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Authors include evidence in a text to develop and support their ideas. Citing evidence can help you to uncover what the author is trying to convey and can support or reinforce your own ideas about a text. Whether you are analyzing the meaning of words or phrases, identifying the author’s purpose, justifying arguments or answering questions about information in a text, being able to cite evidence will give you a deeper understanding of what you are reading.

Explore the slideshow below to learn how to cite evidence to support analysis of texts.

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Citing Textual Evidence

flowchart with idea at top and two back and forth arrows pointing to evidence  from idea

Citing evidence is an important component in analyzing a text. Evidence includes facts, examples, quotations and descriptions that provide support for the ideas in a text. Citing evidence to support your ideas about a text will help you answer the question, “How do you know?” To look for evidence, begin by reading the text. You should notice one or more ideas that the author is describing.

highlighted text example labeled explicit and next to that is an image of text with a thought bubble above it, labeled inferred

Some ideas are explicit, or directly written in a text, while other ideas can be inferred based on what the text says.

image of flowchart with inference at the top and 'evidence' and 'prior knowledge' arrows pointing to it; an arrow also points between evidence and prior knowledge

Ideas that are inferred, or inferences, are not written in the text. You as the reader make inferences through the evidence that is presented and through prior knowledge that you may have about the topic. Connecting the evidence to any prior knowledge that you have about the topic may also help you make an inference about the text. You have to “read between the lines” to draw an inference, but textual evidence will lead you to that inferred idea.

sample of text in quotations highlighted from an article

Once you have determined the particular idea that you wish to support with evidence, you can cite evidence by using a direct quote from the text, or by paraphrasing. If you use a direct quote, you must use quotation marks. If you are paraphrasing, you can write your own statement that conveys the same idea that is written in the text.

flowchart with idea at top and two back and forth arrows pointing to evidence from idea; two faded evidence boxes appear without arrows

Authors include many details and statements in the development of a text. Not all statements will support a particular idea. Your job is to find the strongest evidence that conveys or supports a particular idea.