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How do I use the quote sandwich method?

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What is the quote sandwich method?

The quote sandwich method is a strategy that helps you incorporate borrowed material into your work in such a way that the reader understands why you picked it and why it is significant to your work.

Why use the quote sandwich method? The quote sandwich helps readers understand your use of borrowed material, and helps them identify the boundaries between your content and content from sources. When adding borrowed material to your work (whether in quotation marks, paraphrased, or summarized), don't assume the material speaks for itself. Your audience needs to understand

  • how the quote fits in with your work,
  • how it supports this particular part of your content, and
  • why it is significant to your narrative or argument.

How much borrowed material can be included in a paper/essay/speech? The rule of thumb is that borrowed material should be no more than 1/3 of your work; the rest should be your analysis.  Borrowed material should support information, not provide it.

Quote sandwich format

The quote sandwich has 3 parts:

  • Introduction of the quote (using a signal phrase)
  • Quote, summary, or paraphrase
  • Explanation of the significance of the quote and how it fits into the work.

Part I: Introduction

The first part of the sandwich is the introduction. Here you will use a signal phrase to introduce the quote. Signal phrases are short phrases used to introduce a quote, a paraphrase, or a summary, and they serve to alert the reader that borrowed material is coming. Here are some examples of signal phrases

  • According to X...
  • X writes/notes/argues that...
  • As the authors acknowledge...
  • X & Y suggest that....

Signal verbs

Here are some verbs that can be used with your signal phrases. Make sure they fit the meaning of your signal phrase.

acknowledge | add | admit | affirm | agree | answer | argue | assert | claim | comment | concede | confirm | contend | counter | declare | define | deny | dispute | echo | endorse | estimate | find | illustrate  | imply | insist | mention | note | observe | predict | propose | reason | recognize | recommend | refute | reject | report | reveal | speculate | state | suggest | surmise | warn | write

Part II: Quote, summary, or paraphrase

The quote, summary, or paraphrase goes after the signal phrase.  Try to limit your quote to the most significant words. Very long quotes can be considered plagiarism, especially in short papers.

Example: When writing about the rain in Spain, Tate and McIntosh (2019) note that it tends to happen "mainly in the plain."

NOTE: the way the in-text and parenthetical citations are introduced will depend on the citation style you're using.  For example, in APA style, you would write Tate and McIntosh (2019), while in MLA style you would write Tate and McIntosh (120).  Other styles vary. Always check the style to see what's required.

Part III: Explanation

After you have introduced the quote, summary, or paraphrase and have cited it, you will  need to explain the significance of this quote to your work, so your readers can get some context as to why you selected this specific quote and how it supports your work.

Quote sandwich examples

Below are two examples of quote sandwiches.

Example 1

You are writing about the consequences of holding early morning classes in middle school and high school, and arguing that it would be better to start the day later.  You have found this quote: "Our meta-analysis of over 100 studies found strong evidence that classes held early in the day are associated with increased health risks such as drug use, depression, and obesity, as well as poor academic performance." (Spencer et al., 2016).

Quote Sandwich 1 (Introduction in green, quote in blue, explanation in red)

Studies have demonstrated that teenagers have a difficult time getting up in the morning, which makes early morning classes difficult and even potentially damaging for them. Spencer et al. (2016) conducted a meta-analysis of over 100 studies and found that early classes have a detrimental effect on teenagers, causing "increased health risks such as drug use, depression, and obesity, as well as poor academic performance" (p. 126). This evidence clearly demonstrates that it would make sense, from a health and academic performance standpoint, for secondary education to change schedules so classes start later in the day.

Example 2

You are writing about dogs' destructive chewing and how it can be managed or eliminated. You have this quote: "Regular bone chewing, besides providing a dog with something interesting to do, is also a natural, healthy way to help dogs develop strong teeth”(Harrison, 2018).

Quote Sandwich 2 (Introduction in green, quote in blue, explanation in red)

Dogs like to chew things, often shoes or furniture, and they typically do this when they’re teething or bored.  A good way to prevent dogs from chewing up furniture and footwear is to give them bones to chew, which has the additional benefit of improving the dog’s dental health. Harrison (2018) writes that "regular bone chewing, besides providing a dog with something interesting to do, is also a natural, healthy way to help dogs develop strong teeth” (para. 16), which basically means that giving dogs bones to chew serves two purposes: it helps reduce boredom, so they won’t be tempted by furniture and footwear, and also gives them healthy, strong teeth in a way that’s natural.

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