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How does one cite a direct famous quote on the reference page? Is it common knowledge?

Last Updated: Apr 11, 2017  |  124080 Views
Topics: APA

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Answer

To cite a famous quote on the References page:

Common knowledge is:

  • Things like folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events.
  • Usually not a famous quote.
  • Common knowledge example:  George Washington was the first President of the United States.
  • Common knowledge does not have to be cited on the References page.
  • For more information on what is or is not considered common knowledge, read Is it plagiarism yet?

To be safest, you should cite any famous quote and where you obtained it.

Examples of famous quotation that should be cited:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  This is from President Roosevelt's Inaugural Address in 1933 to give the American people courage in the face of the Great Depression. Many people know this quote, even if they cannot remember who said it. 

Even though many people have heard this quotation, you should document and cite where you found the quotation on your References page.

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Other Answers / Comments (2)

  1. Alright, so for a quote that pops up in a meme (for example) that states:
    "Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. "
    -Benjamin Franklin

    For this would you just want to google the quote and try to find a relatively reliable source (like a Newspaper source using it or better a source explaining where/when it was said) or is any old source fine (such as Brainyquote.com -- Which is where I grabbed the quote from originally to ask this specific question).

    Also if you heard someone mention it in a TedTalk, would you want to actually look up that quote or just cite the TedTalk video?
    by Colby on Nov 20, 2014.
  2. 1) If the imagine in the meme is important to your argument, then site the meme from the website. 2) If the meme is not important to your argument, then your paper will be better if you have a credible source to cite. So yes, finding the website from a credible source would be the best idea. Websites full of lists of quotations are not generally considered credible sources as they are often incorrect or wrongly attribute the quotation. (A quick search turned up this resource that has your quotation in it which is more credible: http://www.biography.com/people/benjamin-franklin-9301234#synopsis) 3) If you watched/listened to a TED Talk, then you would cite the TED Talk video and make sure that you are mentioning in your paper that it isn't the TED Talk author who said that, but Ben Franklin. Example:Benjamin Franklin (as cited in Jones, 2014) once said, "Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out."Where Jones, 2014 is the TED Talk. You can check out the Baker APA Help (http://guides.baker.edu/apahelp) for examples of how to cite videos.
    by Tessa Betts on Nov 20, 2014.

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