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Why is it that an appropriate quotation is an old device that works well to begin a paragraph?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Actually, I disagree with this statement and advise my students to never begin a paragraph with a quotation. In my opinion, when a paragraph begins with a quotation, the reader has no context in which to put the quotation and not a clue as to why it is there. A quotation should only be offered in support of one's own ideas, not as a substitute for one's ideas, and leading off with a quote, in an introduction, conclusion, or body paragraph is telling the reader you are not expressing an idea for yourself. A quotation is best used as the middle of a sandwich. Offer your idea. Then offer a quote to support that idea. Then make a connection for the reader between your idea and the quotation.

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ssuarez | Student

An appropriate quotation is an old device that works well to begin a paragraph because it is an optimal way to begin an analysis or close reading of the text.

It is also a way for the reader to be introduced to and become familiar with the text if he or she is not. 

Choosing the appropriate quotation is important as you want to make sure you have chosen a significant quote that truly reflects the main theme(s) of the text. A great quote is one that allows the writer to be able to write enough about said theme/symbol/motif.