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Writing: 7. Incorporate Your Sources Ethically

This guide offers resources on writing, including understanding your assignment, outlining, grammar, incorporating sources, and citing your sources.

Incorporating Sources Into Your Writing Ethically

This guide will explain how to ethically incorporate outside sources, whether in the form of quotations, paraphrases, or summaries, into your own writing. In academic writing, the claims you make need to be supported with credible sources of information. To avoid plagiarism, your sources must be paraphrased, summarized, or quoted and then cited correctly in APA Style (or the citation style required by your instructor). 


Your final draft must include the following elements: 

1. Direct quotes need quotation marks and an in-text citation.

2. Paraphrases and summaries need an in-text citation.

3. Your in-text citations (except personal communications) must have a corresponding entry in your reference list.



Review the chart below to understand the purpose and frequency of each type of source incorporation. 


Type of Incorporation Definition Purpose Frequency of use
Quotations Providing the exact language from a passage in a source. Used when the author's words or phrases are especially powerful or well-said.



Rewriting sentences or short sections from a source into your own words. 

Should be roughly the same length as the source material.

Used when describing specific points or ideas from a work.  Most frequently

Giving an overview of the main points of a larger work, such a book or article.

Should be much shorter than original work.

Used if you want to provide background on a work but do not need to go into specific details.   Frequently



Please read Fitchburg State University's handout, Quotation, Paraphrasing, and Summary, to clarify when you should quote from a source versus when you should paraphrase or summarize.



1. READ: Tips for paraphrasing and summarizing without plagiarizing: 

  • Paraphrases and summaries MUST have an in-text citation and an entry in your reference list.
  • Do not look at the original text while writing your paraphrase or summary. Cover up the source and restate the author's point in your own words and phrasing.
  • Then double-check the original text to make sure you did not use the author's words or phrasing by mistake. If the paraphrase is too close to the original, try again.
  • If your instructor finds that your sentences are too similar to the original work in either exact wording or in the phrasing of your sentences, you could be accused of plagiarism. So, remember to completely rework the original sentences into your own words and sentence structures. 


2. WATCH: "Paraphrasing Gone Bad" from SJSU King Library: 

SJSU King Library [screename].  (2016, August 2).  Paraphrasing gone bad [Video file].  Retrieved from



3. REVIEW: Some more examples of good versus bad paraphrases: 












Quotations are exact words or phrases borrowed directly from a source. Most of your paper should be in your own words, so quotations should be used sparingly (especially in the sciences).  All quotations must have an in-text citation and an entry in your reference list. 


Steps to follow when quoting:

1) Introduce your quote. You can do this by writing some lead-up text or using a signal phrase.

2) Put the quoted material in quotation marks. Be sure to reproduce the quoted material accurately. 

3) Decide where you want to name the author (in the signal phrase or in the parenthetical citation). 

4) The date and page number/paragraph number/section title/chapter title must be included.

4) Do not forget to put a corresponding entry in your reference list!


Examples of quoting in APA format:

Harris and Griffin (2015) have defined compassion fatigue as "the physical, emotional, and spiritual result of chronic self-sacrifice and/or prolonged exposure to difficult situations that renders a person unable to love, nurture, care for, or empathize with another's suffering" (p. 82). 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2018), "Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer, and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs" (What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Breast Cancer section). 


Watch this brief video by Western Libraries on using quotations in APA: 

Western University [screen name]. (2017,  July 19).  APA style guide: in-text and quotations [video file].  Retrieved from







Block quotations are long quotations that are 40 words or more. While these should be used extremely infrequently in your papers (if at all), in rare cases you need to quote a lengthy passage. Here's how to do it!


Steps to Block Quoting:

  1. Introduce the quote. There a few ways to do this. You can see examples in this APA handout.
    • You can write an introductory sentence to set up the quote and end it with a colon or a period. 
    • You can write an introductory clause that sets up the quote and end the clause with a comma. 
  2. Start the quoted passage on a new line, indenting every line of the block quotation 1/2 inch (one tabbed space) from the left margin.
  3. The entire quote is double-spaced. 
  4. Do not use quotation marks around the block quote.
  5. Once you finish the quote, add the final punctuation. 
  6. If you named the author and publication year in the introductory sentence, place only the page number(s) in parenthesis. 
  7. If you did not name the author in the introductory sentence, put the author, year, and page number in parenthesis after the final punctuation.
  8. Do not put a period after the parenthesis.


Block Quote Examples: