how to embed quotes into an essay

VCE Study Tips

English Language

how to embed quotes into an essay

Private Tutoring

how to embed quotes into an essay

Only one more step to getting your FREE text response mini-guide!

Simply fill in the form below, and the download will start straight away

How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss

October 2, 2012

how to embed quotes into an essay

Want insider tips? Sign up here!

Go ahead and tilt your mobile the right way (portrait). the kool kids don't use landscape....

Updated 30/12/2020

  • What Are Quotes?
  • Why Use Quotes?
  • What You Want To Quote
  • How Much You Want To Quote
  • How That Quote Will Fit into Your Essay
  • There Are Also Other Ways of Using Quotation Marks
  • Questions You Must Ask Yourself When Weaving Quotes into Sentences
  • How To Find Good Quotes

1. What Are Quotes?

Quotations, better known by their abbreviation ‘quotes’, are a form of evidence used in VCE essays. Using quotations in essays helps to demonstrate your knowledge of the text, and provides solid evidence for your arguments. The discussion on quotations in this study guide can be applied to all three areas of study in the VCAA English course which have been explained in detail in our Ultimate Guide s to VCE Text Response , Comparative and  Language Analysis .

A quotation is the repetition of a group of words taken from a text by someone other than the original author. The punctuation mark used to indicate a repetition of another author’s work is presented through quotation marks. These quotation marks are illustrated by inverted commas, either single inverted commas (‘ ’) or double inverted commas (“ ”). There is no general rule in Australia regarding which type of inverted comma you must use for quotations. Single inverted commas are preferred in Australia as they follow the British standard. The American standard involves styling quotations with the double inverted comma. You can choose either style, just be consistent in your essays.

2. Why Use Quotes?

The usage of quotations in essays demonstrates:

  • Your knowledge of the text
  • Credibility of your argument
  • An interesting and thoughtful essay
  • The strength of your writing skills.

However, quotations must be used correctly, otherwise you risk (and these frequent mistakes will be discussed in detail later):

  • Irrelevant quotations
  • Overcrowding or overloading of quotations
  • Broken sentences

How You Integrate a Quote into an Essay Depends on Three Factors:

  • What you want to quote
  • How much you want to quote
  • How that quote will fit into your essay.

3. What You Want To Quote

As you discuss ideas in a paragraph, quotes should be added to develop these ideas further. A quote should add insight into your argument; therefore, it is imperative that the quote you choose relates intrinsically to your discussion. This is dependent on which aspect of the text you are discussing, for example:

  • Description of theme or character
  • Description of event or setting
  • Description of a symbol or other literary technique

Never quote just for the sake of quoting. Quotations can be irrelevant  if a student merely adds in quotes as ‘sentence fillers’. Throwing in quotations just to make your essay appear more sophisticated will only be more damaging if the quotation does not adequately reinforce or expand on your contention. Conversely, an essay with no quotations will not achieve many marks either.

4. How Much You Want To Quote

A quotation should never tell the story for you. Quotations are a ‘support’ system, much like a back up for your ideas and arguments. Thus, you must be selective in how much you want to quote. Generally speaking, the absolute minimum is three quotes per paragraph but you should not  overload  your paragraphs either. Overcrowding your essay with too many quotations will lead to failure to develop your ideas, as well as your work appearing too convoluted for your assessor. Remember that the essay is  your  piece of work and should consist mainly of your own ideas and thoughts.

Single Word Quotations

The word ‘evaporates’, used to characterise money and happiness intends to instill the idea that happiness as a result of money is only temporary. (VCAA ‘Can Money Buy Happiness’ Language Analysis)

Single worded quotations can often leave the largest impression on the assessor. This is because you are able to demonstrate that you can focus on one word and develop an entire idea around it.

Phrase Quotations

Sunil Badami ‘still found it hard to tie my Indian appearance to my Australian feeling', showing that for Sunil, his culture was not Indian, but Australian due to his upbringing. ( Sticks and Stones and Such-like, Sunil Badami in Growing Up Asian in Australia )

A phrase quotation is the most common quotation length you will use in essays.

Long Quotations

The multitudes of deaths surrounding Anna began to take its toll on her, burdening her with guilt as ‘sometimes, if I walked the main street of the village in the evening, I felt the press of their ghosts. I realised then that I had begun to step small and carry myself all hunched, keeping my arms at my sides and my elbows tucked, as if to leave room for them.’ ( Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks )

Long quotations comprise of more than one sentence – avoid using them as evidence. Your assessor will not mark you highly if the bulk of your paragraphs consists of long quotations. You should aim to keep your quotations to less than 2 lines on an A4 writing page. If you have a long quotation you wish to use, be selective. Choose only the important phrases or key words, and remove the remaining sentence by replacing it with an ellipsis (…).

Here is the same example again, with the student using ellipsis:

The multitudes of deaths surrounding Anna began to take its toll on her, burdening her with guilt as she felt ‘the press of their ghosts…[and] begun to step small and carry myself all hunched…as if to leave room for them.’ ( Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks)

In this case, we have deleted: ‘sometimes, if I walked the main street of the village in the evening’ and ‘I realised then that I had’ by using an ellipsis – a part of the quotation that is not missed because it does not represent the essence of the student’s argument. You would have noticed that a square bracket ([  ]) was used. This will be discussed in detail under  Blending Quotes.

5. How That Quote Will Fit into Your Essay

You must never take the original author’s words and use them in your essay  without  inserting them in quotation marks. Failure to do so leads to ‘plagiarism’ or cheating. Plagiarism occurs when you take someone else’s work and pass it off as your own. You must make sure that you use quotation marks whenever you use evidence from your text.

The following is plagiarism:

Even a single flicker of the eyes could be mistaken for the essential crime that contained all other crimes in itself – thought crime.  (1984, George Orwell)

Using quotation marks however, avoids plagiarism:

Even ‘a single flicker of the eyes’ could be mistaken for ‘the essential crime that contained all other crimes in itself – thought crime.’  (1984, George Orwell)

There are serious consequences for plagiarism. VCAA will penalise students for plagiarism. VCAA uses statistical analysis to compare a student’s work with their General Achievement Test (GAT), and if the cross-referencing indicates that the student is achieving unexpectedly high results with their schoolwork, the student’s school will be notified and consequential actions will be taken.

Plagiarism should not be confused with:

  • ‍ Paraphrasing : to reword or rephrase the author’s words
  • ‍ Summarising: to give a brief statement about the author’s main points
  • ‍ Quoting : to directly copy the author’s words with an indication (via quotation marks) that it is not your original work

Blending Quotations

You should always aim to interweave quotations into your sentences in order to achieve good flow and enhanced readability of your essay. Below is a good example of blending in quotations:

John Proctor deals with his own inner conflict as he is burdened with guilt and shame of his past adulterous actions. Yet during the climatic ending of the play, Proctor honours his principles as he rejects signing a false confession. This situation where Proctor is confronted to ‘sign [himself] to lies’ is a stark epiphany, for he finally acknowledges that he does have ‘some shred of goodness.’ ( The Crucible, Arthur Miller)

There are three main methods in how you can blend quotations into an essay:

1. Adding Words

Broken sentences  are a common mistake made when students aim to integrate quotations into their sentences. Below are examples of broken sentences due to poor integration of a quotation:

‘Solitary as an oyster’. Scrooge is illustrated as a person who is isolated in his own sphere. ( A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Never write a sentence consisting of  only  a quotation. This does not add insight into your argument, nor does it achieve good flow or readability.

Scrooge, ‘solitary as an oyster’, is illustrated as a person who is isolated in his own sphere.  (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

This example is better, however the sentence is still difficult to read. In order to blend quotations into your sentences, try adding in words that will help merge the quotation and your own words together:

Described as being as ‘solitary as an oyster’, Scrooge is illustrated as a person who is isolated in his own sphere.  (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Scrooge is depicted as a person who is ‘solitary as an oyster’, illustrating that he is isolated in his own sphere.  (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Tip: If you remove the quotation marks, the sentence should still make sense.

2. Square Brackets ([   ])

These are used when you need to modify the original writer’s words so that the quotation will blend into your essay. This is usually done to:

Change Tense

Authors sometimes write in past  (looked) , present  (look)  or future tense  (will look) . Depending on how you approach your essay, you may choose to write with one of the three tenses. Since your tense may not always match the author’s, you will need to alter particular words.

Original sentence: ‘…puts his arm around Lewis’ shoulder’ ( Cosi, Louis Nowra)

Upon seeing Lewis upset, Roy attempts to cheer him up by ‘put[ting] his arm around Lewis’ shoulder’. ( Cosi, Louis Nowra)

Change Narrative Perspective

The author may write in a first  (I, we) , second  (you)  or third person  (he, she, they)  narrative. Since you will usually write from an outsider’s point of view, you will refer to characters in third person. Thus, it is necessary to replace first and second person pronouns with third person pronouns. Alternatively, you can replace first and second person pronouns with the character’s name.

The original sentence: ‘Only now can I recognise the scene for what it was: a confessional, a privilege that I, through selfishness and sensual addiction, failed to accept…’  (Maestro, Peter Goldsworthy)

When Keller was finally ready to share his brutal past with Paul, the latter disregarded the maestro, as he was too immersed in his own adolescent interests. However, upon reflection, Paul realises that ‘only now can [he] recognise the scene for what it was: a confessional, a privilege that [he], through selfishness and sensual addiction, failed to accept’.  (Maestro, Peter Goldsworthy)

Insert Missing Words

Sometimes, it may be necessary to insert your own words in square brackets so that the quotation will be coherent when incorporated into your sentences.

The original sentence: ‘His heels glow.’ ( Ransom, David Malouf)

Achilles, like Priam, feels a sense of refreshment as highlighted by ‘his heels [which] glow.’ ( Ransom, David Malouf)

It is important to maintain proper grammar while weaving in quotations. The question is: does the punctuation go inside or outside the final quotation mark?

The rule is: If the quoted words end with a full stop (or comma), then the full stop goes inside the quotation marks. If the quoted words do not end with a full stop, then the full stop goes outside the quotation marks.

Original sentence: 'Sagitty’s old place plus another hundred acres that went from the head waters of Darkey Creek all the way down to the river.’ ( The Secret River, Kate Grenville)

Punctuation inside:

During the past decade, Thornhill became the wealthiest man in the area, owning ‘Sagitty’s old place plus another hundred acres that went from the head waters of Darkey Creek all the way down to the river.’ ( The Secret River, Kate Grenville)

Punctuation outside:

During the past decade, Thornhill became the wealthiest man in the area, owning ‘Sagitty’s old place plus another hundred acres’. ( The Secret River, Kate Grenville)

6. There Are Also Other Ways of Using Quotation Marks

Title of text.

When including the title of the text in an essay, use single quotation marks.

Directed by Elia Kazan, ‘On The Waterfront’ unveils the widespread corruption among longshoremen working at New Jersey docks. ( On The Waterfront, Elia Kazan)

Alternatively, you can underline the title of the text instead of using single quotation marks. Many teachers and examiners prefer this option.

Quotation Within a Quotation

When you quote the author who is quoting someone else, then you will need to switch between single and double quotation marks. You firstly need to enclose the author’s words in single quotation marks, and then enclose the words they quote in double quotation marks. If you're following the American standard, you'll need to do this the opposite way - that is, using double quotation marks for the author's words and and then single quotation marks for the quote. We recommend sticking to the preferred Australian style though, which is single and then double.

Original sentence: ‘…something bitter and stringy, too difficult to swallow. “It’s just that – I – um, I hate it…It’s too – it’s too Indian!”’ ( Sticks and Stones and Such-like, Sunil Badami in Growing Up Asian in Australia)

Sunil’s unusual name leads him to believe that it is ‘…something bitter and stringy, too difficult to swallow. “It’s just that – I – um, I hate it…It’s too – it’s too Indian!”’ ( Sticks and Stones and Such-like, Sunil Badami in Growing Up Asian in Australia)

As you can see, the student has quoted the author’s words in single quotation marks. The dialogue used by the author is surrounded by double quotation marks. This demonstrates that the dialogue used in the text still belongs to the author.

Using Quotations to Express Irony

When you wish to express irony, you use quotation marks to illustrate that the implied meaning of the actual word or phrase is different to the normal meaning.

As a young girl, Elaine is a victim of Mrs Smeath and her so called ‘friends’. Her father’s interest in insects and her mother’s lack of housework presents Elaine as an easy bullying target for other girls her age who are fit to fulfill Toronto’s social norms. ( Cat’s Eye,  Margaret Atwood)

In this case, ‘friends’ is written in inverted commas to indicate that Elaine’s peers are not truly her friends but are in fact, bullies.

7. Questions You Must Ask Yourself When Weaving Quotes into Sentences

1.  Does the quote blend into my sentence?

2.  Does my sentence still make sense?

3.  Is it too convoluted for my readers to understand?

4.  Did I use the correct grammar?

8. How To Find Good Quotes

Tip One: Do not go onto Google and type in 'Good quotes for X text', because this is not going to work. These type of quotes are generally the most famous and the most popular quotes because, yes they are good quotes, but does that necessarily mean that it's going to be a good quote in your essay? Probably not. But why? Well, it's because these quotes are the most likely to be overused by students - absolutely every single person who has studied this text before you, and probably every single person who will study this text after you. You want to be unique and original. So, how are you going to find those 'good quotes'? Recognise which quotes are constantly being used and blacklist them. Quotes are constantly used in study guides are generally the ones that will be overused by students. Once you eliminate these quotes, you can then go on to find potentially more subtle quotes that are just as good as the more popular or famous ones. Tip Two: Re-read the book. There is nothing wrong with you going ahead and finding your own quotes. You don't need to find quotes that already exist online or in study guides. Go and find whatever gels with you and whatever you feel like has a lot of meaning to it. I had a friend back in high school who was studying a book by Charles Dickens. I haven't read the book myself, but there was a character who couldn't pronounce the letter S, or he had a lisp of some sort. What my friend did was he found this one word where, throughout the entire book, the guy with the lisp only ever said the S one time and that was a massive thing. So, he used that. This is something that is really unique and original. So, go ahead and try to find your own quotes. Tip Three: Realise that good quotes do not necessarily have to come from the main character. Yes, the main character does often have good quotes associated with whatever they're saying, but just know that you do have minor characters who can say something really relevant and have a really good point too. Their quote is going to be just as strong in your essay as a main character's quote, which will probably be overused and overdone by so many other students. Tip Four: Develop a new interpretation of a famous or popular quote. Most of the time, the really popular quotes are analysed in very much the same way. But if you can offer a new insight into why it's being said or offer a different interpretation, then this is automatically going to create a really good quote that's going to offer a refreshing point of view. For example, if we look at The Great Gatsby , one of the most famous quotes that is constantly being used is, 'He found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass.' What most people will do is they will analyse the part about the 'grotesque thing a rose', because that's the most significant part of the quote that stands out. But what you could do instead, is focus on a section of that quote, for example the 'raw'. Why is the word raw being used? How does the word raw contribute extra meaning to this particular quote? This way you're honing in on a particular section of the quote and really trying to offer something new. This automatically allows you to investigate the quote in a new light. Tip Five: Just remember that the best quotes do not have to be one sentence long. Some of the best quotes tend to be really short phrases or even just one particular word. Teachers actually love it when you can get rid of the excess words that are unnecessary in the sentence, and just hone in on a particular phrase or a particular word to offer an analysis. And also, that way, when you spend so much time analysing and offering insight into such a short phrase or one sentence, it shows how knowledgeable you are about the text and that you don't need to rely on lots and lots of evidence in order to prove your point. Those are my five quick tips on how to find good quotes from your texts!

Need more help with quotes? Learn about 5 Ways You're Using Quotes Wrong .

Resources for texts mentioned/referenced in this blog post:

Comparing: Stasiland and 1984 Study Guide

A Killer Text Guide: Cosi (ebook)

Cosi By Louis Nowra Study Guide

Cosi Study Guide

Growing Up Asian in Australia Study Guide

A Killer Text Guide: On the Waterfront (ebook)

A Killer Text Guide: Ransom (ebook)

Ransom Study Guide

The Crucible by Arthur Miller Study Guide

A Killer Text Guide: The Crucible (ebook)

‍ The Crucible and Year of Wonders Prompts

Comparing: The Crucible and Year of Wonders Study Guide

The Great Gatsby Study Guide

‍ A Killer Text Guide: The Secret River (ebook)

The Secret River by Kate Grenville Study Guide

Get our FREE VCE English Text Response mini-guide

Now quite sure how to nail your text response essays? Then download our free mini-guide, where we break down the art of writing the perfect text-response essay into three comprehensive steps. Click below to get your own copy today!

how to embed quotes into an essay

Struggling to answer the essay topic?

Has your teacher ever told you:

"You're not answering the prompt"

"You're going off topic"

Then you're not alone! If you struggle to understand and stay on topic, learn how to answer the prompt every time with our How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide.

how to embed quotes into an essay

Regardless of whether you’re writing a Text Response , Comparative , or even an Argument Analysis essay, it is easy to see the introduction as something inconsequential, that won’t change your overall mark. And as a result, far too many students view the intro as a mere convention of writing that simply needs to ‘tick off’ certain criteria before they get into the ‘meat’ of the essay. But, from my experiences in VCE English, I’ve found taking some time to write a concise, yet original, considered, and insightful intro (with a bit of flair when appropriate) can be hugely beneficial. 

Why Your Teacher Says You Can’t Earn Any Marks in an Introduction

‍ Everyone has heard it before:

You can’t win/lose marks in an introduction or conclusion

I’ll be the first to admit that in some ways, this is true. The purpose of a Text Response essay is to show an understanding of a text through analysis. So, it is natural that your essay is marked based on the quality of your analysis of the text. And, because very little of this analysis occurs in the introduction, it’s easy to think that an intro can’t influence or change your final mark. While this may be true in theory, the reality is that your introduction serves as a foundation for your analysis...and just like a house, without a solid foundation coming first the rest of your essay is more liable to be weak and fragile. In my mind, the introduction provides a basis for everything that you’re going to analyse in your body-paragraphs which can build upon the assertions you have made regarding the topic in your intro. In other words, the introduction sets the direction for your essay, which overall acts as a backbone allowing for a cogent argument to be presented in your piece.

How an Introduction Can Help You

‍ Now that we have established how an introduction helps contribute to the overall cohesiveness of an essay, let’s have a look at how an intro can help you while you’re writing. Especially when writing under timed conditions, it can be difficult to produce a detailed plan which lays out the structure of an essay. Here's where your intro can be of great help. When considered carefully, your introduction can set the parameters within which your essay will be contained. In other words, your intro can define the scope of your essay, outlining which themes and characters you are going to explore, and most importantly what arguments you are going to posit throughout your script. This means that if you get lost, or go blank trying to figure out what you should write next you can refer back to your intro to find a sense of direction and regain a foothold in your essay and. In this way, the intro not only acts as a foundation for your body-paragraphs but also provides a blueprint for them which can guide you from point to point. 

At the same time, although an introduction cannot explicitly earn you marks, I would argue that a quality introduction can help position your assessor to immediately categorise your essay as belonging in a higher mark bracket. At the end of the year, exam assessors have hundreds of scripts to mark. And the truth is, they will not dedicate more than a couple of minutes to read your essay. As such, if you can impress your assessor with a powerful opening, they are more likely to see your piece as one that should earn a high mark. The reality is that assessors can often tell a lot about an essay based on the quality of its introduction. Therefore, if you can write a 9-10/10 introduction, your assessor will already be leaning towards awarding you a mark in that range without even having read your body-paragraphs yet. 

So, How Can You Write an Original Introduction That Doesn’t Sound Like Everyone Else's?

If there’s one thing English teachers and assessors hate, it’s reading essays that have been memorised and recited (though, if you absolutely insist, then here's a middle-ground option where you could use' templates' ). What is crucial, then, is that from the very first line of your introduction you are responding directly and unswervingly to the topic. I would suggest trying to avoid starting with a cliche contextual statement in favour of a bold response to the topic. 

For example, in response to the topic ‘Shakespeare’s Vienna is a world devoid of balance.’ I would try to avoid starting my introduction with a vague and easily memorisable statement such as... 

‘ Shakespeare’s Jacobean tragicomedy Measure for Measure explores the concept of balance in his extremest characters.’ 

Instead, a bold opening statement is preferable... 

‘Whether it is in Vienna’s abject lasciviousness, Angelo’s ascetic self-governance, or even Isabella’s hyper-rectitude, Shakespeare’s conception of Vienna in Measure for Measure is one laced with problematic extremism.’ 

Consider opening with a quote which captures your take on the topic. In the Comparative task, most definitely try to avoid staring with the word ‘Both’, and instead consider shedding light on a theme or concept common to both texts. 

For example, in response to the topic ‘ Both Invictus and Ransom suggest empathy is key to creating unity.’... 

Whether it is between African and Afrikaner or Trojan and Achaean, the capacity for human understanding is upheld as paramount to overcome societal fissures.  After you have put forward a broad response to the topic in your opening sentence, your introduction can then proceed to ‘zoom in’ and offer more specific arguments. These specific ideas should essentially signpost the distinct arguments you are going to present in each of your body paragraphs.

And, as suggested in the 2019 VCAA Exam Report : 

‘ One characteristic of high-scoring essays was recognition of the ways in which the ideas the student intended to discuss were connected.’ 

This means that the ideas you flag for discussion in your intro, should be logically connected to both the prompt and each other, and you should aim to outline these connections.

The specific ideas which you offer set the parameters for the rest of your essay, so it is a good idea to ensure that these insights take into consideration the implications of the key-terms of the topic, and attempt to take the topic further. This allows you to consider the text in a sophisticated and conceptual way while maintaining rock-solid links to the topic.

After you have ‘zoomed into’ the specific arguments you will be mounting in your essay, the final step is to ‘zoom back out’ and offer an incisive, and powerful overall contention which responds explicitly to the terms of the topic. We talk about this 'zoom in' and 'zoom out' technique in How To Write A Killer Text Response .

Ultimately, the introduction provides you with a great opportunity to show off to your assessors that you can write incisively, fluently, and with confidence.

How To Write an A+ Language Analysis Introduction

Introductions for EAL Language Analysis, To Write or Not To Write?

VCE Literature Close Analysis: Introduction

5 Tips For A Mic-Drop Worthy Essay Conclusion

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis ‍

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Literature

The Ultimate Guide to VCE EAL

Contention and Topic Sentences

We are well into the second half of Semester 1 and for Year 12 students, the Mt Everest that is the final English examination is approximately 6 months away. Though most students are at this stage comfortable with the text response aspect of English, many tend to struggle with the notion of “answering the prompt”.

When working to correct this issue, it is important to understand the VCAA English Study Design brief for text response which outlines its examination criteria as being:

  • detailed knowledge and understanding of the selected text, demonstrated appropriately  in response to the task
  • development in the writing of a coherent and effective structure  in response to the task
  • control in the use of expressive and effective language  appropriate to the task .

To find out more about how to satisfy the VCAA criteria in your Text Response, as well as a sample essay doing so, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

The importance of answering the prompt is stressed in each of the 3 listed points in the rubric which share the common theme of following the assigned task. In order to construct an essay which successfully answers the prompt, one must be conscious of  the relationship between the prompt assigned, their stated contention and the topic sentences they provide.

Prompts for Section A are divided into one of five categories. To learn more about LSG's Five Types Technique, check out our blog .

The first thing one should do when presented with a prompt is analyse it by identifying the keywords of the prompt and clarifying all the key terms. Once this has been done, it is time to  formulate a contention. 

A  contention is simply your view of the prompt . This is where you challenge the statement presented to you and construct a viewpoint outlining the degree to which you are in agreement or disagreement with the prompt or if you are sitting on the fence. It is vital to do this not by blatantly rewording the prompt to display your stance, instead you must observe the prompt and construct an assessment of the prompt by drawing from the text to confirm your contention. It is through  your contention that your points of discussion detailed in your topic sentences are formed.

Points to remember:

  • do not explicitly say “I agree” or “I disagree”
  • rather demonstrate how you feel (and thus how you are going to write) by using the text to highlight your opinion of the prompt
  • use your contention as “umbrella” from which your body paragraph ideas fall under

The next step in developing your essay response is to  settle on what points to make in your body paragraphs and  write topic sentences . Topic sentences outline the content you will be presenting to your teacher or examiner in the particular body paragraph. A good topic sentence should detail an idea that can be  drawn from your contention.  A habit some students carry into Year 12 from earlier years of essay writing is to write body paragraphs solely on characters and in turn writing a topic sentence stating which character they will write about in that paragraph. Rather than doing this,  focus on the context, themes, symbols and conventions  particular character(s) feature in throughout the text.

  • ensure your topic sentence clearly indicates what you will discuss in your paragraph
  • check to make sure your topic sentence is an idea that stems from your contention
  • avoid character based topic sentences and focus on the themes these characters are utilised to explore

The key to adhering to the prompt presented to you is f orming a relationship between the material given to you, your adopted contention and the topic sentences  which headline your evidence and justification.  Think of the prompt  as the avenue through which to form your overall stance.  Your contention  is the basis of the entirety of your essay.  Your topic sentences  are opening statements written with the purpose of helping you develop a discussion that follows your contention that is in relation to the prompt. When your text response has evidence of this not only will you present an essay that closely addresses the prompt, but your work will reflect  your thoughts,  in a manner which efficiently enables you to show off your skills.

