70 Basic Integration: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

The Importance of Integration

In his excellent chapter on source integration, “Annoying Ways People Use Sources,” Kyle D. Stedman opens with the following general reminder about writing with sources:

In a blog, I cite a source by hyperlinking; in an academic essay, I use a parenthetical citation that refers to a list of references at the end of the essay. … [N]ot everyone in the entire world approaches these things the same way, but when I strategically learn the expectations of my U.S. academic audience, what I really want to say comes across smoothly, without little annoying blips in my readers’ experience.

Writing with sources is one of the most challenging aspects of academic writing, in part because there seem to be so many rules attached to it. Students see very different strategies when looking at news articles vs. social media vs. peer-reviewed articles.

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce a first year writing student to the basic conventions of referring to outside sources in essays written for an academic audience, especially in the U.S. Many of the conventions in this chapter actually apply to most formal situations, including professional and journalistic writing. There are separate chapters on MLA and APA conventions that become more granular.

There are three different ways to bring information from outside sources into your own writing: Summary, Paraphrase, and Direct Quotation. Understanding the differences between these forms is the foundation of integration.


A summary is a more general and condensed version of the source text.

Tips for summarizing

  • Write the information in your own words.
  • Keep the author’s original intent and meaning.
  • Focus on key ideas.
  • Shorten the original passage.
  • Include the citation.

Example of summarizing text correctly

Some text is highlighted to illustrate the plagiarism example below. The text is from: Dorcas, Michael E., et al. The Frogs and Toads of North Carolina: Field Guide and Recorded Calls. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, 2007.

Like many anuran species worldwide, the frogs and toads of North Carolina have a difficult road ahead. Worldwide, scientists have documented drastic declines in many frog and toad populations. For many of these disappearances and declines, the exact causes are difficult to determine. In some parts of the United States, scientists have documented strange body malformations in some species. These alarming developments have prompted an increased interest in the threats facing amphibians. Many organizations have developed programs to monitor the status of frogs and toads throughout the world.

In North Carolina, loss of quality habitat is one of the greatest threats frogs and toads face. Habitat destruction and fragmentation threaten entire populations by:

  • Eliminating wetland habitats necessary as breeding sites,
  • Removing forested areas and other upland habitats where many species live most of the year, and
  • Creating barriers between these two habitats that prevent individuals from migrating to and from breeding areas.

Scientists estimate that one-half of North Carolina’s original wetlands have been lost due to urban development and conversion to cropland. Our state ranked sixth in the nation for total acres of land developed between 1992 and 1997.

The yellow highlighting indicates how the wording and order have been directly copied from the original text above. Even though a citation has been provided in both cases, the example on the right side below is considered plagiarism.

Proper Summary

Environmental conditions in North Carolina pose a threat to frogs and toads. According to scientists, wetland destruction has already occurred on a massive scale. The destruction of wetlands, along with forests, uplands, and migration routes, could destroy vast numbers of these species. This is not only a concern in North Carolina, as frog and toad populations are declining around the world (Dorcas 8).


Like most species in the world, frogs and toads have a hard road ahead. Scientists have recorded major declines in many populations of frogs and toads. In North Carolina, loss of good habitat is one of the greatest problems, caused by the elimination of wetlands, removal of forests and upland habitats, and creation of barriers that prevent migration (Dorcas 8).


Paraphrase is a restatement of an idea in roughly the same length as the author originally described it. It’s the information in your own words. Paraphrasing gives a writer more control over incorporating a source into their writing and contributes to the cohesiveness of a draft.

Tips for paraphrasing

  • write the information in your own words.
  • keep the author’s original intention.
  • include a citation.

Too closely imitating the author’s language structure in your summary or paraphrase is a form of plagiarism, even if you provide a citation, because it gives the false impression that the words are your own when they are not. This includes rearranging the author’s sentences but using mostly the same wording, or simply inserting synonyms into the author’s sentence arrangement. To avoid doing this, make sure you are processing the author’s ideas and then presenting them in a way that is uniquely yours. Too closely mirroring the author’s syntax and word choice not only shows disregard for properly crediting the author, but does not give your own voice a chance to shine. The Bedford Handbook (Hacker 503) suggests reading the part of the work you want to summarize or paraphrase, and then looking away as you write it in your own words to help prevent copying it too closely.

