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  • Suggested Ways to Introduce Quotations

Suggested ways to introduce quotations

When you quote another writer's words, it's best to introduce or contextualize the quote. 

How to quote in an essay?

To introduce a quote in an essay, don't forget to include author's last name and page number (MLA) or author, date, and page number (APA) in your citation. Shown below are some possible ways to introduce quotations. The examples use MLA format.

1. Use a full sentence followed by a colon to introduce a quotation.

  • The setting emphasizes deception: "Nothing is as it appears" (Smith 1).
  • Piercy ends the poem on an ironic note: "To every woman a happy ending" (25).

2. Begin a sentence with your own words, then complete it with quoted words.

Note that in the second example below, a slash with a space on either side ( / ) marks a line break in the original poem.

  • Hamlet's task is to avenge a "foul and most unnatural murder" (Shakespeare 925).
  • The speaker is mystified by her sleeping baby, whose "moth-breath / flickers among the flat pink roses" (Plath 17).

3. Use an introductory phrase naming the source, followed by a comma to quote a critic or researcher

Note that the first letter after the quotation marks should be upper case. According to MLA guidelines, if you change the case of a letter from the original, you must indicate this with brackets. APA format doesn't require brackets.

  • According to Smith, "[W]riting is fun" (215).
  • In Smith's words, " . . .
  • In Smith's view, " . . .

4. Use a descriptive verb, followed by a comma to introduce a critic's words

Avoid using says unless the words were originally spoken aloud, for instance, during an interview.

  • Smith states, "This book is terrific" (102).
  • Smith remarks, " . . .
  • Smith writes, " . . .
  • Smith notes, " . . .
  • Smith comments, " . . .
  • Smith observes, " . . .
  • Smith concludes, " . . .
  • Smith reports, " . . .
  • Smith maintains, " . . .
  • Smith adds, " . . .

5. Don't follow it with a comma if your lead-in to the quotation ends in that or as

The first letter of the quotation should be lower case.

  • Smith points out that "millions of students would like to burn this book" (53).
  • Smith emphasizes that " . . .
  • Smith interprets the hand washing in MacBeth as "an attempt at absolution" (106).
  • Smith describes the novel as "a celebration of human experience" (233).

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How to Put a Quote in an Essay

Last Updated: November 28, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 2,607,104 times.

Using a direct quote in your essay is a great way to support your ideas with concrete evidence, which you need to support your thesis. To select a good quote , look for a passage that supports your argument and is open to analysis. Then, incorporate that quote into your essay, and make sure you properly cite it based on the style guide you’re using.

Sample Quotes

how to put a quote into essay

Incorporating a Short Quote

Step 1 Incorporate short direct quotes into a sentence.

  • For instance, let's say this is the quote you want to use: "The brown leaves symbolize the death of their relationship, while the green buds suggest new opportunities will soon unfold."
  • If you just type that sentence into your essay and put quotes around it, your reader will be disoriented. Instead, you could incorporate it into a sentence like this: "The imagery in the story mirrors what's happening in Lia's love life, as 'The brown leaves symbolize the death of their relationship, while the green buds suggest new opportunities will soon unfold.'"

Step 2 Use a lead-in...

  • "Critic Alex Li says, 'The frequent references to the color blue are used to suggest that the family is struggling to cope with the loss of their matriarch.'"
  • "According to McKinney’s research, 'Adults who do yoga at least three times a week have lower blood pressure, better sleeping patterns, and fewer everyday frustrations.'"
  • "Based on several recent studies, people are more likely to sit on the park benches when they're shaded by trees."

Step 3 Put quotation marks...

  • You still need to use quotation marks even if you're only quoting a few words.
  • If you're in doubt, it's best to be cautious and use quotes.

Step 4 Provide commentary after...

  • For example, let’s say you used the quote, “According to McKinney’s research, ‘Adults who do yoga at least three times a week have lower blood pressure, better sleeping patterns, and fewer everyday frustrations.’” Your commentary might read, “This shows that yoga can have a positive impact on people’s health, so incorporating it into the workplace can help improve employee health outcomes. Since yoga makes employees healthier, they’ll likely have reduced insurance costs.”

Step 5 Paraphrase

  • When you use a paraphrase, you still need to provide commentary that links the paraphrased material back to your thesis and ideas.

Using a Long Quote

Step 1 Introduce a long direct quote, then set it off in a block.

  • The reader will recognize that the material is a direct quote because it's set off from the rest of the text. That's why you don't need to use quotation marks. However, you will include your citation at the bottom.

Step 2 Write an introductory lead-in to tell the reader what the quote is about.

  • "In The Things They Carried , the items carried by soldiers in the Vietnam war are used to both characterize them and burden the readers with the weight they are carrying: The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water." (O'Brien 2)

Variation: When you're citing two or more paragraphs, you must use block quotes, even if the passage you want to quote is less than four lines long. You should indent the first line of each paragraph an extra quarter inch. Then, use ellipses (…) at the end of one paragraph to transition to the next.

Step 3 Indent the block quote by .5 inches (1.3 cm) from the left margin.

  • Your block quote will use the same spacing as the rest of your paper, which will likely be double-spacing.

Step 4 Use an ellipsis to omit a word or words from a direct quote.

  • For example, “According to Li, “Rosa is the first sister to pick a rose because she’s the only one who’s begun to move on after their mother’s death” might become “According to Li, “Rosa is the first sister to pick a rose because she’s … begun to move on after their mother’s death.”
  • Don’t eliminate words to change the meaning of the original text. For instance, it’s not appropriate to use an ellipsis to change “plants did not grow faster when exposed to poetry” to “plants did … grow faster when exposed to poetry.”

Step 5 Put brackets around words you need to add to a quote for clarification.

  • For example, let’s say you want to use the quote, “All of them experienced a more relaxed, calmer disposition after doing yoga for 6 months.” This doesn’t tell the reader who you’re talking about. You could use brackets to say, “All of [the teachers in the study] experienced a more relaxed, calmer disposition after doing yoga for 6 months.”
  • However, if you know the study is talking about teachers, you couldn’t use brackets to say, “All of [society experiences] a more relaxed, calmer disposition after doing yoga for 6 months.”

Step 6 Provide commentary after a quote to explain how it supports your ideas.

  • If you don't explain your quote well, then it's not helping your ideas. You can't expect the reader to connect the quote back to your thesis for you.

Step 7 Paraphrase the quote to condense it to 1 or 2 sentences, if you can.

  • For instance, you may prefer to use a long block quote to present a passage from a literary work that demonstrates the author's style. However, let's say you were using a journal article to provide a critic's perspective on an author's work. You may not need to directly quote an entire paragraph word-for-word to get their point across. Instead, use a paraphrase.

Tip: If you’re unsure about a quote, ask yourself, “Can I paraphrase this in more concise language and not lose any support for my argument?” If the answer is yes, a quote is not necessary.

Citing Your Quote

Step 1 Cite the author’s...

  • An MLA citation will look like this: (Lopez 24)
  • For sources with multiple authors, separate their names with the word “and:” (Anderson and Smith 55-56) or (Taylor, Gomez, and Austin 89)
  • If you use the author’s name in your lead-in to the quote, you just need to provide the year in parentheses: According to Luz Lopez, “the green grass symbolizes a fresh start for Lia (24).”

Step 2 Include the author’s...

  • An APA citation for a direct quote looks like this: (Ronan, 2019, p. 10)
  • If you’re citing multiple authors, separate their names with the word “and:” (Cruz, Hanks, and Simmons, 2019, p. 85)
  • If you incorporated the author’s name into your lead-in, you can just give the year and page number: Based on Ronan’s (2019, p. 10) analysis, “coffee breaks improve productivity.”

Step 3 Use the author’s last name, date, and page number for Chicago Style.

  • For instance, a Chicago Style citation will look like this: (Alexander 2019, 125)
  • If you’re quoting a source with multiple authors, separate them with the word “and:” (Pattinson, Stewart, and Green 2019, 175)
  • If you already incorporated the author’s name into your quote, then you can just provide the year and page number: According to Alexander, “the smell of roses increases feelings of happiness” (2019, 125).

Step 4 Prepare a Works...

  • For MLA, you'd cite an article like this: Lopez, Luz. "A Fresh Blossom: Imagery in 'Her Darkest Sunshine.'" Journal of Stories , vol. 2, no. 5, 2019, p. 15-22. [17] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • In APA, you'd cite an article like this: Lopez, Luz. (2019). A Fresh Blossom: Imagery in "Her Darkest Sunshine." Journal of Stories , 2(5), 15-22. [18] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • For Chicago Style, your article citation would look like this: Lopez, Luz. "A Fresh Blossom: Imagery in 'Her Darkest Sunshine.'" Journal of Stories 2 no. 4 (2019): 15-22. [19] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Selecting a Quote

Step 1 Select a quote that backs up the argument you’re making.

Tip: Quotes are most effective when the original language of the person or text you’re quoting is worth repeating word-for-word.

Step 2 Make sure the quote is something you can analyze.

  • If you’re struggling to explain the quote or link it back to your argument, then it’s likely not a good idea to include it in your essay.

Step 3 Avoid using too many direct quotes in your paper.

  • Paraphrases and summaries work just like a direct quote, except that you don’t need to put quotation marks around them because you’re using your own words to restate ideas. However, you still need to cite the sources you used.

Community Q&A

wikiHow Staff Editor

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • Always cite your quotes properly. If you don't, it is considered plagiarism. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

Medical Disclaimer

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing, or stopping any kind of health treatment.


To put a quote in an essay, incorporate it directly into a sentence if it's shorter than 4 typed lines. For example, you could write "According to researchers," and then insert the quote. If a quote is longer than 4 typed lines, set it off from the rest of the paragraph, and don't put quotes around it. After the quote, include an in-text citation so readers know where it's from. The right way to cite the quote will depend on whether you're using MLA, APA, or Chicago Style formatting. For more tips from our English co-author, like how to omit words from a quote, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Updated 30/12/2020

  • What Are Quotes?
  • Why Use Quotes?
  • What You Want To Quote
  • How Much You Want To Quote
  • How That Quote Will Fit into Your Essay
  • There Are Also Other Ways of Using Quotation Marks
  • Questions You Must Ask Yourself When Weaving Quotes into Sentences
  • How To Find Good Quotes

1. What Are Quotes?

Quotations, better known by their abbreviation ‘quotes’, are a form of evidence used in VCE essays. Using quotations in essays helps to demonstrate your knowledge of the text, and provides solid evidence for your arguments. The discussion on quotations in this study guide can be applied to all three areas of study in the VCAA English course which have been explained in detail in our Ultimate Guide s to VCE Text Response , Comparative and  Language Analysis .

A quotation is the repetition of a group of words taken from a text by someone other than the original author. The punctuation mark used to indicate a repetition of another author’s work is presented through quotation marks. These quotation marks are illustrated by inverted commas, either single inverted commas (‘ ’) or double inverted commas (“ ”). There is no general rule in Australia regarding which type of inverted comma you must use for quotations. Single inverted commas are preferred in Australia as they follow the British standard. The American standard involves styling quotations with the double inverted comma. You can choose either style, just be consistent in your essays.

2. Why Use Quotes?

The usage of quotations in essays demonstrates:

  • Your knowledge of the text
  • Credibility of your argument
  • An interesting and thoughtful essay
  • The strength of your writing skills.

However, quotations must be used correctly, otherwise you risk (and these frequent mistakes will be discussed in detail later):

  • Irrelevant quotations
  • Overcrowding or overloading of quotations
  • Broken sentences

How You Integrate a Quote into an Essay Depends on Three Factors:

  • What you want to quote
  • How much you want to quote
  • How that quote will fit into your essay.

3. What You Want To Quote

As you discuss ideas in a paragraph, quotes should be added to develop these ideas further. A quote should add insight into your argument; therefore, it is imperative that the quote you choose relates intrinsically to your discussion. This is dependent on which aspect of the text you are discussing, for example:

  • Description of theme or character
  • Description of event or setting
  • Description of a symbol or other literary technique

Never quote just for the sake of quoting. Quotations can be irrelevant  if a student merely adds in quotes as ‘sentence fillers’. Throwing in quotations just to make your essay appear more sophisticated will only be more damaging if the quotation does not adequately reinforce or expand on your contention. Conversely, an essay with no quotations will not achieve many marks either.

4. How Much You Want To Quote

A quotation should never tell the story for you. Quotations are a ‘support’ system, much like a back up for your ideas and arguments. Thus, you must be selective in how much you want to quote. Generally speaking, the absolute minimum is three quotes per paragraph but you should not  overload  your paragraphs either. Overcrowding your essay with too many quotations will lead to failure to develop your ideas, as well as your work appearing too convoluted for your assessor. Remember that the essay is  your  piece of work and should consist mainly of your own ideas and thoughts.

Single Word Quotations

The word ‘evaporates’, used to characterise money and happiness intends to instill the idea that happiness as a result of money is only temporary. (VCAA ‘Can Money Buy Happiness’ Language Analysis)

Single worded quotations can often leave the largest impression on the assessor. This is because you are able to demonstrate that you can focus on one word and develop an entire idea around it.