To elaborate further on the example using Macbeth and Animal Farm:

Avoid simply drawing connections between the texts which are immediately obvious. It is clear that both Napoleon and Macbeth are powerful leaders. The questions below start to delve into a more insightful comparison between the two men (comparative words are  bolded ):

Macbeth and Animal Farm: common theme = power

How do they achieve power?

In  Animal Farm , Napoleon is sly about his intentions and slowly secures his power with clever manipulation and propaganda.  However , Shakespeare’s Macbeth adopts very different methods as he uses violence and abuse to secure his power.

How do they maintain power?

Both  Napoleon and Macbeth are tyrants who go to great length to protect their power. They believe in killing or chasing away anyone who undermines their power.

What is the effect of power on the two characters?

While   Macbeth  concentrates on Macbeth’s growing guilty conscience and his gradual deterioration to insanity,  Animal Farm  offers no insight into Napoleon’s stream of consciousness.  Instead , George Orwell focuses on the pain and suffering of the animals under Napoleon’s reign. This highlights Shakespeare’s desire to focus on the inner conflict of a man,  whereas  Orwell depicted the repercussions of a totalitarian regime on those under its ruling.

For one of most popular posts on Comparative (also known as Reading and Comparing), check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative.

Passage 1: Act 1 Scene 3

   [Aside] Two truths are told,

   As happy prologues to the swelling act

   Of the imperial theme.--I thank you, gentlemen.

[Aside] This supernatural soliciting

   Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,

   Why hath it given me earnest of success,

   Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:

   If good, why do I yield to that suggestion

   Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair

   And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,

   Against the use of nature? Present fears

   Are less than horrible imaginings:

   My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,  

   Shakes so my single state of man that function

   Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is

   But what is not.

Passage One from Act 1 Scene 3 takes place just after Macbeth has just been announced as Thane of Cawdor proving part of the Witches’ prophecy true “All hail Macbeth…Thane of Cawdor…/that shalt be king hereafter.” This part of the play is the first insight we have on Macbeth’s inner thoughts.  

Macbeth’s firm and thoughtful tone in the opening alliteration “two truths are told ” stresses how serious he takes the Witches’ predictions. Shakespeare presents this passage as a soliloquy in order to convey Macbeth’s true inner thoughts and motives. As this is Macbeth’s first soliloquy, it emphasises the strong possibility of Macbeth heading down a dark journey as he cannot forget the Witches’ predictions “(it) cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, / Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing in a truth?”

Shakespeare uses the metaphor of theatre for fate . The meta-theatrical reference, ‘as happy prologues to the swelling act’ makes the audience consider the action that will unfold in the following scenes through foreshadowing.

Macbeth feels that committing regicide will be a “supernatural soliciting”. The word “supernatural” demonstrates that Macbeth acknowledges that such an act is “against the use of nature.” It suggests that if Macbeth kills Duncan, he will forever be trapped in the supernatural world for his dishonourable action. The alliteration of “supernatural soliciting” sounds incredibly seductive, and therefore highlights Macbeth’s lust and thirst for the crown.

There is a physiological response to his unnerving thoughts as the ‘horrid image doth unfix my hair’ and ‘my seated heart knock at my ribs’ , emphasising the horror of Macbeth has with himself  at his thoughts.

The personification “my seated heart knock at my ribs” once again depicts the increasing fear that Macbeth experiences as his heart is not “seated” with its connotations of calmness and steadiness but “knock(ing)” which is associated with alarming fear.

As Macbeth struggles with his conscience and fears “my thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,/ Shakes so my single state of man,”  he is uncertain whether or not he should take the prophecy into his own hands and murder Duncan or, let time decide his fate “time and the hour runs through the roughest day”. The consonance ’s’, Shakes so my single state of man”.. ‍

The alliteration “smothered in surmise” demonstrates how Macbeth’s vivid imagination causes him to struggle with fear and hesitate undergoing the action that is foreseen by him as a “horrid image.” These mental images are of significance throughout the play as it is evident that Macbeth’ conscience results in him “seeing” a dagger and also Banquo’s ghost.

The antithesis “and nothing is,/ But what is not” is deliberately broken up into two lines to demonstrate the ambiguity of Macbeth’s thoughts and the confusion which evidently contributes to his overall fear. Macbeth’s actions become overpowered by his imagination until ‘nothing is but what is not’ or imagination carries more weight than action. The partial alliteration of ‘smother’d in surmise’ and the antithesis of ‘nothing is but what is not’ makes this notion seem again, particularly seductive to the audience. The word ‘smother’d’ , with it’s connotations of oppression, further amplifies the notion and even suggests that Macbeth’s imagination takes the place of his will.

Before you start diving into Jamie's incredible In Cold Blood study guide, I'd highly recommend that you check out LSG's free Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Introduction and Narration ‍

• Although its structure and cinematic plot development resemble that of crime fiction, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is a ‘nonfiction novel’ detailing the 1959 murders of four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. Put simply, the book was conceived of journalism and born of a novelist. 

• The novel is a product of years of extensive research by Capote and his friend and fellow author Harper Lee, who followed the trails of the Kansas criminals across numerous US states. In Cold Blood revolutionised the American ideals of journalism and literature, blurring the lines between these labels.

• A notable technique Capote employed in order to access classified information was becoming personally acquainted with the criminals of the case. For example, Capote became extremely close to Perry Smith, one of the main murderers in the case, which gave him exclusive information on the personal motives of the killers. 

• In Cold Blood reflects this relationship with the murderer through Capote’s narration of the book as an objective bystander. On page 23, we see the almost endearing way that Capote describes Perry; “his voice was both gentle and prim– a voice that, though soft, manufactured each word exactly, ejected it like a smoke ring issuing from a parson’s mouth.” As such, Capote’s friendship with Perry allows him to present the killer to the audience with a certain humanity and empathy, showcasing a broader picture of criminals than just a merciless murderer.

True facts of the Case

• On the 15th of November, 1959, all four members of the small farming Clutter family were brutally murdered, including Herbert Clutter, his wife Bonnie Clutter and their two teenage children, Nancy and Kenyon.

• The family was discovered bound and shot in the head. Herb’s throat had also been slashed. After ransacking the entire house, the criminals had left without finding any cash, carrying with them no more than fifty dollars, a pair of binoculars and a transistor radio.

• Perry Edward Smith and Richard Eugene ‘Dick’ Hickock were convicted of the crime. The two men had become acquainted during serving time at the Kansas State Penitentiary, and soon confessed to the crime, claiming that that they had heard from another prisoner that Herb Clutter was extremely wealthy, and kept his money in an easy-to-reach safe in his house.

• After the confession, the two murderers were flown from Nevada to Garden City, where they stood trial for their crimes. On 29 March, 1960, they received a guilty verdict, and were sentenced to the death penalty. For the following five years, Smith and Hickock lived on death row in Leavenworth, Kansas and were executed by hanging on the 14th of April, 1965.

Character Analysis

Perry edward smith.

One of the two murderers of the Clutter case, Smith is portrayed as a sensitive and artistic man haunted by his turbulent and lonely childhood. Described by Capote as a man of ‘actorish’ good looks, he disfigured both of his legs due to a motorcycle accident, which gave him chronic pain and an addiction to aspirin. His criminal actions are often directly linked to his childhood, described as ‘no bed of roses but pitiful, an ugly and lonely progress toward one mirage and then another’. Smith’s father was extremely abusive towards his wife, Flo Buckskin, and his four children, and so Buckskin later divorced him, taking the children with her. However, on her own she became an alcoholic and died by choking on her own vomit when Smith was only thirteen years old. He was then transferred to a Catholic orphanage, where he suffered from psychological, sexual and physical abuse from the nuns, one of whom attempted to drown him. Smith’s father and two of his siblings committed suicide during his time on death row. Smith eventually befriended Capote through their extensive interviews, and is believed to have shared personal information with him, believing him to be a true friend.

Richard Eugene ‘Dick’ Hickock

The second murderer of the Clutter case. Having grown up in Kansas, Hickock was a popular football player before turning to a life of crime after realising that he could not afford to go to college. During the course of the Clutter murder investigations, Hickock persistently blamed all of the murders on his partner in crime, Smith, claiming that ‘Perry Smith killed the Clutters…. It was Perry. I couldn’t stop him. He killed them all.’ Capote later states that during the murder, Smith was the one who stopped Hickock from raping the 16-year-old Nancy Clutter, as Hickock harboured pedophilic tendencies.

Herbert Clutter

A well-liked and kind-hearted wheat farmer in Holcomb, Kansas. Proprietor of the large River Valley Farm, Herb is described as a hardworking and valued citizen before his murder, who lead a relatively quiet life other than a troubled marriage with his wife due to her chronic depression.

Bonnie Clutter

Described as an ‘anxious woman’, it is revealed that Bonnie has a history of numerous mental illnesses, one of which is postpartum depression. Capote states that she and Herb had not slept in the same bed for many years.

Nancy Clutter

Described as the ‘darling of the town’ - the class president and future prom queen Nancy was the 16 year old daughter of the Clutters.

Kenyon Clutter

Athletic but introverted, Kenyon was the 15 year old son of Herbert and Bonnie Clutter.

Alvin Dewey

A personal friend of the Clutters, Dewey was the primary investigator in the Clutter murder case and worked for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Themes and Motifs

The american dream.

The novel is Capote’s reflection upon the American Dream, as he portrays both the lives of those who epitomise it and those who are tragically out of its reach. Herb Clutter’s position as an upstanding American citizen with a prosperous farm elicits the reader’s interpretation of his character as the rags-to-riches ideal. In stark contrast with this, the rootless and criminal Dick Hancock and Perry Smith are presented as individuals for whom the Dream is perpetually unattainable. Their attempt to finally become ‘rich’ materialises through their attempt to rob the Clutters’ home, the failure of which ironically results in their brutal murders of the people who successfully represented the American Dream.

In accordance with the American Dream, In Cold Blood also explores the concept of what is considered ‘normal’ in America, and what can be revealed as the darker underbelly of its white picket fence ideal. Dick asserts throughout the novel that he is ‘normal’, but from an external, objective perspective, he is clearly far from such; he has distorted physical features and has committed a terrible, vicious murder. Capote also explores the idea of normal mental health, as Bonnie Clutter seems to have the perfect marriage and life with Herb, and yet suffers from extreme bouts of ‘nervousness’ and chronic depression which result in her hospitalisation.

What is evil is primarily explored through the character of Perry, who has conflicting ideals about what can be considered truly ‘evil’. The more feminine and gentler of the two murderers, Perry possesses conflicting morals, as despite being a ruthless murderer, he does feel remorse and is affected by what he has done. He even thinks to himself that Herb Clutter is a ‘very nice gentleman’ even in the midst of slitting his throat. Capote in the novel reveals that there are numerous facets to the meaning of true ‘evil’, and the blurred borders that exist between each of these.


Symbolising the idea of dominance and power, Dick and Perry, who have a complementary and polarised gender relationship, feed off each other in order to boost their own masculinity. Described as ‘aggressively heterosexual’, Dick is evidently the more stereotypically masculine counterpart, having had numerous relations with women. Perry, on the other hand, is more feminine and submissive, as Dick often calls him names such as ‘sugar’ and ‘honey’. Both men in the novel utilise the other in order to make themselves feel more masculine in their highly restrictive and conservative society — while Dick emphasises Perry’s feminine qualities, Perry admires Dick and craves his words of affirmation that he, too, is masculine.

Essay Writing for In Cold Blood

Below are some possible prompts for In Cold Blood , and possible ideas to begin writing an essay.

Theme-based Essay Prompt

"I think it is a hell of a thing that a life has to be taken in this manner. I say this especially because there's a great deal I could have offered society. I certainly think capital punishment is legally and morally wrong.”
Is In Cold Blood merely a novelistic argument against the death penalty? Discuss.

To learn more about LSG’s Five Types of essay prompts, I’d highly recommend checking out this blog post . It’s a super unique strategy developed by the founder of LSG, Lisa Tran. The Five Types method, outlined in the top-rated How To Write A Killer Text Response eBook , takes the stress of students and gives them easy to follow rules and tips so that they know how to approach every essay topic, every time.

• The best way to approach any essay prompt is to recognise the limiting and/or important words of the essay question. In this thematic prompt these words are: ‘legally and morally’, and ‘merely’.

• Secondly, for prompts which incorporate a quote, it is helpful to understand the context of the quote. In this case, the quote was said by Perry as his last words before his execution by hanging. Consider the importance of this; these words are especially more meaningful as they symbolise the last direct influence he leaves upon society. They are remorseful words of a murderer reproaching the justice system, which begs the question - does Capote position the reader to agree with the murderer’s view?

• Planning this essay can be structured along three arguments...

1. Capote argues against capital punishment through eliciting pathos for the murderers and portraying them as more than mere monsters.

• Evidence for this argument could be based mostly on the descriptive elements of Capote’s writing, or his emotional attachment to the murderers, particularly Perry.

• Capote paints Perry particularly sympathetically, highlighting his sensitivity as well as his broken and abusive childhood. Quotations from the novel make it clear that his character is romanticised to an extent, such as “It was a changeling's face, and mirror-guided experiments had taught him how to ring the changes, how to look now ominous, now impish, now soulful; a tilt of the head, a twist of the lips, and the corrupt gypsy became the gentle romantic.”

2. In Cold Blood supports the anti-death penalty argument through its structure and organisation.

• The epigraph of the novel is a verse of the poem, ‘Ballade des pendus’ by Francois Villon, that he composed whilst on death row in 1463. Villon’s criminal circumstances were strikingly similar with Dick and Perry’s, as he murdered a priest and stole from his strongbox before being arrested and sentenced to death. Despite this, Villon was ultimately charged with a 10 year banishment from Paris, whereas the Clutter family murderers are hanged - a strikingly different outcome. Thus, Capote employs this poetic epigraph to strengthen his argument against the unjust executions of Perry and Dick.

• In addition to this, the structure of the novel is also used to argue against capital punishment. Although Part One focuses on the lives of both the Clutter family members and Dick and Perry preceding the murder, Part Two skips over the actual murders themselves and recounts the aftermath of its events. This allows Capote to further develop Dick and Perry into real, complex people rather than merely cold blooded murderers; people who do not deserve such a cruel fate.  

3. However, Capote does ostensibly condemn the cruelty of the murders and presents the opposing argument that capital punishment is not, in fact, ‘legally and morally wrong’.

• The brutality of the Clutter murders are emphasised through the novel, as Larry Hendricks, who discovers the bodies along with the police, provides the gruesome details of the bodies - ‘each tied up and shot in the head, one with a slit throat’.

• As Perry later admits to the murder in his extended confession, Dewey highlights the fact that the Clutters ‘had suffered’ due to the ‘prolonged terror' inflicted by the murderers, and orders them, as such, to be ‘hanged back to back’.

• The argument for capital punishment in In Cold Blood is also supported by religious beliefs. As a small and predominantly Christian town, Kansas and its residents can be perceived interpreting the words of the Bible literally; at the end Dick and Perry’s trial, the prosecuting attorney Logan Green reads an excerpt from Genesis in the Holy Bible: ‘Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.’ Rejecting the notion that Christianity preaches forgiveness, Green strives to punish the killers for failing to abide by the laws and prophecies of the Old Testament.

Character essay prompt

Perry Smith, despite Capote’s authorial sympathy towards him, is really a cold and merciless monster. Discuss.

When approaching character-based prompts, you must depart slightly from examining the holistic messages of the author, as you would in a theme-based prompt, but rather analyse how the specific character develops this authorial message. The above essay question could be brainstormed in the following way:

1. Capote’s description of Perry shows that he is far from a ‘monster’, but a human being of great sensitivity and emotion.

• During his confession of the Clutter murders, Perry’s comment, ‘There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that,’ shows that he, to some extent, understands the gravity of his actions and regrets them.

• Perry is also described by his sister as ‘gentle’, and someone who ‘used to cry because he thought the sunset was so beautiful’. Likewise, even in moments of cruelty, he often shows mercy and a wide moral compass, even stopping Dick from raping Nancy Clutter during their murder spree.

2. Perry is also depicted as someone ‘weakened’ by the tragic events of his past and his own insecurities, rather than an inherently ‘cold and merciless’ person.

• Capote often links Perry’s violent tendencies with his childhood, described as ‘no bed of roses but pitiful, an ugly and lonely progress toward one mirage and then another’, as he was raised ‘with no rule or discipline, or anyone to show [him] right from wrong’.

• In addition to this, Perry can be perceived to be the more insecure and submissive of the two killers, as while Dick often calls him stereotypically feminine names such as ‘sugar’ and honey’, Perry admires his ‘aggressive’ masculinity and craves his words of affirmation in order to feel as masculine and strong as his counterpart.

3. Despite this, Capote does not entirely erase the murderous aspects of Perry’s character.

• Due to the prompt and seemingly nonchalant way in which he kills the clutters, Dick becomes convinced that Perry is that rarity of a person,"a natural killer.”

• Thus, Capote, despite his empathetic portrayal of Perry, never allows the reader to forget the  extent of his criminality, and how easily he was able to fire those ‘four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives.’

Last updated 20/10/19

Planning is an essential part of any successful text response essay. It helps you ensure that you’re answering the prompt, utilising enough quotes and writing the most unique and perceptive analysis possible! The hard part of this is that you only have about FIVE MINUTES to plan each essay in the Year 12 English exam… (more info on the best way to tackle that challenge in this video !)

So, I developed the FIVE TYPES of essay prompts to help students streamline their planning process and maximise every minute of their SACs and exams.

By identifying the type of prompt you’re being challenged with immediately, a number of parameters or guidelines are already set in place. For a specific type of prompt, you have specific criteria to meet – for example, in a metalanguage-based prompt , you immediately know that any evidence you brainstorm in your planning stage should be based around the literary techniques used in your given text.

If you’d like the full picture on our best FREE advice on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response here .

1. Theme-Based Prompt

‘Ambition in the play Macbeth leads to success.’ Discuss. ( Macbeth )

When you’re presented with a theme-based prompt, you can automatically shift your brainstorming and planning towards the themes mentioned in the prompt along with any others that you can link to the core theme in some way.

In regard to this Macbeth prompt, for example, you could explore the different ways the theme of ambition is presented in the text. Additionally, the themes of guilt and power are intimately related to ambition in the text, so you can use those other ideas to aid your brainstorming and get you a step ahead of the rest of the state come exam day.

2. Character-Based Prompt

‘Frankenstein’s hubris is what punishes him.’ Discuss. ( Frankenstein )

These prompts are pretty easy to spot – if you see a character’s name in the prompt, there you have it; you have a character-based prompt on your hands.

Once you know this, you can assume that each example you brainstorm has to be relevant to the specific character named in the prompt in some way. Also, you can explore how the actions of characters don’t occur in isolation – they’re almost always interrelated. Remember, however, that the actions of characters are always connected to the themes and ideas the author is trying to convey.

This type of prompt also grants you some freedoms that other types don’t give. For example, unlike a Theme-based prompt, a character-based prompt means that it’s perfectly fine to write about characters in the topic sentences of your body paragraphs.

3. How-Based Prompt

‘How does Grenville showcase Rooke’s inner conflict in The Lieutenant ?’ ( The Lieutenant )

Unlike other prompts, the ‘How’ positions you to focus more on the author’s writing intentions. This can be achieved by discussing metalanguage – language that describes language (read my blog post about it here ). These prompts tell you immediately that you need to be thinking about the literary techniques explored in the text and explain how they affect the narrative.

Rather than using specific techniques to frame your specific arguments, it’s best to use them as evidence to support arguments that attack the main themes/ideas mentioned in the prompt.

4. Metalanguage or Film-Technique-Based Prompt

‘Hitchcock’s use of film techniques offers an unnerving viewing experience’. Discuss. ( Rear Window )

This type of prompt is very similar to How-based prompts, specifically in the fact that the discussion of literary techniques is essential.

For this type of prompt specifically, however, the actual techniques used can form more of a basis for your arguments, unlike in How-based prompts .

5. Quote-Based Prompt

“Out, damned spot!” How does Shakespeare explore the burden of a guilty conscience in Macbeth ? ( Macbeth )

Countless students ask me every year, “What do I do when there’s a quote in the prompt?!” My reply to these questions is actually fairly straightforward!

There are two main things that you should do when presented with this type of prompt. Firstly, contextualise the quote in your essay and try to use it in your analysis in some way. Secondly, interpret the themes and issues addressed in the quote and implement these into your discussion. The best place to do both of these is in a body paragraph – it weaves in seamlessly and allows for a good amount of analysis, among other reasons!

When faced with unknown prompts in a SAC or your exam, it's reassuring to have a formulaic breakdown of the prompt so that your brain immediately starts categorising the prompt - which of the 5 types of prompts does this one in front of me fall into? To learn more about brainstorming, planning, essay structures for Text Response, read our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Hey there! Welcome to the subject of English Language, probably the most inconveniently placed exam there is in VCE, and one of your compulsory VCE subject 'top fours'. So if you're a science/maths-y sort of person, English language is probably your last exam (right after your good old methods + spesh + chemistry + physics + just kill me now exams), and if you're a humanity/language-y sort of person, English language is probably your first/one of your middle exams (legal studies + revs + global + language + why do I even bother exams). Feeling disadvantaged compared to the mainstream English students yet?!


I UNDERSTAND! So, in order to help you prepare for your exams and SWOTVAC, here's a blog post about how to plan your life and tips for you during the examination period!

SWOTVAC, what is it? In Australia, SWOTVAC stands for S tudy W ith o ut T eaching Vac ation. So yes, studying is involved. How do we plan for SWOTVAC? The common misconception between students is that VCE is just us chilling and relaxing throughout the year then CRAMMING a whole year's worth of study into the few weeks before your first exam. However tempting this is, PLEASE DO NOT try this. Not only will this end up with you being exhausted and reliant on coffee, it will also negatively affect your sleeping schedule. So, before SWOTVAC, keep a constant pace of studying throughout the year, whether it's 15 minutes after school, or an hour every day . Doing this will ensure that you are reviewing concepts you have gone through during class, reinforcing information you are not familiar with, or even seeing gaps in your knowledge, that you can ask your mates/teachers the next day.



Utilising your resources during SWOTVAC

You may not realise it, but you have an abundance of resources available to you for the preparation of your exams. For effective studying during SWOTVAC, you cannot rely on yourself. I'm sure that becoming a hermit at home in PJs all day attempting practice exams may sound super fun (??????), but your teachers and peers are crucial during this time. As most of us know, your study scores are dependent on how your cohort scores. And now that it's SWOTVAC, and SACs have finished, it's time to really start spending time studying with your study group you've neglected since week 2 term 1. Studying with a study group can allow each member to see how other members work and attempt exams, or even share examination techniques they have learnt from older students, friends, or tutors. Doing exams together, bringing out past SACs and marking them together, can also help everyone discuss potential ways to stop making mistakes. Explaining concepts to others is the best way to reinforce your own knowledge! Other than your in-school mates, you've also got your mates from other schools doing the same subjects as you. Asking to share SACs and school resources also allow you to be more exposed to different types of questions, and potentially what else could pop up in your exams. Exposure is key. Lastly, you've got your teachers and tutors. Your teachers will always be there to help you, whether it's an easy concept you can't seem to get, or you'd like extra work or work to be marked. Same goes for your tutors, we're all here to help you out, so never feel like you're doing this alone!


Planning your studies for SWOTVAC

  • Don't limit yourself to one subject a day - study several subjects a day
  • Do your exams with real paper, not online. This will improve your handwriting, as well as give you a feel of what the exam really is like. (Yes your hand will hurt like a bitch tho) This will also be particularly helpful as you won't be distracted by your laptop or phone if you aren't looking at exam questions on them.
  • Once you are tired of studying a subject, move on. Don't force yourself to study something once you are tired of it, it won't be efficient
  • ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED HELP - whether it’s an email, text or message to your friends/teachers/tutors
  • Decide which subjects will be in your top 4, and focus on them. However, don't neglect your other subjects either.
  • Do exams under timed conditions to give yourself a feel of what it's like
  • Have a plan for each day. Not a timetable per se, more of a checklist of what you should achieve by the end of that day. This is particularly helpful in that when you are stressed and feeling overwhelmed, just look at your to-do list and write out what you need to do.
  • Don't study continuously without breaks. Take walks, and eat! Your health matters more than a score!
  • Don't study for too long, you need sleep to reinforce what you've learnt during the day
  • If you procrastinate easily, turn your phone off, turn off your wifi, do what you have to do... BUT...
  • Don't forget to SOCIALISE and TAKE BREAKS!!

That's right, you need to plan rests and social days during SWOTVAC. Plan days where you go out and grab a bite with friends, go to the gym or the beach. You need to know your limits. Studying after you’re already tired is not going to get you anywhere, taking a walk to refresh your mind will help you focus. VCE is all about working hard and playing hard.

Remember to work hard and not procrastinate when you are working, but not talk about work whilst you are out having fun!

My final experience and final words of wisdom

Studying is important during SWOTVAC, but planning your study allows for efficiency! Last year in 2016, I did the subjects Specialist Maths, Chemistry, English Language, and Global politics, exams in that order. My exams were not very spaced out, with Spesh, Chem, and EngLang exams being pretty much days apart. So, unlike other students, I didn't get the luxury of studying between exams. This may be the case for many of us, so here's a tip for you: When walking into exams that are pretty much back-to-back, make sure you are already 99% ready for each exam. This applies especially for English, seeing as how it is a compulsory top 4. So, don't anticipate many studies the night after an exam, for an exam the day after. Exams are tiring! So, rest as much as you can after exams, and read about your next exam lightly the night before, sleep early, then read lightly about your next exam the day after.

