There are three possible ways to include other people’s work in your own text: summary, paraphrase, or direct quotations. Each one of these methods require in-text citation or it is considered a form of plagiarism.
1. Summary—A summary is when you take several ideas, or several main ideas, from a large chunk of text and reduce it in size. Summarizing also happens when you take data from a chart or a graph and use it in your text. For the length of papers that you’ll be writing in an Eng 101 or 102 course, you won’t need block quotations (quotes longer than four lines of text), so it’s a good idea to summarize information from larger passages. When summarizing, use your own words to convey the article’s main points; more than two of the same words is too much like the original source.
Original text: long. Your version: short. Quotation marks: no. Citation: yes.
2. Paraphrase—This is when you want to include source information, but you also want to make the source information fit within the language of your text. Maybe the information is too technical for you to directly quote, or you don’t really need the author’s exact words. A paraphrase conveys the source information but changes all of the words. An ideal paraphrase won’t use any of the original source’s words. If you have trouble changing the words when trying to paraphrase, use a direct quotation instead.
Original text and Your version=same length (roughly). Quotation marks: no. Citation: yes.
3. Direct Quotation—You’re probably familiar with this. A direct quotation uses the author’s exact words. You signal a direct quotation with a transition, called an attributive tag: Jane Smith claims, “Direct quotations can provide effective evidence in a written argument.” The attributive tag signals to the reader that a quotation is coming, and it also informs the reader of the author. Sometimes, attributive tags can supply more information: In her college-level text on composing arguments, Jane Smith claims, . This attributive tag not only informs the reader of who the author of the quotation is, but also informs them of what kind of publication it was. Some attributive tags can be simple: One article found, she also states, the article claims, etc. The key point is this: ANY DIRECT QUOTATION NEEDS SOME FORM OF ATTRIBUTIVE TAG. (Yes, I’m shouting at you.)
Original text and Your version: are the same, except you’ve added an attributive tag. Quotation marks: yes. Citation: yes.
Citation: MLA requires the author’s last name and page number in parentheses at the end of any source material cited.
Summary: The study found people were happier when browsing dank memes, and that they tended to live longer (Smith 24).
Paraphrase: Lifespans increased in over half of the study’s participants (Smith 24).
Direct Quotation: In her study of the positive effects of memes published in The Journal of Meme Psychology, Jane Smith found, “sixty-five percent of subjects who self-reported extended browsing of ‘dank’ memes lived longer lives” (24).
True Integration: Making Source Information Fit
Students often struggle with integration source material with their own text. However, integrating source information isn't difficult; there are several common tasks you need to accomplish when including source material. Any direct quotation will need a signal that a quote is coming.
Common Templates for Integrating Source Quotations
(X=Author(s) for a Particular Source)
Students often struggle with integration source material with their own text. However, integrating source information isn't difficult; there are several common tasks you need to accomplish when including source material. Any direct quotation will need a signal that a quote is coming. This signal, called an attributive tag, forecasts that a quote will appear. The attributive tag may also name the author and the source of the quotation.
X states, “___________________” (23).
According to X, “______________” (42).
Writing in the journal Commentary, X complains that “_________________________” (65).
X agrees when she writes, “________________” (33).
In her book, Important Observations, X maintains that “______________________” (24).
You should also offer your own commentary on a quotation; help your readers understand the meaning of a quote and why you're using it.
Basically, X is saying _________________________________.
In other words, X believes ________________________.
X’s point is that _____________________________.
Other Ways to Signal an Author’s Views (or Introduce a Quotation)
X acknowledges X claims
X agrees X complains
X argues X concedes
X believes X demonstrates
X denies/does not deny
Don’t Forget Your Own Views
When incorporating source material, you can also offer your own commentary on the source material. After all, you may be using sources, but the paper is still yours. Show that you have your own ideas about the topic and the evidence a source provides.
I think X is mistaken because she overlooks __________________.
I agree that ___________ because my experience ________________ confirms it.
I’ve always believed that __________________.
I wholeheartedly endorse what X calls ______________________.
My point is not _____________, but ___________________.
Integrating Source Quotations and Building Paragraphs
Introducing quotes establishes where you found the quotation and helps you clearly articulate that you’re offering an expert’s information to support your own argument. However, that’s just the first step to using source material effectively. With proper planning, a single quote can form the bulk of a paragraph. Here’s an example:
1a. In addition to these problems, X will increase unemployment, harming our economy. 1b. Even more disturbing, some research suggests that X will have lasting harmful effects. 2. Miller, et al’s study on X published in The Journal of Dank Memes, found that, “If X is not changed, we can expect widespread unemployment that increases every year for at least the next ten years.” 3. In other words, X will cause people to lose their jobs, which further harms our community; in fact, not only will people immediately lose their jobs, but job loss will continue for about a decade. 4a. Job loss harms not only those people who lose their jobs. 4b. Those people who lose jobs can no longer spend money at local businesses and the community as whole will suffer. 5. This is why we should oppose X by supporting plan Y.
Notice that each sentence performs a function.
Sentences 1a. and 1b.: A supporting point that is going to use the source as evidence, and a sentence that signals a quote will follow.
Sentence 2: The quote, with a transition that explains the quote’s origin.
Sentence 3: A sentence that explains the quote information.
Sentences 4a and b: Further elaboration that explains the significance of the source information.
Sentence 5: A sentence connecting the quotation to the paper’s argument.
 Taken and Modified from They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein