Arachnophile at 9:52 AM on June 18, 2013


Another advantage that the web has is the blockquote. If it's in this element it's by definition marked as a quote (not that everyone uses it this way).
posted by cjorgensen at 9:55 AM on June 18, 2013


There's no "right" way, but I think some ways are better than others.

Since there are so many supposed quotations that are made up out of whole cloth, I like to list (and to see) more detailed information if it exists. So I'd do it like this:
I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale. We should not allow it to be believed that all scientific progress can be reduced to mechanisms, machines, gearings, even though such machinery also has its beauty.
— Marie Curie1

1 Curie E. Madame Curie: A Biography. Sheean V, translator. New York: Doubleday; 1937.
Note that I corrected the bibliographic information. I converted it to Council of Science Editors style but the exact style is unimportant. It looks like you may have copied from Wikiquote without double-checking its accuracy. That's something to watch out for.

Also, as a busy academic I hate splash screens and I care more about not having to click through a splash screen than any of this stuff. But you know how academics are.
posted by grouse at 9:58 AM on June 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I agree with grouse. As for "should I use her birth name as her first name"—absolutely not; she is known to everyone as Marie Curie, and to call her Maria would just introduce pointless confusion.
posted by languagehat at 11:12 AM on June 18, 2013


Thanks! I appreciate the advice. I'll try to incorporate the quote into the home page, and use some of the simpler formatting suggested.
posted by Arachnophile at 3:16 PM on June 21, 2013


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