Phrase Quotations

Sunil Badami ‘still found it hard to tie my Indian appearance to my Australian feeling', showing that for Sunil, his culture was not Indian, but Australian due to his upbringing. ( Sticks and Stones and Such-like, Sunil Badami in Growing Up Asian in Australia )

A phrase quotation is the most common quotation length you will use in essays.

Long Quotations

The multitudes of deaths surrounding Anna began to take its toll on her, burdening her with guilt as ‘sometimes, if I walked the main street of the village in the evening, I felt the press of their ghosts. I realised then that I had begun to step small and carry myself all hunched, keeping my arms at my sides and my elbows tucked, as if to leave room for them.’ ( Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks )

Long quotations comprise of more than one sentence – avoid using them as evidence. Your assessor will not mark you highly if the bulk of your paragraphs consists of long quotations. You should aim to keep your quotations to less than 2 lines on an A4 writing page. If you have a long quotation you wish to use, be selective. Choose only the important phrases or key words, and remove the remaining sentence by replacing it with an ellipsis (…).

Here is the same example again, with the student using ellipsis:

The multitudes of deaths surrounding Anna began to take its toll on her, burdening her with guilt as she felt ‘the press of their ghosts…[and] begun to step small and carry myself all hunched…as if to leave room for them.’ ( Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks)

In this case, we have deleted: ‘sometimes, if I walked the main street of the village in the evening’ and ‘I realised then that I had’ by using an ellipsis – a part of the quotation that is not missed because it does not represent the essence of the student’s argument. You would have noticed that a square bracket ([  ]) was used. This will be discussed in detail under  Blending Quotes.

5. How That Quote Will Fit into Your Essay

You must never take the original author’s words and use them in your essay  without  inserting them in quotation marks. Failure to do so leads to ‘plagiarism’ or cheating. Plagiarism occurs when you take someone else’s work and pass it off as your own. You must make sure that you use quotation marks whenever you use evidence from your text.

The following is plagiarism:

Even a single flicker of the eyes could be mistaken for the essential crime that contained all other crimes in itself – thought crime.  (1984, George Orwell)

Using quotation marks however, avoids plagiarism:

Even ‘a single flicker of the eyes’ could be mistaken for ‘the essential crime that contained all other crimes in itself – thought crime.’  (1984, George Orwell)

There are serious consequences for plagiarism. VCAA will penalise students for plagiarism. VCAA uses statistical analysis to compare a student’s work with their General Achievement Test (GAT), and if the cross-referencing indicates that the student is achieving unexpectedly high results with their schoolwork, the student’s school will be notified and consequential actions will be taken.

Plagiarism should not be confused with:

  • ‍ Paraphrasing : to reword or rephrase the author’s words
  • ‍ Summarising: to give a brief statement about the author’s main points
  • ‍ Quoting : to directly copy the author’s words with an indication (via quotation marks) that it is not your original work

Blending Quotations

You should always aim to interweave quotations into your sentences in order to achieve good flow and enhanced readability of your essay. Below is a good example of blending in quotations:

John Proctor deals with his own inner conflict as he is burdened with guilt and shame of his past adulterous actions. Yet during the climatic ending of the play, Proctor honours his principles as he rejects signing a false confession. This situation where Proctor is confronted to ‘sign [himself] to lies’ is a stark epiphany, for he finally acknowledges that he does have ‘some shred of goodness.’ ( The Crucible, Arthur Miller)

There are three main methods in how you can blend quotations into an essay:

1. Adding Words

Broken sentences  are a common mistake made when students aim to integrate quotations into their sentences. Below are examples of broken sentences due to poor integration of a quotation:

‘Solitary as an oyster’. Scrooge is illustrated as a person who is isolated in his own sphere. ( A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Never write a sentence consisting of  only  a quotation. This does not add insight into your argument, nor does it achieve good flow or readability.

Scrooge, ‘solitary as an oyster’, is illustrated as a person who is isolated in his own sphere.  (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

This example is better, however the sentence is still difficult to read. In order to blend quotations into your sentences, try adding in words that will help merge the quotation and your own words together:

Described as being as ‘solitary as an oyster’, Scrooge is illustrated as a person who is isolated in his own sphere.  (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Scrooge is depicted as a person who is ‘solitary as an oyster’, illustrating that he is isolated in his own sphere.  (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Tip: If you remove the quotation marks, the sentence should still make sense.

2. Square Brackets ([   ])

These are used when you need to modify the original writer’s words so that the quotation will blend into your essay. This is usually done to:

Change Tense

Authors sometimes write in past  (looked) , present  (look)  or future tense  (will look) . Depending on how you approach your essay, you may choose to write with one of the three tenses. Since your tense may not always match the author’s, you will need to alter particular words.

Original sentence: ‘…puts his arm around Lewis’ shoulder’ ( Cosi, Louis Nowra)

Upon seeing Lewis upset, Roy attempts to cheer him up by ‘put[ting] his arm around Lewis’ shoulder’. ( Cosi, Louis Nowra)

Change Narrative Perspective

The author may write in a first  (I, we) , second  (you)  or third person  (he, she, they)  narrative. Since you will usually write from an outsider’s point of view, you will refer to characters in third person. Thus, it is necessary to replace first and second person pronouns with third person pronouns. Alternatively, you can replace first and second person pronouns with the character’s name.

The original sentence: ‘Only now can I recognise the scene for what it was: a confessional, a privilege that I, through selfishness and sensual addiction, failed to accept…’  (Maestro, Peter Goldsworthy)

When Keller was finally ready to share his brutal past with Paul, the latter disregarded the maestro, as he was too immersed in his own adolescent interests. However, upon reflection, Paul realises that ‘only now can [he] recognise the scene for what it was: a confessional, a privilege that [he], through selfishness and sensual addiction, failed to accept’.  (Maestro, Peter Goldsworthy)

Insert Missing Words

Sometimes, it may be necessary to insert your own words in square brackets so that the quotation will be coherent when incorporated into your sentences.

The original sentence: ‘His heels glow.’ ( Ransom, David Malouf)

Achilles, like Priam, feels a sense of refreshment as highlighted by ‘his heels [which] glow.’ ( Ransom, David Malouf)

It is important to maintain proper grammar while weaving in quotations. The question is: does the punctuation go inside or outside the final quotation mark?

The rule is: If the quoted words end with a full stop (or comma), then the full stop goes inside the quotation marks. If the quoted words do not end with a full stop, then the full stop goes outside the quotation marks.

Original sentence: 'Sagitty’s old place plus another hundred acres that went from the head waters of Darkey Creek all the way down to the river.’ ( The Secret River, Kate Grenville)

Punctuation inside:

During the past decade, Thornhill became the wealthiest man in the area, owning ‘Sagitty’s old place plus another hundred acres that went from the head waters of Darkey Creek all the way down to the river.’ ( The Secret River, Kate Grenville)

Punctuation outside:

During the past decade, Thornhill became the wealthiest man in the area, owning ‘Sagitty’s old place plus another hundred acres’. ( The Secret River, Kate Grenville)

6. There Are Also Other Ways of Using Quotation Marks

Title of text.

When including the title of the text in an essay, use single quotation marks.

Directed by Elia Kazan, ‘On The Waterfront’ unveils the widespread corruption among longshoremen working at New Jersey docks. ( On The Waterfront, Elia Kazan)

Alternatively, you can underline the title of the text instead of using single quotation marks. Many teachers and examiners prefer this option.

Quotation Within a Quotation

When you quote the author who is quoting someone else, then you will need to switch between single and double quotation marks. You firstly need to enclose the author’s words in single quotation marks, and then enclose the words they quote in double quotation marks. If you're following the American standard, you'll need to do this the opposite way - that is, using double quotation marks for the author's words and and then single quotation marks for the quote. We recommend sticking to the preferred Australian style though, which is single and then double.

Original sentence: ‘…something bitter and stringy, too difficult to swallow. “It’s just that – I – um, I hate it…It’s too – it’s too Indian!”’ ( Sticks and Stones and Such-like, Sunil Badami in Growing Up Asian in Australia)

Sunil’s unusual name leads him to believe that it is ‘…something bitter and stringy, too difficult to swallow. “It’s just that – I – um, I hate it…It’s too – it’s too Indian!”’ ( Sticks and Stones and Such-like, Sunil Badami in Growing Up Asian in Australia)

As you can see, the student has quoted the author’s words in single quotation marks. The dialogue used by the author is surrounded by double quotation marks. This demonstrates that the dialogue used in the text still belongs to the author.

Using Quotations to Express Irony

When you wish to express irony, you use quotation marks to illustrate that the implied meaning of the actual word or phrase is different to the normal meaning.

As a young girl, Elaine is a victim of Mrs Smeath and her so called ‘friends’. Her father’s interest in insects and her mother’s lack of housework presents Elaine as an easy bullying target for other girls her age who are fit to fulfill Toronto’s social norms. ( Cat’s Eye,  Margaret Atwood)

In this case, ‘friends’ is written in inverted commas to indicate that Elaine’s peers are not truly her friends but are in fact, bullies.

7. Questions You Must Ask Yourself When Weaving Quotes into Sentences

1.  Does the quote blend into my sentence?

2.  Does my sentence still make sense?

3.  Is it too convoluted for my readers to understand?

4.  Did I use the correct grammar?

8. How To Find Good Quotes

Tip One: Do not go onto Google and type in 'Good quotes for X text', because this is not going to work. These type of quotes are generally the most famous and the most popular quotes because, yes they are good quotes, but does that necessarily mean that it's going to be a good quote in your essay? Probably not. But why? Well, it's because these quotes are the most likely to be overused by students - absolutely every single person who has studied this text before you, and probably every single person who will study this text after you. You want to be unique and original. So, how are you going to find those 'good quotes'? Recognise which quotes are constantly being used and blacklist them. Quotes are constantly used in study guides are generally the ones that will be overused by students. Once you eliminate these quotes, you can then go on to find potentially more subtle quotes that are just as good as the more popular or famous ones. Tip Two: Re-read the book. There is nothing wrong with you going ahead and finding your own quotes. You don't need to find quotes that already exist online or in study guides. Go and find whatever gels with you and whatever you feel like has a lot of meaning to it. I had a friend back in high school who was studying a book by Charles Dickens. I haven't read the book myself, but there was a character who couldn't pronounce the letter S, or he had a lisp of some sort. What my friend did was he found this one word where, throughout the entire book, the guy with the lisp only ever said the S one time and that was a massive thing. So, he used that. This is something that is really unique and original. So, go ahead and try to find your own quotes. Tip Three: Realise that good quotes do not necessarily have to come from the main character. Yes, the main character does often have good quotes associated with whatever they're saying, but just know that you do have minor characters who can say something really relevant and have a really good point too. Their quote is going to be just as strong in your essay as a main character's quote, which will probably be overused and overdone by so many other students. Tip Four: Develop a new interpretation of a famous or popular quote. Most of the time, the really popular quotes are analysed in very much the same way. But if you can offer a new insight into why it's being said or offer a different interpretation, then this is automatically going to create a really good quote that's going to offer a refreshing point of view. For example, if we look at The Great Gatsby , one of the most famous quotes that is constantly being used is, 'He found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass.' What most people will do is they will analyse the part about the 'grotesque thing a rose', because that's the most significant part of the quote that stands out. But what you could do instead, is focus on a section of that quote, for example the 'raw'. Why is the word raw being used? How does the word raw contribute extra meaning to this particular quote? This way you're honing in on a particular section of the quote and really trying to offer something new. This automatically allows you to investigate the quote in a new light. Tip Five: Just remember that the best quotes do not have to be one sentence long. Some of the best quotes tend to be really short phrases or even just one particular word. Teachers actually love it when you can get rid of the excess words that are unnecessary in the sentence, and just hone in on a particular phrase or a particular word to offer an analysis. And also, that way, when you spend so much time analysing and offering insight into such a short phrase or one sentence, it shows how knowledgeable you are about the text and that you don't need to rely on lots and lots of evidence in order to prove your point. Those are my five quick tips on how to find good quotes from your texts!

Need more help with quotes? Learn about 5 Ways You're Using Quotes Wrong .

Resources for texts mentioned/referenced in this blog post:

Comparing: Stasiland and 1984 Study Guide

A Killer Text Guide: Cosi (ebook)

Cosi By Louis Nowra Study Guide

Cosi Study Guide

Growing Up Asian in Australia Study Guide

A Killer Text Guide: On the Waterfront (ebook)

A Killer Text Guide: Ransom (ebook)

Ransom Study Guide

The Crucible by Arthur Miller Study Guide

A Killer Text Guide: The Crucible (ebook)

‍ The Crucible and Year of Wonders Prompts

Comparing: The Crucible and Year of Wonders Study Guide

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

‍ A Killer Text Guide: The Secret River (ebook)

The Secret River by Kate Grenville Study Guide

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how to put a quote into essay

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how to put a quote into essay

You can find the VCAA exam 2009  here .

Have a go at analysing it yourself first, then see how I've interpreted the article below! For a detailed guide on Language Analysis including how to prepare for your SAC and exam, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis .


Author:  Voxi

Type of article:  Opinion piece

Publisher:  Clt Alt

Date of publication:  23rd of May, 2009

Contention:  We should embrace the digital technology as it has, and will continue to revolutionise our lives in regards to intelligence, convenience, communication and more.

