Do references and quotes improve the quality and make an essay sound better in undergraduate and graduate exams, contests, and other such situations? Could you please provide me with a book, paper, or quote that discusses this topic?

  • I'm pretty sure that adding references and quotes just for the sake of it is not a good idea. There are various good reasons for using them, but this will depend strongly on the subject area and even the topic of the essay. Jan 19 at 21:01
  • I also believe that the major principle of writing always is to communicate with the reader, so as a rule of thumb references or quotes are good if and only if they help the reader reading and understanding your essay. (Of course this requires thinking about who your readers are, what they want, what you want from them, and what they need.) Jan 19 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


This depends on the nature of the essay. For creative writing, references are usually not needed. But for something intended to be authoritative and factual, they probably are. Otherwise your essay will seem like an opinion piece. And even opinion pieces may need references for context.

So, context matters.

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