Good luck for VCE and the future. Remember, you are more than your ATAR :)

The majority, yes the majority  of your peers this year will hire tutors for extra assistance in their studies. It's perfectly understandable since VCE is only getting more and more competitive, and students are looking for that edge that will set them apart from others! If you are a student who is currently looking for that  one  ideal tutor in whatever subject it may be, then this guide is for you. You might be in the same situation as I was a few years ago, someone who has gone through so many tutors that you can't even keep count. And why is that? Probably because you simply weren't satisfied with them. And you know what?

If you're not 100% happy with your tutor, then don't settle!

Let me tell you now, there is definitely that perfect tutor who is: knowledgeable, passionate, highly regarded, and someone who strives to help you succeed in VCE! Let's have a look at a few factors that you should take into consideration when looking for the best tutor for you:

1. Just because a tutor didn't get a study score of 50, don't overlook them.

A study score of 50 means that this person has fantastic English skills - we can't deny that. However, teaching a subject is very different to learning it. To be able to communicate well with a student, recognise their strengths and weaknesses, and cater tutoring sessions to suit you so that you achieve the most benefit is more importan t than simply being top of the class.

2. Tuition class structure. 

Next, you need to consider whether the tutor's teaching method matches well with your preferred way of learning. There are tuition schools which often follow a strict syllabus structure week by week. Other tutors are more flexible with a 'we-will-focus-on-what-you'd-like-to-focus-on' approach. Which one do you prefer?

3. Assistance inside and outside of classes.

To put it plainly, tutoring is a highly paid job, which means that some people are only in it for the money. You want to find a tutor who will be more than happy to go that extra mile to ensure that you can benefit as much as possible from their tutoring. Are they willing to help you outside of class sessions through email or text messages? Are they happy to organise extra tutoring sessions if you need? Will they do extra work on the side so they can be adequately prepared for your next session? This year I taught an EAL student who particularly struggled with certain grammar and sentence structures. Since I had less experience in teaching EAL, I spent my own private time deciphering out the best way to teach him, and how he could overcome these challenges. Try to find a tutor who isn't just in the business for the money, but puts  you , the student as their first priority.

4. Cost $$$.

Let's be honest. How much you will pay a tutor is also a major consideration. Generally, the higher the price, the more credentials that tutor has. Many VCE teachers are going for $100+ an hour, and that value is increasing! Also find out, what else apart from tutoring will you get? Will you be offered extra resources (study guides, A+ essays and more), can you contact your tutor outside of tutoring hours, will you receive reports on your progress? It's not enough now to simply have one hour of tutoring each week, you should be looking for tutors who will go that extra mile for you.

5. 'Freshness'. 

'Freshness' is basically my way of asking, how up-to-date is the tutor with the current syllabus? Some tutors only teach what they studied in school, continue to use the same resources and provide the same advice year after year. It's a good idea to seek a tutor who actively aims to upgrade their knowledge and resources each year. This shows how staying  relevant  is important to them, and demonstrates that their ability to cater to their students' needs is a priority. However, it is important to keep in mind that just because a tutor is 10 years out of school, doesn't mean that they're not up-to-date. This goes both ways - a tutor who is 2 years out of school may seem current because they've only just graduated, yet if they haven't spent the time to learn the new syllabus changes, then that speaks for itself!

6. Personality.

Tutors with personality are always a big bonus. Tutor personality plays a major role in how effectively they communicate with you, as the student. Have you noticed how some of your favourite teachers are probably your favourite because of their great personality and how they use that to teach? By making class fun, it helps to stimulate your interest and encourages your curiosity to learn. So you can see how a tutor who is enthusiastic and passionate in their teaching will make you want to be a better student too!

7. Plagiarism.

Under no circumstances should you hire a tutor to do your homework for you! Nor should that tutor offer to write you an essay in return for compensation. In Year 11 Literature, my tutor told me she would write an essay for me, which I understood as writing an essay then showing it to me the week after. What I didn't realise was that the next week, she presented me with the essay, and told me I had to pay for it. Because I was quite shy, I didn't say anything and took her essay. But I didn't feel right using her work and after that, I stopped attending her sessions because I felt too uncomfortable. A good tutor is well aware of their part in helping you with your studies. They know that the best way for you to improve is to support you, not encourage you to copy their work. Remember that in the end, when you're sitting in that SAC or exam hall, you only have yourself to rely on. In the end, I did show my Literature teacher both copies, my own and my tutor's (I did explain to her that the second essay was not my own), and asked her if she could grade both. How ironic, because my essay had actually scored a higher mark than my tutors!

8. Credentials.

The best form of credentials for any tutor is word-of-mouth. Hearing that a tutor is good at what they do from others is always a sure sign that you're choosing somebody right. If you are recommended somebody, then they're probably worth looking into. If you are feeling out of the loop, start asking family and friends if they know anybody they could recommend you. Another form of credentials is a tutor's success stories. As a tutor, I often boast my own teaching successes rather than my own study score. I achieved 45 in my English studies and while tutoring over the past 6 years, I've actually facilitated several students to gain higher marks than myself! Now that I'm proud of!

Most importantly, don't settle. If there's something you're unhappy about your tutor, firstly speak to your tutor about it. Your tutor is there to help you and if they're not interested in adapting to how you'd like to learn, then perhaps they're not the tutor for you. There are so many different tutors out there, with so many different approaches to tutoring that you're bound to find the right person!

At Lisa's Study Guides, we take pride in our specialised VCE English (EAL, Literature, and English Language) tutoring service. We have a small, select team of tutors who have achieved study scores of 45 and above (the top 2% of their year level). All tutors have been especially selected because of their fantastic personality and ability to hone in on students' strengths and weaknesses, and cater tutoring sessions to optimise student results. We also ensure that we are up-to-date with any study design changes, so that we can stay on top of the VCE game. If you're interested in finding out more, check out our private tutoring page here !

If you are a VCE student, chances are you’ve heard phrases like “Too bad English can’t be bottom two” or “It’s just English, you can just bullshit it” all too often. These phrases, though seemingly innocuous, are like an undetectable poison to the hopeful VCE high achiever. The more you hear them, the more likely you are to believe them.  And before you know it results come out, and you’re scratching your head, wondering where it all went wrong.  

That’s where I can help.

There are two main misconceptions about English that you must never be tempted into believing.

  • “English is easy, you don’t need to spend that much time on it!”.  This mentality stems from the fact that English is incredibly subjective, and as such students think that the subject requires no concrete studying to triumph in.
  • “Studying gets you nowhere in English, some people are good at English and some aren’t”.  Once again, the lack of structure in VCE English causes students to be frustrated that their (often ineffective) attempts at studying are not met with the A+ they were hoping for. In this predicament, they are led to believe that English ability is innate, and cannot be improved with study!

It’s an easy trap to fall into; how can you possibly study for a subject if you don’t know what to study? Though be warned, subscribing to misguided and complacent ways of thinking could seriously limit your potential in English.

English can definitely be studied for. In fact, studying for English is necessary to thrive in the subject. What many students fail to recognise is that studying for VCE English is a vastly different experience to studying for any other subjects. With a subject like Chemistry, it is easy to split up a large topic into its constituent sub-topics and study them all in one sitting. Studying for English is different in every way. Instead of making concepts smaller while studying, I’ve found that it is advantageous to club smaller subtopics into larger concepts and conduct your study thematically. For example, in Language Analysis it is always more powerful to analyse persuasive techniques in relation to the writer’s larger agenda, than analysing them alone.

Again, in stark contrast to other subjects where one topic can be studied for over a set period of time (e.g. A day, week etc.). I’ve come to learn that VCE English study must become a part of your everyday life. Essential VCE English study tactics such as reading the newspaper daily and analysing its articles, can become a part of your life, as I made it a part of mine.  In this way, not only does studying for English become possible, it becomes accessible and easy to do too. Weaving English study into your everyday life will also cause you to feel accomplished and satisfied. These feelings, unfortunately, are rarely felt in a hectic, fast paced VCE environment and therefore act as an incentive to maintain VCE English study throughout the year.

Failing to adapt your study patterns (or failing to study at all for that matter) leads to a negative spiral of disillusionment and disappointment, causing the once enthusiastic English student to disregard the subject completely. Since the VCE system ensures that a high English score directly correlates to a high ATAR, abandoning English can prove fatal. These are just some of the many lessons I’ve learnt as both a VCE English student and tutor.

Fact: The VCE is a competition.

Fact: There are so many brilliant minds out there with vocabularies that can   wow   the pants off examiners in seconds.

Fact: We have all felt intimidated at some stage of this race by these kids, but here’s the craziest fact of them all….

Fact: You can be one of them.

Do you really believe that the top VCE students, you know, those 99.95 geniuses out there, study religiously for 6-8 hours a day and feel totally motivated to work 24/7?

I used to think that these kiddos were on auto pilot - robots that never had difficulty remembering a quote, never struggled to find their next point in an analytical essay, could always find the energy to write another piece for their teacher to correct. It was as though these students weren’t real, but now that I have had a personal experience at tackling the VCE, I think that anyone can appear to be this ‘amazing’ in English, simply by following one piece of advice: changing your attitude towards studying.

There are no magic tricks, no gimmicks, and no simpler way to put this. If you want to see real results, you need a new perspective on not just English, but all subjects - start “wanting” to study. Today.

So how does this epic VCE competition - full of thousands of students - set apart the very top end students as opposed to the, well, only great students? I’m a firm believer in that your attitude towards your studies will always be indicative of how well you will perform in this race. So don’t start changing what, when or how much you study, make changes to how you study!

Easier said than done, right? Try me. Start by immersing yourself in English (or any subject for that matter) so that you can start to enjoy learning about it. For instance, go to a book club for context, debate the pros and cons of a character’s personality as if they are actually real, and watch the movie adaptation of the book you are studying etc.

Try to find as many avenues as possible that will allow you to enjoy writing an essay, even by taking baby steps. Why not start playing around with an imaginative story about your favourite TV show just to get the hang of creative writing before you hand in an imaginative essay tailored to your study requirements? Once you change that attitude from  “I ‘need’ to write this”  to  “I ‘want’ to and ‘would like to’ improve on this”  you will see an enormous shift in results, self-satisfaction and confidence! Don’t be daunted by a difficult topic in the text response section – view it as a way of “showing off” to the examiners; take your time planning about how much depth you can put into your response and make it a challenge to rise beyond expectations as opposed to meeting the bare minimum and providing a mediocre response.

So c’mon! Dive right into the deep end and throw yourself into your studies. You don’t need to take out a mortgage, nor a fancy exercise book with fluffy pink pens. You only need to pack your positive attitude.

So…you’ve just begun the school year and you’re feeling pretty excited about English. You’re determined to put aside all distractions this year and to only focus on studying, studying and studying. But…the minute you sit down at your desk, you find that your mind goes completely blank and that you are left only with one dreadful question: What now?

If this sounds all too familiar to you, you are definitely not alone. English can often make you feel like you don’t even know where to start. So, here is a quick guide that can help you to plan out your year, to break free from procrastination and to find some sparks of motivation when you feel like there is simply no road ahead.

‍ Step 1: Read Your Text !

This may seem like the most obvious step, but it can make all the difference when done thoughtfully and thoroughly. One thing that VCAA English examiners always look for when reading text responses is in-depth knowledge and understanding of the text, and the best way to develop and gain this knowledge is to read, read, and read again! Try to treat your text like a blank map, full of unexplored territories and winding roads that are there for you to uncover each time you read the text.

When you read your text for the first time, look out for the major roads and landmarks; the setting and premise, the plot, the characters, the broad ideas, the authorial voice and style etc. Once you’ve gotten a good grasp of the major elements of your text, read it again, and focus on adding more detail to your map; fleshing out characters, understanding their motives, understanding the author’s purpose, and underlining key quotations and particular passages that encompass a broader idea. If you’re a forgetful person like me, you might find it helpful to note down some key observations as you go and to create a summary you can always refer back to throughout the year.

Step 2: Read Around Your Text  

While reading and rereading your text will definitely help you to know your text in and out, in order to fully tick the box of knowledge and understanding, it is also important to read around the text; to understand the context of when and why the text was written, for whom it was written, and the impact the text has had on both its original audience and its audience today. Especially for texts that are rooted in history, like The Women of Troy or Rear Window , understanding context and background information is essential in understanding the text itself. After all, Rear Window just wouldn’t be Rear Window if it weren’t for the McCarthyistic attitudes that were so prevalent at the time, and The Women of Troy would have been a far more different play had it not been written during wartime. Each text is a product of both its creator and its time, so make the effort to research the writer, playwright or filmmaker , and the historical, cultural, social and political context of your text.

When doing your research, it can be helpful to use a set of questions like the one below as a guideline, to ensure that the information you’re finding is always relevant.

  • Who is the writer/playwright/filmmaker?  
  • Who is the audience?
  • When/where was your text written?
  • When/where is your text set?
  • Why was your text written?
  • What is the style/genre of your text?

Step 3: Study Your Text

Here’s where it gets a bit more difficult. Now that you’ve drawn out your map, and dotted it with various landmarks, rivers and roads, it is time to actually use your map to go somewhere; to make use of all the knowledge and background information you have gathered so that you can begin to analyse and dissect your text in greater detail. Studying a subject with as large of a cohort as VCE English can oftentimes mean that ideas are recycled and exams are repetitive, so in order to distinguish yourself from the pack, try to look for ways to craft your own original path ; a view of the text that is distinctly your own, instead of following others. The best way to do this is to do a bit of thinking at home; to create your own original set of notes and observations and to spend time analysing each section of your text in greater detail than you may have done in class.

Constructing a notes table like the one below can help you greatly in sorting and fleshing out your ideas, and, when done consistently throughout the year, can save a lot of time and effort when it comes to studying for the exam!

The Women of Troy Notes Table:

how to embed quotes into an essay

Step 4: Target Your Study to Your SAC’ve made it all the way to your SAC. You may be feeling nervous at this point, even a little burnt out, but there is no need to worry. Studying for your SAC simply requires a bit of adjusting to your normal studying routine; changing it up so that instead of simply brainstorming ideas, you’re actually using these ideas in topic sentences, and instead of collating a list of quotes, you’re embedding these quotes into a practice paragraph. These are all examples of targeted study: taking all the information you’ve gathered on your text, all the notes you’ve made, and all the work you’ve done in class, and putting it into practice. 

Targeted study could be done in the form of an essay plan, or unpacking an essay question  

As an example, I've unpacked an essay prompt below using LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response .

Within the THINK strategy, we have 3 steps, or ABC. These ABC components are:

Step 1: A nalyse Step 2: B rainstorm Step 3: C reate a Plan

The Prompt:

‘I ask you not to hate me. With the greatest reluctance / I must tell you the news…’ Euripides softens the brutality of the Greeks’ behaviour through his characterisation of Talthybius.

Step 1: Analyse 

  • This is an example of a quote-based prompt ( learn about the 5 different prompt types here )
  • Bold keywords from the prompt: ‘I ask you not to hate me . With the greatest reluctance / I must tell you the news…’ Euripides softens the brutality of the Greeks’ behaviour through his characterisation of Talthybius.
  • ‍ To what extent do you agree? This part is asking me to adopt a specific viewpoint, whether you agree, disagree or are somewhere in between. 

Step 2: Brainstorm 

Unpack the keywords in the topic: 

  • 'not to hate me' , 'greatest reluctance' – Talthybius’ desire to be liked, his understanding of the actions of Greeks
  • Softens the brutality – Talthybius serves as the opposing force to the Greeks’ brutal behaviour, makes the Greeks more sympathetic
  • Characterisation – Talthybius’ personality, behaviour, actions, language

Step 3: Create a Plan 

Contention: While Talthybius is used by Euripides to evoke some sympathy for the Greeks, ultimately, he serves to exacerbate the cruelty of the Greeks’ actions and the devastating consequences of their fall from a civilised, sacred people to a bestial, impulse-driven group of men.

Paragraph 1: Certainly, amongst his peers which are excoriated by Euripides for their cruel, unfeeling behaviour, Talthybius is depicted to be the most humane of the Greeks due to his conflicted nature, evoking sympathy amongst the audience, and reinstating some humanity to the Greeks’ otherwise sullied reputation.

Targeted study could also be done in the form of unpacking quotes, and analysing their significance

‍ We can also use the ABC steps here. For example:

  'Like the mother bird to her plundered nest, my song has become a scream'

Step 1: Analyse

Demonstrates the dehumanisation of the Trojan women, and the heinous, beastly actions of the Greek men, who, like their 'war machine' description, have subverted all that is natural to become violent, and all that is beautiful to become grotesque 

Step 2: Brainstorm

  • 'Mother bird' - animal imagery, maternalistic
  • 'My song has become a scream' - demonstrates devastation, contrast between melody to dissonance 

Embed the quote into a sentence, e.g.:

Euripides’ description of Hecuba as a 'mother bird' at her 'plundered nest' demonstrates the innately maternal nature of her character through animal imagery, while also emphasising the vulnerability of the Trojan women, who have been reduced to defenceless prey as a result of the Greeks’ predatory and beastly behaviour. 

Planning essays and breaking down prompts/quotes are extremely time-efficient ways to approach your texts and SACs. Rather than slaving away for hours and hours writing full essays, these simpler forms of targeted study can and will save you the burnout and will get you feeling confident faster.

Only move on to writing a full practice essay or some practice paragraphs once you feel you have a good in-depth understanding of how to plan an essay and once you have already naturally memorised some important quotes that you can use in your essay ( learn how to embed your quotes like a boss here ). Remember, quality over quantity, so spend your time before your SAC revising thoughtfully and carefully, targeting your revision, and taking things slowly, rather than robotically churning out essay after essay.

Step 5: Embrace the Exam!

The end of every VCE English journey is the highly anticipated, dreaded and feared English exam. Now, while you may be reading those words with a horror movie soundtrack playing in your mind, the English exam, despite being a gruelling 3 hours of essay-writing, really isn’t as horrific as it sounds. Preparing for it is also much less intense than you might think it to be, because essentially, from the very first time you read your text, you will have already begun preparing for the exam. All that is left to do before the English exam is to polish up on some of your weaknesses identified in your SACs, to look over all the notes and information you have gathered throughout the year, to freshen up on essay writing and essay planning , and to do a couple of practices, so that you can feel as ready as you can for the real thing.

In particular, I found that in the leadup to my English exam, studying with my friends and peers was not only a welcome stress reliever, but a really good way to expand my own knowledge by helping others and being helped myself. Having your peers review your essays and helping to give feedback on theirs is always an excellent way to improve your own essay-writing skills, and, a great way to provide good constructive criticism is to follow the GIQ rule (I’m not sure if this is a real rule…but it works!)

  • What was GOOD about the piece? e.g. Your sentences flow really well, and you embed quotes into sentences phenomenally!
  • ‍ What could be IMPROVED? e.g. Perhaps adding a couple of sentences elaborating on this idea could make your essay even better!
  • ‍ What QUESTIONS do you have about the piece? e.g. I don’t really understand this sentence, what were you trying to say here?

Hopefully, these tips will be able to help you out throughout the year in staying motivated and feeling okay about English! Remember, this is just here as a guide to help you, and not a strict regimen to follow, because everyone studies differently, and has different goals in English.

However, now that you have a clearer pathway and plan for learning your texts in-depth, what’s next? Well, it’s pretty important that you learn about the different areas of study so that you understand how you’ll actually apply all of your new-found text knowledge to each of your SACs and the exam. Our Ultimate Guide to Text Response and Ultimate Guide to Comparative give you a full rundown of what is required in these two areas of study (where you will have to learn specific texts) so I would highly recommend having a read! 

Get exclusive weekly advice from Lisa, only available via email.

Power-up your learning with free essay topics, downloadable word banks, and updates on the latest VCE strategies.

latest articles

Check out our latest thought leadership on enterprise innovation., vce creative writing: how to structure your story.

how to embed quotes into an essay

VCE English Unit 3, Area of Study 2: Creating Texts - What Is It?

how to embed quotes into an essay

Breaking Down Themes & Key Quotes in The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie

how to embed quotes into an essay

Keep in touch

Have questions? Get in touch with us here - we usually reply in 24 business hours.

Unfortunately, we won't be able to answer any emails here requesting personal help with your study or homework here!

how to embed quotes into an essay

Copyright © Lisa's Study Guides. All Rights Reserved. The VCAA does not endorse and is not affiliated with Lisa's Study Guides or The VCAA provides the only official, up to date versions of VCAA publications and information about courses including the VCE. VCE® is a registered trademark of the VCAA.

03 9028 5603 Call us: Monday to Friday between 3pm - 6pm or leave us a message and we'll call you back! Address: Level 2 Little Collins St Melbourne 3000 VIC

Writing Center

  • Academic Essays
  • Approaching Writing
  • Sentence-level Writing
  • Write for Student-Run Media
  • Writing in the Core
  • Access Smartthinking
  • TutorTrac Appointments
  • SMART Space

Integrating Quotations in MLA Style

Twitter Icon

Integrating Quotations (MLA)

A reader may be able to make sense of a quotation dropped into a piece of writing, but introducing or integrating quotations into the flow of your sentence is the way to use them most effectively—to be sure that your reader knows what you mean. You have three options: 

  • Introduce the quotation with a statement that puts it in context. A colon follows a formal statement or independent clause.
  • Lynn Quitman Troyka warns us of the particular challenges of using quotations in research papers: “The greatest risk you take when you use quotations is that you will end up with choppy, incoherent sentences” (184). 
  • Use a signal phrase followed by a comma or a signal verb followed by that to announce a quotation.
  • According to Lynn Quitman Troyka, “. . ..”
  • The narrator suggests that “. . ..”
  • As Jake Barnes says, “. . . . . ..”
  • Frye rejects this notion when he argues, “. . ..”
  • Integrate the quotation fully into your sentence. The quotation and your words must add up to a complete sentence.
  • We know the boy has learned a painful lesson when he says that his eyes “burned with anguish and anger” (Joyce 481). 
  • Leaders are inspirational; they are concerned with “providing meaning or purpose in work for employees and creating meaning in the product for customers” (Ivancevich, Lorenzi, and Skinner 341).  
  • Researchers found that firms with a strong corporate culture “based on a foundation of shared values” outperformed the other firms by a large margin (Quigley 42).

Quotations within Quotations:

Use single quotation marks to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

  • Miller states, “Religions are examples of ‘noble lies’ aimed at uplifting human stature” (18).

Adding Material within Quotations:

Use square brackets to enclose material that you add to or change within a quotation to allow it to fit grammatically into a sentence. 

  • Balko (2015) argues, “If they [policymakers] want to fight obesity, they’ll halt the creeping 

socialization of medicine” (p. 142).

  • “Today, the [saturated fat] warnings remain a cornerstone of the government’s dietary guidelines,” O’Connor (2016) states, “though in recent years the American Heart Association has also begun to warn that too much added sugar may increase cardiovascular disease risk” (p.92). 

Block Quotations:

Indent longer quotations (more than four lines) ten spaces from the margin. Notice that quotation marks are not used to enclose material that is set off from the text and that the parenthetical reference is placed after the punctuation following the quotation. 

A socially responsible vision can make an organization more attractive to customers, potential employees, and investors.  As consultant Robert Rosen puts it,  

The best companies are values-based and performance-driven.  Their community involvement supports the mission of the business.  Modern employees want to work for companies who make a difference, their customers want to do business with them because they have solid reputations as good corporate citizens, and shareholders enjoy the value such companies represent over the long term. (9)

Shortening Quotations:

Use an ellipsis of three dots to shorten longer quotations by removing non-essential words and ideas from the middle of the quote.  The quotation must fit grammatically into the sentence even with the ellipsis.   It must also retain enough of the quotation so that it still makes sense in your essay and you do not distort its meaning.   You do not need to provide ellipses at the beginning or the end of the quoted material. 

Foer states, “My grandmother survived World War II barefoot, scavenging Eastern Europe for other people’s inedibles . . . So she never cared if I colored outside the lines, as long as I cut coupons along the dashes” (159). 

Complete quote: “My grandmother survived World War II barefoot, scavenging Eastern Europe for other people’s inedibles: rotting potatoes, discarded scraps of meat, skins and the bits that clung to bones and pits. So she never cared if I colored outside the lines, as long as I cut coupons along the dashes.” 

Quick tip about citing sources in MLA style

What’s a thesis, sample mla essays.

  • Student Life
  • Career Success
  • Champlain College Online
  • About Champlain College
  • Centers of Experience
  • Media Inquiries
  • Contact Champlain
  • Maps & Directions
  • Consumer Information

Quoting and integrating sources into your paper

In any study of a subject, people engage in a “conversation” of sorts, where they read or listen to others’ ideas, consider them with their own viewpoints, and then develop their own stance. It is important in this “conversation” to acknowledge when we use someone else’s words or ideas. If we didn’t come up with it ourselves, we need to tell our readers who did come up with it.

It is important to draw on the work of experts to formulate your own ideas. Quoting and paraphrasing the work of authors engaged in writing about your topic adds expert support to your argument and thesis statement. You are contributing to a scholarly conversation with scholars who are experts on your topic with your writing. This is the difference between a scholarly research paper and any other paper: you must include your own voice in your analysis and ideas alongside scholars or experts.

All your sources must relate to your thesis, or central argument, whether they are in agreement or not. It is a good idea to address all sides of the argument or thesis to make your stance stronger. There are two main ways to incorporate sources into your research paper.