Example of paraphrasing correctly

Some text is highlighted to illustrate the plagiarism example below. The text is from: Blodgett, Jan, and Ralph B. Levering. One Town, Many Voices : A History of Davidson, North Carolina. Davidson, NC: Davidson Historical Society, 2012.

Yet the condition of the town streets remained primitive well into the 1890s, largely due to the high cost of acquiring a rock crusher and macadamizing roads. Life in the village was still rusticWith red clay streets, alternately dirty or muddy, rock crossings, plank sidewalks, a line of wooden storefronts, horses and wagons tied up along Main Street and livestock pens next to homes, Davidson looked more like Dodge City with farmers and students instead of cowboys than a pristine college town of dignified homes and orderly appearance.

The yellow highlighting indicates how the wording and order have been directly copied from the original text above. Even though a citation has been provided in both cases, the example on the right side below is considered plagiarism.

Proper Paraphrase

The streets in the town of Davidson looked quite different in the 1890s than they do today.  With the absence of any proper pavement, the clay roads often became mud-filled and plank sidewalks and rock crossings provided a minimal shield for pedestrians. In addition, it was common practice to keep horses and other animals in close vicinity to residential dwellings.  This contributed to the grubby appearance of Davidson, a far cry from the order and cleanliness normally associated with small college towns.  The expense of paving materials was the main deterrent for not improving the roads (Blodgett and Levering 62-63).


The condition of the town streets was undeveloped far into the 1890s, mainly because of the high cost of rock crushers and macadamizing roads. Life was rustic in Davidson with red clay streets, wooden storefronts, and livestock pens close to houses. Davidson looked more like a frontier town with cowboys than a college town with stately homes and a clean and organized presence (Blodgett ad Levering 62-63).


Quoting is used to repeat exactly what another source has said or written, and the text is presented between quotation marks.

Example quote

Original text: The dream of the whale filled him. Avi felt his body to be suffused, like a peach soaked with brandy, the smell and flavor of the dream more present than the corporeal self.

From: Parker, Alan Michael. Whale Man : A Novel. Seattle, WA: WordFarm, 2011.

Examples of proper quotation vs. plagiarism 

The quotation on the right, though it has a citation, would be considered plagiarism because it is not enclosed in quotation marks. This would mislead the reader to believe it is a paraphrase instead of a quotation.

Proper Quotation

“The dream of the whale filled him. Avi felt his body to be suffused, like a peach soaked with brandy, the smell and flavor of the dream more present than the corporeal self” (Parker 40).


The dream of the whale filled him. Avi felt his body to be suffused, like a peach soaked with brandy, the smell and flavor of the dream more present than the corporeal self (Parker 40).


When to quote

  • You want to use a part of the author’s argument to express your own thoughts.
  • The author’s words are written so perfectly that you cannot improve them by paraphrasing.
  • You want to criticize the author’s original words.
  • You want to avoid plagiarism (i.e., claiming someone else’s words are your

Tips for quoting

  • include exactly what the author said or wrote.
  • use quotation marks.
  • include a citation.
  • remove unnecessary words.
  • avoid taking quotations out of context or paraphrasing in a way that obscures the author’s original intention.

Punctuation and Quotes: Understanding the American Style

APA, MLA, and many other formal styles employ what’s known as the “American style” of punctuation. Internet articles often have a mix of British and American styles, so it’s important to understand some of the basic conventions associated with the latter.

Commas & period: In the American style, periods and commas go inside quotation marks except when you use in-text citations. When including citations, periods and commas go outside the quotation marks.


The men later inhabit the hotel without pretension, according to Cole, forgoing the hotel beds to sleep on mats on the floor after “years of bedding down in the hills.”


Sheriff argues that this feint of self-delusion is meant to temper “the fact that blackness is constructed through the shared experience of discrimination and prejudice and is thus a product of oppression” (Sheriff 58).

Exclamation points and question marks go inside the quotation marks when they are part of the quotation, and outside when they are part of your own sentence that contains the quotation. With in-text citations, the question mark or exclamation point goes inside the quotation if it is part of that quotation, and a period follows the parenthetical citation.


The fact that Emerson periodically contradicts his own ideas only further exemplifies his point: “Why drag about a corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place?” (125).


