Interpretation of Sources

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. (c. 1460 BC). Deir el Bahari.
"Hatshetsup-temple-1by7" by Ian Lloyd. Used under CC BY-SA 3.0. Source:

Interpreting a source requires you to think a bit more about what a source says or shows about a topic. This requires you to identify implicit (‘hidden’ or less obvious) meanings in historical sources. You will need to do this most often with visual sources that take time to interpret. However, some written sources will often not be explicit enough for you and they will require your interpretation of the information.


Since this requires you to explain what a source means, it will usually require you to use indirect quotes to summarise the intended meaning of a source.


What do you need to interpret?

Interpreting Written Sources

Learn how to successfully interpret written historical sources.

Interpreting Photographs

Learn how to successfully interpret historical photographs.

Interpreting Political Cartoons

Learn how to successfully interpret historical political cartoons.

Interpreting Propaganda Posters

Learn how to successfully interpret historical propaganda posters.

Additional resources

The difference between explicit and implicit information in sources

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