Excerpt: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Are Excerpts?
  • 1:17 Examples
  • 4:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Patricia Vineski
In this lesson, you'll learn what an excerpt is and how to use excerpts to make your writing more interesting. You will also take a look at some examples. Then, test your knowledge with a brief quiz.

What Are Excerpts?

We sometimes use quoted portions, or excerpts, of longer conversations to communicate to others what we want them to understand and remember about the subject of the conversation, or to support what we feel and think about the subject of the conversation.

We use excerpts to communicate things like:

  • When Jack said, ''I can't take this anymore, and I'm leaving,'' I thought I would just die, or
  • My brother told his wife to ''stick it in her ear,'' and then shouted at her to ''GET OUT!''

Whether long or short, when we take a quoted portion from a longer conversation and use it to show others what we feel and think, or what we want them to understand and remember about that conversation, we are using excerpts.

An excerpt in writing is a quoted passage taken from a longer work, such as a book, or poem, or an article. Whatever the subject of your writing or the type of writing you intend to compose, excerpts can be used to 'show' readers what it is you want them to understand and remember about the subject. Excerpts can also be used to support what you feel and think about a subject. Because an excerpt is a quoted portion of a longer work, it is always contained within quotation marks.


An excerpt can be used to 'show' readers what it is you want them to understand and remember about a subject. For example, if you were composing a book review or an essay, in which you wanted readers to understand and remember what you have to say about honey in the children's book Winnie the Pooh, you might include the following excerpt:

''One day when he was out walking, he came to an open place in the
middle of the forest, and in the middle of this place was a large
oak-tree, and, from the top of the tree, there came a loud buzzing-noise.
Winnie-the-Pooh sat down at the foot of the tree, put his head
between his paws and began to think.
First of all he said to himself: 'That buzzing-noise means
something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and
buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise,
somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a
buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee.'
Then he thought another long time, and said: 'And the only reason
for being a bee that I know of is making honey.'
And then he got up, and said: 'And the only reason for making
honey is so as I can eat it.' So he began to climb the tree''
(Milne, 1926).

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