Quoting means repeating the author’s exact words. In some HASS disciplines, such as literary studies and history, quoting is used frequently to support an argument. In most others, especially STEM disciplines, it is used sparingly, if at all.

Make sure you understand how quoting is used in your discipline. If unsure, ask a lecturer or tutor or consult the faculty style guide. Importantly, choosing meaningful quotes and presenting them accurately will add credibility to your claims and maintain your academic integrity.

Some situations which might justify direct quoting could be:

  • the author has devised and named a new theory, model, concept, technique or scale
  • the author has provided a definition of a concept
  • the author’s words have unique impact and would be difficult to express in any other way
  • the author is a notable authority on the subject and their words will lend weight to your argument
  • you are expected to use examples to justify your interpretation or analysis of a literary work.

Keep the quotation as brief as possible, and integrate it into the development of your argument or discussion. This means contextualising the quotation and commenting on it to show how it connects to your point. All quotations require page numbers in the citation.

Different citation styles have different definitions of short and long quotes. Check your citation style or ask your tutor or lecturer if you are unsure.

Short quotations

For a short quotation (up to two or three lines), place the relevant words in quotation marks and incorporate them into your sentence. Look at the following examples of short quotations. Notice the formatting of the quotations within sentences and the contextualising information.


Legend: Contextual information; Quotation; Citation.

According to Scholte (2008, p. 1473) “when globalisation is interpreted as internationalisation, the term refers to a growth of transactions and interdependence between countries”.
It is not a failing of the author when one of the characters acts in an unusually audacious way. As Jane Austen’s character, Mrs Croft, says, “We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days” (1992, p. 71) . There are many examples in real life as well as fiction of a normally cautious person finding themselves enjoying an adventure.


You do not need to place technical terms or specialised vocabulary in quotation marks if you use them as a part of a paraphrase or summary in your assignment.

Long (Block) quotations

Quotations of more than 30 or 40 words (depending on the citation style you are using) should be:

  • set apart from the rest of your text, usually by leaving one blank line before and after
  • indented, usually by five spaces
  • possibly typed in a smaller font
  • included without quotation marks.

Generally, the quotation should be preceded by a colon as shown in the following example. Check the referencing style guide for your unit.


Legend: Contextual information; Quotation; Citation.

Kotler comments on the tendency of many Americans to assume that everything in the United States is better than elsewhere:

A nation that is great does not need to boast about it! It will be known without promotion. Other nations don’t appreciate hearing, by implication, that their country offers much less than the U.S. does. The citizens of many countries actually prefer their country’s ways and culture to U.S. culture. Many Europeans, especially the French, feel their lives are more satisfying (Kotler, 2016, p. 168) .

A similar attitude prevails in Australia and can be discerned in discussions about immigration. Many commentators take it for granted that everyone would prefer to live here.


Never end a paragraph with a block quote. You should always explain how the quote fits into your argument.

Additional tips for quoting well

  • Include the page number after the date in your citation.
  • While quotes should include exact words, you may delete irrelevant information from the quotation. You’ll need to insert ellipses (...) to indicate where material has been deleted. Your deletions should not alter the meaning of the original quotation. This is known as misquotation and is a serious offence against academic integrity.
  • You may need to insert a word or phrase so that a quotation makes sense. Use square brackets [ ] for this. Example: “Contemporary theories [of democracy] differ significantly from those of the 17th century”.
  • You may wish to point out an error in a quotation. Use [sic] to indicate this. Example: Rothschild (2020) claimed “their [sic] was no evidence from the twelve interviews with students”. Do not fix errors in quotations.