I often want to answer some question but I have a problem with quotations (and I don't want to just say: "I remember that somewhere was something like...").

Sometimes I have exact quote in my mind (but don't know exactly where it was, problem especially with books) sometimes it is only a shaking idea of something similar or connected with the question (and then I am really screwed).

Do you have some tricks? Some recipes? With movies, are you using the screenplays? If so, where are you finding them? Or are you just watching the movie/series/read the book/comic etc. and trying to find the place you somehow remember?

I am curious about some general way how you do that but also about some concrete sources with some often quoted things (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Star Trek etc.)

  • 2
    One word: control+f
    – CHEESE
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 21:50
  • @Cheese Sorry, I don't understand, could you please be more specific?
    – TGar
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 22:00
  • 1
    I was alluding to the fact that the way to search on a specific page (such as a pdf or ebook) is by pressing control f.
    – CHEESE
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 22:08

4 Answers 4


What I do largely depends on the media in question.


I have all of my main books in (full-text searchable) e-book format:

  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, etc.
  • All seven Harry Potter books, plus the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts published scripts and the three Pottermore e-books
  • Most of the canon Star Wars books and novelizations, and several of the Legends novels

Typically I've acquired them in ePub or Mobi format, in which case I use online tools to convert them to PDFs (which have better cross-platform tools).

I also have ready access to a pretty good public library, so I'll often pop over there on my lunch break to check some of the books I don't have, or I'll simply pull a physical book off my shelf (especially when I'm citing Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion or The Annotated Hobbit) when I'm at home; doing this usually requires me to have a pretty good idea of where in the book I'm looking, though.

If all else fails, and especially for obscure books, I occasionally make use of Google Books' free preview feature; I prefer not to do this, because of how I prefer to cite sources, but I've done it on occasion.

If you're referencing older books, you may have a chance of finding them on Project Gutenberg, or one of its international affiliates; these sites mostly have books that have passed into the public domain, which largely limits them to works published in the 1920s and earlier.


Unfortunately, no recourse here but manual transcription; fortunately I get all my comics digitally, so it's not that much of an imposition.


Many films have screenplays online; IMSDB is a good resource for this, though they don't always have the final versions (something which has bitten me before). Many film transcripts can also be found at Springfield Scripts, though with the caveats I'll cover in the next section.

Occasionally I also simply pull the film up on my computer, rely on my memory to guide me to the right moment, and transcribe by hand.


  • For Star Trek, chakoteya.net has full transcripts (including some minimal stage direction) for all episodes and the films.

    ST Minutiae also has downloadable text files of the original scripts (compiled from assorted published sources) for the TOS- and TNG era films, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and a handful of Voyager episodes; I don't use these as often, because the chakoteya transcripts usually suffice, but sometimes the stage directions are relevant

  • For Doctor Who, again I use chakoteya.net. All the old episodes (including the classic series), TV specials, spinn-offs, and The Film have archived transcripts; new episodes are usually added within a day or two

  • On the rare occasion I answer a Stargate question, the SG-1 Solutions wiki has a comprehensive transcript library of all three shows

  • For Supernatural, Super-wiki has full transcriptions of all episodes, generally updated often enough for my purposes

For other shows, I sometimes use Springfield Scripts; however, this site suffers from some problems:

  • It only transcribes dialogue, not any stage direction or activities; most crucially, it also doesn't specify who's saying each line
  • Every so often they have database issues, leaving them largely useless for a few days until they can recover

So I typically have to supplement them with either memory or manual transcription from re-watching the episode.

Video games

For this, I typically rely on Let's Play videos on Youtube. This can be rather tedious, but fortunately I don't have to do this very often


This is largely Google-fu; I don't make a habit of reading interviews, but there's enough pop culture reporting that interviews are fairly easy to find on Google.

For Harry Potter specifically, Accio Quote is a good resource for JK Rowling interviews, but hasn't been updated since 2012.


I follow Pablo Hidalgo on Twitter1, which is:

  • Very informative for Star Wars tidbits
  • Hilarious; I have a deep appreciation for his dry, long-suffering humour

So I typically have a fuzzy memory of his recent tweets, which is helpful for answering recent questions; Twitter's built-in search mechanism makes it relatively easy to find the exact tweet.