Quoting is when you use the exact words from a source. You will need to put quotation marks around the words that are not your own and cite where they came from. For example:

“It wasn’t really a tune, but from the first note the beast’s eyes began to droop . . . Slowly the dog’s growls ceased – it tottered on its paws and fell to its knees, then it slumped to the ground, fast asleep” (Rowling 275).

Follow these guidelines when opting to cite a passage:

  • Choose to quote passages that seem especially well phrased or are unique to the author or subject matter.
  • Be selective in your quotations. Avoid over-quoting. You also don’t have to quote an entire passage. Use ellipses (. . .) to indicate omitted words. Check with your professor for their ideal length of quotations – some professors place word limits on how much of a sentence or paragraph you should quote.
  • Before or after quoting a passage, include an explanation in which you interpret the significance of the quote for the reader. Avoid “hanging quotes” that have no context or introduction. It is better to err on the side of your reader not understanding your point until you spell it out for them, rather than assume readers will follow your thought process exactly.
  • If you are having trouble paraphrasing (putting something into your own words), that may be a sign that you should quote it.
  • Shorter quotes are generally incorporated into the flow of a sentence while longer quotes may be set off in “blocks.” Check your citation handbook for quoting guidelines.

Paraphrasing is when you state the ideas from another source in your own words . Even when you use your own words, if the ideas or facts came from another source, you need to cite where they came from. Quotation marks are not used. For example:

With the simple music of the flute, Harry lulled the dog to sleep (Rowling 275).

Follow these guidelines when opting to paraphrase a passage:

  • Don’t take a passage and change a word here or there. You must write out the idea in your own words. Simply changing a few words from the original source or restating the information exactly using different words is considered plagiarism .
  • Read the passage, reflect upon it, and restate it in a way that is meaningful to you within the context of your paper . You are using this to back up a point you are making, so your paraphrased content should be tailored to that point specifically.
  • After reading the passage that you want to paraphrase, look away from it, and imagine explaining the main point to another person.
  • After paraphrasing the passage, go back and compare it to the original. Are there any phrases that have come directly from the original source? If so, you should rephrase it or put the original in quotation marks. If you cannot state an idea in your own words, you should use the direct quotation.

A summary is similar to paraphrasing, but used in cases where you are trying to give an overview of many ideas. As in paraphrasing, quotation marks are not used, but a citation is still necessary. For example:

Through a combination of skill and their invisibility cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione slipped through Hogwarts to the dog’s room and down through the trapdoor within (Rowling 271-77).

Important guidelines

When integrating a source into your paper, remember to use these three important components:

  • Introductory phrase to the source material : mention the author, date, or any other relevant information when introducing a quote or paraphrase.
  • Source material : a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary with proper citation.
  • Analysis of source material : your response, interpretations, or arguments regarding the source material should introduce or follow it. When incorporating source material into your paper, relate your source and analysis back to your original thesis.

Ideally, papers will contain a good balance of direct quotations, paraphrasing and your own thoughts. Too much reliance on quotations and paraphrasing can make it seem like you are only using the work of others and have no original thoughts on the topic.

Always properly cite an author’s original idea, whether you have directly quoted or paraphrased it. If you have questions about how to cite properly in your chosen citation style, browse these citation guides . You can also review our guide to understanding plagiarism .

University Writing Center

The University of Nevada, Reno Writing Center provides helpful guidance on quoting and paraphrasing and explains how to make sure your paraphrasing does not veer into plagiarism. If you have any questions about quoting or paraphrasing, or need help at any point in the writing process, schedule an appointment with the Writing Center.

Works Cited

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  A.A. Levine Books, 1998.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

Used effectively, quotations can provide important pieces of evidence and lend fresh voices and perspectives to your narrative. Used ineffectively, however, quotations can clutter your text and interrupt the flow of your argument. This handout will help you decide when and how to quote like a pro.

When should I quote?

Use quotations at strategically selected moments. You have probably been told by teachers to provide as much evidence as possible in support of your thesis. But packing your paper with quotations will not necessarily strengthen your argument. The majority of your paper should still be your original ideas in your own words (after all, it’s your paper). And quotations are only one type of evidence: well-balanced papers may also make use of paraphrases, data, and statistics. The types of evidence you use will depend in part on the conventions of the discipline or audience for which you are writing. For example, papers analyzing literature may rely heavily on direct quotations of the text, while papers in the social sciences may have more paraphrasing, data, and statistics than quotations.

Discussing specific arguments or ideas

Sometimes, in order to have a clear, accurate discussion of the ideas of others, you need to quote those ideas word for word. Suppose you want to challenge the following statement made by John Doe, a well-known historian:

“At the beginning of World War Two, almost all Americans assumed the war would end quickly.”

If it is especially important that you formulate a counterargument to this claim, then you might wish to quote the part of the statement that you find questionable and establish a dialogue between yourself and John Doe:

Historian John Doe has argued that in 1941 “almost all Americans assumed the war would end quickly” (Doe 223). Yet during the first six months of U.S. involvement, the wives and mothers of soldiers often noted in their diaries their fear that the war would drag on for years.

Giving added emphasis to a particularly authoritative source on your topic.

There will be times when you want to highlight the words of a particularly important and authoritative source on your topic. For example, suppose you were writing an essay about the differences between the lives of male and female slaves in the U.S. South. One of your most provocative sources is a narrative written by a former slave, Harriet Jacobs. It would then be appropriate to quote some of Jacobs’s words:

Harriet Jacobs, a former slave from North Carolina, published an autobiographical slave narrative in 1861. She exposed the hardships of both male and female slaves but ultimately concluded that “slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women.”

In this particular example, Jacobs is providing a crucial first-hand perspective on slavery. Thus, her words deserve more exposure than a paraphrase could provide.

Jacobs is quoted in Harriet A. Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, ed. Jean Fagan Yellin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987).

Analyzing how others use language.

This scenario is probably most common in literature and linguistics courses, but you might also find yourself writing about the use of language in history and social science classes. If the use of language is your primary topic, then you will obviously need to quote users of that language.

Examples of topics that might require the frequent use of quotations include:

Southern colloquial expressions in William Faulkner’s Light in August

Ms. and the creation of a language of female empowerment

A comparison of three British poets and their use of rhyme

Spicing up your prose.

In order to lend variety to your prose, you may wish to quote a source with particularly vivid language. All quotations, however, must closely relate to your topic and arguments. Do not insert a quotation solely for its literary merits.

One example of a quotation that adds flair:

President Calvin Coolidge’s tendency to fall asleep became legendary. As H. L. Mencken commented in the American Mercury in 1933, “Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored.”

How do I set up and follow up a quotation?

Once you’ve carefully selected the quotations that you want to use, your next job is to weave those quotations into your text. The words that precede and follow a quotation are just as important as the quotation itself. You can think of each quote as the filling in a sandwich: it may be tasty on its own, but it’s messy to eat without some bread on either side of it. Your words can serve as the “bread” that helps readers digest each quote easily. Below are four guidelines for setting up and following up quotations.

In illustrating these four steps, we’ll use as our example, Franklin Roosevelt’s famous quotation, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

1. Provide context for each quotation.

Do not rely on quotations to tell your story for you. It is your responsibility to provide your reader with context for the quotation. The context should set the basic scene for when, possibly where, and under what circumstances the quotation was spoken or written. So, in providing context for our above example, you might write:

When Franklin Roosevelt gave his inaugural speech on March 4, 1933, he addressed a nation weakened and demoralized by economic depression.

2. Attribute each quotation to its source.

Tell your reader who is speaking. Here is a good test: try reading your text aloud. Could your reader determine without looking at your paper where your quotations begin? If not, you need to attribute the quote more noticeably.

Avoid getting into the “they said” attribution rut! There are many other ways to attribute quotes besides this construction. Here are a few alternative verbs, usually followed by “that”:

Different reporting verbs are preferred by different disciplines, so pay special attention to these in your disciplinary reading. If you’re unfamiliar with the meanings of any of these words or others you find in your reading, consult a dictionary before using them.

3. Explain the significance of the quotation.

Once you’ve inserted your quotation, along with its context and attribution, don’t stop! Your reader still needs your assessment of why the quotation holds significance for your paper. Using our Roosevelt example, if you were writing a paper on the first one-hundred days of FDR’s administration, you might follow the quotation by linking it to that topic:

With that message of hope and confidence, the new president set the stage for his next one-hundred days in office and helped restore the faith of the American people in their government.

4. Provide a citation for the quotation.

All quotations, just like all paraphrases, require a formal citation. For more details about particular citation formats, see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . In general, you should remember one rule of thumb: Place the parenthetical reference or footnote/endnote number after—not within—the closed quotation mark.

Roosevelt declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Roosevelt, Public Papers, 11).

Roosevelt declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”1

How do I embed a quotation into a sentence?

In general, avoid leaving quotes as sentences unto themselves. Even if you have provided some context for the quote, a quote standing alone can disrupt your flow.  Take a look at this example:

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression. “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

Standing by itself, the quote’s connection to the preceding sentence is unclear. There are several ways to incorporate a quote more smoothly:

Lead into the quote with a colon.

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression: “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

The colon announces that a quote will follow to provide evidence for the sentence’s claim.

Introduce or conclude the quote by attributing it to the speaker. If your attribution precedes the quote, you will need to use a comma after the verb.

Hamlet denies Rosencrantz’s claim that thwarted ambition caused his depression. He states, “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2).

When faced with a twelve-foot mountain troll, Ron gathers his courage, shouting, “Wingardium Leviosa!” (Rowling, p. 176).

The Pirate King sees an element of regality in their impoverished and dishonest life. “It is, it is a glorious thing/To be a pirate king,” he declares (Pirates of Penzance, 1983).

Interrupt the quote with an attribution to the speaker. Again, you will need to use a comma after the verb, as well as a comma leading into the attribution.

“There is nothing either good or bad,” Hamlet argues, “but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet 2.2).

“And death shall be no more,” Donne writes, “Death thou shalt die” (“Death, Be Not Proud,” l. 14).

Dividing the quote may highlight a particular nuance of the quote’s meaning. In the first example, the division calls attention to the two parts of Hamlet’s claim. The first phrase states that nothing is inherently good or bad; the second phrase suggests that our perspective causes things to become good or bad. In the second example, the isolation of “Death thou shalt die” at the end of the sentence draws a reader’s attention to that phrase in particular. As you decide whether or not you want to break up a quote, you should consider the shift in emphasis that the division might create.

Use the words of the quote grammatically within your own sentence.

When Hamlet tells Rosencrantz that he “could be bounded in a nutshell and count [him]self a king of infinite space” (Hamlet 2.2), he implies that thwarted ambition did not cause his depression.

Ultimately, death holds no power over Donne since in the afterlife, “death shall be no more” (“Death, Be Not Proud,” l. 14).

Note that when you use “that” after the verb that introduces the quote, you no longer need a comma.

The Pirate King argues that “it is, it is a glorious thing/to be a pirate king” (Pirates of Penzance, 1983).

How much should I quote?

As few words as possible. Remember, your paper should primarily contain your own words, so quote only the most pithy and memorable parts of sources. Here are guidelines for selecting quoted material judiciously:

Excerpt fragments.

Sometimes, you should quote short fragments, rather than whole sentences. Suppose you interviewed Jane Doe about her reaction to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. She commented:

“I couldn’t believe it. It was just unreal and so sad. It was just unbelievable. I had never experienced such denial. I don’t know why I felt so strongly. Perhaps it was because JFK was more to me than a president. He represented the hopes of young people everywhere.”

You could quote all of Jane’s comments, but her first three sentences are fairly redundant. You might instead want to quote Jane when she arrives at the ultimate reason for her strong emotions:

Jane Doe grappled with grief and disbelief. She had viewed JFK, not just as a national figurehead, but as someone who “represented the hopes of young people everywhere.”

Excerpt those fragments carefully!

Quoting the words of others carries a big responsibility. Misquoting misrepresents the ideas of others. Here’s a classic example of a misquote:

John Adams has often been quoted as having said: “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.”

John Adams did, in fact, write the above words. But if you see those words in context, the meaning changes entirely. Here’s the rest of the quotation:

Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!!’ But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company—I mean hell.

As you can see from this example, context matters!

This example is from Paul F. Boller, Jr. and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions (Oxford University Press, 1989).

Use block quotations sparingly.

There may be times when you need to quote long passages. However, you should use block quotations only when you fear that omitting any words will destroy the integrity of the passage. If that passage exceeds four lines (some sources say five), then set it off as a block quotation.

Be sure you are handling block quotes correctly in papers for different academic disciplines–check the index of the citation style guide you are using. Here are a few general tips for setting off your block quotations:

  • Set up a block quotation with your own words followed by a colon.
  • Indent. You normally indent 4-5 spaces for the start of a paragraph. When setting up a block quotation, indent the entire paragraph once from the left-hand margin.
  • Single space or double space within the block quotation, depending on the style guidelines of your discipline (MLA, CSE, APA, Chicago, etc.).
  • Do not use quotation marks at the beginning or end of the block quote—the indentation is what indicates that it’s a quote.
  • Place parenthetical citation according to your style guide (usually after the period following the last sentence of the quote).
  • Follow up a block quotation with your own words.

So, using the above example from John Adams, here’s how you might include a block quotation:

After reading several doctrinally rigid tracts, John Adams recalled the zealous ranting of his former teacher, Joseph Cleverly, and minister, Lemuel Bryant. He expressed his ambivalence toward religion in an 1817 letter to Thomas Jefferson:

Adams clearly appreciated religion, even if he often questioned its promotion.

How do I combine quotation marks with other punctuation marks?

It can be confusing when you start combining quotation marks with other punctuation marks. You should consult a style manual for complicated situations, but the following two rules apply to most cases:

Keep periods and commas within quotation marks.

So, for example:

According to Professor Poe, werewolves “represent anxiety about the separation between human and animal,” and werewolf movies often “interrogate those boundaries.”

In the above example, both the comma and period were enclosed in the quotation marks. The main exception to this rule involves the use of internal citations, which always precede the last period of the sentence. For example:

According to Professor Poe, werewolves “represent anxiety about the separation between human and animal,” and werewolf movies often “interrogate those boundaries” (Poe 167).

Note, however, that the period remains inside the quotation marks when your citation style involves superscript footnotes or endnotes. For example:

According to Professor Poe, werewolves “represent anxiety about the separation between human and animal,” and werewolf movies often “interrogate those boundaries.” 2

Place all other punctuation marks (colons, semicolons, exclamation marks, question marks) outside the quotation marks, except when they were part of the original quotation.

Take a look at the following examples:

I couldn’t believe it when my friend passed me a note in the cafe saying the management “started charging $15 per hour for parking”!

The coach yelled, “Run!”

In the first example, the author placed the exclamation point outside the quotation mark because she added it herself to emphasize the outrageous nature of the parking price change. The original note had not included an exclamation mark. In the second example, the exclamation mark remains within the quotation mark because it is indicating the excited tone in which the coach yelled the command. Thus, the exclamation mark is considered to be part of the original quotation.

How do I indicate quotations within quotations?

If you are quoting a passage that contains a quotation, then you use single quotation marks for the internal quotation. Quite rarely, you quote a passage that has a quotation within a quotation. In that rare instance, you would use double quotation marks for the second internal quotation.

Here’s an example of a quotation within a quotation:

In “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Hans Christian Andersen wrote, “‘But the Emperor has nothing on at all!’ cried a little child.”

Remember to consult your style guide to determine how to properly cite a quote within a quote.

When do I use those three dots ( . . . )?

Whenever you want to leave out material from within a quotation, you need to use an ellipsis, which is a series of three periods, each of which should be preceded and followed by a space. So, an ellipsis in this sentence would look like . . . this. There are a few rules to follow when using ellipses:

Be sure that you don’t fundamentally change the meaning of the quotation by omitting material.

Take a look at the following example:

“The Writing Center is located on the UNC campus and serves the entire UNC community.”

“The Writing Center . . . serves the entire UNC community.”

The reader’s understanding of the Writing Center’s mission to serve the UNC community is not affected by omitting the information about its location.

Do not use ellipses at the beginning or ending of quotations, unless it’s important for the reader to know that the quotation was truncated.

For example, using the above example, you would NOT need an ellipsis in either of these situations:

“The Writing Center is located on the UNC campus . . .”

The Writing Center ” . . . serves the entire UNC community.”

Use punctuation marks in combination with ellipses when removing material from the end of sentences or clauses.

For example, if you take material from the end of a sentence, keep the period in as usual.

“The boys ran to school, forgetting their lunches and books. Even though they were out of breath, they made it on time.”

“The boys ran to school. . . . Even though they were out of breath, they made it on time.”

Likewise, if you excerpt material at the end of clause that ends in a comma, retain the comma.

“The red car came to a screeching halt that was heard by nearby pedestrians, but no one was hurt.”

“The red car came to a screeching halt . . . , but no one was hurt.”

Is it ever okay to insert my own words or change words in a quotation?

Sometimes it is necessary for clarity and flow to alter a word or words within a quotation. You should make such changes rarely. In order to alert your reader to the changes you’ve made, you should always bracket the altered words. Here are a few examples of situations when you might need brackets:

Changing verb tense or pronouns in order to be consistent with the rest of the sentence.

Suppose you were quoting a woman who, when asked about her experiences immigrating to the United States, commented “nobody understood me.” You might write:

Esther Hansen felt that when she came to the United States “nobody understood [her].”

In the above example, you’ve changed “me” to “her” in order to keep the entire passage in third person. However, you could avoid the need for this change by simply rephrasing:

“Nobody understood me,” recalled Danish immigrant Esther Hansen.

Including supplemental information that your reader needs in order to understand the quotation.

For example, if you were quoting someone’s nickname, you might want to let your reader know the full name of that person in brackets.

“The principal of the school told Billy [William Smith] that his contract would be terminated.”

Similarly, if a quotation referenced an event with which the reader might be unfamiliar, you could identify that event in brackets.

“We completely revised our political strategies after the strike [of 1934].”

Indicating the use of nonstandard grammar or spelling.

In rare situations, you may quote from a text that has nonstandard grammar, spelling, or word choice. In such cases, you may want to insert [sic], which means “thus” or “so” in Latin. Using [sic] alerts your reader to the fact that this nonstandard language is not the result of a typo on your part. Always italicize “sic” and enclose it in brackets. There is no need to put a period at the end. Here’s an example of when you might use [sic]:

Twelve-year-old Betsy Smith wrote in her diary, “Father is afraid that he will be guilty of beach [sic] of contract.”

Here [sic] indicates that the original author wrote “beach of contract,” not breach of contract, which is the accepted terminology.

Do not overuse brackets!

For example, it is not necessary to bracket capitalization changes that you make at the beginning of sentences. For example, suppose you were going to use part of this quotation:

“The colors scintillated curiously over a hard carapace, and the beetle’s tiny antennae made gentle waving motions as though saying hello.”

If you wanted to begin a sentence with an excerpt from the middle of this quotation, there would be no need to bracket your capitalization changes.

“The beetle’s tiny antennae made gentle waving motions as though saying hello,” said Dr. Grace Farley, remembering a defining moment on her journey to becoming an entomologist.

Not: “[T]he beetle’s tiny antennae made gentle waving motions as though saying hello,” said Dr. Grace Farley, remembering a defining moment on her journey to becoming an entomologist.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Barzun, Jacques, and Henry F. Graff. 2012. The Modern Researcher , 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald. 2016. The Craft of Research , 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gibaldi, Joseph. 2009. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

Turabian, Kate. 2018. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, Dissertations , 9th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Make a Gift

Quote integration

Quote integration is arguably one of the most difficult parts of essay writing; however, it does not need to be. Here are some tips to make quote integration easier. 

First things first, the most basic way to integrate quotes into any piece of writing is with the following format

Signal phrase + Quote + Citations

  • Signal phrase: A short phrase or verb that indicates to the reader that you are going to introduce a quote.
  • Quote: Short quotes are less than four lines and can be integrated into the actual body of your essay. Quotes over four lines typically should be formatted as block quotes (based on the citation style you are using).
  • Citations in MLA 8th edition
  • Citations in APA 7 th
  • Citations in Chicago
  • Citations in AMA  

The following example follows the pattern of signal phrase , quote, and citation (in MLA style)

  • Exercise has many benefits for not only an individual’s present health but in the long term as well : “exercise is known to reduce a number of inflammatory markers…which are linked to a number of diseases” (Walton 1).

Another way to introduce a quote into a source is to use the author’s name as your signal phrase with a subsequent verb that is used to introduce the quote. For citation styles such as MLA or APA, when you start with the author’s name to introduce the source, the end of text citation only needs to have the page number/year.

  • Alice Walton writes that “exercise is one of the best-illustrated things we can do for our hearts, and this includes markers like blood pressure and cholesterol, in addition to the physical structure of the heart itself, and blood vessel function” (3).

Verbs to use to signal the beginning of a quotation

  • Demonstrates
  • Illustrates

Other methods to integrate a quote into a sentence

Introduce a quotation and have subsequent sentences that expand on the relevance.

  • This is the best way to integrate quotes into a paper. It is crucial that anytime you use from an outside source, you  explain the relevance of the quote to the rest of your paper .
  • Dr. Carrie Fisher details some of the most pressing ethical concerns that arise in the field of public health: “the primary ethical concern of public health officials is creating a balance between the common good and the right of the individual, when we undermine autonomy we create distrust among the general public, destabilizing the governing principles of public health” (2). Dr. Fisher’s concerns surrounding the field of public health echoes the main dilemma that has plagued the field since its conception. Her argument that undermining autonomy betrays public trust demonstrates that as public health officials it is crucial to understand that if individual autonomy is restricted, it can only be in the direst of circumstances.

Make the quotation part of a complete sentence

  • Current research indicates that exercise is beneficial for long-term health as it “can help control blood lipid abnormalities, diabetes, and obesity” (Fletcher et al., 1996).

Utilize brackets and ellipses to help improve clarity of a sentence

Brackets are used to add words to improve understanding. Ellipses are used to remove words to shorten a phrase.

  • According to physical therapist Dr. Smith, developing a consistent and sustainable workout foundation is the key to long term success: “[Workout programs] must be enjoyable, you cannot expect an individual to adhere to a regimen where they dread each day they must go. I recommend that individuals find a workout routine that both challenges them but also excites them, where it does not feel like a chore to workout” (2).

Here is an example sentence that utilizes all of these tactics to integrate a quote into a sentence

  • In the field of medicine, exercise recommendations remain hotly contested, “although a consensus is growing on the importance of the relation between physical activity and health and wellness, the specific dose of physical activity necessary for good health remains unclear… some of the inconsistency among physical activity recommendations is due simply to the inherent uncertainties of biomedical science” (Blair 2). It is crucial that the differing ideologies be addressed as they have the potential to impact the dissemination of information to the general public. The average American already struggles to meet the weekly exercise recommendations and conflicting information regarding these recommendations will only further exacerbate the issue.


  • You may be thinking “isn’t this supposed to be about integrating quotes into an essay?” You are correct; however, there are many times (and citation styles) where it is best to paraphrase a source instead of integrating a whole quote into the paper. Quote integration is crucial when the exact wording of the primary source is critical to the point being made, whereas paraphrasing is sufficient when restating the general idea is all that is required. 
  • Despite continual recommendations put forth by the CDC regarding exercise and physical activity “80% of the population is not meeting the guidelines. Each year in the US, an estimated 10% of premature deaths and $117 billion in healthcare costs are associated with inadequate physical activity” (Smith, 2017).


  • The CDC estimates that 80% of the United States population is not adhering to the guidelines regarding weekly physical activity recommendations (Smith 3). Inactive adults cost the U.S health care system an estimated $117 billion per year; estimates suggest 10% of premature deaths are due to inactivity (Smith, 2017).

*Remember that when paraphrasing a quote from a source an in-text citation is still included.

Common mistakes to avoid

Drop quotes.

This is when you “drop” a quote into your essay without any form of introduction; the most common mistake is making the quote its own sentence.

This is what you don’t want to do

  • There are numerous health benefits to working out. “Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity gain some health benefits” (CDC).

A better way to approach this is

  • There are numerous health benefits to working. According to the CDC, “adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity gain some health benefits” (2019).

Not using brackets

Using brackets when integrating a quote actually helps improve clarity while writing. Otherwise, if you integrate a quote directly without adjusting it through the use of brackets, the sentence can be confusing to readers.

  • Dr. Smith, talks to patients candidly about the importance of physical activity while they are young, “it is important that you start working out when you are younger as it helps you build up bone density, which can decrease the risk of developing arthritis as you get older” (Horton 3).
  • Dr. Smith talks to patients candidly about the importance of physical activity while they are young: “it is important that [individuals] start working out when [they] are younger as it helps [them] build up bone density, which can decrease the risk of developing arthritis as they get older” (Horton 3).

Library homepage

  • school Campus Bookshelves
  • menu_book Bookshelves
  • perm_media Learning Objects
  • login Login
  • how_to_reg Request Instructor Account
  • hub Instructor Commons

Margin Size

  • Download Page (PDF)
  • Download Full Book (PDF)
  • Periodic Table
  • Physics Constants
  • Scientific Calculator
  • Reference & Cite
  • Tools expand_more
  • Readability

selected template will load here

This action is not available.

Humanities LibreTexts

11.3: Smoothly Integrating Quotations

  • Last updated
  • Save as PDF
  • Page ID 225943

\( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

\( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

\( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

\( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

\( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

\( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

\( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

\( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

\( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

\( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

\( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

\( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

\( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

\( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

\( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

\( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

\( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

\( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

\( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

\( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

\( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

\( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)


When you are incorporating the direct language of others into your own writing, you want that integration to be fluid and seamless. You don’t want your reader to get lost or confused as you transition from your voice and ideas to another person’s. You want to use quotations in a way that clarify, support, and strengthen your writing.


