As the book itself puts it, “Quoting someone else’s words gives a tremendous amount of credibility to your summary” (42). The introduction to the chapter explains that many authors fail to provide sufficient quotations, whereas those who overquote tend to be short on commentary. However, as Graff puts it, “the main problem with quoting arises when writers assume that quotations speak for themselves” (43). He argues that many students fail to explain the meaning of quotations after using them. Graff also mentions that a quote must be relevant to the text in order for it to be used. He writes, “finding relevant quotations is only part of your job; you also need to present them in a way that makes their relevance and meaning clear…” (44). In other words, time has to be spent on researching applicable quotations as well as on framing them and displaying them in a clear and correct manner.
After explaining “hit-and-run” quotations (quotations are not explained by the author) with childish drawings and texts about anorexic women, Graff summarizes the first half of the chapter with the term “quotation sandwich.” A quotation sandwich is made up of an introduction statement and an explanation to a quotation that goes in between them. According to the authors, “The introductory claims should explain who is speaking and set up what the quotation says; the follow-up statements should explain why you consider the quotation to be important…” (46). The authors explain here the correct use of quotations, which requires an appropriate introduction followed by a thorough explanation of it. Graff then provides templates for introducing and explaining quotations. These templates, I believe, are the heart of the text: they provide variations of different styles that one may use to successfully introduce and define quotations. These are finally followed by a conclusion, mainly composed of examples of how NOT to introduce quotations, which I consider a very fruitful yet comical part of the text.
Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2010.