For others, I typically fall back on Google. I know that I could follow JK Rowling, but the ratio of "useful canon" to "political opinions" is low enough that I don't care to bother.

1 I also follow Leland Chee and Matt Martin, Hidalgo's compatriots in the Lucasfilm Story group; but Hidalgo spends much more of his Twitter-time responding to lore questions, so I generally find him more useful.

  • 2
    Or if you're Thaddeus, you remember quotes verbatim from memory, years later!
    – Möoz
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 21:11
  • 2
    @Mooz Some people are gifted; the rest of us have to work for it Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 21:19
  • Cool. Especially thanks for the links.
    – TGar
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 21:20
  • 3
    In fact, for films I would prefer actual transcripts over sceenplays, as the latter can undergo quite some changes compared to what's in the actual films (and that's what usually matters in the end). Usually just googling "<whatever film> transcript" gives a full transcript as one of the first results, usually from springfieldspringfield.co.uk, which has millions of film transcripts.
    – TARS
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 23:43
  • @CahirMawrDyffrynæpCeallach - I like to have both. Often you can see what the writer intended from the original screenplay even if it didn't make it into the final cut. My experience is that the majority of so-called "plot holes" result from editing of the script rather than poor writing.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 21:48

Star Trek TV / Movies

For Star Trek, you can't really do much better than the Script Search facility on Chakoteya.net. You can search by word, phrase and even who said the words.

Doctor Who / Star Trek (original scripts)

Since Chakoteya hosts the Doctor Who transcripts (along with Andromeda and Stargate) but has no dedicated search facility, I tend to use the inurl feature on Google to search inside the website. For example

inurl:http://www.chakoteya.net/ andromeda migraine

You can also find original Star Trek scripts at www.st-minutiae.com (but be careful because they also host fanfic scripts on the same site) :-)

Star Wars Canon books / Star Wars Non-Canon books / Harry Potter books / LOTR Books, etc

I use Calibre to manage my ebook libraries. I have my Star Wars books arranged into separate libraries for Canon and Legends (to make it easier to search through) and my Harry Potter/LOTR stuff in single libraries, all converted into epub format. When combined with the Epub Quality Check tool, searching for specific terms is a doddle.

enter image description here

I also have a separate folder on my PC with scripts (in PDF format) as well as scans of comics (in CBR) and artbooks, etc (mixed PDF, Epub and CBR). Searching those can be an annoyance, but it really helps to have read them at leisure and have them filed and organised so you can locate them by remembering the type of book

enter image description here

Online references, etc.

Typing out quotes by hand is a mug's game. Better to take a picture of it (or a screenshot) and convert it using ABBYY Finereader. It'll convert any text into a Word Document within seconds and makes turning PDF-image scripts and Google Books finds into something readable a doddle.


Trying to remember a specific tweet can be hard work. Luckily, Twitter comes with an "advanced search feature" that allows you to search accounts for specific words and phrases; for example, if I wanted to search all of Pablo Hidalgo's tweets for the word Erso

enter image description here

Scripts and Screenplays

http://www.imsdb.com/ is a good resource, as is ScriptDrive although you'll need to register to get the actual scripts. Note that if they're in production they often get removed but you can still see the filenames. If you google those with quotes around, you can often find other copies online.

Reddit is a good place to find zipped files of the "Black List", an archive of scripts that are being touted around Hollywood. Many of these get purchased and made each year so you can see what's coming soon :-)

Gnorb is a good reference for the Matrix Comics.

  • Wow. This makes my habit of typing up quotes from books by hand seem positively medieval! Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 13:17
  • @TheDarkLord - using Stack Exchange is a whole lot more fun if you have the right tools for the job.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 13:21
  • Thank you so much for Calibre! Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 9:03
  • Now for the ultimate question - is there a program that could sort my film a music library in the same way? Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 12:43
  • @gallifreian - iTunes.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 12:44
  • Does it rename stuff and sort it in folder? Supports mkv/flac/alac/wav? Works with stuff obtained from shady individuals in some dark alley of the web? Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 12:45
  • @Gallifreian - The latter, certainly. And I believe it supports a range of audio formats and batch-renaming.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 13:00
  • Forgot to mention - I run Ubuntu. Asked a question on another Stack Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 13:42
  • @Gallifreian - Pfft. If you run a weird O/S it's your own fault that no-one makes software for it.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 13:45
  • Nah, I'm pretty happy. Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 13:50

If you have an exact quote ...

