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How to Start an Essay with a Quote

Many students are interested in the question: Can I start an essay with a quote? Our answer: of course, you can! The main thing that you should pay attention to is the expediency of this quote. It should be intriguing, catchy, and involving. Below you will find many useful tips that will help you attract the attention of your audience from the very first phrase of your essay.

When Would You Want to Start with Quote?

Relevance is a very important quality. Sometimes the same method can be successful and unsuccessful at the same time. For example, you certainly cannot imagine a research essay that begins with a quote about love. Such stories are boring and old-fashioned. Students think that quotes will help make their essays interesting and compelling. But not the phrase itself is important, but its meaning, context, your interpretation. You can’t just start the paper with a quote and forget about it. Each sentence of your essay should respond to the first of them.

This means that you can use a quote if your essay is devoted to reflective, artistic, literary topics. It can be a paper of comparison and opposition, a literature review. An appropriate quote can be selected for an analytical or critical essay. Many students use quotes for their admission essays, so this is often perceived as a cliché.

Use the quote to start the essay when you realize that you do not have another hook. The reader will see a familiar or intriguing phrase and will want to know what your paper is about. In addition, this will automatically add you a score. After all, if you quote Nietzsche or Dostoevsky, you are probably very smart and have done solid work on your essay.

The Pros and Cons of Starting with a Quote

It cannot be denied that the decision to begin essay with a quote has its advantages and disadvantages. There is no universal rule that will be the same for all papers. Check out the list below to understand your situation and make the right choice.


  • They help you set a proper tone. They briefly convey a large layer of information that can resonate with the readership. Any other means will require more time and effort for these purposes.
  • A powerful or controversial quote always captivates readers. A strong quote is something that immediately attracts attention. Note that not every phrase can be involving. Choose a shocking, humorous, controversial, or thoughtful quote for your essay. Think about how you can use it as a hook to interest readers.
  • Quotes point out the main idea of your essay. This is a great opportunity to check if you have a good essay. If you can explain it in one phrase, you’re on the right track. The quote with which you start the paper will become that phrase.
  • The authority of the source is working for you. Using a quote from a great man who has achieved significant success in his goal, you give great authority to your words. Just imagine: you are supported by Lincoln or Einstein. Which of the readers dare to argue with their statements?


  • It is a cliché. In fact, this cannot be called a big problem if you picked up a good quote that matches the essence of your paper. But sometimes it can limit you. Starting an essay with a quote, you can’t try with some other tricks, e.g. storytelling.
  • Searching for the right quote is time-consuming. Sometimes you need to spend a lot of time before you find the right quote. In the end, you can even use the far from the best option simply because you took the time to do it.
  • Quotes might “outshine” your thesis. A really good quote can take all the attention away. Meanwhile, you still need to write an interesting thesis statement. It will seem weak against the background of a quote, not from your authorship.
  • The authority of the source can work against you. Many great personalities are controversial. They say the right thing but in a certain context. When choosing a phrase, think in what context it was expressed and how much this corresponds to the meaning of your paper.

The Key Points of Selecting the Right Quote

In order to start an essay with a quote, you need to choose a good phrase. Some students consider this task to be pretty challenging. Here are some tips to help you with this:

  • Understand the purpose of the quotation use. You can’t just take any phrase and count on the attention of your readers. There are many more original ways to start an essay. Therefore, if you decide that a quote is a good idea, use our tips. Here are a few questions that you must answer before choosing the right phrase.
  • Does the quotation have an original or unusual meaning that is difficult to explain in other words?
  • Do you interpret this phrase correctly?
  • What did the author write about? What is the historical and cultural context?
  • Is the author of a quote an authoritative expert? Would he or she agree with your points? Does this person have an opinion for your target audience?
  • Are you in favor of or against the idea that is indicated in the quote?
  • Is your quote pretty popular or completely unknown?

Do not think that your first sentence should be written as soon as you decide on the topic of the essay. We recommend that you come up with a quote after your paper is ready. Then you will have a full understanding of this text: what idea it conveys, what arguments you use, how exactly you transmit your ideas to readers. Use the brainstorming method and write out all the quotes that seem suitable for you. And then answer the questions above. This will help you get rid of bad options and find the best solution.

5 Steps to Begin an Essay with a Quote:

Actually, starting a paper with a quote it’s not at all difficult. Here are five steps to help you do this:

  1. Decide on your goal. What do you expect from an essay? Do you want to convince readers of a certain point of view? Inspire them? Maybe make them laugh? Each of these situations requires its own approach. You cannot use the same quote in all of these cases. Setting a goal will help you narrow your choices.
  2. Consider your audience. If you write for professionals, you can use sources well known to people in this field. For a wider audience, you can use popular quotes. Consider the following features: gender of the audience, age, range of interests, area of ​​work, knowledge of the history of the United States or other countries, etc.
  3. Select the right quote. It is the most important step of how to start an essay with a quote. You should consider all the information you have and make a choice. You may line one good quotation, but it doesn’t mean you should use it. Sometimes it is better to try the more appropriate one that conveys your ideas. Strong phrases are bright, but they require a lot of text to explain them. This is your next step.
  4. Think over an explanation. You must provide your readers with an explanation supporting the quote. They need to understand how this phrase relates to your thesis or argument. This is not always obvious. In this case, people simply do not pay attention to the quote at the beginning of the essay.
  5. Mention the source. Depending on the specific requirements of your professor, you must provide information about the sources used. American schools are very strict about plagiarism. Do not underestimate this aspect.

Mistakes You Should Avoid Starting an Essay With Quote

The first mistake you can make is banality. Quotes such as “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” or “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” very boring. They have been used hundreds of times and do not carry any new meaning.

The second mistake is the lack of context. Readers cannot always understand why you used this particular phrase. This will make them feel stupid. People do not like to feel stupid. Write essays in plain language and explain such things.

The third mistake is a too loose interpretation of the context. Make sure you understand the quote correctly and don’t use it for your own purposes. If you did it on purpose, explain it to readers.

Examples of Quote Introductions

Examples are what help students get the big picture. You can read the theory for a long time, but you still cannot understand what actions you should take in practice. Therefore, we have selected some good examples for you. Use them to come up with your own quote for your introduction:

  1. ‘It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.’ This quote of Buddha is pretty relevant these days. People think of how they can communicate with this world, but they forget to communicate with themselves. Each of us has one’s own fears, inner anxiety, and doubts. It is important to get rid of them in order to try something new and great.
  2. ‘If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home, and love your family.’ Maria Theresa was a smart woman with an amazing mindset. Her popular quote reminds us that there is nothing more important than family. There is no point in fighting for the happiness of other people if your loved ones need you at this moment.
  3. ‘To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.’ Big wins always start with big steps. Sometimes, when you want to succeed, you have to bet absolutely everything that you have at stake. You may lose, but you may win. 


Now you know how to start an essay with a quote. We recommend that you do not procrastinate or put off writing a paper until the last day. Make sure you have enough time. But this does not mean at all that you are obliged to write an essay and look for a good quote-hook for it. We understand that students want to have fun in their free time. Perhaps you work, and your head is busy with more important things than selecting quotes. Fortunately, we know how to help you. Place your order on our website, and we will select a professional author for you. Your essay with an attractive quote will be ready on time and at a very competitive price!

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