Edit quotes

Keeping quotes short lets you focus on discussing your examples and how they relate to your essay question. You can do this in several ways:


Paraphrasing a direct quote lets you focus on the parts that are relevant to your point. When you paraphrase a direct quote, it becomes an indirect quote.

Paraphrased quotes need to be different to the original version, so write them in your own words. One way to do this is to read the quote and then write what you think it means, without looking back at it.

Editing direct quotes

If a quote is too long or there's a section that's not relevant to your point, you can edit it out by replacing that section with an ellipsis [...].

The Queensland trackers [...] were very active on foot.

This quote was too long to include in our piece on Harry Power so a few words were cut out and replaced with an ellipsis in square brackets – [...].

You can also change individual words so that a quote makes sense, by putting the word you've changed in square brackets [].

'...the word 'sorry' [is] not about monetary compensation or damages...'

This quote has been taken from a bigger sentence, so the word 'is' had to be added to make the new sentence make sense. You know it's been changed because of the square brackets around it.

Bending quotes too far

When editing quotes, try to avoid taking out sections that change the quote's meaning. Omission is a form of bias and the goal of an argumentative essay is to be objective, so if you can't find any quotes that support your ideas, you might need to re-think your argument.

Your opinion is important. No more than about 10% of your essay should be quotes.