Writing with quotations

Jigsaw showing how to form an answer talking first about the poet's intention, then using a quote and finally explaining its effect

Once you’ve chosen your quotation and you know what you want to say about it, your next task is to work out how it fits into the flow of your writing.

Framing your quotation

Think of the quote as a piece of a puzzle that you need to slot inside the rest of your sentence.

Introduce the quotation by making a point about the poet’s intention, then insert the quote and follow up by explaining the effect the quotation has on the reader.




by Wilfred Owen
Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive us...
Wearied we keep awake because the night is silent...
Low, drooping flares confuse our memories of the salient...
Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,
But nothing happens.

Owen intentionally rhymes words on the hard consonant sounds in ‘knive us’, ‘nervous’, ‘silent’ and ‘salient’. The effect is unsettling and vividly conveys to the reader the feelings of a soldier lying low on a battlefield.

Formatting rules

  • Surround the quote in inverted commas.
  • If it is a whole line or more from the poem, you should set it out on a line on its own, slightly indented from the margin.
  • You should follow the same layout that the poet does. If quoting more than one line, start a new line when the poet does.
  • If you have a shorter quotation within your own sentence, use a forward slash (/) to show where the new line starts (eg 'Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,/ But nothing happens.')