Number of article(s):  1

Number of image(s):  1 (not disclosed on VCAA website due to copyright laws)

Source:  VCAA website

Note:  Persuasive techniques can be interpreted in many ways. The examples given below are not the single correct answer. Only a selected number of persuasive techniques have been identified in this guide.

Persuasive technique:  Imagery

Example:  ‘Keyed In’

Analysis:  The term ‘keyed in’ depicts an image of keys on a laptop or computer – one of the important inventions in regards to digital technology as well as the idea that those who are ‘keyed in’ are ‘up-to-date’ with its progression. This invites support from the reader since it is desirable to be ‘up-to-speed’ with the latest developments and trends – especially since new technology allows such accessibility.

Persuasive technique:  Type of publication

Example:  Online journal

Analysis:  By publishing the article on an online platform, Voxi aims to target ‘tech-savvy’ readers who are more inclined to appreciate technology than those who read other publication avenues such as newspapers.

Persuasive technique:  Acknowledging the opposition

Example:  ‘Some people are naturally afraid of the new, challenged by the discomfort of being dislodged from the known, the safe, the predictable, the tried and the tested – in short, their comfort zone.’

Analysis:  Voxi invites readers to view him as someone who is considerate and rational by displaying an understanding front towards those opposed to the use of technology, ‘some people are naturally afraid of the new.’

Example:  ‘…maybe they have a point – sometimes it’s good to take time out and just enjoy what you’ve got.’

Analysis:  Through admitting that perhaps those opposed to the development of technology may ‘have a point’, Voxi aims to manipulate readers into trusting him since he appears genuine and fair towards the issue.

Persuasive technique: Positioning advocators in a positive light

Example:  ‘They see possibilities for making things better where other people want to chill, just responding to the pleasure of the moment.’

Analysis:  By positioning technology advocates as people who ‘see possibilities for making things better,’ Voxi attempts to coax readers into support since readers tend to respect and admire those who take action, rather than someone who is static and merely wants to ‘chill.’

Persuasive technique:  Characterisation of supporters as heroes

Example:  ‘History’s full of moments though, when human beings have been moved forward by people who have been like the grit in an oyster. Gritty people produce pearls.’

Analysis:  Though the characterisation of technology advocators as ‘gritty people,’ Voxi urges readers to view those people with admiration as their determination and dedication has lead to the ‘produc[tion of] pearls’ or in other words, valuable inventions.

Persuasive technique:  Colloquial Language

Example:  ‘Well, sort of.’

Analysis:  The use of colloquial language, ‘well, sort of,’ is intended to position Voxi as a someone who appears to be a ‘friend’ as he attempts to display a light conversational tone. As a result, readers may be more inclined to support his opinion since they are more likely to listen to a ‘friend’ than a formal authority figure.

Persuasive technique:  Characterisation of advocates as hard workers

Example:  They’re the ones who ask questions, who tinker away in the garage, who turn up on ‘The Inventors.’

Analysis:  By characterising advocates of technology as hard-working, ‘tinker[ing] away in the garage’, , Voxi relies on the readers’ compassion to embrace modern technology as it is clear that much effort and time has been placed in these inventions and therefore shouldn’t be immediately disregarded.

Persuasive technique:  Appeal to a sense of failure

Example:  ‘In our lifetime we haven’t had a Copernicus or Galileo reorganising the cosmos, or a Darwin challenging us with a radically new theory of evolution.’

Analysis:  Voxi tries to influence readers to step up to past generations’ successes such as ‘Copernicus [and] Galileo reorganising the cosmos, or a Darwin challenging us with a radically new theory of evolution’ through the depiction that the current population has failed to produce any great intellectuals.

Persuasive technique:  Repetition

Example:  ‘…revolutionise…’

Analysis:  The repeated word ‘revolutionise’ is an attempt to instill into readers’ minds that there is a dramatic change currently occurring in society and as a result, they should try to keep ‘up to date’ with ‘the new world’.

Persuasive technique:  Rhetorical question

Example:  ‘Why wouldn’t you want it in your life?’

Analysis:  The rhetorical question, ‘why wouldn’t you want it in your life?’ urges readers’ support since it is apparent that there is no reason why people should not accept technology, especially since in the future, readers will be able to ‘lead happy, safe and fulfilling lives in a free and peaceful world’ – something that would result in satisfaction.

Persuasive technique:  Appeal to a sense of youth

Example:  ‘It’s older people who are less familiar with it who are suspicious about it, or even

Analysis:  By creating a dichotomy between the ‘older people’ and the younger generation, Voxi aims to manipulate readers into believing that only the elderly are ‘suspicious…or even afraid’ of technology, whereas all other generations should have no issues and welcome the ‘digital world’ with open arms.

Persuasive technique:  Reference to modern activities

Example:  ‘Global shopping, online banking, working out the itinerary for your holiday, looking up Google Maps and Street View to check out where your friends live, and that’s not to mention Facebook.’

Analysis:  Through referencing to everyday, modern activities such as : ‘Global shopping…looking up Google Maps and Street View…not to mention Facebook’, readers may be compelled to join the population in using technology since they are aware that many people do find these digital advances convenient and applicable to their daily lives.

Persuasive technique:  Use of logic and reasoning

Example:  ‘Sure, some people stress about privacy issues, but these can be resolved. Google is not allowed to film defence sites from Google cars and Google bikes. Let’s face it, the pictures we see are not real-time images. You can protest about them anyway and get them removed or pixellated if you’re really worried.’

Analysis:  Readers are encouraged to support Voxi’s stance since his use of logic, ‘you can protest about them anyway’ and reason, ‘let’s face it, the pictures we see are not real-time images’ makes clear that ‘privacy issues’ is not a valid point to denounce technology.

Persuasive technique:  Humourous tone

Example:  ‘Besides, the hot air balloon people are always hovering over my back yard and looking into my windows too.’

Analysis:  Through adopting a humourous tone in pointing out the irony of people’s concerns about ‘privacy issues’ when ‘hot air balloon people are always hovering over my back yard and looking into my windows too,’ Voxi attempts to assure readers that online privacy is no less risky than their privacy at home.

Persuasive technique:  Appeal to convenience

Example:  ‘Why go to a library when you can sit at your desk and look up Wikipedia or Google Scholar, or Ask Jeeves?’

Analysis:  Through posing the rhetorical question, ‘Why go to a library when you can sit at your desk and look up Wikipedia or Google Scholar, or Ask Jeeves?’, Voxi appeals to readers’ sense of convenience since the benefits of merely ‘sitting’ at home clearly outweighs the effort of travelling to a library.

Persuasive technique:  Inclusive language

Example:  ‘Let’s be excited – keep being excited.’

Analysis:  The incorporation of inclusive language, ‘let’s’ urges readers to feel as though they are directly part of the issue or somehow responsible for the outcome and thus, may lead readers to become advocators of technology.

Persuasive technique:  Juxtaposition

Example:  ‘We’d still be swinging in the trees or huddling in caves if we’d taken the view that new things are harmful or dangerous or unpredictable.’

Analysis:  Through the juxtaposition of current society and history when ‘we…sw[u]ng in the trees or huddl[ed] in caves’, Voxi intends to demonstrate that without taking some risks and disregarding that ‘new things are harmful or dangerous or unpredictable’, society would not have come as far as it has now, and thus, readers should continue to push forward with the new digital age.

We’ve explored historical context, themes, essay planning and essay topics over on our Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy blog post. If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to studying this text, I highly recommend checking it out!

[Video Transcription]

Hey guys, welcome back to Lisa's Study Guides. So this week I have another essay topic breakdown for you. So eventually I'm going to get through all of the VCAA texts that are on the study design, but we're slowly going to get there and are just want to say yet again, even though this one is like a house on fire, I am really glad if you've clicked on this video and you're not necessarily studying it because as always with all my videos, I try to give you an overall message for you to take away that can be applied to any single text. So that is the same for this particular text today. And so even though the takeaway message for this video is quite specific to short stories, it's still an important consideration for any text that you're studying. Ideally, you want to use a diverse range of evidence for any text, but in particular, for short stories, you don't just want to rely on a small handful, but to try and make links between the different short stories. So let's see what that means on the other side of this quick overview of the text. Like a House on Fire is a collection of short stories by the author, Cate Kennedy, and unlike a lot of other texts on the study design, this book portrays a lot of very domestic situations, which seems fairly boring compared to some of the other texts that other students might be doing. However, I'm really excited about this text because the short stories are great. Not because they have groundbreaking premises, which they don't, but because of how effortlessly and deeply emotive they are. So the domestic scenarios actually help us relate to the characters in the stories and empathize with the complexity of their experiences. The essay topic we'll be looking at today is in Like a House on Fire, Kennedy finds strength in ordinary people. Discuss. Here, the term which you really have to think about is strength. We already know that she depicts the story of ordinary people, of people like you or me, or even just people we may know, but does she find strength in them? It could be physical strength, but more often than not, it might be other types of strength. For instance, the mental strength it takes to cope with intense pressure or the emotional strength it takes to make a difficult choice or action. It's important to think about how they might actually apply throughout the book. In this sense, our essay will have essentially two halves. The first two body paragraphs we'll look at scenarios of intense pressure, be it through the loss of control in one's life or a domestic situation which has become emotionally tense. The last two body paragraphs will then consider the types of strength that Kennedy evinces in these stories. And we'll contend that she does find strength in the characters who face a difficult decision, but that she also finds a lot more strength in the characters who managed to cope with their situation and grapple with the tensions in their lives.

Paragraph one

In many of her stories, Kennedy portrays characters who experience powerlessness. This loss of power can come a number of ways. For instance, both Flexion and Like a House on Fire tell the story of men who have injured their previously reliable bodies and have thus been rendered immobile. But they also tell the story of their respective wives who have lost some control over their lives now that they have to care for their husbands. On the other hand, there are the kids in Whirlpool whose mother insists that they dress a certain way for a Christmas photo. Her hand on your shoulders, exerting pressure that pushes you down. Kennedy's use of second person really makes you feel this pressure that keeps you from going out to the pool you so desperately desire to be in. Evidently powerlessness is an experience that comes in many shapes and forms in several stories.

Paragraph two

In addition to this, Kennedy explores other emotional tensions across the collection, subverting the idea that the home is necessarily a safe sanctuary. This is where she really goes beyond just the idea of powerlessness, but actually jumps into scenarios that are much more emotionally complex. In Ashes for instance, we see the homosexual protagonist struggle with feeling useless and tongue tied, embarrassed by the floundering pause between his mother and himself. There is a significant emotional hurdle there, which is particularly poignant given that mothers are usually considered a source of safety and comfort for their children. Kennedy's story of domesticity actually subvert or question what we might think of the domestic space shared by family members. If you have the Scribe edition of the book, the artwork on the cover would depict a vase of wilting flowers, an empty picture frame, and a spilt cup of coffee. These are all visual symbols of an imperfect domestic life. A similar rift exists between husband and wife in both Five Dollar Family and Waiting, the women find themselves unable to emotionally depend on their partners. While Michelle in Five Dollar Family despises her husbands startled, faintly incredulous expression, an inability to care for their child, the protagonist in Waiting struggles to talk about her miscarriages with her husband who is already worn down as it is. Kennedy takes these household roles of mother, son, husband, wife, and really dives into the complex shades of emotion that lies within these relationships. We realize through her stories that a mother can't always provide comfort to a child and that a husband isn't always the dependable partner that he's supposed to be.

Paragraph three

However, Kennedy does find strength in some characters who do take a bold or courageous leap in some way. These are really important moments in which she is able to show us the strength that it takes to make these decisions. And she triumphs however small or insignificant that can be achieved. A moment that really stands out to me is the ending of Laminex and Mirrors, where the protagonist rebelliously smuggles a hospital patient out for a smoke only to have to take him back into his ward through the main entrance and therefore get them both caught. She recounts this experience as the one I remember most clearly from the year I turned 18. The two of us content, just for this perfect moment. And their success resonates with the audience, even though the protagonist would have lost her job and therefore the income she needed for her trip to London, Kennedy demonstrates her strength in choosing compassion for an elderly patient. Even the sister in Whirlpool, who wasn't exactly kind to the protagonist in the beginning, forms an unlikely alliance with her against their mother, sharing a reckless moment and cutting their photo shoot short. Bold leaps such as these are ones that take strength and therefore deserve admiration.

Paragraph four

However, more often than not, Kennedy's stories are more about the strength needed to simply cope with life, one day at a time. She explores the minutiae of her characters lives in a way that conveys the day to day struggles, but also hints at the underlying fortitude needed to deal with these things on a daily basis. In Tender, the wife feels as if everything at home is on the verge of coming apart since her husband is only able to cook tuna and pasta casserole for their kids. However, when she must get a possibly malignant tumor removed, her concern of whether there'll be tuna and pasta in the pantry just in case, demonstrates her selfless nature. Kennedy thus creates a character who is strong for others, even when her own life at home is disorderly and her health may be in jeopardy. The strength of gritting one's teeth and getting on with things in spite of emotional tension is a central idea across this collection, and many other examples are there for you to consider as well. And so we come to the end of our essay. Hopefully going through this gives you an idea of how to cover more bases with your evidence. Remember that you don't have to recount lots and lots of events, but it's more important to engage with what the events are actually telling us about people. This is particularly important for prompts like this one, where it heavily focuses on the people involved. That is it for me this week, please give this video a thumbs up. If you wanted to say thanks to Mark, who has been helping me write these scripts up for a lot of the text response essay, topic breakdowns. If you enjoyed this, then you might also be interested in the live stream coming up next week, which will be on Friday the 25th of May at 5:00 PM. I'll be covering the topic of analyzing argument for the second time, just because there's so much to get through. I'll also be announcing some special things during that particular live stream. So make sure you're there so you're the first to hear it. I will see you guys next week. Bye.

Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy

How To Get An A+ On Your Like A House On Fire Essay

Close Analysis Of 'Cake' From Like A House On Fire

For a detailed guide on Language Analysis, what you're expected to cover, how to prepare for your SAC and Exam and more, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis .

‍ [Modified Video Transcription]

Today we're going to go through the 2019 past VCAA English Exam ( grab a copy of the exam here so you can analyse with me). As you probably know, if you've watched my videos before, you always want to make sure you read the background information when it comes to Analysing Argument. 

I'm going to use Analysing Argument and Language Analysis interchangeably by the way, but I'm talking about the same thing okay? 

Background Information

The background information is pretty important because it gives you context for what is happening in this article. Without reading the background information, you might just head in there and possibly even come up with an entirely different context altogether, which might screw over your actual analysis and the author's intention. So, never skip the background information. Make sure that you read it and also pick out the gems that you find in it. 

What I've always found is background information is great for picking keywords - words I might want to use throughout my own Language Analysis. It also has really good details about the article. In this case, you can see that there's a member of the public who has responded, which tells us a little bit about the author; it's a 'response' as well, so there's going to be two articles; it's an advertorial - an advertorial is a paid advertisement that looks like an article (I'll use the word advertorial as I'm describing the article in my introduction), and, I also know where it's been published. This is already really good information for you to start using in your introduction. 

Finding Your Own Interpretation

Let's move into the analysis itself. By the way, this is my first time doing this analysis, so we're doing it together. What you'll find is that I come up with particular interpretations that you might not have come up with. I might miss something, you might miss something, and what you'll find is my interpretation is not the only interpretation out there. If you come up with something else, it's totally fine for you to go ahead and analyse it, as long as you can back it up. This is what English is all about, so don't stress if I haven't matched up with you in exactly what I'm saying. You can also use my interpretation as a double interpretation. So, what you could do is go into your essay, write your interpretation and if mine compounds on top of yours pretty well, if it's a great addition to what you're saying, add it in and bam! You're showing your examiner that, you're somebody who can look at one particular technique from several different perspectives and that's kind of cool.

Moving on to the Analysis

So, 'A Better, Faster Shopping Experience'. From what I can already see here is there's this sense of convenience already being brought up. Now, at this point in time, I don't know what the point of that convenience is, but I know for me as a shopper, if I can get something for a better experience and I can get it done faster, then hells yeah, I am all for that. Think about yourself in the reader's shoes, after all, you really are the reader reading this article. Think about how it's starting to impact you. 

I've done a video about the TEE rule previously that goes through T echnique, E xample and the intended E ffect on the audience. Make sure you're familiar with that because I will use a lot of that in today's analysis.

'An open letter to our valued customers. As you know, Hailey's Local Store is not your average grocery store.'  

Interesting. The 'As you know' is pretty familiar. It's this familiarity that this person is sharing with us (the author's name is Hailey, so I'll just say Hailey). She says 'As you know, Hailey's Local Store is not your average grocery store' and repeating that familiar 'As you know' reminds the audience - us - of our long-term relationship with the store. So, in a sense, she's drawing upon our good will and our trust in the local shop, which creates this differentiation between herself (as somebody who's more proactive and customer-centric) and your bigger grocery stores. 

'We're a little bit different - we always put our customers first.' 

At this point, we start to feel valued. We know that we are her priority. Her priority isn't about profits, which a lot of stores are about, it's about the people, and as a result, we're more inclined to look at her in a favourable way.

'We offer lots of healthy meals, many specials, locally source food and, as you know, we abolished plastic carry bags four years ago - long before the big stores.'  

This whole sentence is pretty good because it shows us that she is somebody who is forward-thinking and she has actually carried through with her claim that she puts her customer first. We know that because she follows it up with:

'Why did we do those things? Because you told us that was what you wanted and needed.' 

She's got historical proof of putting customers first, which again, serves to build this rapport and relationship between Hailey and us as her customers.

If I look at the first paragraph as a whole, I see that she's building this up, she's setting this up in a particular way and whatever direction she's going to head in next, we're more inclined to follow her, to believe in her and to support her because she's shown us that she has supported us first. She's helped us out, so why can't we help her out? Again, I haven't read the rest of this article yet so these are just the thoughts that are going through my mind as I'm reading this first paragraph - just to give you a little bit of insight into my brain.

In this first paragraph, I can see that she's using a pretty welcoming and warm tone. If you have a look at the photograph that's been placed at the top of this article - and remember that with particular images they're strategically placed, so if it's placed at the start of the article versus at the end, think about how that impacts your perception of the photograph - for me, the first thing I see when I look at this article is the photo and I see a smiling happy owner. As you can see, the first paragraph serves to back up this photograph as well, with what she's talking about in terms of prioritising customers and valuing customers. You can also see products behind her, which look fresh and full and her shelves are full, so in that sense, it furthers this impression of the local and grounded nature of the store. It feels homey and this invites that comfort and trust from us.

Then, as we move into our second paragraph, I'm seeing a lot of exclamation marks, which gives me the sense of this upbeat, exciting environment, or even tone you could say. I think she's doing this because she wants us to jump on board with cashless payments as well, and to not see them as something that's a burden for us. She ties the advantages of cashless payments directly to the customer’s experience of the store by frequently repeating personal terms, such as 'you' and 'your' throughout these first couple of paragraphs. By the way, I'm not going to write down all the language analysis, because I think there's just not enough space, but me chatting about it with you is good enough. Let's move onto the next paragraph.

'you won't need to go rummaging through your bags for coins. You won't ever have to worry that you don't have the cash to cover your essential food supplies - your card will ensure that you do'.  

Not only is she highlighting the advantage. Here, she's arguing for the advantages of cashless payments by showing you the inconveniences of having cash in phrases like 'you won't need to' and 'you won't ever have to'. I also like the phrase 'rummaging through your bags for coins'. It gives this sense of how cumbersome the nature of physical money is in comparison to cashless payments.

In the next paragraph, she highlights cashless payments with the words 'Simple!' which reiterates her point (from the previous paragraph) about how cumbersome coins can be. She finishes off this paragraph with a 'Welcome to the twenty-first century.', so there's this sense of being forward in her decisions and that we should be as well - because nobody wants to be left behind in history. A lot of us like to think of ourselves as people who are open-minded, open to change and will take up things that are better for us, things that are more convenient for us.

So, she's saying that this is it for twenty-first century, join us over here rather than way back when, when we had to use coins. She also highlights 'mobile phone[s]', 'smart watch', 'smart ring' - many things that a lot of people have and this just compounds that idea of, 'yeah, this is a no brainer' essentially. Why shouldn't you move to cashless payments if you're already immersed in this tech world of having mobile phones, smart watches, smart rings, etc.?

She moves into talking about the wider economic context of Australia in this next paragraph. That sense of time I was talking about, comparing the now - the twenty-first century - with a decade ago, you can see that link right here. It's very obvious now. She creates a strong impression of societal inevitability of this technological change, especially because she cites statistics - '70 per cent of household spending was in cash; now it's half of that.' I can see in the next paragraph that she uses expert opinion as well - the 'Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia'. This all connects to this main phrase that we are in a ‘turning point’ now, that cash will be rapidly phased out until we become a cashless society and we should join her; we should make moves on this otherwise we're going to get left behind. 

I like that she's bringing in Australia because it also brings in this additional sense of pride on our behalf. We're Australians, we're proud that we've been one of the biggest users of electronic payments in the world, we're the ones who are making waves, we're the ones who are putting our feet forward first. So, you could talk about appeal to patriotism here as well. It's interesting because here she says that she's a leader, or 

'We've always tried to be a leader in our community and respond to our customer's needs.'

What do you think when you think of a leader? Typically for me, I admire leaders. They're somebody I look up to and I want to follow in their footsteps essentially. So by positioning herself as a leader, I think that's pretty interesting because she's telling us, ‘Hey, I've done all this thinking, I have initiative, I am forward-thinking, so come with me, join with me on this cashless payments movement.’

'you'll breeze through a check-out'  

I like the word 'breeze through', or just 'breeze' because it connects again, back to this idea of convenience with a faster shopping experience, and it is juxtaposed against that cumbersomeness of 'rummaging through...bags for coins'. Something to think about is: as you analyse an article, you don't just have to analyse it chronologically or talk about it chronologically in your essay either. If you see things that connect later on, connect them in your essay and put them together, because what you're showing your examiner is that you can see not just the minor details - i.e. language techniques in each sentence - but you can actually zoom out and see the overall picture, how the arguments are coming together and how she's structuring her piece so that we walk away with a certain perspective. Think about that in a two-step method. There's the zoom in where we're looking at sentence by sentence and what techniques are there, which is basically what we've been doing, but at the same time, you can zoom out and have a look at how the different techniques all come together and work as a whole. If this is something that you're not too comfortable with just yet, just stick with the chronological order and working through the sort of minor details. And then on your next read, you can read through with the focus of, 'okay, what if I was to look at this from a more holistic perspective?' 

We talk about this 'zoom in' and 'zoom out' technique in How To Write A Killer Text Response .

Ahh! I didn't even look ahead enough, there are more words and more phrases that connect to the idea of convenience and ease. It’s 'faster', ‘will save you time', 'safer' as well?! There's a new appeal. It's not necessarily new, it's just a different angle you could come from. If you wanted to talk about the sense of security, that appeal to safety, then you could do that as well. 

'it means not having to spend hours sorting, storing and securing cash'

So, more cumbersome notions. And then in comparison,

'more time', 'We understand the concerns a minority of our customers may have.' 

I love when they do this, acknowledging the opposition essentially is what she's doing. She's saying, ‘yup, like, I can hear you, not all customers want this. Some of you don't.’ And my assumption is that she's going to back it up with her own rebuttal. This not only pulls along the people who are already supportive of her, but she's also trying to pull along those who are a little bit more sceptical of this idea of cashless payments. So let's see, she says, 

'What if you prefer cash, don't feel comfortable using credit or debit cards, or don't have a mobile phone or smart watch? We don't want to leave anyone out. For the next three months we will offer cashless payments, but still accept cash to people to give people time to adjust.' 

It's interesting because she is again, building up this position of hers, where she is friendly, she is helpful, she is thoughtful and she cares about her community. Something you could also say, and this is if you're looking at things more pessimistically, is that she's doing this more so for herself. By saying that these people have three months, there's this unspoken pressure that's happening as well. She's putting pressure on the minority and emphasising the supposed inevitability of a cash-free shopping experience. Even by just saying 'minority' that's in a way applying pressure as well, because it's saying that you are part of this smaller group, the smaller group of people who won't come with us or have not yet come with us, so join us. There's a very clear expectation that these customers need to adapt and catch up. 

Want to see these ideas and annotations turned into a full A+ essay?

If you want more, I have also got a fully written up 2019 essay based on the articles that we're analysing today in my How To Write A Killer Language Analysis study guide. In that study guide, not only do I have the essay for 2019, I also have a fully written up essay for the 2017 & 2020 VCAA English Exams , and we're always working on adding ones from future years as well. Plus, there's heaps of sample A-plus essays in there already and heaps of information that I think will be super helpful for you before you move into your SAC. So please, go ahead and check that out! It's loaded with value and I know it'll be worth your money.

Wondering what VCAA examiners might be looking for in a high-scoring essay? Each year, the VCE EAL Examination Reports shed light on some of the features that examiners are looking for in  high-scoring responses for the Listening and Language Analysis sections of the EAL exams. Let's go through 5 key points from the reports so that you know how to achieve a 10/10 yourself.

For advice on how you can apply the VCE EAL Examination Reports to strengthen your skills in the listening section, see Tips on EAL Listening .

Tip #1 Analyse How the Overall Argument Was Structured 

Let’s take the 2017 VCAA EAL Examination Report as an example: 

‘The highest-scoring responses analysed argument use and language in an integrated way. Some responses used a comparative approach that analysed arguments and counter arguments from both texts in the same paragraph. However, only comparatively few responses focused on how the overall argument was structured .’

So how do we write about/analyse ‘how the overall argument was structured’? 

To save time during the exam, we can adopt templates that can help us transfer our thoughts into words in a fast and efficient way.  You can construct your own templates, and you may want to have various templates for various scenarios or essays. Below, I have provided a sample template and I’ll show you how you can use this template in your own essays.

Sample Template

(AUTHOR)’s manner of argument is proposed in real earnest in an attempt to convince the readers of the validity of his/her proposal first…and then supplying solutions to...(DIFFICULTIES), thus structuring it in a logical and systematic way.

