I'm writing a position paper and wanted to quote part of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. What do I cite: the speech, or the website I got it from? What should I put in the parenthesis after the indented quote? Right now I have (Paragraph 8) but that's hardly adequate.

2 Answers 2


That website has lots of ads, no contact details except an anonymous email address, and no "About" page.

You should find a better website or preferably a book that contains the speech, and cite that. Biographies of King might include it. Then you can give the page number(s) as usual.

If you can't find a book, this website would be OK, as it is from a famous news organization: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3170387.stm


You have two problems, first, how to reference the speech as a whole; second, the provide a pinpoint reference (if possible) to the words you want to quote.

The first problem is easily solved. You should reference the source on which you relied for the information. In this case, that's the American Rhetoric website, with a more direct link to the actual speech. How exactly you should write the reference will depend upon the kind of referencing and citation style that you have decided to use, or the style that is required by a publisher (if you are publishing your work).

As to the problem of producing a pinpoint reference, I think that the best yo can do is exactly what you have proposed; namely, refer to paragraph 8 of the speech. Obviously, the division of the speech into paragraphs is dependent upon the decisions made by whoever did the transcription, but if you refer to the webpage then the reference should be interpreted by an intelligent reader as being a reference to paragraph 8 on that page.

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