But what are we to make of Harding’s admonition to “write while you can no matter the sacrifice”?

Colons and semi-colons go outside quotation marks.

This opening conforms to many of the standards of what Karen Halttunen refers to as “the narratological structure of the nonfictional murder mystery”; such tales of murder typically begin “with the corpus delicti, the fact of the crime, usually established by the dead body” (108).

Single vs. Double Quotation Marks vs. (qtd. in ___)

Double quotation marks are the convention for indicating a word, phrase, or chunk of text is pulled from the original source word for word. Sometimes the source includes quotes within it. When quoting these quotes, use either single quotation marks or a parenthetical citation that includes the phrase: (qtd. in ____).

single quotes inside double quotes: In the novel, Mary Ann told her husband, “‘It’s fine, I guess.'”

qtd. in: In the novel, Mary Ann told her husband, “It’s fine, I guess” (qtd. in Smith 98).

Embed quotes within essay paragraphs using the “Quote Sandwich”

In academic writing, it’s often recommended that students practice the “quote sandwich” approach when incorporating outside sources in body paragraphs of their essays. Rather than just throwing a quote into a paragraph and moving on, this three-step approach offers your reader a deeper understanding of what the quote is, and how it relates to your essay’s goals:

  1. Provide context: If you haven’t used it yet in the essay, tell us the source’s title and author (if known), and any other information that’s relevant, like the purpose of the organization that published it, for instance. Signal phrases are effective ways to quickly provide minimal context.
  2. Insert the quote: Provide the quote itself.  Be sure to format correctly and use quotation marks around exact language.
  3. Explain the significance of the quote: Once you’ve inserted your quotation, along with its context and attribution, don’t stop! Your reader still needs your assessment of why the quotation holds significance for your paper.
    basic version of the “quote sandwich”

Integrating with M-E-A-L paragraphs

The section above, on “quote sandwiches,” shows how quotes should be embedded within body paragraphs of an academic essay. When writing paragraphs based on outside information, a similar strategy applies to all forms of integration (summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation): the information needs to be framed and introduced, then summarized/paraphrased/quoted, and finally analyzed or evaluated according to the demands of the essay.

Here’s a modified version of the “quote sandwich” that allows for all three forms of integration:

  1. M = Main idea. The first sentence of a paragraph should clearly state the paragraph’s main idea, in your own words. In some writing situations, the purpose of the paragraph might be to summarize the source, such as in an annotated bibliography. In other writing situations, the main idea might be a claim or sub-claim that needs to be proved, such as in a persuasive essay.
  2. E = Evidence (and/or concrete details). Underneath the main idea will be the details from the source, whether summarized, paraphrased, or quoted. When using quotes, remember that a little goes a long way! Experienced writers blend all three forms of integration seamlessly, rather than relying on just one. Depending on the writing situation, this part of the “paragraph burger” might take up most of the space, especially with annotated bibliographies.
  3. A = Analysis (including evaluation and general discussion). This is where you explain the significance of the “condiment” details in your own words. This section is crucial to your paragraph. Don’t get caught in a quote trap of stringing quotes together without explaining, analyzing, or evaluating the information. If your paragraph dumps a lot of information on the reader without unpacking it, your writing will be weak and your reader will not be convinced that you understand the material you are writing about.
  4. L = Lead out. Sentence relating the paragraph back to the thesis statement and transitioning to the next body paragraph. In some writing situations you may not have a “bottom bun.” Annotated bibliographies, for example, will just have the top three layers (and sometimes just the top two).

In this textbook’s chapter on writing persuasive essays, the section on using the PEAS formula to draft Supporting Reasons very closely corresponds to the MEAL structure above.

This H5P graphic from Excelsior Online Writing Lab illustrates MEAL


Other integration tips

The tips below explain other conventions related to integration that students should be familiar with, such as how to use ellipses properly, adding words with brackets, and indenting block quotes.

Use signal phrases to introduce information from outside sources

A signal phrase is an introductory clause that signals to the reader a shift in point of view from you to your source. The appropriate use of signal phrases varies from discipline to discipline. Writers in the humanities often signal a quotation or paraphrase with the author’s name (as in “Korsgaard argues…” or “Vendler notes…”). Here are some examples of signal phrases you might use:

Spelke argues

Sandel notes

Lue confirms

Gates emphasizes

Wilson contends

Harris acknowledges

Price observes

Friedman suggests

Banaji claims

Using ellipses to remove unnecessary words

Shortening a quote by an author will help your argument to focus on its point more effectively. Show the words you have removed by using an ellipsis (…).