  • Readers can better understand the relevance of smoothly integrated quotations.
  • Readers can clearly see the connection between an integrated quotation and what it is trying to prove or illustrate.
  • Readers can be better convinced by evidence presented in smoothly integrated quotations.
  • Readers don’t experience being lost or frustrated by quotations that appear unrelated, inappropriate, or off topic.


A dropped quote is a quote from someone else that is placed in your writing but it stands alone and is not introduced and not integrated into a sentence of your own. A dropped quote interrupts the flow of your writing, as the reader must jump abruptly from your words to someone else’s and back again. Also, if you’re not integrating direct quotations into your own writing, you’re probably not giving your reader the context they need to understand the quote.

Think of a quote as a helium balloon that needs an anchor to hold it down in your essay:

II. Connect quotes to phrases that introduce them.

Here are a few approaches for creating introductory phrases for quotes:

1) Identify the speaker and context of the quote

Example: Dee protests to her mother that her sister does not know the true value of the quilts, “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts! She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use” (Walker 490). 2) Lead in with your own idea

Example: Miss Emily Grierson’s house is a reflection of her being out of sync with the times: “But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and gasoline pumps—an eyesore among eyesores” (Faulkner 459).

3) Formulas

  • In (title of source), (author) writes/ argues/ explains/ describes, "quote" (#).

Example: In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , Maya Angelou writes, "In Stamps the segregation was so complete that most Black children didn't really absolutely know what whites looked like" (20).

  • According to (author) in (title), "quote" (#).

To avoid monotony, try to vary your formulas. The following models suggest a range of possibilities: In the words of researcher Herbert Terrace, “…” Jason Applegate, Smith’s trainer, points out, “…” “…,” claims linguist Noam Chomsky. Psychologist H.S. Terrace offers an odd argument for this view, “…”

Also, by choosing an appropriate verb , you can make your stance clear and the description more alive and engaging:

Practice: Integrating Quotes using introductory Phrases

For each quote below, create a sentence that smoothly integrates the quote. Try a few different methods: Method #1: Identify the speaker and context of the quote: Quote : "On this island, you walk too far and people speak a different language. Their own words reveal who belongs on what side" Background information : From The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat, the speaker is Senora Valencia, page 304. Senora Valencia is referring to the island of Hispanola, which the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic share. She is speaking during the times that the dictator Trujillo had many Haitians murdered in and exiled from the Dominican Republic. Quote integrated into a sentence :

Method #2: Lead in with your own idea: Quote : "They did not have the tanates to go up north and break through the wall of electric fences and enter the land of plenty, the U.S. of A., a land so rich that what garbage they throw away in one day could feed entire pueblos." Background information : From Macho! By Victor Villasenor, page 31. The book tells the story of a young man named Roberto from Michoacán who risks himself to go north to California to work as an illegal alien picking fruit in California. Quote integrated into a sentence :

Method #3: Formula (try using a good and dynamic verb): Quote : "Racial targeting and abuse by police is costly. U.S. taxpayers have paid tens of millions of dollars in police brutality lawsuits. Between 1992 and 1993, Los Angeles county alone paid more than $30 million to citizens victimized by police brutality." Background information : From The Color of Crime by Katheryn K. Russell, page 45 who writes about the ways in which African-Americans are misrepresented by the media and mistreated within the criminal system. Quote integrated into a sentence :


Method #1: Identify the speaker and context of the quote:

Senora Valencia describes the severe division that exists in her homeland of Hispanola due to Trujillo’s bloody dictatorship, "On this island, you walk too far and people speak a different language. Their own words reveal who belongs on what side” (Danticat 304).

Method #2: Lead in with your own idea:

Villasenor captures the decadence of the United States through the hungry eyes of Roberto, a young boy who risks going north to work illegally, "They did not have the tanates to go up north and break through the wall of electric fences and enter the land of plenty, the U.S. of A., a land so rich that what garbage they throw away in one day could feed entire pueblos” (31).

Method #3: Formula (try using a good and dynamic verb):

In The Color of Crime , Katheryn K. Russell exposes: "Racial targeting and abuse by police is costly. U.S. taxpayers have paid tens of millions of dollars in police brutality lawsuits. Between 1992 and 1993, Los Angeles county alone paid more than $30 million to citizens victimized by police brutality” (45).

III. Follow quotes with an explanation of their significance.

After the quote, provide your own reasoning and analysis explaining the significance and relevance of the quote.

Here are a few approaches to ensure the inclusion of analysis and significance for the quotes you select:


“Say, Mean, Matter” is a 3-step approach to select good quotes, understand them, and then analyze them.

  • PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
  • EDIT Edit this Article
  • EXPLORE Tech Help Pro About Us Random Article Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
  • Browse Articles
  • Learn Something New
  • Quizzes Hot
  • This Or That Game
  • Train Your Brain
  • Explore More
  • Support wikiHow
  • About wikiHow
  • Log in / Sign up
  • Education and Communications
  • College University and Postgraduate
  • Academic Writing

How to Put a Quote in an Essay

Last Updated: November 28, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 2,642,303 times.

Using a direct quote in your essay is a great way to support your ideas with concrete evidence, which you need to support your thesis. To select a good quote , look for a passage that supports your argument and is open to analysis. Then, incorporate that quote into your essay, and make sure you properly cite it based on the style guide you’re using.

Sample Quotes

how to embed quotes into an essay

Incorporating a Short Quote

Step 1 Incorporate short direct quotes into a sentence.

  • For instance, let's say this is the quote you want to use: "The brown leaves symbolize the death of their relationship, while the green buds suggest new opportunities will soon unfold."
  • If you just type that sentence into your essay and put quotes around it, your reader will be disoriented. Instead, you could incorporate it into a sentence like this: "The imagery in the story mirrors what's happening in Lia's love life, as 'The brown leaves symbolize the death of their relationship, while the green buds suggest new opportunities will soon unfold.'"

Step 2 Use a lead-in...

  • "Critic Alex Li says, 'The frequent references to the color blue are used to suggest that the family is struggling to cope with the loss of their matriarch.'"
  • "According to McKinney’s research, 'Adults who do yoga at least three times a week have lower blood pressure, better sleeping patterns, and fewer everyday frustrations.'"
  • "Based on several recent studies, people are more likely to sit on the park benches when they're shaded by trees."

Step 3 Put quotation marks...

  • You still need to use quotation marks even if you're only quoting a few words.
  • If you're in doubt, it's best to be cautious and use quotes.

Step 4 Provide commentary after...

  • For example, let’s say you used the quote, “According to McKinney’s research, ‘Adults who do yoga at least three times a week have lower blood pressure, better sleeping patterns, and fewer everyday frustrations.’” Your commentary might read, “This shows that yoga can have a positive impact on people’s health, so incorporating it into the workplace can help improve employee health outcomes. Since yoga makes employees healthier, they’ll likely have reduced insurance costs.”

Step 5 Paraphrase

  • When you use a paraphrase, you still need to provide commentary that links the paraphrased material back to your thesis and ideas.

Using a Long Quote

Step 1 Introduce a long direct quote, then set it off in a block.

  • The reader will recognize that the material is a direct quote because it's set off from the rest of the text. That's why you don't need to use quotation marks. However, you will include your citation at the bottom.

Step 2 Write an introductory lead-in to tell the reader what the quote is about.

  • "In The Things They Carried , the items carried by soldiers in the Vietnam war are used to both characterize them and burden the readers with the weight they are carrying: The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water." (O'Brien 2)

Variation: When you're citing two or more paragraphs, you must use block quotes, even if the passage you want to quote is less than four lines long. You should indent the first line of each paragraph an extra quarter inch. Then, use ellipses (…) at the end of one paragraph to transition to the next.

Step 3 Indent the block quote by .5 inches (1.3 cm) from the left margin.

  • Your block quote will use the same spacing as the rest of your paper, which will likely be double-spacing.

Step 4 Use an ellipsis to omit a word or words from a direct quote.

  • For example, “According to Li, “Rosa is the first sister to pick a rose because she’s the only one who’s begun to move on after their mother’s death” might become “According to Li, “Rosa is the first sister to pick a rose because she’s … begun to move on after their mother’s death.”
  • Don’t eliminate words to change the meaning of the original text. For instance, it’s not appropriate to use an ellipsis to change “plants did not grow faster when exposed to poetry” to “plants did … grow faster when exposed to poetry.”

Step 5 Put brackets around words you need to add to a quote for clarification.

  • For example, let’s say you want to use the quote, “All of them experienced a more relaxed, calmer disposition after doing yoga for 6 months.” This doesn’t tell the reader who you’re talking about. You could use brackets to say, “All of [the teachers in the study] experienced a more relaxed, calmer disposition after doing yoga for 6 months.”
  • However, if you know the study is talking about teachers, you couldn’t use brackets to say, “All of [society experiences] a more relaxed, calmer disposition after doing yoga for 6 months.”

Step 6 Provide commentary after a quote to explain how it supports your ideas.

  • If you don't explain your quote well, then it's not helping your ideas. You can't expect the reader to connect the quote back to your thesis for you.

Step 7 Paraphrase the quote to condense it to 1 or 2 sentences, if you can.

  • For instance, you may prefer to use a long block quote to present a passage from a literary work that demonstrates the author's style. However, let's say you were using a journal article to provide a critic's perspective on an author's work. You may not need to directly quote an entire paragraph word-for-word to get their point across. Instead, use a paraphrase.

Tip: If you’re unsure about a quote, ask yourself, “Can I paraphrase this in more concise language and not lose any support for my argument?” If the answer is yes, a quote is not necessary.

Citing Your Quote

Step 1 Cite the author’s...

  • An MLA citation will look like this: (Lopez 24)
  • For sources with multiple authors, separate their names with the word “and:” (Anderson and Smith 55-56) or (Taylor, Gomez, and Austin 89)
  • If you use the author’s name in your lead-in to the quote, you just need to provide the year in parentheses: According to Luz Lopez, “the green grass symbolizes a fresh start for Lia (24).”

Step 2 Include the author’s...

  • An APA citation for a direct quote looks like this: (Ronan, 2019, p. 10)
  • If you’re citing multiple authors, separate their names with the word “and:” (Cruz, Hanks, and Simmons, 2019, p. 85)
  • If you incorporated the author’s name into your lead-in, you can just give the year and page number: Based on Ronan’s (2019, p. 10) analysis, “coffee breaks improve productivity.”

Step 3 Use the author’s last name, date, and page number for Chicago Style.

  • For instance, a Chicago Style citation will look like this: (Alexander 2019, 125)
  • If you’re quoting a source with multiple authors, separate them with the word “and:” (Pattinson, Stewart, and Green 2019, 175)
  • If you already incorporated the author’s name into your quote, then you can just provide the year and page number: According to Alexander, “the smell of roses increases feelings of happiness” (2019, 125).

Step 4 Prepare a Works Cited or References page.

  • For MLA, you'd cite an article like this: Lopez, Luz. "A Fresh Blossom: Imagery in 'Her Darkest Sunshine.'" Journal of Stories , vol. 2, no. 5, 2019, p. 15-22. [17] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • In APA, you'd cite an article like this: Lopez, Luz. (2019). A Fresh Blossom: Imagery in "Her Darkest Sunshine." Journal of Stories , 2(5), 15-22. [18] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • For Chicago Style, your article citation would look like this: Lopez, Luz. "A Fresh Blossom: Imagery in 'Her Darkest Sunshine.'" Journal of Stories 2 no. 4 (2019): 15-22. [19] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Selecting a Quote

Step 1 Select a quote that backs up the argument you’re making.

Tip: Quotes are most effective when the original language of the person or text you’re quoting is worth repeating word-for-word.

Step 2 Make sure the quote is something you can analyze.

  • If you’re struggling to explain the quote or link it back to your argument, then it’s likely not a good idea to include it in your essay.

Step 3 Avoid using too many direct quotes in your paper.

  • Paraphrases and summaries work just like a direct quote, except that you don’t need to put quotation marks around them because you’re using your own words to restate ideas. However, you still need to cite the sources you used.

Community Q&A

wikiHow Staff Editor

  • Always cite your quotes properly. If you don't, it is considered plagiarism. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

You Might Also Like

Write an Essay

  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

Medical Disclaimer

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing, or stopping any kind of health treatment.


To put a quote in an essay, incorporate it directly into a sentence if it's shorter than 4 typed lines. For example, you could write "According to researchers," and then insert the quote. If a quote is longer than 4 typed lines, set it off from the rest of the paragraph, and don't put quotes around it. After the quote, include an in-text citation so readers know where it's from. The right way to cite the quote will depend on whether you're using MLA, APA, or Chicago Style formatting. For more tips from our English co-author, like how to omit words from a quote, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

  • Send fan mail to authors

Reader Success Stories


Did this article help you?


Bobby Hilltop

May 26, 2017

Sarah Okyere

Sarah Okyere

Mar 29, 2019

Macy Scott

May 19, 2019

Jason Park

Feb 6, 2017

Am I a Narcissist or an Empath Quiz

Featured Articles

Flirty or Just Nice? 15+ Ways to Tell if a Guy Is Interested in You or Just Being Friendly

Trending Articles

How to Make Money on Cash App: A Beginner's Guide

Watch Articles

Make Homemade Liquid Dish Soap

  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Info
  • Not Selling Info

wikiHow Tech Help Pro:

Develop the tech skills you need for work and life

popular searches

  • Request Info

Suggested Ways to Introduce Quotations

To introduce a quote in an essay, don't forget to include author's last name and page number (MLA) or author, date, and page number (APA) in your citation. Shown below are some possible ways to introduce quotations. The examples use MLA format.

Use A Full Sentence Followed by A Colon To Introduce A Quotation

  • The setting emphasizes deception: "Nothing is as it appears" (Smith 1).
  • Piercy ends the poem on an ironic note: "To every woman a happy ending" (25).

Begin A Sentence with Your Own Words, Then Complete It with Quoted Words

Note that in the second example below, a slash with a space on either side ( / ) marks a line break in the original poem.

  • Hamlet's task is to avenge a "foul and most unnatural murder" (Shakespeare 925).
  • The speaker is mystified by her sleeping baby, whose "moth-breath / flickers among the flat pink roses" (Plath 17).

Use An Introductory Phrase Naming The Source, Followed By A Comma to Quote A Critic or Researcher

Note that the first letter after the quotation marks should be upper case. According to MLA guidelines, if you change the case of a letter from the original, you must indicate this with brackets. APA format doesn't require brackets.

  • According to Smith, "[W]riting is fun" (215).
  • In Smith's words, " . . .
  • In Smith's view, " . . .

Use A Descriptive Verb, Followed by A Comma To Introduce A Critic's Words

Avoid using says unless the words were originally spoken aloud, for instance, during an interview.

  • Smith states, "This book is terrific" (102).
  • Smith remarks, " . . .
  • Smith writes, " . . .
  • Smith notes, " . . .
  • Smith comments, " . . .
  • Smith observes, " . . .
  • Smith concludes, " . . .
  • Smith reports, " . . .
  • Smith maintains, " . . .
  • Smith adds, " . . .

Don't Follow It with A Comma If Your Lead into The Quotation Ends in That or As

The first letter of the quotation should be lower case.

  • Smith points out that "millions of students would like to burn this book" (53).
  • Smith emphasizes that " . . .
  • Smith interprets the hand washing in MacBeth as "an attempt at absolution" (106).
  • Smith describes the novel as "a celebration of human experience" (233).

Other Writing Resources

Enhance your academic writing skills by exploring our additional writing resources that will help you craft compelling essays, research papers, and more.

Student sitting at a table, discussing the information in a booklet in front of her with her advisor.

Your New Chapter Starts Wherever You Are

The support you need and education you deserve, no matter where life leads.

because a future built by you is a future built for you.

Too many people have been made to feel that higher education isn’t a place for them— that it is someone else’s dream. But we change all that. With individualized attention and ongoing support, we help you write a new story for the future where you play the starring role.

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

MLA Formatting Quotations

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

When you directly quote the works of others in your paper, you will format quotations differently depending on their length. Below are some basic guidelines for incorporating quotations into your paper. Please note that all pages in MLA should be double-spaced .

Short quotations

To indicate short quotations (four typed lines or fewer of prose or three lines of verse) in your text, enclose the quotation within double quotation marks. Provide the author and specific page number (in the case of verse, provide line numbers) in the in-text citation, and include a complete reference on the Works Cited page. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical citation.

Question marks and exclamation points should appear within the quotation marks if they are a part of the quoted passage, but after the parenthetical citation if they are a part of your text.

For example, when quoting short passages of prose, use the following examples:

When using short (fewer than three lines of verse) quotations from poetry, mark breaks in verse with a slash, ( / ), at the end of each line of verse (a space should precede and follow the slash). If a stanza break occurs during the quotation, use a double slash ( // ).

Long quotations

For quotations that are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented 1/2   inch  from the left margin while maintaining double-spacing. Your parenthetical citation should come  after the closing punctuation mark . When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.)

For example, when citing more than four lines of prose, use the following examples :

Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and dehumanizes him throughout her narration: They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78)

When citing long sections of poetry (four lines of verse or more), keep formatting as close to the original as possible.

In his poem "My Papa's Waltz," Theodore Roethke explores his childhood with his father:

The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy; But I hung on like death: Such waltzing was not easy. We Romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself. (qtd. in Shrodes, Finestone, Shugrue 202)

When citing two or more paragraphs, use block quotation format, even if the passage from the paragraphs is less than four lines. If you cite more than one paragraph, the first line of the second paragraph should be indented an extra 1/4 inch to denote a new paragraph:

In "American Origins of the Writing-across-the-Curriculum Movement," David Russell argues,

Writing has been an issue in American secondary and higher education since papers and examinations came into wide use in the 1870s, eventually driving out formal recitation and oral examination. . . .

From its birth in the late nineteenth century, progressive education has wrestled with the conflict within industrial society between pressure to increase specialization of knowledge and of professional work (upholding disciplinary standards) and pressure to integrate more fully an ever-widening number of citizens into intellectually meaningful activity within mass society (promoting social equity). . . . (3)

Adding or omitting words in quotations

If you add a word or words in a quotation, you should put brackets around the words to indicate that they are not part of the original text:

If you omit a word or words from a quotation, you should indicate the deleted word or words by using ellipses, which are three periods ( . . . ) preceded and followed by a space. For example:

Please note that brackets are not needed around ellipses unless they would add clarity.

When omitting words from poetry quotations, use a standard three-period ellipses; however, when omitting one or more full lines of poetry, space several periods to about the length of a complete line in the poem:

7 Best Ways to Shorten an Essay

7 Best Ways to Shorten an Essay

  • Smodin Editorial Team
  • Published: May 14, 2024

Are you removing a lot of words and paragraphs from your essay but still not seeing the word count budge? Whether you’re meeting a strict word count or refining your message, reducing your essay’s length without sacrificing content quality can be challenging.

Luckily, besides just aiming for the minimum word count, there are some pretty simple solutions, like using artificial intelligence, conducting thorough research, and trimming unnecessary words. But there’s more.

In this guide, we’ll unpack some practical tips to help you make your essay concise and impactful. Time to make every word count!

7 Best Ways To Shorten an Essay

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the best ways you can shorten your essay:

1. Use Artificial intelligence

When we talk about academic writing, artificial intelligence (AI) can be a game changer, especially when it comes to reducing the length of your essays.

Tools like Smodin can help make your content more concise while enhancing overall quality. AI can help you shorten your essay through the following methods:

  • Automated rewriting : AI rewriting tools can reformulate existing content to make it more straightforward while maintaining the original meaning.
  • Sentence simplification : Algorithms can analyze your sentences and suggest simpler alternatives, helping eliminate redundant information and reduce word count.
  • Research assistance : Certain platforms have AI-powered research tools that allow you to quickly gather the most relevant information. This ensures that every word in your essay contributes to your argument without unnecessary fillers.
  • Plagiarism check : Ensuring your essay is plagiarism-free is crucial. For example, Smodin’s plagiarism detection tools help you identify and replace copied content with original, concise expressions.
  • Instant feedback : Receive real-time suggestions on how to streamline your text, focusing on the essentials to effectively communicate your message.
  • Reference generation : Automatically generate and insert citations in the correct format, which helps save you time while maintaining the academic integrity of your essay and keeping it short.

2. Identify Unnecessary Words and Remove Them

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to shorten your essay is by identifying and eliminating unnecessary words.

This approach helps decrease word count and sharpens your arguments, making your writing more compelling. You can identify and remove extra words by doing the following:

  • Spot wordy phrases : Often, phrases can be condensed without losing meaning. For example, the phrase “due to the fact that” can be replaced with “because.” Be on the lookout for wordy phrases that increase word count needlessly.
  • Remove unnecessary prepositional phrases : Prepositional phrases can be redundant or add unnecessary detail. Evaluate whether these phrases add value or just extra words. Cutting them can make sentences more direct.
  • Avoid redundancies : Redundant pairs like “absolutely essential” or “future plans” can be reduced to one word without losing informational value.
  • Trim excess adjectives and adverbs : Adjectives and adverbs can make writing better but can also lead to over-description. Use them sparingly, especially when they don’t contribute additional meaning to the nouns and verbs they modify.
  • Fewer words; more impact : Aim for brevity by using fewer words to express the same idea. This will help to reduce the word count while making your writing more impactful and clear.

3. Tighten Sentence Structure

Tightening your sentence structure is crucial for making your essay more concise and readable. Use active voice to make your writing clearer and more dynamic. This is especially important in academic writing, where you have to get to the point quickly.

In academic essays, shifting from passive voice to active voice can shorten and strengthen your sentences. For example, instead of writing, “The experiment was conducted by the students,” you can say, “The students conducted the experiment.” This reduces the number of words and places the action directly with the subject, making your sentences more direct.

Combining two separate sentences into one can streamline your ideas and reduce redundancies. Look for opportunities where sentences can be merged without losing their significance. For example, “He wrote the book. It became a bestseller.” can be rephrased as “He wrote the book, which became a bestseller.”

Also, avoid unnecessary qualifiers and modifiers that don’t add substantial information. Sentences often become bogged down with these extras, making them cluttered and long.

4. Conduct Thorough Research

When writing essays, extensive research can make the final output a lot shorter. Effective research helps you gather precise information that’s relevant to your topic. This means you’ll write more directly and avoid needless elaboration. Here’s how you can conduct research effectively:

  • Define the scope of your research : Determine what information is essential to the argument. This initial step will help you focus your research efforts and prevent irrelevant data.
  • Identify key sources : Begin with scholarly databases and academic journals that offer peer-reviewed articles. These sources provide credible, authoritative information that can be crucial for academic writing.
  • Use precise keywords : When searching for information, use specific keywords related to your essay topic. Precision here will help find the most relevant articles and studies, reducing time spent on unnecessary reading.
  • Evaluate sources : Assess the relevance and reliability of each source. Check the publication date to ensure the information is current and relevant to your topic.
  • Take notes efficiently : As you research, jot down important points, quotes, and references. Organize these notes according to the sections in your essay to make writing faster.
  • Synthesize information : Combine information from multiple sources to build a strong argument. This will allow you to write comprehensively and with fewer words, as each sentence carries more weight.

5. Improve Your Paragraph Structure

Streamlining paragraphs can make your essay shorter and more digestible for the reader. With a well-structured paragraph, you can focus on a single idea supported by concise statements.

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that clearly states the main idea. This sentence sets the direction and tone, letting the reader know what to expect. It also helps ensure that every following sentence relates directly to the main idea.

Condense supporting information by merging ideas that logically coexist within a single sentence or phrase. After that, evaluate each sentence for its contribution to the paragraph’s main idea. Remove any information that is repeated or goes into too much detail.

Focus on providing evidence and explanations that directly support the main point. You should also end each paragraph with a sentence that reinforces the main idea and potentially links to the next paragraph. This creates smooth transitions and keeps the essay focused and cohesive.

6. Refine the Introduction and Conclusion

These sections frame your essay and influence how your arguments are perceived. Here are some ways to keep them concise yet effective.


The introduction should be engaging and concise, clearly stating the purpose and scope of your essay. Begin with a hook that grabs the reader’s attention, followed by background information that sets the context. Incorporate your thesis statement early on, ideally at the end of the intro.

The conclusion needs to reinforce the thesis. Summarize key points in the essay and show how they support the thesis. Provide a final thought that leaves the reader with something to ponder.

Also, remember to keep it tight – the conclusion isn’t a place for introducing new ideas. It should wrap up the ones you presented and prompt the reader to pose their own questions.

7. Edit and Proofread

Keep your essay concise and error-free by allocating ample time for editing and proofreading. These processes scrutinize your work at different levels, from the overall structure to word choices and punctuation. Here’s how you can go about it:

Start by reading through your entire paper to get a feel for its flow and coherence. Check if all paragraphs support your thesis statement and if section transitions are smooth. This will help you spot areas where the argument might be weak, or wording could be clearer.

Focus next on paragraph structure. Ensure each paragraph sticks to one main idea and that all sentences directly support the idea. Remove any repetitive or irrelevant sentences that don’t add value.

Then, look for clarity and style. Replace complex words with simpler alternatives to maintain readability. Keep your tone consistent throughout the paper. Adjust the sentence length and structure to enhance the flow and make it more engaging.


