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Research Help Guide: Citing Sources in your Paper

How to cite your sources (Video)

© 2010-2012 The Writing Center at UNC Chapel Hill

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Incorporating Sources (APA) Module

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Incorporating Sources into Your Writing


Quotations use the EXACT words from your source. In general, quotes should be used sparingly throughout your paper. Too many quotes disrupt your writing style and therefore your authors’ attention. A quote works best when it summarizes your point in a way that you never could!

E.g: As Churchill said, “never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few” (Jenkins, 2001, p.89).

Short Quotations

The general rule for short and direct quotes is anything more than 3 words from the original source is considered a quotation. Always introduce (lead into) your direct quotes and explain why they are important to your argument:

E.g: Smith (2005) believes that the current welfare practices “hurt those without the ability to fight back” (p. 89). This reflects……….

Long Quotations

Long quotations (more than 4 lines) are set in block quotations. Always lead into the long quotation with a sentence that ends with a “:”.


Matthew (2012) argues that the Simpsons was not written as a children’s cartoon, and concerned itself with adult issues from the very beginning:

The ubiquity of Bart Simpson and his catchphrases focused the nation’s attention on youth culture and led to a widespread belief that The Simpsons was a “children’s cartoon.” However, from the very start, The Simpsons was concerned with adult themes and with issues relevant to both men and women concerning the relationships they have with one another and with members of their immediate families … The Simpsons are quite simply more akin to what we are today and more attuned to the realities of contemporary life. Nonetheless, the show has been repeatedly criticized as a threat to “family values” (p. 82).

*This quote is from: Henry, Matthew A. (2012). The Simpsons, Satire, and American Culture. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

Altering a Quote

You can let your reader know that you have removed a word or sentence from your quote with an ellipsis – three periods surrounded by spaces. If you need to change the pronoun, you can use square brackets

Eg: In Smith’s (1998) study the “diversity of objects… are missing key elements of integration” (p. 5).

Eg: Gertrude asks her son Hamlet to “cast [his] nighted colour off” (1.2.68).


Paraphrasing is using your own words to describe information you took from your sources. Even when you put it into your own words, you still need to cite it. Paraphrasing should be used more often than direct quotes as it demonstrates that you understand the argument and are analyzing your source.

In order to help your paragraph flow, you should consider how you can introduce paraphrasing.

E.g: (using APA):

  • John Smith (2007) argues that……..
  • According to Smith (2007)……..
  • In his 2007 essay entitled “The Evils of Plagiarism,” John Smith argues………
  • Like Smith (2007) and Morgan (2008), Daley (2010) argues……..


When you summarize, you distill only the most essential points of a source. Like Twitter, you are summing up the main point in only a few sentences. In other words, you are condensing information for your reader. But before you summarize a source in your paper, you should decide what your reader needs to know about that source in order to understand your argument. Remember, you still need to cite the source, even if you are providing a quick summary.


Stanley Milgram’s (1963) article, “Behavioral Experience of Obedience,” describes a series of social psychology experiments conducted at Yale University’s Psychiatry Department, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.