Example of using ellipses

Original text: While the relationship between emotional stress and disease, and mental and physical health more broadly, is often considered controversial within medical orthodoxy, Dr. Maté argues too many doctors seem to have forgotten what was once acommonplace assumption, that emotions are deeply implicated in both the development of illness, addictions and disorders, and in their healing. (Source: Goodman, Amy. “Dr. Gabor Maté on the Stress- Disease Connection, Addiction, Attention Deficit Disorder and the Destruction of American Childhood”, Democracy Now!, December 24, 2010)

Paraphrase, followed by selective quotation: While linking physical illness and emotions is discouraged by many doctors, “Dr. Maté argues too many doctors seem to have forgotten … that emotions are deeply implicated in both the development of illness, addictions and disorders.”

In the example above, the sentence that integrates the text opens with some paraphrasing that focuses on the central idea of the paragraph. The quote that follows captures key information but removes a lot of details. Removing words from a quote is useful; just make sure not to change the author’s intended meaning in the quote.

Tips for using ellipses

  • To indicate information has been left out, leave a space between either side of the ellipsis (like this … rather than this…).
  • If you’re quoting the part of a sentence, ellipses aren’t needed in front (According to Dr. Maté, some “have forgotten.”)
  • To indicate the end of a sentence has been left out, add an ellipsis along with a period (According to Dr. Maté, experts tend to miss that “emotions are deeply implicated … .”).

Using Brackets to change or add words in a quote

Writers can clarify the meanings of words to better match their own arguments or styles.
To do so, put the changes in square brackets, [like this].

Example of using brackets

Original text: With scientists’ warning that sharply higher temperatures would devastate the global south and threaten the viability of industrial civilisation in the northern hemisphere, campaigners said the new paper reinforced the imperative to cut emissions. (Source: “Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner
than predicted”. The Guardian. June 18, 2019.)

Quoted text with brackets: “With scientists’ warning that sharply higher temperatures would devastate the global south and threaten the viability of industrial civilisation in the northern
hemisphere, campaigners said the new [research] reinforced the imperative to cut emissions.”

In this example, “paper” is replaced by “research” which is more specific.

Block longer quotes

When quoting large chunks of text (in MLA, 4+ lines of quoted material), “block” the information by indenting once from the left-hand margin.


After reading several doctrinally rigid tracts, John Adams recalled the zealous ranting of his former teacher, Joseph Cleverly, and minister, Lemuel Bryant. He expressed his ambivalence toward religion in an 1817 letter to Thomas Jefferson:

Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!!’ But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company—I mean hell. (Smith 19)

Adams clearly appreciated religion, even if he often questioned its promotion.

Here are a few general tips for setting off your block quotations:

  • Set up a block quotation with your own words followed by a colon.
  • Indent. You normally indent 4-5 spaces for the start of a paragraph. When setting up a block quotation, indent the entire paragraph once from the left-hand margin.
  • Single space or double space within the block quotation, depending on the style guidelines of your discipline (MLA, CSE, APA, Chicago, etc.).
  • Do not use quotation marks at the beginning or end of the block quote—the indentation is what indicates that it’s a quote.
  • Place parenthetical citation according to your style guide (usually after the period following the last sentence of the quote).
  • Follow up a block quotation with your own words.
  • It’s common for students to overuse block quotes. The Curious Researcher suggests that a research paper “contain no more than 10 or 20 percent quoted material” (Ballenger 129). A proper summary or paraphrase lets the reader know that you have understood and analyzed what you have read.

Review Exercise


Suggested Reading

Kyle D. Stedman’s “Annoying Ways People Use Sources” offers an excellent overview of common issues associated with integration in academic essays.

This section is from: David College Library’s “When to Cite“; The Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre’s “Three Strategies for Using Evidence“; UNC Writing Center’s “Quotations“; Yuba College’s “The quote ‘sandwich’“; Tacoma Community College Library’s “The ‘hamburger technique’ of writing



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Write What Matters by Liza Long, Amy Minervini, and Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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