The above template ONLY applies to opinion pieces that satisfy these 2 rules:

  • The opinion piece commences by presenting the ‘bad effect/consequence/situation’ of the topic 
  • The opinion piece supplies the solution to resolve the ‘bad effect/consequence/situation’ of the topic 

For example, say the author, John White, contends that plastic bags should be banned and does so by:

  • commencing the piece with the fact that plastic bags can travel long distances by wind and water. They litter our landscapes, float around in waterways, and can eventually end up in the oceans, ultimately polluting the ocean and posing a threat to marine animals
  • then supplies solution to ban plastic bags 

When we use our template here, the intro may look like this - note that I’ve bolded the ‘template’ parts so you can clearly see how the template has been used:

John White’s manner of argument, proposed in real earnest in an effect to convince the readers of the validity of his proposal of banning plastic bags by first exposing the deleterious nature of these bags to our environment and natural habitat and then supplying solutions to ban plastic bags, putting it in effect in a logical and systematic way.

Head to Introductions for EAL Language Analysis for more templates and guidance on how to nail your Language Analysis Introduction. 

Tip #2 Keep the Listening Answer Succinct 

The 2019 VCAA EAL Examination Report states: 

‘Students are encouraged to use the key words in the questions as a focus for their listening...Short-answer questions require concise and precise answers. Responses that demonstrated understanding provided what was asked for without including extraneous information .’

Some students tend to add unnecessary information in their answers. Although the answers are correct, they will NOT earn you any extra marks. Listening answers should NOT be a mini essay. Writing irrelevant information will not only waste time but may also compromise the accuracy and overall expression of your response. 

Tip #3 Practice Makes Perfect

The examination reports frequently point out that students struggle with identifying and describing the tone and delivery. For example, the 2017 VCAA EAL Examination Report states:

‘Identifying tone and delivery is challenging for students and emphasis on this is needed...Students are encouraged to use the key words in the questions as a focus for their listening’. 

The good news is, just like most skills, listening and identifying the tone can both be improved with practice. In fact, VCAA acknowledges the importance of daily practice as well. 

‘Students need to develop their critical listening skills both in and outside of the classroom. They are encouraged to listen, in English, to anything that interests them – current affairs, news, documentaries and podcasts can all be useful.’ (2017 VCAA EAL Examination Report)

Practicing listening does not necessarily mean sitting down and doing Section A questions; it can be as simple as talking with classmates, teachers, neighbours, friends from work, church, etc. 

Take a look at our EAL Listening Practice and Resources for a comprehensive list of external resources for practicing listening and a step-by-step guide on how to use them!

Tip #4 How To Formulate a Cohesive Response?

VCAA encourages us to write answers that make sense to the reader and are grammatically correct. Make sure you do address, and ONLY address, what the question is asking, because marks will not be rewarded for redundant information. 

‘Short answer questions require concise and precise answers. Responses that demonstrated understanding provided what was asked for without including extraneous information . Expression skills need to be sufficiently controlled to convey meaning accurately. ’ ( 2017-2019 VCAA EAL Examination Report )

HINT: This may sound super simple, but a lot of EAL students struggle with it. If you do, you are definitely not alone. Some students seek to use complicated words and/or sentence structures, but we should not compromise clarity over complexity.  

Tip #5 Use a Range of Precise Vocabulary 

VCAA acknowledges the importance of sophisticated vocabulary. This phrase ‘a nalysis expressed with a range of precise vocabulary’ has been repeatedly used to describe high-scoring essays in the examination reports from 2017 onwards

Below is a list of commonly misspelled, misused and mispronounced words. If you don’t know the meaning of a word, check out Collins Online Dictionary for definitions OR you can use a physical copy of the Collins Dictionary (which you are allowed to bring into the exam and SACs).

Words That Look the Same/Have Super Similar Spelling:

  • Abroad vs. Aboard
  • Adapt vs. Adopt vs. Adept
  • Affect vs. Effect
  • Altar vs. Alter
  • Angel vs. Angle
  • Assent vs. Ascent vs. Accent
  • Aural vs. Oral
  • Baron vs. Barren
  • Beam vs. Bean
  • Champion vs. Champagne vs. Campaign
  • Chef vs. Chief
  • Chore vs. Chord
  • Cite vs. Site
  • Compliment vs. Complement
  • Confirm vs. Conform
  • Contact vs. Contrast vs. Contract
  • Contend vs. Content
  • Context vs. Content
  • Costume vs. Custom
  • Counsel vs. Council vs. Consul
  • Crow vs. Cow vs. Crown vs. Clown
  • Dairy vs. Diary
  • Decent vs. Descent vs. Descend
  • Dessert vs. Desert
  • Dose vs. Doze
  • Drawn vs. Draw vs. Drown
  • Extensive vs. Intensive
  • Implicit vs. Explicit
  • In accord with vs. In accordance with
  • Later vs. Latter
  • Pray vs. Prey
  • Precede vs. Proceed
  • Principal vs. Principle
  • Sweet vs. Sweat
  • Quite vs. Quiet

For an overview of the EAL study design plus tips and tricks for reading comprehension, time management and more, check out The Ultimate Guide to EAL .

Finding out that your school has selected to study a Shakespeare play as your section A text can be a pretty daunting prospect. If I’m honest, I wasn’t all too thrilled upon discovering this seemed as though I now not only had to worry about analysing my text, but also understanding what Shakespeare was saying through all of his old-fashioned words. 

However, let’s not fret - in this post, I’ll share with you some Measure for Measure specific advice and tactics, alongside excerpts of an essay of mine as a reference. 

Before you start reading, How To Approach Shakespeare: A Guide To Studying Shakespeare is a must read for any student studying Shakespeare.

Historical Context 

Having a basic understanding of the historical context of the play is an integral part of developing your understanding of Measure for Measure (and is explored further in Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare ). For example, for prompts that open with “What does Shakespeare suggest about…?” or “How does Measure for Measure reflect Shakespeare’s ideas about…?” it can be really helpful to understand Shakespeare’s own position in society and how that influenced his writing. 

There’s no need to memorise certain parts of Shakespeare’s history - as that would serve no purpose - just try to gauge an understanding of what life was like in his time. Through understanding Shakespeare’s position in society, we are able to infer his stances on various characters/ideologies in the play. 

  • Measure for Measure is often regarded as an anti-Puritan satire. Although Shakespeare’s religion has been a subject of much debate and research, with many theories about his faith being brought forward, many believe that he was a secret Catholic. He is believed to be a ‘ secret’ Catholic, as he lived during the rise of the Puritans - those who wished to reform the Church of England and create more of a focus on Protestant teachings, as opposed to Catholic teachings. It was often difficult for Catholics to practice their faith at this time. 
  • Angelo and Isabella - particularly Angelo, are believed to embody puritanism, as shown through their excessive piety. By revealing Angelo to be “yet a devil,” though “angel on the outward side,” Shakespeare critiques Puritans, perhaps branding them as hypocritical or even unhuman; those “not born of man and woman.” Thus, we can assume that Shakespeare would take a similar stance to most of us - that Angelo wasn’t the greatest guy and that his excessive, unnatural and puritanical nature was more of a flaw than a virtue. 

Tips for Moving Past the Generic Examples/Evidence Found in the Play 

It’s important to try and stand out with your examples in your body paragraphs. If you’re writing the same, simple ideas as everyone else, it will be hard for VCAA assessors to reward you for that. Your ideas are the most important part of your essay because they show how well you’ve understood and analysed the text - which is what they are asking from you, it’s called an ‘analytical interpretation of a text,’ not ‘how many big words can you write in this essay.’ You can stand out in Measure for Measure by: 

1. Taking Note of Stage Directions and Structure of Speech

Many students tend to simply focus on the dialogue in the play, but stage directions can tell you so much about what Shakespeare was really trying to illustrate in his characters. 

  • For example, in his monologue, I would often reference how Angelo is alone on stage, appearing at his most uninhibited, with his self-interrogation revealing his internal struggle over his newfound lust for Isabella. I would also reference how Shakespeare’s choice of syntax and structure of speech reveal Angelo’s moral turmoil as he repetitively asks himself “what’s this?” indicating his confusion and disgust for his feelings which “unshapes” him. 
  • Isabella is shown to “[kneel]” by Mariana at the conclusion of the play, in order to ask for Angelo’s forgiveness. This detail is one that is easily missed, but it is an important one, as it is an obvious reference to Christianity, and symbolises Isabella’s return to her “gentle and fair” and “saint” like nature. 

2. Drawing Connections Between Characters - Analyse Their Similarities and Differences. 

Drawing these connections can be a useful way to incorporate other characters not necessarily mentioned in your prompt. For example, in my own English exam last year, I chose the prompt “ ...Power corrupts both Angelo and the Duke. Do you agree? ” and tried to pair Angelo and Isabella, in order to incorporate another character into my essay (so that my entire essay wasn’t just about two characters).

  • A favourite pair of mine to analyse together was Angelo and Isabella. Although at first glance they seem quite different, when you read into the text a little deeper you can find many similarities. For example, while Angelo lives alone in his garden, “succumbed by brick,” requiring “two keys” to enter, “nun,” Isabella, wishes to join the nuns of Saint Clare where she “must not speak with men” or “show [her] face.” Shakespeare’s depiction of the two, stresses their seclusion, piety and restriction from the “vice” plaguing Vienna. What’s important about this point is that you can alter your wording of it to fit various points that you may make. For example, you could use this example to prove to your assessor how Isabella’s alignment with Angelo signals Shakespeare’s condemnation of her excessive puritanical nature (as I did in my body paragraph below) or, you could use these same points to argue how Angelo was once indeed a virtuous man who was similar to the “saint” Isabella, and that it was the power that corrupted him (as you could argue in the 2019 prompt). 
  • Another great pair is the Duke and Angelo. Although they certainly are different in many ways, an interesting argument that I used frequently, was that they both were selfish characters who abused their power as men and as leaders in a patriarchal society. It is obvious where Angelo did this - through his cruel bribery of Isabella to “lay down the treasures of [her] body,” however the Duke’s behaviour is more subtle. The Duke’s proposal to Isabella at the conclusion of the play, as he asks her to “give [him her] hand,” in marriage, coincides with the revelation that Claudio is indeed alive. It appears that the Duke has orchestrated the timing of his proposal to most forcefully secure Isabella and in this sense, his abuse of power can be likened to Angelo’s “devilish” bribery. This is as, through Shakespeare’s depiction of Isabella, it is evident that she has little interest in marriage; she simply wishes to join a convent where she “must not speak with men,” as she lives a life of “strict restraint.” The Duke is aware of this, yet he demands Isabella to “be [his]”-  wishing to take her from her true desire and Shakespeare is able to elucidate Isabella’s distaste through her response to this: silence. By contrasting Isabella’s once powerful voice - her “speechless dialect” that can “move men” - with her silence in response to the Duke’s proposal, Shakespeare is able to convey the depth of the Duke’s selfishness and thus his similarity to Angelo.

We've got a character list for you in Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare (just scroll down to the Character section).

What’s important to realise about these bits of evidence is that you can use them in so many different prompts, provided that you tailor your wording to best answer the topic. For example, you could try fitting at least one of the above examples in these prompts: 

  • ‘Give me your hand and say you will be mine…’ The characters in ‘ Measure for Measure’ are more interested in taking than giving. Discuss. 
  • ‘More than our brother is our chastity.' Explore how Shakespeare presents Isabella's attitude to chastity throughout Measure for Measure .
  • ‘I have seen corruption boil …' To what extent does Shakespeare explore corruption in Measure for Measure , and by what means? 
  • ‘Measure or Measure presents a society in which women are denied power.’ Discuss.

How To Kick Start Your Essay with a Smashing Introduction

There’s no set way on how to write an introduction. Lots of people write them in many different ways and these can all do well! This is the best part about English - you don’t have to be writing like the person sitting next to you in order to get a good mark. I personally preferred writing short and sweet introductions, just because they were quick to write and easy to understand. 

For example, for the prompt...

“...women are frail too.” 

To what extent does ‘Measure for Measure’ examine the flaws of Isabella? topic sentences were...

  • Isabella is depicted as a moral, virtuous and pious woman, but it is this aspect of her nature that paradoxically aligns her with the “tyrannous” Angelo. 
  • Shakespeare explores the hypocrisy and corruption of Isabella as a flaw, as she deviates from her initially “gentle and fair” nature.
  • Despite exploring Isabella’s flaws to a large degree, Shakespeare does indeed present her redemption at the denouement of the play. 

...and my introduction was: 

William Shakespeare’s play, ‘Measure for Measure’ depicts a seventeenth century Viennese society in which disease, misconduct and licentiousness are rife. It is upon a backdrop of such ordeals that Shakespeare presents the character of Isabella, who is initially depicted as of stark contrast to the libertine populate of Vienna. To a considerable extent, ‘Measure for Measure’ does indeed examine the flaws of the “gentle and fair” Isabella, but Shakespeare suggests that perhaps she is not “saint” nor “devil,” rather that she is a human with her own flaws and with her own redeeming qualities. 

Instead of rewording my topic sentences, I touched on them more vaguely, because I knew that I wouldn’t get any ‘extra’ points for repeating them twice, essentially.  However, if you feel more confident in touching on your topic sentences more specifically - go ahead!! There are so many different ways to write an introduction! Do what works for you! 

Body Paragraphs 

This body paragraph included my pairing between Angelo and Isabella. My advice would be to continue to incorporate the language used in the prompt. In this paragraph, you can see me use the word “flaw” quite a bit, just in order to ensure that I’m actually answering the prompt , not a prompt that I have studied before. 

