Writing Tips

Writing for Academia, Literary Criticism & Analysis, Literature Reviews, and Annotated Bibliographies

How to Paraphrase a Source

  • When reading a passage, try first to understand it as a whole, rather than pausing to write down specific ideas or phrases.

  • Be selective. Unless your assignment is to do a formal or "literal" paraphrase, you usually don't need to paraphrase an entire passage; instead, choose and summarize the material that helps you make a point in your paper.

  • Think of what "your own words" would be if you were telling someone who's unfamiliar with your subject (your mother, your brother, a friend) what the original source said.

  • Remember that you can use direct quotations of phrases from the original within your paraphrase, and that you don't need to change or put quotation marks around shared language.

Methods of Paraphrasing

  1. Look away from the source then write: Read the text you want to paraphrase several times until you feel that you understand it and can use your own words to restate it to someone else. Then, look away from the original and rewrite the text in your own words.

  2. Take notes: Take abbreviated notes; set the notes aside; then paraphrase from the notes a day or so later, or when you draft.

Adapted from The Writing Center 

How To Quote a Source

Introducing a quotation

One of your jobs as a writer is to guide your reader through your text. Don't simply drop quotations into your paper and leave it to the reader to make connections.

Integrating a quotation into your text usually involves two elements:

  • A signal that a quotation is coming - generally the author's name and/or a reference to the work.

  • An assertion that indicates the relationship of the quotation to your text.

There are several ways to integrate quotations into your text. Often, a short quotation works well when integrated into a sentence. Longer quotations can stand alone. Remember that quoting should be done only sparingly; be sure that you have a good reason to include a direct quotation when you decide to do so.

Adapted from The Writing Center and Purdue OWL

Saving Citations

RefWorks - RefWorks is a web-based bibliography and database manager that allows you to create a personal, searchable database of citations. These citations can be formatted into your Microsoft Word documents as footnotes or a custom bibliography.

Zotero - Zotero is a Firefox add-on that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It's free, easy to use, & lives in your web browser where you do your work.

When it comes time to put together your final paper, you may want to look back at this guide for resources on Citations and RefWorks.