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REL110 (LIFE Section): Using Sources

When and why should I paraphrase?

A direct quote tells the reader that you can find good information

A paraphrase tells the reader that you can understand and interpret the information that you read.

When should I paraphrase?

If you are trying to give the reader an accurate and comprehensive account of the ideas you have gathered from the source, paraphrasing is very effective.

Proper paraphrasing in MLA and APA

Paraphrase with signal phrase: (MLA)

Author William Zinsser argues that in order to write well, one must think clearly and work at it, just as if one were doing any other logical task (12).

  • The author is clearly identified in the sentence. The page number is in parentheses after the sentence. The end period comes after the parenthetical citation. You should generally use a signal phrase the first time you mention an author you are citing.

 

Paraphrase with signal phrase: (APA)

Author William Zinsser (1994) argues that in order to write well, one must think clearly, just as if one were doing any other logical task.

  • The author is clearly identified in the sentence. The date comes immediately after the author’s name and is in parentheses. You should generally use a signal phrase the first time you mention an author you are citing.

 

Paraphrase without signal phrase: (MLA)

In order to write well, one must think clearly and work at it, just as if one were doing any other logical task (Zinsser 12).

  • The author is clearly identified in the parenthetical citation. The page number is immediately after the author’s last name. There is no comma between them. The end period is AFTER the citation, never before. This method can be used after the author has been established in your text by a previous signal phrase.

 

Paraphrase without signal phrase: (APA)

In order to write well, one must think clearly, just as if one were doing any other logical task (Zinsser, 1994).

  • The author is clearly identified in the parenthetical citation. The date is immediately after a comma and the author’s last name. The end period is AFTER the citation, never before. This method can be used after the author has been established in your text by a previous signal phrase.

 

Tips on Paraphrasing and Quoting

  • Write a sentence as a transition before getting to the quote itself. You should ALMOST ALWAYS start a paragraph with your words, not a direct quote!
  • Having trouble writing in your own words? Close the book or turn over the piece of paper and write out what you're trying to say from memory. This helps because in order to do it well you have to understand what you're summarizing!

Quoting: More than copy/paste

Direct quotation with signal phrase (MLA):

According to author William Zinsser, “Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force upon themselves, as if they were working on any other project that requires logic: adding up a laundry list or doing an algebra problem” (12).

  • The author is clearly identified in the sentence. The quotation is taken word-for-word and placed inside quotation marks. The page number is in parentheses that are OUTSIDE of the quotation marks. The end period follows the parenthetical citation.

 

Direct quotation with signal phrase (APA):

According to author William Zinsser (1994), “Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force upon themselves, as if they were working on any other project that requires logic: adding up a laundry list or doing an algebra problem” (p. 12).

  • The author is clearly identified in the sentence. The date comes immediately after the author’s name and is in parentheses. The quotation is taken word-for-word and placed inside quotation marks. The page number is in parentheses that are OUTSIDE of the quotation marks. The end period follows the parenthetical citation.

 

Direct quotation without signal phrase (MLA):

The processes involved in thinking and writing are very closely connected. “Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force upon themselves, as if they were working on any other project that requires logic: adding up a laundry list or doing an algebra problem” (Zinsser 12).

  • The parenthetical citation includes the author’s last name and the page number with no comma between them. The citation is OUTSIDE of the end quotation marks, and the end period is AFTER the citation itself.

 

Direct quotation without signal phrase (APA):

The processes involved in thinking and writing are very closely connected. “Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force upon themselves, as if they were working on any other project that requires logic: adding up a laundry list or doing an algebra problem” (Zinsser, 1994, p. 12).

  • The parenthetical citation includes the author’s last name, the date, and the page number, all separated by commas. The citation is OUTSIDE of the quotation marks, and the end period is AFTER the citation itself.