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ENG 101: Incorporating Sources

A Library Guide in support of Introductory Writing Courses at Wor-Wic

Incorporating Sources

 Incorporating Sources


There are three different ways of incorporating sources into your essay: summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting.


Summarizing: Usually condenses a great deal of information into a shorter, more concise form.  Generally, this is used for information that is not considered extremely important or needing a great deal of attention.


Paraphrasing:  Restates material in your own words, but does not necessarily shorten it in length or omit any information as summarizing does.  Use paraphrasing when you are not satisfied with how your source presents its information or you wish to restate technical or complicated material in terms that a more general audience may understand.


Quoting: Keeps the material exactly as it appears in the source.  Use quotation:

  • When language is especially vivid or expressive
  • When exact wording is needed for technical accuracy
  • When it is important to let the debaters of an issue explain their positions in their own words
  • When the words of an important authority lend weight to an argument
  • When the language of a source is the topic of your discussion

How to Integrate Sources into Your Essay

1. Acknowledge sources in your text, not just in the citation.  Give a full introduction the first time you discuss the source and then an abbreviated acknowledgement every time thereafter: 


In his book, How to Write a Research Paper, Michael Roberts suggests…. (Roberts 18).


Then, later in the essay, you can simply acknowledge the source by the author’s last name:

Roberts illustrates… (27).


2. Incorporate the quotations into your existing paragraphs (rather than making a quote stand alone in its own sentence).

3. Avoid grammar and punctuation errors in spliced quotations (make sure verb tense and grammar in the quote matches your paper). 

4. Use ellipses (…) to shorten quotations. The use of three dots (…) indicates that you have omitted words from within the original quote. Note: Ellipses are used only to shorten quotes (while retaining the essence of the quote's meaning). They should never be used in a way that alters the meaning of the original quote.


Some Common Mistakes with Incorporating Sources

1. Letting direct quotations and/or paraphrases to speak for themselves.

Writers always need to clarify the meaning of the material they have quoted or paraphrased, and explain its significance in light of their own thesis.


2. Not differentiating your own thoughts from those of your sources.  

Writers need to strike a balance between themselves and the “experts.”  Incorporating the thoughts and words of others should be seen as part of an on-going 'conversation' about the subject; do not over-rely on them. Remember: It’s your essay, so you should have the final word!





Simply put, ‘citation’ involves giving credit to ideas that are used in your essay (even if they are not used in the development of your own ideas) that come from someone else. As scholars, we cite as a way to locate ourselves within larger ongoing conversations about ideas. And though we are all unique, none of our thoughts emerge from a vacuum; citing also helps writers document their intellectual journey. It is a lack of proper citation (unintentional or otherwise) that leaves a writer vulnerable to the charge of plagiarism.


For most of you, the process of citation will include using In-Text citations within your essay, as well as providing a complete list of Works Cited at the end. As you begin to write, it’s important to know what citation style (APA or MLA) is required by your instructor, as this impacts how your citations should appear.


Information on APA formatting can be found here: APA Formatting and Style Guide