Isabella is depicted as a moral, virtuous and pious woman, but it is this aspect of her nature that paradoxically aligns her with the “tyrannous” Angelo. Where Angelo is “of ample grace and honour,” Isabella is “gentle and fair.” Where Angelo believes in “stricture and firm abstinence,” Isabella too believes that “most desire should meet the full blow of justice.” This similarity is enhanced by their seclusion from the lecherous society in which they reside. Angelo lives alone in his garden, “succumbed by brick,” requiring “two keys” to enter, whilst Isabella desires the life of a nun where she “must not speak with men” or “show [her] face.” This depiction of both Angelo and Isabella stresses their seclusion, piety and restriction from the “vice” that the libertine populate is drunk from. However, Shakespeare’s revelation that Angelo is “yet a devil” though “angel on the outward side,” is perhaps Shakespeare’s commentary on absolute stricture being yet a facade, a flaw even. Shakespeare presents Isabella’s chastity and piety as synonymous with her identity, which ultimately leaves her unable to differentiate between the two, as she states that she would “throw down [her] life,” for Claudio, yet maintains that “more than our brother is our chastity.” Though virtuous in a sense, she is cruel in another. Although at first glance, Shakespeare’s depiction of Isabella’s excessive puritanical nature appears to be her virtue, by aligning her with the “devil” that is Angelo, it appears that this is indeed her flaw. 

Conclude Your Essay by Dazzling Your Assessor!  

My main tip for a conclusion is to finish it off with a confident commentary of the entire piece and what you think that the author was trying to convey through their words (in relation to the topic). For example, in pretty much all of my essays, I would conclude with a sentence that referenced the entire play -  for example, how it appeared to be such a polarising play, with largely exaggerated, polarising characters/settings (eg. Angelo and the Duke, or the brothels that stood tall next to the monastery): 

Ultimately, Shakespeare’s play ‘Measure for Measure,’ depicts Isabella as a multifaceted character. She is not simply one thing - not simply good nor bad -  her character’s depiction continues to oscillate between the polar ends of the spectrum. Although yes, she does have flaws, so too does she have redeeming qualities. Though at times deceitful and hypocritical, she too is forgiving and gentle. Thus, as Shakespeare’s play, ‘Measure for Measure,’ does centre on polarising characters in a polarising setting, perhaps through his exploration of Isabella’s flaws alongside her virtues, he suggests that both the good and the bad inhabit us.

Measure for Measure is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

This blog was updated on 28/10/2021.

Essay Topic Breakdown

  • Sample Essay Topics
  • Useful Resources

Themes (Similarities and Differences)

We’ll be applying the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy from LSG’s How To Write A Killer Comparative and at how ideas are developed in similar or different thematic directions in these texts. CONVERGENT ideas lead to similar conclusions and messages, while DIVERGENT ideas take us to different conclusions. If you’d like to learn more about this strategy which can help you build more insightful discussions of the text by finding unique points of comparison, then I’d recommend you check out the LSG’s How To Write A Killer Comparative study guide. In the meantime, let’s start with some CONVERGENT ideas. 

Power, Race and Oppression

In both texts, we see racial systems that take power away from Bla(c)k people. In the play, settler-colonialism is a big one. It’s depicted as a home invasion, a ship taking up a whole harbour, and as a process of devaluing land and ignoring its custodians. This trickles into contemporary institutions (widely understood patterns, rules or structures within society) which perpetuate these dynamics of race and power, such as the police and the media. Oppression is similarly maintained in  The Longest Memory , where physical violence, and even just the threat of possible physical violence, is used to enslave African Americans. Plus, all of this racial violence was justified by the socio-economic interests of enslavers . Both texts see Bla(c)k people disempowered by a range of white institutions. 

Check out our comparative scene analysis where we explore this theme in more depth.

Family and Community

On the other hand, family and the wider community are depicted as a galvanising or healing force in both texts. In  The 7 Stages of Grieving , we see how death can bring together entire communities to commiserate, dance and mourn collectively, drawing on one another’s strength. Depictions of families in projections of photographs also outline how joy and solidarity can be drawn from community. In the novel, family ties are also important. Whitechapel and Cook build a committed relationship to one another; she even says, “he proves he loves me every day.” At the same time, Cook also provides her unconditional love and support to Chapel, whose education and eventual relationship with Lydia are facilitated by her.

Memory and Grief

Both texts show how memory and grief are significant burdens for Bla(c)k people and operate at multiple dimensions. The play is sort of built around the five stages of grief but demonstrates how First Nations grief isn’t neat or linear. It can go from highly expressive to numb in moments. It also has roots in Australia’s genocidal history such that the death of any First Nations person—but especially elders—is felt widely. In  The Longest Memory , there’s a physical dimension to Whitechapel’s grief. He earns the name “Sour-face” because of the worry lines that developed after Chapel’s death. He feels extremely guilty and only after Chapel dies does he realise why Chapel disagreed with him so stubbornly in life. He actually learned the tough lesson that he’d been hoping to teach Chapel.

What about divergent ideas? Let’s break down two now.

Struggle and resistance.

Both texts offer ideas about what the fight against racism might look like, but at times these ideas are more different than similar. In  The 7 Stages of Grieving , the main struggle is to be heard and understood . In the play and in real life even, we can see how the media is stacked against First Nations peoples, so their fight is about cutting through the bias and making sure they are fairly represented. In  The Longest Memory , the fight against slavery is portrayed quite differently. In a scenario where physical violence was used the way it was in order to oppress, self-emancipation was seen by many as the only path out. Enslaved workers weren’t fighting to be heard, they were fighting to survive. It’s also worth bearing in mind the history of abolition, which happened in Northern states first. This gave them a destination, as well as hope. 

The Generation Gap

The other thing that the texts diverge on is the relationship between parents and children. In the play, family is consistently shown to provide support and community. As the woman speaks about her father and brother, the unconditional love and support between them is palpable. However, the novel depicts a bit more conflict— Whitechapel argued with Chapel based on his lived experience, and the many young people he had seen be killed for trying to free themselves. However, Chapel was far more committed to freedom than to survival. There isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ answer either way, but this definitely isn’t a tension that we see in the play.

I discuss all these themes in further detail in A Killer Comparative Guide: The 7 Stages of Grieving & The Longest Memory . In this guide, I offer you a deep dive into these two texts through plot summaries and analyses, structural features, critical readings, and best of all, 5 sample A+ essays fully annotated so you can understand exactly how to achieve better marks in your own essays.

As with all our essay topic breakdowns, we'll follow LSG's THINK and EXECUTE technique, as taught in our How To Write A Killer Text Response . The LSG's THINK and EXECUTE technique follows three steps in the THINK phase - A nalyse, B rainstorm, and C reate a Plan. Learn more about this technique in this video:

Let's use essay topic #1 from the section below.

Compare the ways in which the two texts explore the possibility of social change.

Step 1: Analyse

‘Social change’ is a key term here, but the word ‘possibility’ also stands out to me. Social change—probably towards equality—isn’t something that just happens, so the prompt also wants us to think about how to get there, and whether that seems achievable in the contexts of these stories. The prompt is phrased as an instruction (“Compare”) which invites you to analyse both texts together, but you totally knew that already!

Step 2: Brainstorm

I’d probably start by brainstorming what exactly needs to be changed. In each text, we see institutions and structures which are violent and harmful—from the play, police and the media, and from the novel, the economy itself. However, these institutions are upheld in different ways, and require different mechanisms of change—while the play emphasises grieving and unity, the novel focuses more on emancipation.

Step 3: Create a Plan

Because we’ve got two sets of ideas for each text, let’s alternate the texts (Essay Structure 1, as discussed in How To Write A Killer Comparative ) to cover these ideas in four paragraphs.

P1: Starting with The 7 Stages of Grieving , social change is required at the institutional level. Police and the media are racially biased, and Aboriginal people aren’t given a platform to tell their stories. Reconciliation needs to include Aboriginal voices.

P2: With The Longest Memory , social change is required across the economy that depends on enslaving people and stealing their labour, while others have an economic interest in the status quo.

P3: Because of this, change seems more possible in the play, and we start seeing it happen towards the end, as the ice thaws and people, Bla(c)k and white, march across the bridge together.

P4: On the other hand, emancipation is seen as the only path to change in the novel, as intergenerational social pressures among the enslaving class in the South are insurmountable.

So our contention will probably revolve around the idea that ‘social change’ means different things in each text as social inequalities exist at different levels (Paragraph 1&2)—as such, the ‘possibilities’ for that change look different as well (P3&4), particularly the extent to which white people can be involved in that change.

If you'd like to see the sample A+ essay we wrote up for this essay topic, then you might want to check out our A Killer Comparative Guide: The 7 Stages of Grieving & The Longest Memory!

Sample Essay Topics 

Now it's your turn! Give these essay topics a go.

1. Compare the ways in which the two texts explore the possibility of social change.

2. How do The 7 Stages of Grieving and The Longest Memory present the emotional pain of racism? 

3. What do Aunty Grace and Chapel illustrate about the complexities of belonging to a racial minority?

4. Compare how the narrative structures of The 7 Stages of Grieving and The Longest Memory enhance their storytelling effect.

5. “People called him Boonie! He was known as Boonie…” (The 7 Stages of Grieving)

6. “I literally saw the boy surrender to that whip …” (The Longest Memory)  ‍

7. Compare how the two texts explore innocence.

If you're interested in reading a 50 study scorer's completed essays, along with annotations so you can understand my thinking process, then I would highly recommend checking out LSG's A Killer Comparative Guide: The 7 Stages of Grieving & The Longest Memory.

Useful Resources

How To Write A Killer Comparative study guide

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative

Compare the Pair- A guide to structuring a reading and comparing essay

The link between your contention and topic sentences in relation to the prompt

‍ ‍ A Guide to Structuring a Reading and Comparing Essay

Reading and Comparing Essays

To be honest, my entire Year 12 felt like a longwinded mass of trial and error. One week I ate hot chips for lunch for five days in a row. Once I spent a free double period watching ‘1 HOUR of AMAZING HQ SPACE VIDEO’ (twice over) on one YouTube tab, while ‘2-Hours Epic Music Mix’ played in the background. Crying for no apparent reason became somewhat of a hobby. I would be lying if I said I was some extremely disciplined, studious pupil who wrote my ATAR goal above my desk or slept with it under my pillow. However, despite the constant feelings that I wasn’t doing enough, that I had no self-control in making myself study, and that at any point I could completely burn out and betray my high expectations, I managed to score better than I ever let myself imagine.

I wish I could give you a step-by-step, foolproof guide on how to achieve ‘ATAR goals’, but if I could, I’d probably just use it to get rich. What I can do, is tell you how I coped when the pressure and the ambition and the sheer magnitude of the content you need to know, becomes too much.

1. Expectations are probably not reality

Like many who are facing Year 12, the summer before I started, I was absolutely terrified. Images of long nights glued to my desk filled me with dread, and I looked at the extensive content of my subjects with great fear. With the high ATAR hopes that a lot of you have, I expected a lot from myself, that I didn’t exactly achieve.

Expectation: Exercise Regularly

Reality: Went on two runs throughout the year and got puffed after 500 metres, both times.

Expectation: Watch less TV

Reality: Six seasons of Gossip Girl, three seasons of Orange is the New Black, five seasons of Parks and Recreations, and a billion episodes of the Simpsons.

Expectation: Study constantly: after school and weekends.

Reality: Admittedly, I spent a lot of time studying, but I also spent a lot of time drinking coffee with friends and sleeping until 1pm.

Ultimately I had to learn that extreme self-pressure would not do any good, and setting impossible goals would only lead to guilt and the feeling of failure. Remember that you aren’t going to meet every goal, or be constantly successful, but one promise you should really keep is to be kind to yourself, even when you don’t meet the mark.

2. ‘Heck no Fridays’

Sick of the constant feeling of guilt when I spent long periods of time binge watching Netflix instead of studying for an upcoming English SAC, I decided I needed to create a real, carefree, lengthy break that I could depend on each week. And so I decided that I would no longer study on Saturdays. The name is not imperative, but I’m a sucker for alliteration ;).

It’s a bold move to cut that much time out of your study timetable, but after a week of classes and afternoon spent at the desk, it can be necessary. Having a routine afternoon where I knew I couldn’t study at all meant that I didn’t feel guilty about it, and thus could truly rest.

3. Study outside the box

Two nights before my  Literature  exam you could find me sitting at my local cafe with my best mate drinking coffee and playing charades. Before Year 12, the idea of doing that would have seemed like I was giving up, like I wasn’t putting in the effort and that I should be studiously writing practice essay upon practice essay.

However, at a certain point, it doesn’t help just repeating your usual study techniques, or repeatedly doing practice exams. One of the best ways to retain information, and better understand concepts, is to learn them in an interesting way. Therefore, playing silly games based off our Literature texts was both enjoyable, and super helpful for the exam.

4. Five minutes… just five minutes.

Throughout the year there’ll almost definitely be days when you come home from school and stare at your desk like you’d rather sit anywhere else in the world. There’ll be moments where you stare at a blank page for twenty minutes having lost all control of the English language. There’ll be free periods when the idea of doing a practice SAC is so repulsive that you reconsider all future goals and ambitions. When you feel like you can’t study, but you’re in a moment where you really, really have to (five SACS in one week), try the five minute trick.

