You can change direct quotations under certain circumstances. Some changes require you to explain the change, and others you can make without indicating the change to readers.

Changes to a Quotation Not Requiring Explanation

Some changes can be made to direct quotations without alerting readers:

  • The first letter of the first word in a quotation may be changed to an uppercase or a lowercase letter to fit the context of the sentence in which the quotation appears.
  • Some punctuation marks at the end of a quotation may be changed to fit the syntax of the sentence in which the quotation appears, as long as meaning is not changed (e.g., it might alter meaning to change a period to a question mark, depending on how the sentence is written).
  • Single quotation marks may be changed to double quotation marks and vice versa.
  • Footnote or endnote number callouts can be omitted.
  • Any other changes (e.g., italicizing words for emphasis or omitting words) must be explicitly indicated.

Changes to quotations are covered in Sections 8.30–8.31 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

Changes to a Quotation Requiring Explanation

Other changes require you to alert reader to the change:

  • Use an ellipsis to indicate that you have omitted words within a quotation (e.g., to shorten a sentence or tie two sentences together).
  • Either type three periods with spaces around each ( . . . ) or use the ellipsis character created by your word processing program when you type three periods in a row ( … ), with a space before and after.
  • Use four periods—that is, a period plus an ellipsis (. … )—to show a sentence break within omitted material, such as when a quotation includes the end of one sentence and the beginning of another sentence.
  • Use square brackets, not parentheses, to enclose material such as an addition or explanation you have inserted in a quotation.
  • If you want to emphasize a word or words in a quotation, use italics. Immediately after the italicized words, insert “emphasis added” within square brackets as follows: [emphasis added].

If the quotation contains an error, it is necessary to indicate the error.

Changes  to Quotations