Proofreading comes after editing. The focus here is catching typing errors, grammatical mistakes, and inconsistent formatting. It’s always best to proofread with fresh eyes, so consider taking a break before this step.

Use tools like spell checkers, but don’t rely solely on them. Read your essay aloud or have someone else review it. Hearing the words can help you catch errors you may have missed.

Lastly, check for punctuation errors and ensure all citations and references are formatted according to the required academic style. This and all of the above are areas in which AI can help get the job done with speed and precision.

Why You Might Need to Shorten Your Essay

Ever heard the expression “less is more”? When it comes to academic writing, it normally is. Keeping your essays concise offers several benefits:

  • Enhances clarity : A shorter essay forces you to focus on the main points and critical arguments, reducing the risk of going off-topic. This clarity makes your writing more impactful and easier for the reader to follow.
  • Meets word limits : Many academic assignments have a maximum word count. Learning to express your thoughts concisely helps you stay within these limits without sacrificing essential content.
  • Saves time : For both the writer and the reader, shorter essays take less time to write, revise, and read. This efficiency is especially valuable in academic settings where time is usually limited.
  • Increases engagement : Readers are more likely to stay engaged with a document that gets to the point quickly. Lengthy texts can deter readers, especially if the content has unnecessary words or redundant points.
  • Improves writing skills : Shortening essays helps refine your writing skills. You become better at identifying and eliminating fluff, focusing instead on what really adds value to your paper.

Overall, adopting a more succinct writing style helps you meet academic requirements and polish your communication skills.

Why Use Smodin To Shorten an Essay

Using AI-powered platforms like Smodin to shorten your essay is both the simplest and the least time-consuming method available. Here’s why you should probably make Smodin your go-to essay shortener:

  • Efficiency : Smodin eases the editing process, using advanced algorithms to quickly identify areas where content can be condensed without losing meaning.
  • Accuracy : With its powerful AI, Smodin ensures that the essence of your essays stays intact while getting rid of unnecessary words, making your writing more precise.
  • Ease of use : Smodin is user-friendly, making it accessible even to those who aren’t the most tech-savvy. Its easy-to-grasp interface allows for seamless navigation and operation.

Smodin’s offerings

  • Rewriter : Available in over 50 languages, this tool helps rewrite text to be more concise.
  • Article Writer : Assists in drafting articles that are crisp and to the point.
  • Plagiarism and Auto Citation : Ensures your essay is original and correctly cited, which is crucial in academic writing.
  • Language Detection : Identifies the language of the text, ensuring the right adjustments are made for clarity.

All these tools and more are what make Smodin an excellent choice for academics looking to reduce the length of their essays.

Final Thoughts

Word counts can be a real headache, especially when you need to say a lot with a little. Thankfully, by identifying unnecessary words, tightening your sentences, and using tools like Smodin, you can make your essay concise without losing its meaning. Remember, a shorter essay doesn’t just meet word limits; and it’s clear, more compelling, and more likely to keep your reader engaged.

Keep it short, keep it sweet, and make every word count! Get started for free right now with Smodin.

how to embed quotes into an essay

The Unpunished: How Extremists Took Over Israel

After 50 years of failure to stop violence and terrorism against Palestinians by Jewish ultranationalists, lawlessness has become the law.

Supported by

  • Share full article

Ronen Bergman

By Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti

  • May 16, 2024

This story is told in three parts. The first documents the unequal system of justice that grew around Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. The second shows how extremists targeted not only Palestinians but also Israeli officials trying to make peace. The third explores how this movement gained control of the state itself. Taken together, they tell the story of how a radical ideology moved from the fringes to the heart of Israeli political power.

By the end of October, it was clear that no one was going to help the villagers of Khirbet Zanuta. A tiny Palestinian community, some 150 people perched on a windswept hill in the West Bank near Hebron, it had long faced threats from the Jewish settlers who had steadily encircled it. But occasional harassment and vandalism, in the days after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, escalated into beatings and murder threats. The villagers made appeal after appeal to the Israeli police and to the ever-present Israeli military, but their calls for protection went largely unheeded, and the attacks continued with no consequences. So one day the villagers packed what they could, loaded their families into trucks and disappeared.

Listen to this article, read by Jonathan Davis

Who bulldozed the village after that is a matter of dispute. The Israeli Army says it was the settlers; a senior Israeli police officer says it was the army. Either way, soon after the villagers left, little remained of Khirbet Zanuta besides the ruins of a clinic and an elementary school. One wall of the clinic, leaning sideways, bore a sign saying that it had been funded by an agency of the European Union providing “humanitarian support for Palestinians at risk of forcible transfer in the West Bank.” Near the school, someone had planted the flag of Israel as another kind of announcement: This is Jewish land now.

Such violence over the decades in places like Khirbet Zanuta is well documented. But protecting the people who carry out that violence is the dark secret of Israeli justice. The long arc of harassment, assault and murder of Palestinians by Jewish settlers is twinned with a shadow history, one of silence, avoidance and abetment by Israeli officials. For many of those officials, it is Palestinian terrorism that most threatens Israel. But in interviews with more than 100 people — current and former officers of the Israeli military, the National Israeli Police and the Shin Bet domestic security service; high-ranking Israeli political officials, including four former prime ministers; Palestinian leaders and activists; Israeli human rights lawyers; American officials charged with supporting the Israeli-Palestinian partnership — we found a different and perhaps even more destabilizing threat. A long history of crime without punishment, many of those officials now say, threatens not only Palestinians living in the occupied territories but also the State of Israel itself.

A roadblock near a Palestinian village.

Many of the people we interviewed, some speaking anonymously, some speaking publicly for the first time, offered an account not only of Jewish violence against Palestinians dating back decades but also of an Israeli state that has systematically and increasingly ignored that violence. It is an account of a sometimes criminal nationalistic movement that has been allowed to operate with impunity and gradually move from the fringes to the mainstream of Israeli society. It is an account of how voices within the government that objected to the condoning of settler violence were silenced and discredited. And it is a blunt account, told for the first time by Israeli officials themselves, of how the occupation came to threaten the integrity of their country’s democracy.

The interviews, along with classified documents written in recent months, reveal a government at war with itself. One document describes a meeting in March, when Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, the head of Israel’s Central Command, responsible for the West Bank, gave a withering account of the efforts by Bezalel Smotrich — an ultraright leader and the official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government with oversight over the West Bank — to undermine law enforcement in the occupied territory. Since Smotrich took office, Fox wrote, the effort to clamp down on illegal settlement construction has dwindled “to the point where it has disappeared.” Moreover, Fox said, Smotrich and his allies were thwarting the very measures to enforce the law that the government had promised Israeli courts it would take.

This is a story, pieced together and told in full for the first time, that leads to the heart of Israel. But it begins in the West Bank, in places like Khirbet Zanuta. From within the village’s empty ruins, there is a clear view across the valley to a tiny Jewish outpost called Meitarim Farm. Built in 2021, the farm has become a base of operations for settler attacks led by Yinon Levi, the farm’s owner. Like so many of the Israeli outposts that have been set up throughout the West Bank in recent years, Meitarim Farm is illegal. It is illegal under international law, which most experts say doesn’t recognize Israeli settlements in occupied land. It is illegal under Israeli law, like most settlements built since the 1990s.

Few efforts are made to stop the building of these outposts or the violence emanating from them. Indeed, one of Levi’s day jobs was running an earthworks company, and he has worked with the Israel Defense Forces to bulldoze at least one Palestinian village in the West Bank. As for the victims of that violence, they face a confounding and defeating system when trying to get relief. Villagers seeking help from the police typically have to file a report in person at an Israeli police station, which in the West Bank are almost exclusively located inside the settlements themselves. After getting through security and to the station, they sometimes wait for hours for an Arabic translator, only to be told they don’t have the right paperwork or sufficient evidence to submit a report. As one senior Israeli military official told us, the police “exhaust Palestinians so they won’t file complaints.”

And yet in November, with no protection from the police or the military, the former residents of Khirbet Zanuta and five nearby villages chose to test whether justice was still possible by appealing directly to Israel’s Supreme Court. In a petition, lawyers for the villagers, from Haqel, an Israeli human rights organization, argued that days after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, a raiding party that included settlers and Israeli soldiers assaulted village residents, threatened murder and destroyed property throughout the village. They stated that the raid was part of “a mass transfer of ancient Palestinian communities,” one in which settlers working hand in hand with soldiers are taking advantage of the current war in Gaza to achieve the longer-standing goal of “cleansing” parts of the West Bank, aided by the “sweeping and unprecedented disregard” of the state and its “de facto consent to the massive acts of deportation.”

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and the relief the villagers are seeking — that the law be enforced — might seem modest. But our reporting reveals the degree to which decades of history are stacked against them: After 50 years of crime without punishment, in many ways the violent settlers and the state have become one.

Separate and Unequal

The devastating Hamas attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, the ongoing crisis of Israeli hostages and the grinding Israeli invasion and bombardment of the Gaza Strip that followed may have refocused the world’s attention on Israel’s ongoing inability to address the question of Palestinian autonomy. But it is in the West Bank where the corrosive long-term effects of the occupation on Israeli law and democracy are most apparent.

A sample of three dozen cases in the months since Oct. 7 shows the startling degree to which the legal system has decayed. In all the cases, involving misdeeds as diverse as stealing livestock and assault and arson, not a single suspect was charged with a crime; in one case, a settler shot a Palestinian in the stomach while an Israel Defense Forces soldier looked on, yet the police questioned the shooter for only 20 minutes, and never as a criminal suspect, according to an internal Israeli military memo. During our review of the cases, we listened to recordings of Israeli human rights activists calling the police to report various crimes against Palestinians. In some of the recordings, the police refused to come to the scene, claiming they didn’t know where the villages were; in one case, they mocked the activists as “anarchists.” A spokesman for the Israeli National Police declined to respond to repeated queries about our findings.

The violence and impunity that these cases demonstrate existed long before Oct. 7. In nearly every month before October, the rate of violent incidents was higher than during the same month in the previous year. And Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, looking at more than 1,600 cases of settler violence in the West Bank between 2005 and 2023, found that just 3 percent ended in a conviction. Ami Ayalon, the head of Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000 — speaking out now because of his concern about Israel’s systemic failure to enforce the law — says this singular lack of consequences reflects the indifference of the Israeli leadership going back years. “The cabinet, the prime minister,” he says, “they signal to the Shin Bet that if a Jew is killed, that’s terrible. If an Arab is killed, that’s not good, but it’s not the end of the world.”

Ayalon’s assessment was echoed by many other officials we interviewed. Mark Schwartz, a retired American three-star general, was the top military official working at the United States Embassy in Jerusalem from 2019 to 2021, overseeing international support efforts for the partnership between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “There’s no accountability,” he says now of the long history of settler crimes and heavy-handed Israeli operations in the West Bank. “These things eat away at trust and ultimately the stability and security of Israel and the Palestinian territories. It’s undeniable.”

How did a young nation turn so quickly on its own democratic ideals, and at what price? Any meaningful answer to these questions has to take into account how a half-century of lawless behavior that went largely unpunished propelled a radical form of ultranationalism to the center of Israeli politics. This is the history that is told here in three parts. In Part I, we describe the origins of a religious movement that established Jewish settlements in the newly won territories of Gaza and the West Bank during the 1970s. In Part II, we recount how the most extreme elements of the settler movement began targeting not only Palestinians but also Israeli leaders who tried to make peace with them. And in Part III, we show how the most established members of Israel’s ultraright, unpunished for their crimes, gained political power in Israel, even as a more radical generation of settlers vowed to eliminate the Israeli state altogether.

Many Israelis who moved to the West Bank did so for reasons other than ideology, and among the settlers, there is a large majority who aren’t involved in violence or other illegal acts against Palestinians. And many within the Israeli government fought to expand the rule of law into the territories, with some success. But they also faced harsh pushback, with sometimes grave personal consequences. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s efforts in the 1990s, on the heels of the First Intifada, to make peace with Yasir Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, gave rise to a new generation of Jewish terrorists, and they ultimately cost him his life.

The disagreement over how to handle the occupied territories and their residents has bred a complex and sometimes opaque system of law enforcement. At its heart are two separate and unequal systems of justice: one for Jews and another for Palestinians.

The West Bank is under the command of the I.D.F., which means that Palestinians are subject to a military law that gives the I.D.F. and the Shin Bet considerable authority. They can hold suspects for extended periods without trial or access to either a lawyer or the evidence against them. They can wiretap, conduct secret surveillance, hack into databases and gather intelligence on any Arab living in the occupied territory with few restrictions. Palestinians are subject to military — not civilian — courts, which are far more punitive when it comes to accusations of terrorism and less transparent to outside scrutiny. (In a statement, the I.D.F. said, “The use of administrative detention measures is only carried out in situations where the security authorities have reliable and credible information indicating a real danger posed by the detainee to the region’s security, and in the absence of other alternatives to remove the risk.” It declined to respond to multiple specific queries, in some cases saying “the events are too old to address.”)

According to a senior Israeli defense official, since Oct. 7, some 7,000 settler reservists were called back by the I.D.F., put in uniform, armed and ordered to protect the settlements. They were given specific orders: Do not leave the settlements, do not cover your faces, do not initiate unauthorized roadblocks. But in reality many of them have left the settlements in uniform, wearing masks, setting up roadblocks and harassing Palestinians.

All West Bank settlers are in theory subject to the same military law that applies to Palestinian residents. But in practice, they are treated according to the civil law of the State of Israel, which formally applies only to territory within the state’s borders. This means that Shin Bet might probe two similar acts of terrorism in the West Bank — one committed by Jewish settlers and one committed by Palestinians — and use wholly different investigative tools.

In this system, even the question of what behavior is being investigated as an act of terror is different for Jews and Arabs. For a Palestinian, the simple admission of identifying with Hamas counts as an act of terrorism that permits Israeli authorities to use severe interrogation methods and long detention. Moreover, most acts of violence by Arabs against Jews are categorized as a “terror” attack — giving Shin Bet and other services license to use the harshest methods at their disposal.

The job of investigating Jewish terrorism falls to a division of Shin Bet called the Department for Counterintelligence and Prevention of Subversion in the Jewish Sector, known more commonly as the Jewish Department. It is dwarfed both in size and prestige by Shin Bet’s Arab Department, the division charged mostly with combating Palestinian terrorism. And in the event, most incidents of settler violence — torching vehicles, cutting down olive groves — fall under the jurisdiction of the police, who tend to ignore them. When the Jewish Department investigates more serious terrorist threats, it is often stymied from the outset, and even its successes have sometimes been undermined by judges and politicians sympathetic to the settler cause. This system, with its gaps and obstructions, allowed the founders of groups advocating extreme violence during the 1970s and 1980s to act without consequences, and today it has built a protective cocoon around their ideological descendants.

Some of these people now run Israel. In 2022, just 18 months after losing the prime ministership, Benjamin Netanyahu regained power by forming an alliance with ultraright leaders of both the Religious Zionism Party and the Jewish Power party. It was an act of political desperation on Netanyahu’s part, and it ushered into power some truly radical figures, people — like Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir — who had spent decades pledging to wrest the West Bank and Gaza from Arab hands . Just two months earlier, according to news reports at the time, Netanyahu refused to share a stage with Ben-Gvir, who had been convicted multiple times for supporting terrorist organizations and, in front of television cameras in 1995, vaguely threatened the life of Rabin, who was murdered weeks later by an Israeli student named Yigal Amir.

Now Ben-Gvir was Israel’s national security minister and Smotrich was Israel’s finance minister, charged additionally with overseeing much of the Israeli government’s activities in the West Bank. In December 2022, a day before the new government was sworn in, Netanyahu issued a list of goals and priorities for his new cabinet, including a clear statement that the nationalistic ideology of his new allies was now the government’s guiding star. “The Jewish people,” it said, “have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the land of Israel.”

Two months after that, two Israeli settlers were murdered in an attack by Hamas gunmen near Huwara, a village in the West Bank. The widespread calls for revenge, common after Palestinian terror attacks, were now coming from within Netanyahu’s new government. Smotrich declared that “the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out.”

And, he added, “I think the State of Israel needs to do it.”

Birth of a Movement

With its overwhelming victory in the Arab-​Israeli War of 1967, Israel more than doubled the amount of land it controlled, seizing new territory in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Now it faced a choice: Would the new land become part of Israel or be bargained away as part of a future Palestinian state? To a cadre of young Israelis imbued with messianic zeal, the answer was obvious. The acquisition of the territories animated a religious political movement — Gush Emunim, or “Bloc of the Faithful” — that was determined to settle the newly conquered lands.

Gush Emunim followers believed that the coming of the messiah would be hastened if, rather than studying holy books from morning to night, Jews settled the newly occupied territories. This was the land of “Greater Israel,” they believed, and there was a pioneer spirit among the early settlers. They saw themselves as direct descendants of the earliest Zionists, who built farms and kibbutzim near Palestinian villages during the first part of the 20th century, when the land was under British control. But while the Zionism of the earlier period was largely secular and socialist, the new settlers believed they were advancing God’s agenda.

The legality of that agenda was an open question. The Geneva Conventions, to which Israel was a signatory, forbade occupying powers to deport or transfer “parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” But the status of the territory was, in the view of many within and outside the Israeli government, more complex. The settlers sought to create what some of them called “facts on the ground.” This put them into conflict with both the Palestinians and, at least putatively, the Israeli authorities responsible for preventing the spread of illegal settlements.

Whether or not the government would prove flexible on these matters became clear in April 1975 at Ein Yabrud, an abandoned Jordanian military base near Ofra, in the West Bank. A group of workers had been making the short commute from Israel most days for months to work on rebuilding the base, and one evening they decided to stay. They were aiming to establish a Jewish foothold in Judea and Samaria, the Israeli designation for the territories that make up the West Bank, and they had found a back door that required only the slightest push. Their leader met that same night with Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defense minister, who told the I.D.F. to stand down. Peres would treat the nascent settlement not as a community but as a “work camp” — and the I.D.F. would do nothing to hinder their work.

Peres’s maneuver was partly a sign of the weakness of Israel’s ruling Labor party, which had dominated Israeli politics since the country’s founding. The residual trauma of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 — when Israel was caught completely by surprise by Egyptian and Syrian forces before eventually beating back the invading armies — had shaken citizens’ belief in their leaders, and movements like Gush Emunim, directly challenging the authority of the Israeli state, had gained momentum amid Labor’s decline. This, in turn, energized Israel’s political right.

By the late 1970s, the settlers, bolstered in part by growing political support, were expanding in number. Carmi Gillon, who joined Shin Bet in 1972 and rose by the mid-1990s to become its director, recalls the evolving internal debates. Whose responsibility was it to deal with settlers? Should Israel’s vaunted domestic security service enforce the law in the face of clearly illegal acts of settlement? “When we realized that Gush Emunim had the backing of so many politicians, we knew we shouldn’t touch them,” he said in his first interview for this article in 2016.

One leader of the ultraright movement would prove hard to ignore, however. Meir Kahane, an ultraright rabbi from Flatbush, Brooklyn, had founded the militant Jewish Defense League in 1968 in New York. He made no secret of his belief that violence was sometimes necessary to fulfill his dream of Greater Israel, and he even spoke of plans to buy .22 caliber rifles for Jews to defend themselves. “Our campaign motto will be, ‘Every Jew a .22,’” he declared. In 1971, he received a suspended sentence on bomb-making charges, and at the age of 39 he moved to Israel to start a new life. From a hotel on Zion Square in Jerusalem, he started a school and a political party, what would become Kach, and drew followers with his fiery rhetoric.

Kahane said he wanted to rewrite the stereotype of Jews as victims, and he argued, in often vivid terms, that Zionism and democracy are in fundamental tension. “Zionism came into being to create a Jewish state,” Kahane said in an interview with The Times in 1985, five years before he was assassinated by a gunman in New York. “Zionism declares that there is going to be a Jewish state with a majority of Jews, come what may. Democracy says, ‘No, if the Arabs are the majority then they have the right to decide their own fate.’ So Zionism and democracy are at odds. I say clearly that I stand with Zionism.”

A Buried Report

In 1977, the Likud party led a coalition that, for the first time in Israeli history, secured a right-wing majority in the country’s Parliament, the Knesset. The party was headed by Menachem Begin, a veteran of the Irgun, a paramilitary organization that carried out attacks against Arabs and British authorities in Mandatory Palestine, the British colonial entity that preceded the creation of Israel. Likud — Hebrew for “the alliance” — was itself an amalgam of several political parties. Kach itself was still on the outside and would always remain so. But its radical ideas and ambitions were moving closer to the mainstream.

Likud’s victory came 10 years after the war that brought Israel vast amounts of new land, but the issue of what to do with the occupied territories had yet to be resolved. As the new prime minister, Begin knew that addressing that question would mean addressing the settlements. Could there be a legal basis for taking the land? Something that would allow the settlements to expand with the full support of the state?

It was Plia Albeck, then a largely unknown bureaucrat in the Israeli Justice Ministry, who found Begin’s answer. Searching through the regulations of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Palestine in the years preceding the British Mandate, she lit upon the Ottoman Land Code of 1858, a major effort at land reform. Among other provisions, the law enabled the sultan to seize any land that had not been cultivated by its owners for a number of years and that was not “within shouting distance” of the last house in the village. It did little to address the provisions of the Geneva Convention, but it was, for her department, precedent enough. Soon Albeck was riding in an army helicopter, mapping the West Bank and identifying plots of land that might meet the criteria of the Ottoman law. The Israeli state had replaced the sultan, but the effect was the same. Albeck’s creative legal interpretation led to the creation of more than 100 new Jewish settlements, which she referred to as “my children.”

At the same time, Begin was quietly brokering a peace deal with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt in the United States at Camp David. The pact they eventually negotiated gave the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt and promised greater autonomy to Palestinians in the occupied territories in return for normalized relations with Israel. It would eventually win the two leaders a joint Nobel Peace Prize. But Gush Emunim and other right-wing groups saw the accords as a shocking reversal. From this well of anger sprang a new campaign of intimidation. Rabbi Moshe Levinger, one of the leaders of Gush Emunim and the founder of the settlement in the heart of Hebron, declared the movement’s purposes on Israeli television. The Arabs, he said, “must not be allowed to raise their heads.”

Leading this effort would be a militarized offshoot of Gush Emunim called the Jewish Underground. The first taste of what was to come arrived on June 2, 1980. Car bombs exploded as part of a complex assassination plot against prominent Palestinian political figures in the West Bank. The attack blew the legs off Bassam Shaka, the mayor of Nablus; Karim Khalaf, the mayor of Ramallah, was forced to have his foot amputated. Kahane, who in the days before the attack said at a news conference that the Israeli government should form a “Jewish terrorist group” that would “throw bombs and grenades to kill Arabs,” applauded the attacks, as did Rabbi Haim Druckman, a leader of Gush Emunim then serving in the Knesset, and many others within and outside the movement. Brig. Gen. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, then the top I.D.F. commander in the West Bank, noting the injuries suffered by the Palestinian mayors under his watch, said simply, “It’s a shame they didn’t hit them a bit higher.” An investigation began, but it would be years before it achieved any results. Ben-Eliezer went on to become a leader of the Labor party and defense minister.

The threat that the unchecked attacks posed to the institutions and guardrails of Jewish democracy wasn’t lost on some members of the Israeli elite. As the violence spread, a group of professors at Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem sent a letter to Yitzhak Zamir, Israel’s attorney general. They were concerned, they wrote, that illegal “private policing activity” against the Palestinians living in the occupied territories presented a “threat to the rule of law in the country.” The professors saw possible collusion between the settlers and the authorities. “There is a suspicion that similar crimes are not being handled in the same manner and some criminals are receiving preferential treatment over others,” the signatories to the letter said. “This suspicion requires fundamental examination.”

The letter shook Zamir, who knew some of the professors well. He was also well aware that evidence of selective law enforcement — one law for the Palestinians and another for the settlers — would rebut the Israeli government’s claim that the law was enforced equally and could become both a domestic scandal and an international one. Zamir asked Judith Karp, then Israel’s deputy attorney general for special duties, to lead a committee looking into the issue. Karp was responsible for handling the most delicate issues facing the Justice Ministry, but this would require even greater discretion than usual.

As her team investigated, Karp says, “it very quickly became clear to me that what was described in the letter was nothing compared to the actual reality on the ground.” She and her investigative committee found case after case of trespassing, extortion, assault and murder, even as the military authorities and the police did nothing or performed notional investigations that went nowhere. “The police and the I.D.F. in both action and inaction were really cooperating with the settler vandals,” Karp says. “They operated as if they had no interest in investigating when there were complaints, and generally did everything they could to deter the Palestinians from even submitting them.”

In May 1982, Karp and her committee submitted a 33-page report, determining that dozens of offenses were investigated insufficiently. The committee also noted that, in their research, the police had provided them with information that was incomplete, contradictory and in part false. They concluded that nearly half the investigations opened against settlers were closed without the police conducting even a rudimentary investigation. In the few cases in which they did investigate, the committee found “profound flaws.” In some cases, the police witnessed the crimes and did nothing. In others, soldiers were willing to testify against the settlers, but their testimonies and other evidence were buried.

It soon became clear to Karp that the government was going to bury the report. “We were very naïve,” she now recalls. Zamir had been assured, she says, that the cabinet would discuss the grave findings and had in fact demanded total confidentiality. The minister of the interior at the time, Yosef Burg, invited Karp to his home for what she recalls him describing as “a personal conversation.” Burg, a leader of the pro-settler National Religious Party, had by then served as a government minister in one office or another for more than 30 years. Karp assumed he wanted to learn more about her work, which could in theory have important repercussions for the religious right. “But, to my astonishment,” she says, “he simply began to scold me in harsh language about what we were doing. I understood that he wanted us to drop it.”

