How to Start an Essay with a Quote: Recommendations, Examples, Pros & Cons

Quotations are phrases or short passages borrowed from texts or speeches of other authors. Oftentimes, these are famous remarks of various celebrities either from the present or from humanity’s distant past. Most famous quotes are highly valuable since they represent concentrated pieces of wisdom, knowledge, life experience, wit, all of which can be magnified by circumstances in which these have been made or by the life and contribution of people they belong to. This explains why they represent powerful tools in essay writing.

Hence, knowing how to start an essay with a quote is an important skill that allows students to make the best of their written assignments or speeches.

Simple Tips for Starting Essay with Quotes

how to start an essay with a quote

When considering how to start with a quote, there are some tips that would certainly prove useful:

  • choose quotations that fit your purpose. When looking for them, stick to your aim – is it to inspire, prove a point, alert, invite action, prove complexity or delicate nature of an issue, create good mood by using some humor etc.? Obviously, picking quotes to precisely match your purpose is fairly challenging, but at least think whether selected quotations work towards your overall message or whether they accomplish what was intended.
  • consider your audience. Quotation should be in tune with the audience. For instance, its belonging to professionals in a given narrow discipline would normally be intelligible only for people with studies in this same field. In this case, select quotes that would be neither too obvious nor too complex. There are other aspects that could count as well, such as an audience’s age, its experience, gender, interests, familiarity with US history (immigrants or foreigners might be less familiar), etc.
  • connect to your point. Be certain to explain how quotation supports your argument or thesis or how it relates to your topic, how it highlights a problem or portrays situation. This is important in case the link is not immediately visible as you risk having an out of context quote that won’t be of great value.
  • acknowledge the source. Given that quotations are remarks or thoughts of other authors, it is imperative that these are acknowledged appropriately. When mentioning quotes in an essay, depending on the citation format, more details might be mandatory, such as the exact page, line, or paragraph numbers, etc. – purpose of this is to help reliably locate information and to avoid any plagiarism suspicions. Given how seriously plagiarism is treated by US academic institutions and society, be very careful with this aspect, if anticipating significant public outreach.

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Key Things You Should Know When Picking the Right Quote

When searching for a suitable quote at beginning of essay, always prioritize content over authority. In other words, a quote’s quality, contained idea, thought, message should always be more important than the figure behind it. Besides giving more freedom, this would spare you from the risk of not being original by citing the same famous personalities as everyone else.

Note that it might be often opportune to describe the context in which these quotes were made, i.e. circumstances that made authors say or write these words. This helps readers better imagine what internal struggles authors faced when formulating these. Describing context should be effective if quotes come from authors that confronted extreme events, phenomena, life circumstances, dilemmas, etc.

Although searching fore quotes might be time-consuming, student should know that there are multiple methods that facilitate this process. Thus, there are good books containing collections of quotes split into different categories listed in alphabetical order – this should be efficient for general topics. Alternatively, employ online search engines with carefully formulated queries, which are much more flexible tools. Yet another approach is picking relevant sources directly and looking for quotable passages in them.

Our academic assistance service Edubirdie helps with finding quotes or with any other writing issue experienced by you. Whether you wonder how to write an editorial, research paper, speech, lab report, doing coursework, or how to write about yourself, we handle anything you can imagine – just check out with our operators and place your order.

Pros And Cons of Starting Essays with Quotes

Starting an essay with a quote comes with a number of advantages and disadvantages as presented below.


  • quotations help set a proper tone. Quotations may contain very condensed information that often appeals to emotions or state truths that resonate in readers. Consequently, there aren’t many other means that help engage readers into a deep discussion so suddenly.
  • they help capture attention – powerful quotations are very good at capturing attention, especially if these are somewhat shocking, humorous, controversial, or reveal deep truths. Learning how to use a quote as a hook guarantees a smoother introduction and greater chances that your paper would generate interest.
  • they recruit the authority of the original authors in your service. Having Newton, Tesla or other authority by your side definitely makes it harder for readers to argue against your claims, provided these are properly connected with the quotes.


  • they are cliché – this is normally not an issue if the quote is strong and strictly to the point. However, this beginning excludes other approaches to starting an essay, for instance, one in which you could describe shocking or remarkable situations or events that would portray the problem you are talking about.
  • identifying powerful and ideally matching quotation could be enormously time-consuming. As a student does not have the freedom of altering these quotes, even slightly, each single word needs to match.
  • they rush the culmination. A good quotation can be the most intensive sentence in your whole paper, hence, it could be wiser to avoid using it as the very first sentence and rather, putting it aside for when the momentum would reach its highest value.

How to Begin an Essay with a Quote Example

Example 1 – an essay on the environmental “legacy” of current generations

“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace; and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty.” (Paine, The American Crisis, 1776). This quote by our Founding Father Thomas Paine serves as a constant reminder that this Earth belongs to our descendants just as well. One implication of these words is that it is our duty to do everything for addressing current problems if we want our generations to live in a normal world. This is relevant for current environmental problems which represent a civilizational threat.

Example 2 – an essay on self-sufficiency, both humor and depth are employed

“The best definition of man is: a being that goes on two legs and is ungrateful” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground, 1864). Seems like human nature is a constant. What if Dostoyevsky had the chance to witness the abundance in our societies as compared to the one he lived in and regardless of this abundance, so much unhappiness and so many ungrateful people.

To conclude, a quotation is a powerful instrument that greatly enhances your essay if used appropriately, and now you know how to start a paper with a quote. If you want to integrate quotes in your paper, just let our academic assistants know and they would consider this along other listed instructions. 

Keep in mind that with Edubirdie, you can transparently select your preferred online essay writer by reviewing their performance stats and continuously communicate with them in order to obtain essay outlines, drafts, provide feedback. Besides, clients benefit from unlimited free revisions in case original instructions have not been met but also from a money-back guarantee if revision attempts fail. Your risks are minimized here so why not give it a try?

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