How to use sources
There are three main ways of incorporating sources into your paper:
Quote - Any time you use the exact wording found in a source it needs to be
"quoted." Use minimally and only when the source has written something in an
Paraphrase - Putting an excerpt from a source in your own words, rephrasing but
not shortening it.
Summarize - Boiling an excerpt down to its essential points, like describing an
entire book in one or two sentences.
Tips for quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing:
all three methods require a citation! See our
Styles page for more on how to do this.
- Limit block quotes (long, direct quotations from a source) as much as possible.
- Don't do this: "A quotation from a source without any explanation." It's called a dropped
quote, it just sits in a paragraph on its own. Always explain where a quotation is from and why
it's interesting. Analyze its language and explain its relevance to the research question you are
- Introducing and commenting on every quotation, paraphrase, and summary makes it easier to
distinguish your voice from the source's.
- Summaries are handy when you need to explain a lot of sources in a small space, to help the
reader understand the background of your topic. Choose your words carefully to emphasize the most
relevant aspects of longer passages.
Where to get more help