Karp announced she was quitting the investigative committee. “The situation we discovered was one of complete helplessness,” she says. When the existence of the report (but not its contents) leaked to the public, Burg denied having ever seen such an investigation. When the full contents of the report were finally made public in 1984, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry said only that the committee had been dissolved and that the ministry was no longer monitoring the problem.

A Wave of Violence

On April 11, 1982, a uniformed I.D.F. soldier named Alan Harry Goodman shot his way into the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem, one of the most sacred sites for Muslims around the world. Carrying an M16 rifle, standard issue in the Israeli Army, he killed two Arabs and wounded many more. When investigators searched Goodman’s apartment, they found fliers for Kach, but a spokesman for the group said that it did not condone the attack. Prime Minister Begin condemned the attack, but he also chastised Islamic leaders calling for a general strike in response, which he saw as an attempt to “exploit the tragedy.”

The next year, masked Jewish Underground terrorists opened fire on students at the Islamic College in Hebron, killing three people and injuring 33 more. Israeli authorities condemned the massacre but were less clear about who would be held to account. Gen. Ori Orr, commander of Israeli forces in the region, said on the radio that all avenues would be pursued. But, he added, “we don’t have any description, and we don’t know who we are looking for.”

The Jewish Department found itself continually behind in its efforts to address the onslaught. In April 1984, it had a major breakthrough: Its agents foiled a Jewish Underground plan to blow up five buses full of Palestinians, and they arrested around two dozen Jewish Underground members who had also played roles in the Islamic College attack and the bombings of the Palestinian mayors in 1980. But only after weeks of interrogating the suspects did Shin Bet learn that the Jewish Underground had been developing a scheme to blow up the Dome of the Rock mosque. The planning involved dozens of intelligence-gathering trips to the Temple Mount and an assessment of the exact amount of explosives that would be needed and where to place them. The goal was nothing less than to drag the entire Middle East into a war, which the Jewish Underground saw as a precondition for the coming of the messiah.

Carmi Gillon, who was head of Shin Bet’s Jewish Department at the time, says the fact that Shin Bet hadn’t learned about a plot involving so many people and such ambitious planning earlier was an “egregious intelligence failure.” And it was not the Shin Bet, he notes, who prevented the plot from coming to fruition. It was the Jewish Underground itself. “Fortunately for all of us, they decided to forgo the plan because they felt the Jewish people were not yet ready.”

“You have to understand why all this is important now,” Ami Ayalon said, leaning in for emphasis. The sun shining into the backyard of the former Shin Bet director was gleaming off his bald scalp, illuminating a face that looked as if it were sculpted by a dull kitchen knife. “We are not discussing Jewish terrorism. We are discussing the failure of Israel.”

Ayalon was protective of his former service, insisting that Shin Bet, despite some failures, usually has the intelligence and resources to deter and prosecute right-wing terrorism in Israel. And, he said, they usually have the will. “The question is why they are not doing anything about it,” he said. “And the answer is very simple. They cannot confront our courts. And the legal community finds it almost impossible to face the political community, which is supported by the street. So everything starts with the street.”

By the early 1980s, the settler movement had begun to gain some traction within the Knesset, but it remained far from the mainstream. When Kahane himself was elected to the Knesset in 1984, the members of the other parties, including Likud, would turn and leave the room when he stood up to deliver speeches. One issue was that the continual expansion of the settlements was becoming an irritant in U.S.-Israel relations. During a 1982 trip by Begin to Washington, the prime minister had a closed-door meeting with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to discuss Israel’s invasion of Lebanon that year, an effort to force out the P.L.O. that had been heavy with civilian casualties. According to The Times’s coverage of the session, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, then in his second term, had an angry exchange with Begin about the West Bank, telling him that Israel was losing support in this country because of the settlements policy.

But Israeli officials came to understand that the Americans were generally content to vent their anger about the issue without taking more forceful action — like restricting military aid to Israel, which was then, as now, central to the country’s security arrangements. After the Jewish Underground plotters of the bombings targeting the West Bank mayors and other attacks were finally brought to trial in 1984, they were found guilty and given sentences ranging from a few months to life in prison. The plotters showed little remorse, though, and a public campaign swelled to have them pardoned. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir also made the case for pardoning them, saying they were “excellent, good people who have erred in their path and actions.” Clemency, Shamir suggested, would prevent a recurrence of Jewish terrorism.

In the end, President Chaim Herzog, against the recommendations of Shin Bet and the Justice Ministry, signed an extraordinary series of pardons and commutations for the plotters. They were released and greeted as heroes by the settler community, and some rose to prominent positions in government and the Israeli media. One of them, Uzi Sharbav, now a leader in the settlement movement, was a speaker at a recent conference promoting the return of settlers to Gaza.

In fact, nearly all the Jews involved in terror attacks against Arabs over the past decades have received substantial reductions in prison time. Gillon, the head of the Jewish Department when some of these people were arrested, recalls the “profound sense of injustice” that he felt when they were released. But even more important, he says, was “the question of what message the pardons convey to the public and to anyone who ever thinks about carrying out acts of terror against Arabs.”

Operational Failures

In 1987, a series of conflicts in Gaza led to a sustained Palestinian uprising throughout the occupied territories and Israel. The First Intifada, as it became known, was driven by anger over the occupation, which was then entering its third decade. It would simmer for the next six years, as Palestinians attacked Israelis with stones and Molotov cocktails and launched a series of strikes and boycotts. Israel deployed thousands of soldiers to quell the uprising.

In the occupied territories, reprisal attacks between settlers and Palestinians were an increasing problem. The Gush Emunim movement had spread and fractured into different groups, making it difficult for Shin Bet to embed enough informants with the settlers. But the service had one key informant — a man given the code name Shaul. He was a trusted figure among the settlers and rose to become a close assistant to Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the Gush Emunim leader who founded the settlement in Hebron.

Levinger had been questioned many times under suspicion of having a role in multiple violent attacks, but Shaul told Shin Bet operatives that they were seeing only a fraction of the whole picture. He told them about raids past and planned; about the settlers tearing through Arab villages, vandalizing homes, burning dozens of cars. The operatives ordered him to participate in these raids to strengthen his cover. One newspaper photographer in Hebron in 1985 captured Shaul smashing the wall of an Arab marketplace with a sledgehammer. As was standard policy, Shin Bet had ordered him to participate in any activity that didn’t involve harm to human life, but figuring out which of the activities wouldn’t cross that line became increasingly difficult. “The majority of the activists were lunatics, riffraff, and it was very difficult to be sure they wouldn’t hurt people and would harm only property,” Shaul said. (Shaul, whose true identity remains secret, provided these quotes in a 2015 interview with Bergman for the Israeli Hebrew-language paper Yedioth Ahronoth. Some of his account is published here for the first time.)

In September 1988, Rabbi Levinger, Shaul’s patron, was driving through Hebron when, he later said in court, Palestinians began throwing stones at his car and surrounding him. Levinger flashed a pistol and began firing wildly at nearby shops. Investigators said he killed a 42-year-old shopkeeper, Khayed Salah, who had been closing the steel shutter of his shoe store, and injured a second man. Levinger claimed self-defense, but he was hardly remorseful. “I know that I am innocent,” he said at the trial, “and that I didn’t have the honor of killing the Arab.”

Prosecutors cut a deal with Levinger. He was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, sentenced to five months in prison and released after only three.

Shin Bet faced the classic intelligence agency’s dilemma: how and when to let its informants participate in the very violent acts the service was supposed to be stopping. There was some logic in Shin Bet’s approach with Shaul, but it certainly didn’t help deter acts of terror in the West Bank, especially with little police presence in the occupied territories and a powerful interest group ensuring that whoever was charged for the violence was released with a light sentence.

Over his many years as a Shin Bet mole, Shaul said, he saw numerous intelligence and operational failures by the agency. One of the worst, he said, was the December 1993 murder of three Palestinians in an act of vengeance after the murder of a settler leader and his son. Driving home from a day of work in Israel, the three Palestinians, who had no connection to the deaths of the settlers, were pulled from their car and killed near the West Bank town Tarqumiyah.

Shaul recalled how one settler activist proudly told him that he and two friends committed the murders. He contacted his Shin Bet handlers to tell them what he had heard. “And suddenly I saw they were losing interest,” Shaul said. It was only later that he learned why: Two of the shooters were Shin Bet informants. The service didn’t want to blow their cover, or worse, to suffer the scandal that two of its operatives were involved in a murder and a cover-up.

In a statement, Shin Bet said that Shaul’s version of events is “rife with incorrect details” but refused to specify which details were incorrect. Neither the state prosecutor nor the attorney general responded to requests for comment, which included Shaul’s full version of events and additional evidence gathered over the years.

Shaul said he also gave numerous reports to his handlers about the activities of yet another Brooklyn-born follower of Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League: Dr. Baruch Goldstein. He earned his medical degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and in 1983 immigrated to Israel, where he worked first as a physician in the I.D.F., then as an emergency doctor at Kiryat Arba, a settlement near Hebron.

In the years that passed, he gained the attention of Shin Bet with his eliminationist views, calling Arabs “latter-day Nazis” and making a point to visit the Jewish terrorist Ami Popper in prison, where he was serving a sentence for the 1990 murder of seven Palestinians in the Tel Aviv suburb Rishon LeZion. Shaul said he regarded Goldstein at the time as a “charismatic and highly dangerous figure” and repeatedly urged the Shin Bet to monitor him. “They told me it was none of my business,” he said.

‘Clean Hands’

On Feb. 24, 1994, Goldstein abruptly fired his personal driver. According to Shaul, Goldstein told the driver that he knew he was a Shin Bet informer. Terrified at having been found out, the driver fled the West Bank immediately. Now Goldstein was moving unobserved.

That evening marked the beginning of Purim, the festive commemoration of the victory of the Jews over Haman the Agagite, a court official in the Persian Empire and the nemesis of the Jews in the Old Testament’s Book of Esther. Right-wing Israelis have often drawn parallels between Haman and Arabs — enemies who seek the annihilation of Jews. Goldstein woke early the next day and put on his I.D.F. uniform, and at 5:20 a.m. he entered the Cave of the Patriarchs, an ancient complex in Hebron that serves as a place of worship for both Jews and Muslims. Goldstein carried with him his I.D.F.-issued Galil rifle. It was also the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and on that morning hundreds of Muslims crowded the hall in prayer. Goldstein faced the worshipers and began shooting , firing 108 rounds before he was dragged down and beaten to death. The massacre killed 29 Muslim worshipers and injured more than 100.

The killings shocked Israel, and the government responded with a crackdown on extremism. Kach and Kahane Chai, the two political organizations most closely affiliated with the Kahanist movement, were outlawed and labeled terrorist groups, as was any other party that called for “the establishment of a theocracy in the biblical Land of Israel and the violent expulsion of Arabs from that land.” Rabin, in an address to the Knesset, spoke directly to the followers of Goldstein and Kahane, who he said were the product of a malicious foreign influence on Israel. “You are not part of the community of Israel,” he said. “You are not partners in the Zionist enterprise. You are a foreign implant. You are an errant weed. Sensible Judaism spits you out. You placed yourself outside the wall of Jewish law.”

Following the massacre, a state commission of inquiry was appointed, headed by Judge Meir Shamgar, the president of the Supreme Court. The commission’s report, made public in June 1994, strongly criticized the security arrangements at the Cave of the Patriarchs and examined law-enforcement practices regarding settlers and the extreme right in general. A secret appendix to the report, containing material deemed too sensitive for public consumption, included a December 1992 letter from the Israeli commissioner of police, essentially admitting that the police could not enforce the law. “The situation in the districts is extremely bleak,” he wrote, using the administrative nomenclature for the occupied territories. “The ability of the police to function is far from the required minimum. This is as a result of the lack of essential resources.”

In its conclusions, the commission, tracing the lines of the previous decade’s Karp report, confirmed claims that human rights organizations had made for years but that had been ignored by the Israeli establishment. The commission found that Israeli law enforcement was “ineffective in handling complaints,” that it delayed the filing of indictments and that restraining orders against “chronic” criminals among the “hard core” of the settlers were rarely issued.

The I.D.F. refused to allow Goldstein to be buried in the Jewish cemetery in Hebron. He was buried instead in the Kiryat Arba settlement, in a park named for Meir Kahane, and his gravesite has become an enduring place of pilgrimage for Jews who wanted to celebrate, as his epitaph reads, the “saint” who died for Israel with “clean hands and a pure heart.”

A Curse of Death

One ultranationalist settler who went regularly to Goldstein’s grave was a teenage radical named Itamar Ben-Gvir, who would sometimes gather other followers there on Purim to celebrate the slain killer. Purim revelers often dress in costume, and on one such occasion, caught on video, Ben-Gvir even wore a Goldstein costume, complete with a fake beard and a stethoscope. By then, Ben-Gvir had already come to the attention of the Jewish Department, and investigators interrogated him several times. The military declined to enlist him into the service expected of most Israeli citizens.

After the massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs, a new generation of Kahanists directed their anger squarely at Rabin for his signing of the Oslo agreement and for depriving them, in their view, of their birthright. “From my standpoint, Goldstein’s action was a wake-up call,” says Hezi Kalo, a longtime senior Shin Bet official who oversaw the division that included the Jewish Department at that time. “I realized that this was going to be a very big story, that the diplomatic moves by the Rabin government would simply not pass by without the shedding of blood.”

The government of Israel was finally paying attention to the threat, and parts of the government acted to deal with it. Shin Bet increased the size of the Jewish Department, and it began to issue a new kind of warning: Jewish terrorists no longer threatened only Arabs. They threatened Jews.

The warnings noted that rabbis in West Bank settlements, along with some politicians on the right, were now openly advocating violence against Israeli public officials, especially Rabin. Extremist rabbis issued rulings of Jewish law against Rabin — imposing a curse of death, a Pulsa Dinura , and providing justification for killing him, a din rodef .

Carmi Gillon by then had moved on from running the Jewish Department and now had the top job at Shin Bet. “Discussing and acknowledging such halakhic laws was tantamount to a license to kill,” he says now, looking back. He was particularly concerned about Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, who were stoking the fury of the right-wing rabbis and settler leaders in their battles with Rabin.

Shin Bet wanted to prosecute rabbis who approved the religiously motivated death sentences against Rabin, but the state attorney’s office refused. “They didn’t give enough importance back then to the link between incitement and legitimacy for terrorism,” says one former prosecutor who worked in the state attorney’s office in the mid-1990s.

Shin Bet issued warning after warning in 1995. “This was no longer a matter of mere incitement, but rather concrete information on the intention to kill top political figures, including Rabin,” Kalo now recalls. In October of that year, Ben-Gvir spoke to Israeli television cameras holding up a Cadillac hood ornament, which he boasted he had broken off the prime minister’s official car during chaotic anti-Oslo demonstrations in front of the Knesset. “We got to his car,” he said, “and we’ll get to him, too.” The following month, Rabin was dead.


Yigal Amir, the man who shot and killed Rabin in Tel Aviv after a rally in support of the Oslo Accords on Nov. 4, 1995, was not unknown to the Jewish Department. A 25-year-old studying law, computer science and the Torah at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, he had been radicalized by Rabin’s efforts to make peace with Palestinian leaders and had connections to Avishai Raviv, the leader of Eyal, a new far-right group loosely affiliated with the Kach movement. In fact, Raviv was a Shin Bet informant, code-named Champagne. He had heard Amir talking about the justice of the din rodef judgments, but he did not identify him to his handlers as an immediate danger. “No one took Yigal seriously,” he said later in a court proceeding. “It’s common in our circles to talk about attacking public figures.”

Lior Akerman was the first Shin Bet investigator to interrogate Amir at the detention center where he was being held after the assassination. There was of course no question about his guilt. But there was the broader question of conspiracy. Did Amir have accomplices? Did they have further plans? Akerman now recalls asking Amir how he could reconcile his belief in God with his decision to murder the prime minister of Israel. Amir, he says, told him that rabbis had justified harming the prime minister in order to protect Israel.

Amir was smug, Akerman recalls, and he did not respond directly to the question of accomplices. “‘Listen,” he said, according to Akerman, “I succeeded . I was able to do something that many people wanted but no one dared to do. I fired a gun that many Jews held, but I squeezed the trigger because no one else had the courage to do it.”

The Shin Bet investigators demanded to know the identities of the rabbis. Amir was coy at first, but eventually the interrogators drew enough out of him to identify at least two of them. Kalo, the head of the division that oversaw the Jewish Department, went to the attorney general to argue that the rabbis should be detained immediately and prosecuted for incitement to murder. But the attorney general disagreed, saying the rabbis’ encouragement was protected speech and couldn’t be directly linked to the murder. No rabbis were arrested.

Days later, however, the police brought Raviv — the Shin Bet operative known as Champagne — into custody in a Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, on charges that he had conspired to kill Rabin, but he was released shortly after. Raviv’s role as an informant later came to light, and in 1999, he was arrested for his failure to act on previous knowledge of the assassination. He was acquitted on all charges, but he has since become a fixture of extremist conspiracy theories that pose his failure to ring the alarm as evidence that the murder of the prime minister was due not to the violent rhetoric of the settler right, or the death sentences from the rabbis, or the incitement by the leaders of the opposition, but to the all-too-successful efforts of a Shin Bet agent provocateur. A more complicated and insidious conspiracy theory, but no less false, was that it was Shin Bet itself that assassinated Rabin or allowed the assassination to happen.

Gillon, the head of the service at the time, resigned, and ongoing inquiries, charges and countercharges would continue for years. Until Oct. 7, 2023, the killing of the prime minister was considered the greatest failure in the history of Shin Bet. Kalo tried to sum up what went wrong with Israeli security. “The only answer my friends and I could give for the failure was complacency,” he wrote in his 2021 memoir. “They simply couldn’t believe that such a thing could happen, definitely not at the hands of another Jew.”

The Sasson Report

In 2001, as the Second Intifada unleashed a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, Ariel Sharon took office as prime minister. The struggling peace process had come to a complete halt amid the violence, and Sharon’s rise at first appeared to mark another victory for the settlers. But in 2003, in one of the more surprising reversals in Israeli political history, Sharon announced what he called Israel’s “disengagement” from Gaza, with a plan to remove settlers — forcibly if necessary — over the next two years.

The motivations were complex and the subject of considerable debate. For Sharon, at least, it appeared to be a tactical move. “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process,” his senior adviser Dov Weisglass told Haaretz at the time. “And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.” But Sharon was also facing considerable pressure from President George W. Bush to do something about the ever-expanding illegal settlements in the West Bank, which were a growing impediment to any regional security deals. In July 2004, he asked Talia Sasson, who had recently retired as the head of the special tasks division in the state attorney’s office, to draw up a legal opinion on the subject of “unauthorized outposts” in the West Bank. His instructions were clear: Investigate which Israeli government agencies and authorities were secretly involved in building the outposts. “Sharon never interfered in my work, and neither was he surprised by the conclusions,” Sasson said in an interview two decades later. “After all, he knew better than anyone what the situation was on the ground, and he was expecting only grave conclusions.”

It was a simple enough question: Just how had it happened that hundreds of outposts had been built in the decade since Yitzhak Rabin ordered a halt in most new settlements? But Sasson’s effort to find an answer was met with delays, avoidance and outright lies. Her final report used careful but pointed language: “Not everyone I turned to agreed to talk with me. One claimed he was too busy to meet, while another came to the meeting but refused to meaningfully engage with most of my questions.”

Sasson found that between January 2000 and June 2003, a division of Israel’s Construction and Housing Ministry issued 77 contracts for the establishment of 33 sites in the West Bank, all of which were illegal. In some cases, the ministry even paid for the paving of roads and the construction of buildings at settlements for which the Defense Ministry had issued demolition orders.

Several government ministries concealed the fact that funds were being diverted to the West Bank, reporting them under budgetary clauses such as “miscellaneous general development.” Just as in the case of the Karp Report two decades earlier, Sasson and her Justice Ministry colleagues discovered that the West Bank was being administered under completely separate laws, and those laws, she says, “appeared to me utterly insane.”

Sasson’s report took special note of Avi Maoz, who ran the Construction and Housing Ministry during most of this period. A political activist who early in his career spoke openly of pushing all Arabs out of the West Bank, Maoz helped found a settlement south of Jerusalem during the 1990s and began building a professional alliance with Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and would soon go on to his first term as prime minister. Years later, Maoz would be instrumental in ensuring Netanyahu’s political survival.

“The picture that emerges in the eye of the beholder is severe,” Sasson wrote in her report. “Instead of the government of Israel deciding on the establishment of settlements in the territories of Judea and Samaria, its place has been taken, from the mid-1990s and onward, by others.” The settlers, she wrote, were “the moving force,” but they could not have succeeded without the assistance of “various ministers of construction and housing in the relevant periods, some of them with a blind eye, and some of them with support and encouragement.”

This clandestine network was operating, Sasson wrote, “with massive funding from the State of Israel, without appropriate public transparency, without obligatory criteria. The erection of the unauthorized outposts is being done with violation of the proper procedures and general administrative rules, and in particular, flagrant and ongoing violation of the law.” These violations, Sasson warned, were coming from the government: “It was state and public agencies that broke the law, the rules, the procedures that the state itself had determined.” It was a conflict, she argued, that effectively neutered Israel’s internal checks and balances and posed a grave threat to the nation’s integrity. “The law-enforcement agencies are unable to act against government departments that are themselves breaking the law.”

But, in an echo of Judith Karp’s secret report decades earlier, the Sasson Report, made publicly available in March 2005, had almost no impact. Because she had a mandate directly from the prime minister, Sasson could have believed that her investigation might lead to the dismantling of the illegal outposts that had metastasized throughout the Palestinian territories. But even Sharon, with his high office, found himself powerless against the machine now in place to protect and expand the settlements in the West Bank — the very machine he had helped to build.

All of this was against the backdrop of the Gaza pullout. Sharon, who began overseeing the removal of settlements from Gaza in August 2005, was the third Israeli prime minister to threaten the settler dream of a Greater Israel, and the effort drew bitter opposition not only from the settlers but also from a growing part of the political establishment. Netanyahu, who had served his first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, and who previously voted in favor of a pullout, resigned his position as finance minister in Sharon’s cabinet in protest — and in anticipation of another run for the top job.

The settlers themselves took more active measures. In 2005, the Jewish Department of Shin Bet received intelligence about a plot to slow the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza by using 700 liters of gasoline to blow up vehicles on a major highway. Acting on the tip, officers arrested six men in central Israel. One of them was Bezalel Smotrich, the future minister overseeing civilian affairs in the West Bank.

Smotrich, then 25, was detained and questioned for weeks. Yitzhak Ilan, one of the Shin Bet officers present at the interrogation, says he remained “silent as a fish” throughout — “like an experienced criminal.” He was released without charges, Ilan says, in part because Shin Bet knew putting him on trial might expose the service’s agents inside Jewish extremist groups, and in part because they believed Smotrich was likely to receive little punishment in any case. Shin Bet was very comfortable with the courts when we fought Palestinian terrorism and we got the heavy punishments we wanted, he says. With the Jewish terrorists it was exactly the opposite.

When Netanyahu made his triumphant return as prime minister in 2009, he set out to undermine Talia Sasson’s report, which he and his allies saw as an obstacle to accelerating the settlement campaign. He appointed his own investigative committee, led by Judge Edmond Levy of the Supreme Court, who was known to support the settler cause. But the Levy report, completed in 2012, did not undermine the findings in the Sasson Report — in some ways, it reinforced them. Senior Israeli officials, the committee found, were fully aware of what was happening in the territories, and they were simply denying it for the sake of political expediency. The behavior, they wrote, was not befitting of “a country that has proclaimed the rule of law as a goal.” Netanyahu moved on.


The ascent of a far-right prime minister did little to prevent the virulent, anti-government strain inside the settler movement from spreading. A new generation of Kahanists was taking an even more radical turn, not only against Israeli politicians who might oppose or insufficiently abet them but against the very notion of a democratic Israeli state. A group calling itself Hilltop Youth advocated for the total destruction of the Zionist state. Meir Ettinger, named for his grandfather Meir Kahane, was one of the Hilltop Youth leaders, and he made his grandfather’s views seem moderate.

Their objective was to tear down Israel’s institutions and to establish “Jewish rule”: anointing a king, building a temple in place of the Jerusalem mosques sacred to Muslims worldwide, imposing a religious regime on all Jews. Ehud Olmert, who served as Israeli prime minister from 2006 to 2009, said in an interview that Hilltop Youth “genuinely, deeply, emotionally believe that this is the right thing to do for Israel. This is a salvation. This is the guarantee for Israel’s future.”

A former member of Hilltop Youth, who has asked to remain anonymous because she fears speaking out could endanger her, recalls how she and her friends used an illegal outpost on a hilltop in the West Bank as a base to lob stones at Palestinian cars. “The Palestinians would call the police, and we would know that we have at least 30 minutes before they arrive, if they arrive. And if they do arrive, they won’t arrest anyone. We did this tens of times.” The West Bank police, she says, couldn’t have been less interested in investigating the violence. “When I was young, I thought that I was outsmarting the police because I was clever. Later, I found out that they are either not trying or very stupid.”

