In my essay (specifically a recount essay of a moment in the past), my objective is to end with the discussion of Death as a being (because my recounted moment will be related to death). I'd like to indrectly reference The Book Thief by Mark Zusak by saying something like:

Death. He who steals our colors and uses them as his vacation - he who takes pleasure in beauty while destroying it nonetheless.

I don't want to take this as my own idea though, so I'm wondering how exactly I'd cite this? Do I need to at all?

  • 1
    We need a little more context. What is the essay for? High school, college, school paper, magazine, blog? Sep 10, 2012 at 22:23
  • high school essay... all I know is that I'm supposed to recount a moment from when I was a child... that's all I know, my teacher is very ambiguous (he's a good teacher)
    – jeremy
    Sep 10, 2012 at 22:25
  • Thanks for the additional information, and welcome to Writers. Sep 11, 2012 at 1:17

2 Answers 2


You should cite it if it's not your idea. The simplest way would be something like:

As Mark Zusak describes it in his novel The Book Thief, Death is he who steals our colors.....

You're clearly mentioning the author and the work. If you use Zusak's exact words, quote him; if you're summarizing, make sure you change the quote enough that it's not plagiarism.

  • okay, thanks. I'll find a way to make sure the reader knows that it's Zusak's idea. I wouldn't want to have only a certain percentage of my audience know that their Zusak's ideas.
    – jeremy
    Sep 10, 2012 at 23:23

General in-text citations like Lauren suggests will almost certainly be sufficient, particularly for a short, informal paper. However, if your paper is longer or a more formal paper (for example, a report as opposed to a shorter research essay), a little more rigorous citing may be in order. But never fear, it's easy to do this.

Some high schools even have their own citation guides! For example, Soquel High School in California has put up this citation guide:

Printed Works

  • Books, one author

Author. Title. Place of publication: Publisher, Publication year. Print.

Welch, James. Winter In Blood. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. Print.

... and Mount Vernon High School in Virginia has posted a PDF table that seems to be a summary or modification of relevant APA citation styles.

A web search on your high school, or perhaps comparable high schools in your area, may yield useful information.

If you find nothing useful like this, your school library may well have a copy of an appropriate general style guide. These have information on citation styles, and really are quite simple to use. There's a question here on Writers - What are the most common style manuals? - that will give you an idea of what style guides are good for what kinds of papers, but any style guide will probably do the job. (APA or MLA, or maybe Chicago, would probably be fine.)

  • +1, I know that the English Department at my school prefers MLA, but my English teacher is very unique and has his own way of everything (again, he seems like a great teacher) (e.g., we put our names on the back of the paper so theres no subconscious bias when he grades things). I'll make sure that the reader knows it's Zusak's idea.
    – jeremy
    Sep 11, 2012 at 1:35

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