Writing a successful essay depends on incorporating outside source material for support, background and emphasis. Correctly managing quotations, paraphrases and summaries of content from sources, such as print and online articles, helps a writer avoid unintentional plagiarism and aids reader understanding. Keys to inserting article content into an essay include understanding documentation guidelines, using signal phrases, integrating quoted material into original text and providing in-text citations.
Ask your instructor which documentation system the assignment requires. Although numerous style guides exist, college essays in the humanities generally require the Modern Language Association (MLA) system, whereas social and applied sciences follow American Psychiatric Association (APA) guidelines.
Use signal phrases to introduce quoted, paraphrased or summarized material. Signal phrases name the author or other source and provides some context, such as the source's qualifications or other useful information. MLA guidelines require that signal phrases use present tense verbs ("Legal expert John Frank argues"), whereas APA style require that these phrases take either past tense ("Legal expert John Frank argued") or the present perfect ("has argued").
Integrate article material into your own words, using appropriate grammar and punctuation. Use brackets, ellipses and partial quotes inside your own sentences to make the source material flow smoothly into your original text. Show readers the significance of the quoted or paraphrased material to your essay by adding a sentence or two in your own words to emphasize the relevance to your thesis statement.
Reference all uses of outside information with an in-text, or parenthetical, citation following the quotation or paraphrase. MLA style requires at least a page number in parentheses after the source, but other identifying information can also be added, such as a keyword or the author's name, if it did not appear in a signal phrase. APA style places the year of publication after authors' names and the relevant page numbers in parentheses after the cited material.
Provide full references for all instances of outside source material in a reference list at the end of the essay. In MLA style, this is called a Works Cited list; in APA style, this list is called References. Each quotation, paraphrase or summary of an article mentioned in the essay must have a corresponding entry in the Works Cited or References.
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