... Google it! Whether it's from a book, a film, or a TV show, this usually works, at least for more popular works (it's less reliable for obscurer ones). By doing a web search for the exact quote, or the part of it you remember, you might find:

  • (for written works) either a Google Books version of the work in question, or a full-text copy on some potentially dodgy website; in either case, you can transcribe or copy-paste what you need.

  • (for screen works) an online copy of the transcript - whether official, leaked, or fan-made - from which again you can copy-paste the quotes you need.

Sometimes this works even if the only exact quote you remember is from a different part of the book/film from what you're really looking for. If you remember any exact quote, you can Google it to find some resource which has the full text, and then scroll through to a different spot.

Beware: if the quote is too well-known, you may get swamped with too many irrelevant results. E.g. if you type "one does not simply walk into Mordor" into Google, you'll find a boatload of memes before managing to find a transcript of the Fellowship of the Ring film.

Otherwise ...

... familiarise yourself with some generally useful resources.

If it's a book you already own, you're golden - you can just find the exact quote in the book and type it out. (Yes, don't be lazy! The amount of time I've spent transcribing quotes from Lord of the Rings or Wheel of Time by hand must add up to a great many hours by now.) Or if you're one of these modern high-tech types who reads the electronic versions of books, then you can probably search the text directly. (Are e-books searchable? I guess so.)

If it's a widely known and very popular work, there may be great resources already on the internet:

  • (for Star Trek and Doctor Who) Chakoteya: an excellent fan-made site, the go-to place for ST and DW transcripts;
  • (for A Song of Ice and Fire) A Search of Ice and Fire, where you can search the full text of any or all aSoIaF books for any given phrase, filtering by PoV character if desired
  • probably more such sites for other franchises that I'm not aware of
  • +1 For AsOIAF, It's been a godsend for me personally!
    – Möoz
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 1:48


Before doing anything else, try searching for any phrases or keywords you might remember. If the work is well-known, and the phrase is catchy, odd’s are someone has written it online at one point or another. Besides, there’s a decent chance this will turn up the phrase even if you get some of it wrong. Don’t forget to append the name of the work, if you can recall it (e.g. “Star Wars”) if you’re mostly getting unrelated results. Double quotes are helpful for eliminating partial matches, but can lead you astray if you misremembered part of the phrase:

enter image description hereenter image description here

This is arguably better than all the other sources in many instances, because it can lead you to those other sources.


When Google fails, or when I can remember the work or series in which a quote is found, I turn to my modest collection of e-books. I have many of the Star Wars, Star Trek, Warhammer, and Harry Potter books, among others, in a handy epub format. I use Calibre to store and read them. I generally search manually, but there are some useful utilities that can be used to search books en masse. Frankly, I just do a batch convert to .txt and use regular expressions to find whatever phrase I need when that happens.

Some books are scanned, which can make finding information painful. In such cases, it pays to have a working knowledge of where things are. That is, actually read the books! Text search is no substitute for actually knowing where things are, though it works in a pinch.

Most books of interest can be purchased on Amazon or in Google books, or procured elsewhere.


I mainly use Chakoteya for Star Wars and Doctor Who transcripts. Springfield! Springfield! has an impressive number of transcripts for many films, including those that have not even been released on DVD, but suffers from not noting who is saying what. In addition, they’ve suffered a server problem, and lost a lot of their scripts.

Transcripts Wikia is another useful source, albeit incomplete. Forever Dreaming helps fill some of the gaps in the other sources, with an impressive number of shows.

Many transcripts share the flaw of not noting who says what, so sometimes there’s nothing for it but to go through the episode/film to find who made a particular statement.

Social media

Twitter is a useful source of information, and you can search for quotes by a specific person, as mentioned elsewhere. Just make sure you have a verified account, or can confirm the owner’s identity—some people have fan accounts or outright impersonators. If you are really unable to find out whether someone ever said something, these sources can also be useful for simply asking them.

As far as searching for quotes goes, Goodreads has an impressive number of quotes from both well-known or obscure written works. It’s likely to come up in a Google search, but an in-site search of the site (“quote” site:goodreads.com) is likely to be more helpful: more signal, less noise.

*And other lesser search engines.

  • 2
    "I'll just 'Bing' it", said nobody. Ever.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 13:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .