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Using textual references

Using textual references

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Using textual references

In a nutshell

Referring to a text is when you paraphrase or quote a text to support, illustrate or argue your point. Referring to a text is required for both Language and Literature questions as it demonstrates your ability to strengthen your points. In this summary, you will learn how to refer to a text to support your idea and interpretation of the text.

Inserting evidence

There are two ways you can insert evidence in your writing:

Direct quotation (quoting a text) - These are the exact words taken from the source/text and used to support your point.

Indirect quotation (paraphrasing a text) - An idea is taken from the source/text and put into your own words and summarised when used to support your point.

Every piece of evidence must directly contribute to the points you make. In this way, you show readers that you are informed on the topic and your argument appears stronger.

Quoting a text 

Quoting a text is especially useful when defining or describing a certain point or concept. For instance, when you are required to closely read a text, you will often have to state points about a particular theme, sentence or word within the text. Below is a table that states tips on how to quote a text along with some examples.

Quoting a text


Use inverted commas for the part you are directly quoting
'He bolted through the town.'
You may need to refer to a quote that cannot fit into your sentence. In this case, you can write your sentence and put a colon before writing the quote.
Her love for him is implicitly shown through her actions within the text: 'She could not fall asleep until she knew he was safe.'
You may only need to quote a few words from the text. In this case, it's important to embed it within your sentence. Embedding is a skill that makes it easier for readers to understand how the evidence is connected to the point you are making in your paragraph.
Evidence without embedding quotation: Pru thinks of Samantha as a superior figure and is intimidated by her presence. This is shown when the narrator states, 'She was afraid to look Samantha in the eye, as though she were a child being disciplined by a parent.'

Evidence with the embedded quotation: When Pru is 'afraid to look Samantha in the eye' and is compared to 'a child being disciplined by a parent;' it is evident that Pru thinks of Samantha as a superior figure and is intimidated by her presence.

Paraphrasing a text

Paraphrasing a text is useful when you want to show readers you understand and have a general idea of the text. Putting information into your own words can sometimes be the best way to clarify its relevance to your point. When paraphrasing a text, consider the following:

  1. Are you paraphrasing a text to summarise the contents? This will be the case when you want to show readers how you have understood the text.
  2. Are you paraphrasing a text to highlight the running themes? This will be the case if you are analysing a text, but the themes you discuss are repetitive throughout many points of the text.
  3. Are you paraphrasing to argue a point? This will be the case if you want to refer to a particular part of the text to show it is relevant to the points you are making/arguing.

Structuring your paragraph

There are many acronyms to follow when aiming to write cohesive and high-level paragraphs within your exam. You are free to follow your own method, but here is a basic structure that you can implement into your writing:

  • Point - State the point that you want to make/argue about the text.
  • Evidence - Refer to a text that supports your point - it may be best to refer to a particular part of a text rather than paraphrase to summarise the contents. You can't be too vague here.
  • Analysis - Analyse the evidence by stating any language devices that may have been used to emphasise the point you have made about the text.
  • Develop - Explain and expand on how the evidence links to your point
  • Link - Link back to the question

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

When should I paraphrase a text?

When should I directly quote a text?

Why is it important to refer to a text?


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