Quotation Beginning Essay Format

A short quotation at the beginning of a chapter or article is called an epigraph. The quote is treated like an extract and indented from the left margin. Only the author’s name (and only the author’s last name if he or she is well-known) and the book’s title should be given in italics. The credit line should be on the line beneath the epigraph, flush right, preceded by an em dash; if it is very short, it can be run on the same line as the last line of the epigraph. An epigraph’s source is not listed in the References section.

 I envy people who drink—at least they know what to blame everything on.

Oscar Levant, The Portable Curmudgeon

Exceptions to this are an epigraph from a scholarly book or journal and a quotation used by permission. In these cases, cite the author, year, and page number at the end of the extract, in parentheses with no period. The source should be listed in the References section.

From the APA style experts

by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished
it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and
logically perceive what it is that you really want to say. —Mark Twain, Notebook, 1902–1903

A quote used to introduce an article, paper, or chapter is called an epigraph. It often serves as a summary or counterpoint to the passage that follows, although it may simply set the stage for it.


The Publication Manual doesn’t specifically address the topic of epigraphs, but we thought it might be helpful for you to know the rules we follow in formatting epigraphs for APA journals.


The text of the epigraph is indented from the left margin in the same way as a block quote. On the line below the end of the epigraph, the author’s name (and only the author’s last name if he or she is well-known) and the source’s title should be given. This credit line should be flush right, preceded by an em dash. An epigraph’s source is not listed in the References section.


Exceptions to this are an epigraph from a scholarly book or journal and a quotation used by permission. In these cases, cite the author, year, and page number at the end of the epigraph, in parentheses with no period—just as you would for a block quote. The source should be listed in the References section.

Emotion is one of the most complex phenomena known to psychology.
It is complex because it involves so much of the organism at so
many levels of . . . integration. . . . Perhaps therein lies the
uniqueness, and the major significance, of emotion. (Lindsley,
1951, p. 473)


The epigraph should not be confused with the similar-sounding epigram (a brief, pointed, and often satirical text or poem) and epitaph (a short text honoring the deceased). Sometimes, however, the three categories coincide in a quotable hat trick:


     Go tell the Spartans, you who pass us by,
     That here obedient to their laws we lie.
        —Simonides, Inscription at Thermopylae

One thought on “Quotation Beginning Essay Format

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *