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University of Newcastle Library guides

Common feedback comments and what they mean: Rules about quoting

This guide lists some common feedback comments and explains what they mean.

How to quote correctly

No more than 10% of an essay or report can be made up of quotes.

Direct Quotes (also known as short quotes)
 A direct quote is when we write the text word for word and place double quotation marks at the beginning and end of the quotation. The author, year of publication and page number must be included.

Example: “Australia is a settler society” (Hudson & Bolton, 1997, p.9).
(APA referencing style has been used here, but check what referencing style is required by your lecturer).


When you do not want to use all the author’s words:

If you do not wish to use the whole quotation, it may not all be relevant or it is too long, insert three dots to show that it is missing a section. This can be done at the beginning, in the middle or at the end.


Gnat (1999:77) describes the process of reading as an act that, “. . . whilst developed through exploration, is one that requires a decoding process that is both cognitive and mimicked. . . .”

If you need to clarify what the author is saying in the quotation:

If you wish to add something to the quote to clarify it, you need to put it in a square bracket.

“Elaine [the subject of the study] was unable to reproduce the same sound as Jill [the speech pathologist]” (Smith, 2017, p. 17).

If the quotation is cited from a secondary source:

If the reference you are reading cites someone else and you want to use this cited material in your essay, both sources must be given, beginning with the person who wrote the original material.

“Reading is a multi-functionary activity” (Burke,1995, cited in Davis,1999:213).
You would then include the citation for Davis in the bibliography.



No more than 10% of an essay or report can be made up of quotes.

Long or block quotations
Any direct quotation that has more than 40 words or more than three lines must be blocked: that is, indented several spaces from the left and right margins. Such blocked quotes are usually single spaced, but some citation manuals prefer them to be double-spaced. Check your style guide.

Block quotations are usually introduced with a full sentence and a colon before the quotation.
Day (2001:209) observes that:

             Chifley’s failure to win the seat of Macquarie at the 1925 federal election did not leave

             him downhearted. After all, he had failed even to win preselection at two previous state elections.

             Now, at least he had made a decent showing as an election candidate.

This comment would indicate that Chifley was…..

After the block quotation, leave a double space and then comment on the quotation. In this way you are not leaving the quotation hanging there, but rather giving it context and importance.

The above block quote was taken from:  Belmont, W. & Sharkey, M. 2006, The Easy Writer. Formal writing for academic purposes. Frenchs Forest, Pearson Education Australia.