The former Hilltop Youth member says she began pulling away from the group as their tactics became more extreme and once Ettinger began speaking openly about murdering Palestinians. She offered to become a police informant, and during a meeting with police intelligence officers in 2015, she described the group’s plans to commit murder — and to harm any Jews that stood in their way. By her account, she told the police about efforts to scout the homes of Palestinians before settling on a target. The police could have begun an investigation, she says, but they weren’t even curious enough to ask her the names of the people plotting the attack.

In 2013, Ettinger and other members of Hilltop Youth formed a secret cell calling itself the Revolt, designed to instigate an insurrection against a government that “prevents us from building the temple, which blocks our way to true and complete redemption.”

During a search of one of the group’s safe houses, Shin Bet investigators discovered the Revolt’s founding documents. “The State of Israel has no right to exist, and therefore we are not bound by the rules of the game,” one declared. The documents called for an end to the State of Israel and made it clear that in the new state that would rise in its place, there would be absolutely no room for non-Jews and for Arabs in particular: “If those non-Jews don’t leave, it will be permissible to kill them, without distinguishing between women, men and children.”

This wasn’t just idle talk. Ettinger and his comrades organized a plan that included timetables and steps to be taken at each stage. One member even composed a training manual with instructions on how to form terror cells and burn down houses. “In order to prevent the residents from escaping,” the manual advised, “you can leave burning tires in the entrance to the house.”

The Revolt carried out an early attack in February 2014, firebombing an uninhabited home in a small Arab village in the West Bank called Silwad, and followed with more arson attacks, the uprooting of olive groves and the destruction of Palestinian granaries. Members of the group torched mosques, monasteries and churches, including the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. A police officer spotted Ettinger himself attacking a herd of sheep belonging to an Arab shepherd. He stoned a sheep and then slaughtered it in front of the shepherd, the officer later testified. “It was shocking,” he said. “There was a sort of insanity in it.”

Shin Bet defined the Revolt as an organization that aimed “to undermine the stability of the State of Israel through terror and violence, including bodily harm and bloodshed,” according to an internal Shin Bet memo, and sought to place several of its members, including Ettinger, under administrative detention — a measure applied frequently against Arabs.

The state attorney, however, did not approve the request. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 323 incidents of violence by settlers against Palestinians in 2014; Palestinians were injured in 107 of these incidents. By the following year, the Revolt escalated the violence by openly advocating the murder of Arabs.

The Shin Bet and the police identified one of the prominent members of the Revolt, Amiram Ben-Uliel, making him a target of surveillance. But the service failed to prevent the wave of violence that he unleashed. On the night of July 31, 2015, Ben-Uliel set out on a killing spree in a central West Bank village called Duma. Ben-Uliel prepared a bag with two bottles of incendiary liquid, rags, a lighter, a box of matches, gloves and black spray paint. According to the indictment against him, Ben-Uliel sought a home with clear signs of life to ensure that the house he torched was not abandoned. He eventually found the home of Reham and Sa’ad Dawabsheh, a young mother and father. He opened a window and threw a Molotov cocktail into the home. He fled, and in the blaze that followed, the parents suffered injuries that eventually killed them. Their older son, Ahmad, survived the attack, but their 18-month-old toddler, Ali, was burned to death.

It was always clear, says Akerman, the former Shin Bet official, “that those wild groups would move from bullying Arabs to damaging property and trees and eventually would murder people.” He is still furious about how the service has handled Jewish terrorism. “Shin Bet knows how to deal with such groups, using emergency orders, administrative detention and special methods in interrogation until they break,” he says. But although it was perfectly willing to apply those methods to investigating Arab terrorism, the service was more restrained when it came to Jews. “It allowed them to incite, and then they moved on to the next stage and began to torch mosques and churches. Still undeterred, they entered Duma and burned a family.”

Shin Bet at first claimed to have difficulty locating the killers, even though they were all supposed to be under constant surveillance. When Ben-Uliel and other perpetrators were finally arrested, right-wing politicians gave fiery speeches against Shin Bet and met with the families of the perpetrators to show their support. Ben-Uliel was sentenced to life in prison, and Ettinger was finally put in administrative detention, but a fracture was spreading. In December 2015, Hilltop Youth members circulated a video clip showing members of the Revolt ecstatically dancing with rifles and pistols, belting out songs of hatred for Arabs, with one of them stabbing and burning a photograph of the murdered toddler, Ali Dawabsheh. Netanyahu, for his part, denounced the video, which, he said, exposed “the real face of a group that poses danger to Israeli society and security.”

American Friends

The expansion of the settlements had long been an irritant in Israel’s relationship with the United States, with American officials spending years dutifully warning Netanyahu both in public and in private meetings about his support for the enterprise. But the election of Donald Trump in 2016 ended all that. His new administration’s Israel policy was led mostly by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who had a long personal relationship with Netanyahu, a friend of his father’s who had stayed at their family home in New Jersey. Trump, in a broader regional agenda that lined up perfectly with Netanyahu’s own plans, also hoped to scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran that Barack Obama had negotiated and broker diplomatic pacts between Israel and Arab nations that left the matter of a Palestinian state unresolved and off the table.

If there were any questions about the new administration’s position on settlements, they were answered once Trump picked his ambassador to Israel. His choice, David Friedman, was a bankruptcy lawyer who for years had helped run an American nonprofit that raised millions of dollars for Beit El, one of the early Gush Emunim settlements in the West Bank and the place where Bezalel Smotrich was raised and educated. The organization, which was also supported by the Trump family, had helped fund schools and other institutions inside Beit El. On the heels of the Trump transition, Friedman referred to Israel’s “alleged occupation” of Palestinian territories and broke with longstanding U.S. policy by saying “the settlements are part of Israel.”

This didn’t make Friedman a particularly friendly recipient of the warnings regularly delivered by Lt. Gen. Mark Schwartz, the three-star general who in 2019 arrived at the embassy in Jerusalem to coordinate security between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. A career Green Beret who had combat deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq and served as deputy commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, the military task force with authority over U.S. counterterrorism special missions units, Schwartz wasn’t short on Middle East experience.

But he was immediately shocked by the landscape of the West Bank: settlers acting with impunity, a police force that was essentially nonexistent outside the settlements and the Israeli Army fanning the tensions with its own operations. Schwartz recalls how angry he was about what he called the army’s “collective punishment” tactics, including the razing of Palestinian homes, which he viewed as gratuitous and counterproductive. “I said, ‘Guys, this isn’t how professional militaries act.’” As Schwartz saw it, the West Bank was in some ways the American South of the 1960s. But at any moment the situation could become even more volatile, resulting in the next intifada.

Schwartz is diplomatic when recalling his interactions with Friedman, his former boss. He was a “good listener,” Schwartz says, but when he raised concerns about the settlements, Friedman would often deflect by noting “the lack of appreciation by the Palestinian people about what the Americans are doing for them.” Schwartz also discussed his concerns about settler violence directly with Shin Bet and I.D.F. officials, he says, but as far as he could tell, Friedman didn’t follow up with the political leadership. “I never got the sense he went to Netanyahu to discuss it.”

Friedman sees things differently. “I think I had a far broader perspective on acts of violence in Judea and Samaria” than Schwartz, he says now. “And it was clear that the violence coming from Palestinians against Israelis overwhelmingly was more prevalent.” He says he “wasn’t concerned about ‘appreciation’ from the Palestinians; I was concerned by their leadership’s embrace of terror and unwillingness to control violence.” He declined to discuss any conversations he had with Israeli officials.

Weeks after Trump lost the 2020 election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Israel for a trip that delivered a number of gifts to Netanyahu and the settler cause. He announced new guidelines requiring that goods imported to the United States from parts of the West Bank be labeled “Made in Israel.” And he flew by helicopter to Psagot, a winery in the West Bank, making him the first American secretary of state to visit a settlement. One of the winery’s large shareholders, the Florida-based Falic family, have donated millions to various projects in the settlements.

During his lunchtime visit, Pompeo paused to write a note in the winery’s guest book. “May I not be the last secretary of state to visit this beautiful land,” he wrote.

A Settler Coalition

Benjamin Netanyahu’s determination to become prime minister for an unprecedented sixth term came with a price: an alliance with a movement that he once shunned, but that had been brought into the political mainstream by Israel’s steady drift to the right. Netanyahu, who is now on trial for bribery and other corruption charges, repeatedly failed in his attempts to form a coalition after most of the parties announced that they were no longer willing to join him. He personally involved himself in negotiations to ally Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power party and Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism Party, making them kingmakers for anyone trying to form a coalition government. In November 2022, the bet paid off: With the now-critical support of the extreme right, Netanyahu returned to office.

The two men ushered into power by this arrangement were some of the most extreme figures ever to hold such high positions in an Israeli cabinet. Shin Bet had monitored Ben-Gvir in the years after Yitzhak Rabin’s murder, and he was arrested on multiple charges including inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization. He won acquittals or dismissals in some of the cases, but he was also convicted several times and served time in prison. During the Second Intifada, he led protests calling for extreme measures against Arabs and harassed Israeli politicians he believed were insufficiently hawkish.

Then Ben-Gvir made a radical change: He went to law school. He also took a job as an aide to Michael Ben-Ari, a Knesset member from the National Union party, which had picked up many followers of the Kach movement. In 2011, after considerable legal wrangling around his criminal record, he was admitted to the bar. He changed his hairstyle and clothing to appear more mainstream and began working from the inside, once saying he represented the “soldiers and civilians who find themselves in legal entanglements due to the security situation in Israel.” Netanyahu made him minister of national security, with authority over the police.

Smotrich also moved into public life after his 2005 arrest by Shin Bet for plotting road blockages to halt the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. He made Shin Bet’s Jewish Department a frequent target of criticism, complaining that it was wasting time and money investigating crimes carried out by Jews, when the real terrorists were Palestinians. His ultraright allies sometimes referred to the Jewish Department as Hamakhlaka Hayehudit — the Hebrew phrase for the Gestapo unit that executed Hitler’s Final Solution.

In 2015, while campaigning for a seat in the Knesset, Smotrich said that “every shekel invested in this department is one less shekel invested in real terrorism and saving lives.” Seven years later, Netanyahu made him both minister of finance and a minister in the Ministry of Defense, in charge of overseeing civilian affairs in the West Bank, and he has steadily pushed to seize authority over the territory from the military. As part of the coalition deal with Netanyahu, Smotrich now has the authority to appoint one of the senior administrative figures in the West Bank, who helps oversee the building of roads and the enforcement of construction laws. The 2022 election also brought Avi Maoz to the Knesset — the former housing-ministry official whom Talia Sasson once marked as a hidden hand of Israeli government support for illegal settlements. Since then, Maoz had joined the far-right Noam party, using it as a platform to advance racist and homophobic policies. And he never forgot, or forgave, Sasson. On “International Anti-Corruption Day” in 2022, Maoz took to the lectern of the Knesset and denounced Sasson’s report of nearly two decades earlier, saying it was written “with a hatred of the settlements and a desire to harm them.” This, he said, was “public corruption of the highest order, for which people like Talia Sasson should be prosecuted.”

Days after assuming his own new position, Ben-Gvir ordered the police to remove Palestinian flags from public spaces in Israel, saying they “incite and encourage terrorism.” Smotrich, for his part, ordered drastic cuts in payments to the Palestinian Authority — a move that led the Shin Bet and the I.D.F. intelligence division to raise concerns that the cuts would interfere with the Palestinian Authority’s own efforts to police and prevent Palestinian terrorism.

Weeks after the new cabinet was sworn in, the Judea and Samaria division of the I.D.F. distributed an instructional video to the soldiers of a ground unit about to be deployed in the West Bank. Titled “Operational Challenge: The Farms,” the video depicts settlers as peaceful farmers living pastoral lives, feeding goats and herding sheep and cows, in dangerous circumstances. The illegal outposts multiplying around the West Bank are “small and isolated places of settlement, each with a handful of residents, a few of them — or none at all — bearing arms, the means of defense meager or nonexistent.”

It is the settlers, according to the video, who are under constant threat of attack, whether it be “penetration of the farm by a terrorist, an attack against a shepherd in the pastures, arson” or “destruction of property” — threats from which the soldiers of the I.D.F. must protect them. The commander of each army company guarding each farm must, the video says, “link up with the person in charge of security and to maintain communications”; soldiers and officers are encouraged to cultivate a close and intimate relationship with the settlers. “The informal,” viewers are told, “is much more important than the formal.”

The video addresses many matters of security, but it never addresses the question of law. When we asked the commander of the division that produced the video, Brig. Gen. Avi Bluth, why the I.D.F. was promoting the military support of settlements that are illegal under Israeli law, he directly asserted that the farms were indeed legal and offered to arrange for us to tour some of them. Later, a spokesman for the army apologized for the general’s remarks, acknowledged that the farms were illegal and announced that the I.D.F. would no longer be promoting the video. This May, Bluth was nonetheless subsequently promoted to head Israel’s Central Command, responsible for all Israeli troops in central Israel and the West Bank.

In August, Bluth will replace Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, who during his final months in charge of the West Bank has seen a near-total breakdown of law enforcement in his area of command. In late October, Fox wrote a letter to his boss, the chief of Israel’s military staff, saying that the surge of Jewish terrorism carried out in revenge for the Oct. 7 attacks “could set the West Bank on fire.” The I.D.F. is the highest security authority in the West Bank, but the military’s top commander put the blame squarely on the police — who ultimately answer to Ben-Gvir. Fox said he had established a special task force to deal with Jewish terrorism, but investigating and arresting the perpetrators is “entirely in the hands of the Israeli police.”

And, he wrote, they aren’t doing their jobs.

‘Only One Way Forward’

When the day came early this January for the Supreme Court to hear the case brought by the people of Khirbet Zanuta, the displaced villagers arrived an hour late. They had received entry permits from the District Coordination Office to attend the hearing but were delayed by security forces before reaching the checkpoint separating Israel from the West Bank. Their lawyer, Quamar Mishirqi-Assad, noting that their struggle to attend their own hearing spoke to the essence of their petition, insisted that the hearing couldn’t proceed without them. The judges agreed to wait.

The villagers finally were led into the courtroom, and Mishirqi-Assad began presenting the case. The proceedings were in Hebrew, so most of the villagers were unable to follow the arguments that described the daily terrors inflicted by settlers and the glaring absence of any law-enforcement efforts to stop them.

The lawyers representing the military and the police denied the claims of abuse and failure to enforce the law. When a judge asked what operational steps would be in place if villagers wanted to return, one of the lawyers for the state said they could already — there was no order preventing them from doing so.

The next to speak was Col. Roi Zweig-Lavi, the Central Command’s Operations Directorate officer. He said that many of these incidents involved false claims. In fact, he said, some of the villagers had probably destroyed their own homes, because of an “internal issue.” Now they were blaming the settlers to escape the consequences of their own actions.

Colonel Zweig-Lavi’s own views about the settlements, and his role in protecting them, were well known. In a 2022 speech, he told a group of yeshiva students in the West Bank that “the army and the settlements are one and the same.”

In early May, the court ordered the state to explain why the police failed to stop the attacks and declared that the villagers have a right to return to their homes. The court also ordered the state to provide details for how they would ensure the safe return of the villagers. It is now the state’s turn to decide how it will comply. Or if it will comply.

By the time the Supreme Court issued its rulings, the United States had finally taken action to directly pressure the Netanyahu government about the violent settlers. On Feb. 1, the White House issued an executive order imposing sanctions on four settlers for “engaging in terrorist activity,” among other things, in the West Bank. One of the four was Yinon Levi, the owner of Meitarim Farm near Hebron and the man American and Israeli officials believe orchestrated the campaign of violence and intimidation against the villagers of Khirbet Zanuta. The British government issued its own sanctions shortly after, saying in a statement that Israel’s government had created “an environment of near-total impunity for settler extremists in the West Bank.”

The White House’s move against individual settlers, a first by an American administration, was met with a combination of anger and ridicule by ministers in Netanyahu’s government. Smotrich called the Biden administration’s allegations against Levi and others “utterly specious” and said he would work with Israeli banks to resist complying with the sanctions. One message that circulated in an open Hilltop Youth WhatsApp channel said that Levi and his family would not be abandoned. “The people of Israel are mobilizing for them,” it said.

American officials bristle when confronted with the question of whether the government’s actions are just token measures taken by an embattled American president hemorrhaging support at home for his Israel policy. They won’t end the violence, they say, but they are a signal to the Netanyahu government about the position of the United States: that the West Bank could boil over, and it could soon be the latest front of an expanding regional Middle East war since Oct. 7.

But war might just be the goal. Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister, said he believes that many members of the ultraright in Israel “want war.” They “want intifada,” he says, “because it is the ultimate proof that there is no way of making peace with the Palestinians and there is only one way forward — to destroy them.”

Additional reporting by Natan Odenheimer.

Top photograph: A member of a group known as Hilltop Youth, which seeks to tear down Israel’s institutions and establish ‘‘Jewish rule.’’ Photograph by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times.

Read by Jonathan Davis

Narration produced by Anna Diamond

Engineered by David Mason

Peter van Agtmael is a Magnum photographer who has been covering Israel and Palestinian territories since 2012. He is a mentor in the Arab Documentary Photography Program.

Ronen Bergman is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, based in Tel Aviv. His latest book is “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” published by Random House. More about Ronen Bergman

Mark Mazzetti is an investigative reporter based in Washington, D.C., focusing on national security, intelligence, and foreign affairs. He has written a book about the C.I.A. More about Mark Mazzetti

Our Coverage of the Israel-Hamas War

News and Analysis

The International Criminal Court prosecutor requested arrest warrants  for the leaders of Hamas and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel’s war cabinet, presented Netanyahu with an ultimatum , saying he would leave the government if it did not soon develop a plan for the future of the war in Gaza.

At least 64,000 Gazans have been displaced from the northern town of Jabaliya as Israel’s military launched a new offensive there .

Demanding New Leadership: Some reservists in the Israel Defense Forces, who have returned home from war, have joined the growing calls within Israel  for Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition to step aside.

Gaza’s Wartime Economy: In the seven months since Israel started bombarding Gaza, the enclave’s economy has been crushed. In its place, a marketplace of survival has arisen focused on the basics .

Protest in Brooklyn: A large pro-Palestinian protest in Brooklyn erupted into a chaotic scene , as the police arrested dozens of demonstrators and at times confronted them violently.



  1. Great How To Embed A Quote of the decade The ultimate guide

    how to embed quotes into an essay

  2. Using Quotes in an Essay: Ultimate Beginner's Guide

    how to embed quotes into an essay

  3. Great How To Embed A Quote of the decade The ultimate guide

    how to embed quotes into an essay

  4. How to Embed Quotes into Analysis

    how to embed quotes into an essay

  5. The Essential Guide to Finding & Using Quotes in English Essays 📝

    how to embed quotes into an essay

  6. How to Insert Quotations in a Literary Essay

    how to embed quotes into an essay


  1. How to Embed an Essay

  2. Making famous quotes into edits part 1 comment suggestions what I should do next

  3. How To Embed A Multimedia File with HTML

  4. How to Embed Quotes with Tips

  5. Blade Runner

  6. Embed Audio into Word 2007 within XP


  1. How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss

    There are three main methods in how you can blend quotations into an essay: 1. Adding Words. Broken sentences are a common mistake made when students aim to integrate quotations into their sentences. Below are examples of broken sentences due to poor integration of a quotation: 'Solitary as an oyster'.

  2. PDF Embedding Quotations

    Embedding Quotations Using quotations is important in the writing process because they add strong evidence when used appropriately. However, embedding quotations effectively into sentences is just as important as finding the correct quotations to use. Correctly embedded quotations move the reader from the quoted text back into the paragraph ...

  3. Integrating Quotations in MLA Style

    Use an ellipsis of three dots to shorten longer quotations by removing non-essential words and ideas from the middle of the quote. The quotation must fit grammatically into the sentence even with the ellipsis. It must also retain enough of the quotation so that it still makes sense in your essay and you do not distort its meaning.

  4. Quoting and integrating sources into your paper

    Important guidelines. When integrating a source into your paper, remember to use these three important components: Introductory phrase to the source material: mention the author, date, or any other relevant information when introducing a quote or paraphrase. Source material: a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary with proper citation.

  5. Quotations

    What this handout is about. Used effectively, quotations can provide important pieces of evidence and lend fresh voices and perspectives to your narrative. Used ineffectively, however, quotations can clutter your text and interrupt the flow of your argument. This handout will help you decide when and how to quote like a pro.

  6. Embedding A Quote: Importance and Effective Techniques

    Takeaways. Embedding quotes in your writing is a powerful technique that enhances the quality, credibility, and impact of your work. By selecting appropriate quotes, providing context, and skillfully integrating them into your writing, you can deepen your arguments, engage your audience, and add valuable insights from authoritative sources.

  7. INTEGRATING A QUOTATION INTO AN ESSAY Center for Writing and Speaking

    time you use a quotation from a source in an essay, introduce the author and the work that the quotation is attributed to before you use the actual quotation in the essay. Later in the essay, you simply need to address the author's last name before using the quotation. Try not to get stuck saying "he says/she says" throughout the whole essay.

  8. PDF Integrating Quotations into Your Paragraphs

    Note paraphrase on or explain significance as At in together. of a word or. Comment ne the following and notice of the quote in the context of your argument. be Omission more effective to. In discussing the role of movies The font of the quotations integrates the quote into his/her. Example Vietnam War, 1:

  9. Quote Integration

    Quote integration is arguably one of the most difficult parts of essay writing; however, it does not need to be. Here are some tips to make quote integration easier. First things first, the most basic way to integrate quotes into any piece of writing is with the following format Exercise has many ...

  10. PDF Embedded Quotes

    When quotes are used as support in an essay, it is best to create a smooth connection from your idea to the quoted material. The ideas should flow together and be logical. One way to do this is to embed the quote, which places the quote into the context of your own writing. For example: If the original text by John Doe reads:

  11. 11.3: Smoothly Integrating Quotations

    Practice: Integrating Quotes using introductory Phrases. For each quote below, create a sentence that smoothly integrates the quote. Try a few different methods: Method #1: Identify the speaker and context of the quote: Quote: "On this island, you walk too far and people speak a different language. Their own words reveal who belongs on what side".

  12. How to embed quotes like a BOSS

    *** OPEN FOR TIMESTAMPS + LEARN MORE on how to EMBED QUOTES LIKE A BOSS! Go have a detailed read of more quoting advice over on my blog:

  13. How to Put a Quote in an Essay (with Pictures)

    If you use the author's name in your lead-in to the quote, you just need to provide the year in parentheses: According to Luz Lopez, "the green grass symbolizes a fresh start for Lia (24).". 2. Include the author's last name, the year, and the page number for APA format. Write the author's name, then put a comma.

  14. PDF how to use quotes in your essay

    3. Interject the Author's Name into the Middle of the Quote. "In 2005, less than 10% of Johnson & Roe's employees reported their political affiliation," Yang (2007) reports, "but more than 50% reporteddiscussing politics with their colleagues.". Phrases & Words to Introduce Quotes. Phrases to Introduce the Quote.

  15. How to embed evidence

    The second approach for this kind of evidence is to embed direct speech quotations using the direct speech conventions from narrative writing. For example: "I've never been so happy in my life," Peter tells his mother when he collects his GCSE results. "Something must have gone wrong at the exam board.".

  16. How to Quote

    Citing a quote in APA Style. To cite a direct quote in APA, you must include the author's last name, the year, and a page number, all separated by commas. If the quote appears on a single page, use "p."; if it spans a page range, use "pp.". An APA in-text citation can be parenthetical or narrative.

  17. Suggested Ways to Introduce Quotations

    To introduce a quote in an essay, don't forget to include author's last name and page number (MLA) or author, date, and page number (APA) in your citation. Shown below are some possible ways to introduce quotations. The examples use MLA format. Use A Full Sentence Followed by A Colon To Introduce A Quotation Examples:

  18. Integrating Quotations in MLA Style

    Integrate quotations into your own sentences. Do not stand quotations alone as sentences. Provide signal phrases, which include the author's name and a signal verb. MLA style uses present tense signal verbs, in- text citations, and full source listings on the works-cited list at paper's end.

  19. How to embed quotes effectively in an essay

    One of the most important skills in literary essay writing is embedding quotes. Find out from this video how you can incorporate quotes in a clear and effect...

  20. How to Integrate Quotes SEAMLESSLY in Your Essays

    If you need to place excerpts from books, poems, interviews, or other texts in your own essays, you can use the 3 methods explained in this video to weave qu...

  21. How to Integrate Sources

    Integrating sources means incorporating another scholar's ideas or words into your work. It can be done by: Quoting. Paraphrasing. Summarizing. By integrating sources properly, you can ensure a consistent voice in your writing and ensure your text remains readable and coherent. You can use signal phrases to give credit to outside sources and ...

  22. MLA Formatting Quotations

    For quotations that are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented 1/2 inch from the left margin while maintaining double-spacing. Your parenthetical citation should come after the closing ...

  23. How to punctuate quotations in an essay

    There are different ways to use a quotation in an essay. For example, you could embed a quotation close embed a quotation Blend a quotation into your own sentence. into your sentence or separate ...

  24. 7 Best Ways to Shorten an Essay

    2. Identify Unnecessary Words and Remove Them. One of the simplest yet most effective ways to shorten your essay is by identifying and eliminating unnecessary words. This approach helps decrease word count and sharpens your arguments, making your writing more compelling. You can identify and remove extra words by doing the following: Spot wordy ...

  25. How Extremist Settlers Took Over Israel

    The Gush Emunim movement had spread and fractured into different groups, making it difficult for Shin Bet to embed enough informants with the settlers. But the service had one key informant — a ...