Line references in essays

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1. Some texts – such as long poems, plays, works of philosophy, or the Bible – require line references. You should identify the source of your first quotation with a numbered endnote. Then add a line number, thus:

NOTES
1. Tony Harrison, Selected Poems, Penguin, 1984, p.181, l.26.

2. If all your subsequent references will be to this text, you may
add a brief note:

All subsequent line and page references are to this edition.

Following this first full reference, you may afterwards give only a line number after the quotation in your text.

3. There is no need to give line references when quoting from a short text (say, up to twenty lines). Just give the source as an endnote to your first quotation.

4. When giving references to quotations from texts such as plays, the convention is to give the information in the sequence as follows:

Act – Scene – Line number

Act II,   Sc iv,   l.129

5. Notice that the act number is usually given as a Roman numeral in capitals (II), the scene number in lower case (iv), and the line reference in Arabic numerals (129). This type of notation is normally abbreviated to II.iv.129

6. Remember that you should produce your own argument first, and then add supporting quotations afterwards. Unless the essay question asks you to do so, you should not normally quote first and then offer a commentary on the extract.

© Roy Johnson 2003


Essay writing links

Line references Writing Essays

Line references How to Write Critical Essays

Line references Writing Essays 3.0


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