Choose the best quotes

A good quote adds something meaningful to your argument and links to the main idea of the paragraph.

When choosing a quote, make sure it:

  • supports the main idea of the paragraph
  • is punchy and direct, even dramatic
  • comes from a source you trust
  • is relatively short and to the point.

Follow each quote with a short description of what it means and how it relates to your topic sentence and argument. Don't use quotes instead of your own words — they're meant to add weight to your argument.

'...such an approach will be repudiated by the overwhelming majority of Australians who are proud of what this country has achieved although inevitably acknowledging the blemishes in its past history.'

Your notes might comment on how John Howard's decision to call the treatment of indigenous people 'blemishes' on our history.

'Blemish' has a certain connotation, undermining the severity of confilict between Europeans indigneous people since settlement.

You can also use quotes to include information that you don't necessarily agree with but that is still important. These are called ‘scare quotes', and they're useful when you want to make a strong or even biased point while remaining objective.

'Crime' rates were reduced [..]

This quote is from the Aboriginal Trackers article on this site. It includes scare quotes around the word 'crime' because there is evidence to suggest that the Native Police didn't deal with many crimes, but instead cleared innocent Aborigines off the land so settlers could claim it.

If a quote doesn't say exactly what you need it to say, it's better to use your own words.