Say you are trying to write a practice English essay, but you are completely blank. Set a timer on your phone for five minutes. In that five minutes, force yourself to write anything. Even if you don’t use grammar, even if you make no sense, even if your sentences aren’t real sentences, just write whatever you can about the topic. Generally, when the five minutes are up, you have either though of enough ideas and have gained enough motivation to keep going, or can at least say you did five minutes.

There’s no be-all, end-all, Year 12 advice, but I think many would agree that the best thing you can do is stay positive, and try and see the funny side of all the screw ups and let downs that are bound to happen, while appreciating yourself for all that you will achieve.

Written expression is often overlooked in our essays. Often, if we are made aware of clunky or awkward expression, we are also not quite sure how to go about improving it. Although sophisticated and pertinent ideas serve as the foundation of a successful essay, how we construct our sentences and express these ideas may be what distinguishes a good essay from a great essay.

These differences can be rather subtle, but the small things can and do matter.


(to read out loud, not sing… unless you really want to)

Take your essay and read it out loud. Let your own conscience guide you in terms of whether a particular sentence flows well, is complete and makes sense. Keep your eye out for these small errors in particular: Grammar: Does your sentence actually make sense? Let’s have a look at an example: Although Funder suggests that the act of telling one’s story, especially one of victimisation, can catalyse the internal confrontation and healing required to move on.

(This is not grammatically correct! This is because this example only contains a subordinate clause and is lacking a main clause.)

But wait… what is this ‘subordinate clause’ and ‘main clause’?

A clause includes a subject and a verb .

Melissa ate an apple.After Wendy ate an apple.

What is the difference between the two clauses above?

‘Melissa ate an apple’ makes grammatical sense on its own. This is what we call a main clause (or an independent clause). On the other hand, ‘ After Wendy ate an apple’ is an incomplete sentence as it does not make sense. What happened after Wendy ate her apple? This is the information that is missing from the latter clause, making this a subordinate clause (or a dependent clause).

So now let’s try again…

Although Funder suggests that the act of telling one’s story, especially one of victimisation, can catalyse the internal confrontation and healing required to move on, ultimately, these individuals can never be truly free from the past that has irrevocably defined them.  

(Hooray! This is a complete sentence now.)

Spelling : Are the title of the text, the author or director’s name, characters’ names, publisher’s name, etc. all spelt correctly (and capitalised, underlined, and italicised appropriately)?

Did you use the correct there, their and they’re? How about it’s and its? (and so on).

Sentence length: Did that sentence just go on for 5 lines on a page and you are out of breath now? You can most probably split that overloaded sentence into two or more sentences that make much more sense. Check whether you have a clear subject in your sentence. If you have three different ideas in one sentence, give each idea its own opportunity (ie. sentence) to shine. The opposite also applies: if it is for a very short sentence, did that sentence pack enough content or analysis?

One spelling error or half-finished sentence in an essay will not severely affect your mark, but they can easily add up if they occur often enough. Consequently, this will distract the reader from engaging with your ideas fully and thus disrupt the flow of your essay.

By being aware of these aspects, you are now able to easily fix them and boost your writing.


Try not to be casual or overt in your writing as it can be quite jarring to read and unfortunately give readers a potentially negative impression of your piece.

Try not to use phrases such as:

- In my opinion… (You do not need it as your entire essay should be your implicit opinion!)

- This quote shows that… (Embed the quote and link to its implication instead)

- This technique is designed to… (Identify the technique and be specific, especially in Language Analysis)

- I think that…, I believe… (Avoid using first person in a formal essay. Use of first person in creative writing is fine though if required)

They are redundant and do not add much to your ideas and analysis. Try omitting them and see whether that helps your sentence flow better and seem more formal.


Sentences that seem disjointed or a clear connection can make it difficult for your teacher or the assessor to join the dots between an idea and an implication or consequence. Use linking words as they are fantastic for explicitly showing the reader how your ideas are related and thus allow your writing to proceed smoothly.

Therefore, hence, thus, thereby, consequently, subsequently, in addition, additionally, furthermore, moreover, on the other hand, on the contrary, however, henceforth, and so on… The list is endless!

4) ADD OOMPH (through vocabulary)

In general, having a wide vocabulary will allow you to express your ideas and analysis more accurately as you are likely to have access to a precise word that can capture the essence of your idea. Make a vocabulary list for a particular text or for Language Analysis (such as tone words) and aim to use varied language to convey yourself well.

If you’d like to see a list of sentence starters and essay phrases to help you get a headstart on expanding your vocabulary, check out this blog .

Focus on verbs and expanding your list of synonyms for words such as shows, demonstrates, highlights, emphasises, suggests and so on. An individual, character, author or director may not only be conveying but also denigrating or remonstrating or bolstering or glorifying or insinuating . Adding precision to your writing through careful vocabulary choice will distinguish your writing and also add complexity.

BEWARE! There is a fine line to tread with sophisticated vocabulary - do not overload your writing as you can risk writing convoluted sentences that hinder the reader’s ability to understand your piece. Also make sure that you understand the nuances of each synonym and that they are used in the correct context! (They are synonyms after all - not the same word!)

If you are debating whether to use a word, ask yourself: do you know what it means? 

If yes: Go for it!

If no: Do not use it until you know what it means.

Reading sample essays, The Age Text Talks, reviews and more of the texts you are currently studying will expose you to not only a multitude of interpretations of your text, but also to different sentence structures, writing styles or vocabulary that you could incorporate into your own writing.

I would also highly recommend that you read outside of the texts you are studying if you have time, whether that may be novels by the same author or even newspapers. Your written expression will only benefit from this exposure as the ways you can express yourself through writing continue to increase upon seeing others’ eloquence.


If you do not write, you will never be able to improve your written expression. Put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard) and start constructing that essay. You can only fix your writing once you have writing to fix.

We'd all love to hear and learn from those who have been our VCE shoes before, especially when you've cut out some hours of your sleep to study, or had your head stuck in your books for over 3 hours at a time - getting some real advice would give you that buzz of inspiration and motivation right?! Well, that's exactly what we've done for you in our latest YouTube video release. Enjoy this interview with three of VCE Study Guides' brightest tutors - you can get to know them better, and also hear the advice they have for you, from regrets to study techniques. Some of your budding questions may be answered as they were asked typical questions students usually have for past high achievers!

Our Lisa's Study Guides English Tutors

  • Lyn Nguyen graduated in 2015 with an English study score of 46, with an ATAR of 97.95. She is currently studying Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Commerce at Monash University.
  • Jarrod McAleese graduated in 2014 with an English study score of 49, with an ATAR of 90.80. He is currently studying Bachelor of Journalism at RMIT.
  • Isabelle Gao graduated in 2014 with an English study score of 47, with an ATAR of 99.60. She is currently studying Bachelor of Commerce at RMIT.

If you are interested in tutoring with us, you are welcome to discover more on our tutoring mantra  here . Gone are the days where you would sit down with an outdated tutor for a bland hour of tutoring. At VCE Study Guides, we take pride in our innovative and interactive teaching approach. We possess the unique skill of transforming VCE tutoring into an engaging and fun learning space (as strange and incomprehensible as it may seem!) with a great vibe so that even our students feel excited and keen to learn! 

There is  one  particular thing that everyone should set out to do before their English exam. It’s probably crossed your mind but you’re so overwhelmed with other exam preparation that you decided to give this one a miss. If you’ve already started, or completed what I’m about to advise, then congratulate yourself because you have probably scored yourself a few bonus points on the exam.  So what’s this ‘must do’?

Re-read your chosen English text(s) for the exam

Why?  It may seem like a waste of time but I can guarantee you another read will be one of the best things you’ve done in English – even if you feel like you know the book inside out. There are many reasons why you should re-read your English novels/watch your films so I decided to create a list.

1.  It’s been a while.  Some texts are studied at the start of the year so a refreshment is good to jog the mind again. Although reading notes and study guides are a great start, these sources are often incomplete and sketchy, so it’s not the same as actually reading the text again. You will be taking an ‘active’ approach to learning, rather than passively flipping through notes that were made too long ago.

2.  Consolidation.  Preparing for the exams is all about strengthening your knowledge and understanding. It is likely that you have forgotten some vital information that may be useful for the exam, particularly if you haven’t been writing practice essays throughout the year. There may be gaps in your memory of how or when an actual event unfolded so use this opportunity to fill in those gaps. Another read will allow you to answer your own questions, identify something you missed or didn’t quite understand.

3.  Time efficiency.  You might feel that reading is a waste of time especially if you need to practice your essay writing. But think of it this way, if you haven’t revised the foundations, your essay writing won’t be as clear and detailed as it can be. The students who can pick out major and minor details from the text will ultimately score higher than those who write a wishy-washy paragraph.

4.  Choices.  For those who aren’t sure which text they’re going to use; don’t solely base your decision on what others are doing or which text scored a higher average mark in past exams. Make the decision by  knowing which text you feel most comfortable with. Go back and read your the texts if you feel divided because chances are, it’ll help you establish which text you have greater understanding of, which text you’ll write better on, and which text you prefer.

5.  Distinction.  Students often just use the information their teacher has taught them in class. This is ok, but what’s going to make the difference between you and 25 others students in your class, let alone VCE students around Victoria? You need to take initiative to search for new information since you’ve learnt the same ideas and explored the same quotes as many other students. I guarantee that if you sit down, spend some time reading your texts, you will definitely come across some interesting information that you’d like to use in the exam. Compounding the information you learnt in class with your own learning will definitely put you on the course to success! 

How many times have you told yourself, "I'm going to start doing this, "once I graduate from high school."

For me, I had a long list of things I wanted to start doing once I finished year 12.

We've all been there, because our priority in year 12 is doing assessments and exams. We have this romanticized version of what reality will look like after high school. All those things that you had put off, all those things that you'd promise yourself that you would do, the time has come. Whether that be catching up with long lost friends, whether that be joining the gym and getting fit again, or starting to read books again, especially for pleasure now that you don't have to read for school. Except boo, I won't get to read Lisa's amazing blog's and study guides. I'll start picking up my hobby of dancing again, I'll start doing this, I'll start doing that, but then usually, this happens. Once I marathon "Terrace House", then I'll look at gym memberships.

The main message I want you to take away is, you're always going to find excuses for the things that you really want to do. It took me an additional six years until I started reading again after high school.

As soon as I started uni, I started making up excuses, "Ah, I've got uni, I'm busy making friends, "I'm busy going to uni parties." It wasn't until I actually finished uni that I started picking up my hobby of reading. Same thing with dancing, I stopped dancing before I went into VCE, before my final years of high school, so that I could focus on my exams, but I wanted to get back into it. But it took me another three years until I got back into that.

So my question to you is, how long is it going to take you before you commit to doing that thing that you really want to do, and becoming the person that you want to be? This is something that we have to battle with throughout our entire lives. It's the same case for me with this particular YouTube channel. It's taken me almost two years to figure out what I want to do with this channel, how to break away from just English, so I can focus on more millennial based topics, like this video, offering advice about the things that I've learned throughout my 20's and impart them onto you.

So if you're in year 12, I'd absolutely love it if you stuck around to watch the next few videos that will be coming out. I'll be basing topics on things like university experiences, how to land your first job outside of high school, what else, productivity hacks, and all the things that will help prepare you for the world that's out there, and be the best version of yourself. Congratulations to you because you're nearing the end of the year and you're so close to sitting your exams. I hope that everything that I've done this year has been able to help you, and nourish you, and nurture you to become a better student who is ready to kick some ass.

Since it's not time to say bye yet, I'll say see you soon.

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How to use Quotes in an Essay in 7 Simple Steps

How to use Quotes in an Essay

A quote can be an effective and powerful literary tool in an essay, but it needs to be done well. To use quotes in an essay, you need to make sure your quotes are short, backed up with explanations, and used rarely. The best essays use a maximum of 2 quotes for every 1500 words.

Rules for using quotes in essays:

  • Avoid Long Quotes.
  • Quotes should be less than 1 sentence long.
  • Match Quotes with Explanations and Examples.
  • Use Max. 2 Quotes for 1500 words.
  • Use page numbers when Citing Quotes.
  • Don’t Italicize Quotes.
  • Avoid quotes inside quotes.

Once you have mastered these quotation writing rules you’ll be on your way to growing your marks in your next paper.

How to use Quotes in an Essay

1. avoid long quotes.

There’s a simple rule to follow here: don’t use a quote that is longer than one line. In fact,  four word quotes  are usually best.

Long quotes in essays are red flags for teachers. It doesn’t matter if it is an amazing quote. Many, many teachers don’t like long quotes, so it’s best to avoid them.

Too many students provide quotes that take up half of a paragraph. This will lose you marks – big time.

If you follow my  perfect paragraph formula , you know that most paragraphs should be about six sentences long, which comes out to about six or seven typed lines on paper. That means that your quote will be a maximum of one-sixth (1/6) of your paragraph. This leaves plenty of space for discussion in your own words.

One reason teachers don’t like long quotes is that they suck up your word count. It can start to look like you didn’t have enough to say, so you inserted quotes to pad out your essay. Even if this is only your teacher’s perception, it’s something that you need to be aware of.

Here’s an example of over-use of quotes in paragraphs:

Avoid Quotes that are Too Long

Children who grow up in poverty often end up being poor as adults. “Many adult Americans believe that hard work and drive are important factors on economic mobility. When statistics show that roughly 42% of children born into the bottom level of the income distribution will likely stay there (Isaacs, 2007), this Is a consequence of structural and social barriers.” (Mistry et al., 2016, p. 761). Therefore poverty in childhood needs to be addressed by the government.

This student made the fatal mistake of having the quote overtake the paragraph.

Simply put, don’t use a quote that is longer than one line long. Ever. It’s just too risky.

Personally, I like to use a 4-word quote in my essays. Four-word quotes are long enough to constitute an actual quote but short enough that I have to think about how I will fit that quote around my own writing. This forces me to write quotations that both show:

  • I have read the original source, but also:
  • I know how to paraphrase

2. Do not use a Quote to that takes up a full Sentence, Starts a Sentence, or Ends a Paragraph

These are three common but fatal mistakes.

Essay quotes that start sentences or end paragraphs make you appear passive.

If you use a quotation in an essay to start a sentence or end a paragraph, your teacher automatically thinks that your quote is replacing analysis, rather than supporting it.

You should instead start the sentence that contains the quote with your own writing. This makes it appear that you have an  active voice .

Similarly, you should end a paragraph with your own analysis, not a quote.

Let’s look at some examples of quotes that start sentences and end paragraphs. These examples are poor examples of using quotes:

Avoid Quotes that Start Sentences The theorist Louis Malaguzzi was the founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Education. “Children have the ability to learn through play and exploration. Play helps children to learn about their surroundings” (Malaguzzi, 1949, p. 10). Play is better than learning through repetition of drills or reading. Play is good for all children.

Avoid Quotes that End Paragraphs Before Judith Butler gender was seen as being a binary linked to sex, men were masculine and women were feminine. Butler came up with this new idea that gender is just something society has made up over time. “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler, 1990, p. 136).

Both these quotes are from essays that were shared with me by colleagues. My colleagues marked these students down for these quotes because of the quotes:

  • took up full sentences;
  • started sentences; and
  • were used to end paragraphs.

It didn’t appear as if the students were analyzing the quotes. Instead, the quotes were doing the talking for the students.

There are some easy strategies to use in order to make it appear that you are actively discussing and analyzing quotes.

One is that you should make sure the essay sentences with quotes in them  don’t start with the quote . Here are some examples of how we can change the quotes:

Example 1: Start Quote Sentences with an Active Voice The theorist Louis Malaguzzi was the founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Education. According to Malaguzzi (1949, p. 10), “children have the ability to learn through play and exploration.” Here, Malaguzzi is highlighting how to play is linked to finding things out about the world. Play is important for children to develop. Play is better than learning through repetition of drills or reading. Play is good for all children.

Here, the sentence with the quote was amended so that the student has an active voice. They start the sentence with According to Malaguzzi, ….

Similarly, in the second example, we can also insert an active voice by ensuring that our quote sentence does not start with a quote:

Example 2: Start Quote Sentences with an Active Voice In 1990, Judith Butler revolutionized Feminist understandings of gender by arguing that “gender is a fluid concept” (p. 136). Before Butler’s 1990 book  Gender Trouble , gender was seen as being a binary linked to sex. Men were masculine and women were feminine. Butler came up with this new idea that gender is just something society has made up over time.

In this example, the quote is not at the start of a sentence or end of a paragraph – tick!

How to Start Sentences containing Quotes using an Active Voice

  • According to Malaguzzi (1949, p. 10), “…”
  • Malaguzzi (1949, p. 10) argues that “…”
  • In 1949, Malaguzzi (p. 10) highlighted that “…”
  • The argument of Malaguzzi (1949, p. 10) that “…” provides compelling insight into the issue.

3. Match Quotes with Explanations and Examples

Earlier on, I stated that one key reason to use quotes in essays is so that you can analyze them.

Quotes shouldn’t stand alone as explanations. Quotes should be there to be analyzed, not to do the analysis.

Let’s look again at the quote used in Point 1:

Example: A Quote that is Too Long Children who grow up in poverty often end up being poor as adults.  “Many adult Americans believe that hard work and drive are important factors in economic mobility. When statistics show that roughly 42% of children born into the bottom level of the income distribution will likely stay there (Isaacs, 2007), this Is a consequence of structural and social barriers.”  (Mistry et al., 2016, p. 761). Therefore poverty in childhood needs to be addressed by the government.

This student has included the facts, figures, citations and key details in the quote. Essentially, this student has been lazy. They failed to paraphrase.

Instead, this student could have selected the most striking phrase from the quote and kept it. Then, the rest should be paraphrased. The most striking phrase in this quote was “[poverty] is a consequence of structural and social barriers.” (Mistry et al., 2016, p. 761).

So, take that one key phrase, then paraphrase the rest:

Example: Paraphrasing Long Quotes Children who grow up in poverty often end up being poor as adults. In their analysis, Mistry et al. (2016) highlight that there is a misconception in American society that hard work is enough to escape poverty. Instead, they argue, there is evidence that over 40% of people born in poverty remain in poverty. For Mistry et al. (2016, p. 761), this data shows that poverty is not a matter of being lazy alone, but more importantly  “a consequence of structural and social barriers.”  This implies that poverty in childhood needs to be addressed by the government.

To recap,  quotes shouldn’t do the talking for you . Provide a brief quote in your essay, and then show you understand it with surrounding explanation and analysis.

4. Know how many Quotes to use in an Essay

There’s a simple rule for how many quotes should be in an essay.

Here’s a good rule to follow: one quote for every five paragraphs. A paragraph is usually 150 words long, so you’re looking at  one quote in every 750 words, maximum .

To extrapolate that out, you’ll want a maximum of about:

  • 2 quotes for a 1500-word paper;
  • 3 quotes for a 2000-word paper;
  • 4 quotes for a 3000-word paper.

That’s the maximum , not a target. There’s no harm in writing a paper that has absolutely zero quotes in it, so long as it’s still clear that you’ve closely read and paraphrased your readings.

The reason you don’t want to use more quotes than this in your essay is that teachers want to see you saying things in your own words. When you over-use quotes, it is a sign to your teacher that you don’t know how to paraphrase well.

5. Always use page numbers when Citing Quotes in Essays

One biggest problem with quotes are that many students don’t know how to cite quotes in essays.

Nearly every referencing format requires you to include a page number in your citation. This includes the three most common referencing formats: Harvard, APA, and MLA. All of them require you to provide page numbers with quotes.

Citing a Quote in Chicago Style – Include Page Numbers

  • Incorrect: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler 1990).
  • Correct: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler 1990, 136).

Citing a Quote in APA and Harvard Styles – Include Page Numbers

  • Incorrect: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler, 1990).
  • Correct: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler, 1990, p. 136).

Citing a Quote in MLA Style – Include Page Numbers

  • Incorrect: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler).
  • Correct: “Gender is a fluid concept” (Butler 136).

Including a page number in your quotation makes a huge difference when a marker is trying to determine how high your grade should be.

This is especially true when you’re already up in the higher marks range. These little editing points can mean the difference between placing first in the class and third. Don’t underestimate the importance of attention to detail.

6. Don’t Italicize Quotes

For some reason, students love to use italics for quotes. This is wrong in absolutely every major referencing format, yet it happens all the time.

I don’t know where this started, but please don’t do it. It looks sloppy, and teachers notice. A nice, clean, well-formatted essay should not contain these minor but not insignificant errors. If you want to be a top student, you need to pay attention to minor details.

7. Avoid quotes inside quotes

Have you ever found a great quote and thought, “I want to quote that quote!” Quoting a quote is a tempting thing to do, but not worth your while.

I’ll often see students write something like this:

Poor Quotation Example: Quotes Inside Quotes Rousseau “favored a civil religion because it would be more tolerant of diversity than Christianity. Indeed ‘no state has ever been founded without religion as its base’ (Rousseau, 1913: 180).” (Durkheim, 1947, p. 19).

Here, there are quotes on top of quotes. The student has quoted Durkheim quoting Rousseau. This quote has become a complete mess and hard to read. The minute something’s hard to read, it loses marks.

Here are two solutions:

  • Cite the original source. If you really want the Rousseau quote, just cite Rousseau. Stop messing around with quotes on top of quotes.
  • Learn the ‘as cited in’ method. Frankly, that method’s too complicated to discuss here. But if you google it, you’ll be able to teach yourself.

When Should I use Quotes in Essays?

1. to highlight an important statement.

One main reason to use quotes in essays is to emphasize a famous statement by a top thinker in your field.

The statement must be  important. It can’t be just any random comment.

Here are some examples of when to use quotes in essays to emphasize the words of top thinkers:

  • The words of Stephen Hawking go a long way in Physics ;
  • The words of JK Rowling go a long way in Creative Writing ;
  • The words of Michel Foucault go a long way in Cultural Studies ;
  • The words of Jean Piaget go a long way in Education Studies .

2. To analyze an Important Statement.

Another reason to use quotes in essays is when you want to analyze a statement by a specific author. This author might not be famous, but they might have said something that requires unpacking and analyzing. You can provide a quote, then unpack it by explaining your interpretation of it in the following sentences.

Quotes usually need an explanation and example. You can unpack the quote by asking:

  • What did they mean,
  • Why is it relevant, and
  • Why did they say this?

You want to always follow up quotes by top thinkers or specific authors with discussion and analysis.

Quotes should be accompanied by:

  • Explanations of the quote;
  • Analysis of the ideas presented in the quote; or
  • Real-world examples that show you understand what the quote means.
Remember: A quote should be a stimulus for a discussion, not a replacement for discussion.

What Bad Quotes Look Like

Many teachers I have worked with don’t like when students use quotes in essays. In fact, some teachers absolutely hate essay quotes. The teachers I have met tend to hate these sorts of quotes:

  • When you use too many quotes.
  • When you use the wrong citation format.
  • When you don’t provide follow-up explanations of quotes.
  • When you used quotes because you don’t know how to paraphrase .

how to use quotes in an essay

Be a minimalist when it comes to using quotes. Here are the seven approaches I recommend for using quotes in essays:

  • Avoid Long Quotes in Essays
  • Do not use a Quote that takes up a full Sentence, Starts a Sentence, or Ends a Paragraph
  • Match Quotes with Explanations and Examples
  • Use a Maximum of 2 Quotes for every 1500 words
  • Always use page numbers when Citing Quotes in Essays
  • Don’t Italicize Quotes
  • Avoid quotes inside quotes


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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Answered By: Vicki Sciuk Last Updated: Oct 04, 2021     Views: 113508

Whenever you include someone else's words or ideas in your paper, you must give them credit both on the Works Cited (MLA) or References (APA) page at the end of your paper, and right next to the quote (in-text citation).

An exact quote should be in quotation marks (" "), or if the quotation is 40 words or more, should be formatted as a block quotation. Then you put an In-Text Citation   right after the quotation to show where the quote came from.  It is short, goes in parenthesis, includes the page number, and points to the full citation on your reference page. 

MLA -  an in-text citation is placed after the closing quotation mark, consisting of the author's last name and page number: 

     “MLA is a fabulous style” (Johnson 37)

APA -  an in-text citation is placed after the closing quotation mark ,  but also includes the publication date and is formatted differently, with commas and p. before the page number:  

     “Berkeley College librarians are very helpful with APA style” (Rios, 2015, p. 15)*

* some electronic resources may not have the page #

The author in the parenthesis should match the beginning of your full reference. For sources where there is no author, the title is moved to the first position in your list of citations. Therefore use the title, or a shortened version of it, for your in-text citation, followed by the page # (in MLA), or date, p. [or pp.] # (in APA).

For both, put the title in italics for works that stand alone, like books or movies ( Title of Source ), and in quotation marks for works that are part of a greater whole, like journal articles, book chapters, reports, web pages (“Title of Document").

More on MLA citations from the CAS :

More on APA citations from the CAS :  

Links & Files

  • APA Style: Quotations
  • MLA Style Center: In-Text Citations (there are examples with quotations)
  • MLA Style (Purdue OWL): Formatting MLA Quotations

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  • A Research Guide
  • Writing Guide
  • Grammar and Punctuation

How to Place a Quote in an Essay

How to write a quote, how to start an essay with a quote.

  • Use a quote from someone that you would not have expected them to say
  • Quote someone who is not a major celebrity (James Earl Jones and Ben Stiller have said enough!)
  • Consider using a well-known quote, but question it. Contradict what the original author said, prove them wrong, or use it to paint an even bigger picture, analyzing their words to find a greater meaning.
  • Will you reader be familiar with the person you are quoting?
  • Could the quote be viewed as offensive in anywhere?
Read also: Does Turnitin detect plagiarism or not? Read this article to be on the alert!

How to quote a quote

  • When following APA citation guidelines, you will include the publication year after the name of the writer. The page number will come after the quote.
  • Under the MLA citation guidelines, you will add the page number after the name of the author.


How to cite a quote

  • Use brackets to include your own information, in order to assist the reader in understanding the context of a quotation
  • Use ellipses (…) to remove parts of a quote that might now be relevant to your paper

Quote examples

Inspirational quotes.

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