This post provides direction and best practices about properly incorporating MLA Style paraphrase and summary citation for ENG 1001 and ENG 1002 source-based essays. First there’s an example of how to incorporate a paraphrase/summary citation using proper MLA formatting and Citation Sandwich body paragraph structure. After that, you’ll find a description of “Paraphrase Best Practice” and a “Strong vs. Weak Example” of a paraphrase/summary citation.
More detailed information can be found in the “Paraphrasing from Sources” page the IVCC Stylebook.
Example Paraphrase/Summary with Citation Sandwich Steps
A paraphrase or summary citation happens when you describe all or part of an article/text/source in your own words rather than using word-for-word language from a source. Because a paraphrase uses your own language, it does not need quotation marks, but it should be incorporated into your body paragraph only after you provide a topic sentence and begin your paragraph’s claim.
Topic sentence of body paragraph. 2-3 sentences that set-up or build the paragraph’s claim. According to the article “Kids, Gender, and the Complexity of Social Gender Norms” from The Atlantic, gender expectations can be established as early as toddler years. Researchers have seen children as young as two years choosing gendered toys when given the option. The article also makes the claim that children brought up in gender neutral environments do not show a marked difference in their choice of toys (Stevens). It is easy to claim that parents are responsible for teaching a young girl to like pink or dolls or a young boy to like blue and trucks; however, the evidence it showing that parents can make all the effort at home to provide a neutral environment with little impact. Until the outside social exposure that children receive via television, grocery stores, day care providers, and the like becomes less gendered, there is little lasting impact parents will have.
Things to note about this example:
- The parenthetical documentation formatting of this source tells readers this article is by 1 author with the last name of Stevens. On the Works Cited page, this entry would begin with the authors last name, comma first.
- The use of the introductory signal phrase as well as the continued reference back to the source helps show readers where the paraphrase begins and where it ends as well as the source in which the info/idea originally comes.
- The explanation or context provided by you, the student, is nearly as long as the paraphrase citation, making your voice just as strong (or stronger) than the voice of the citation.
Citation Sandwich Reminder:
Every body paragraph needs to contain the following elements. These will add academic authority to your writing, showcase the relevance/credibility of the sources you’ve chosen as evidence of your claims, and help readers see the context of your evidence within your paragraph and essay claims.
- Body Paragraph Topic Sentence
- 2-3 sentences that state your claim
- Evidence: signal phrase with citation
- 2-3 sentences that explain (1) how the quote supports your claim or (2) context for the quote
- Repeat “claim, evidence, explain” steps, as needed (at least once is suggested)
- 1-3 sentences that wrap up the paragraph’s point and may transition to the next paragraph.
Paraphrase Best Practices
But wait…?! Some library database sources and Internet sources don’t have page numbers?! So plan ahead:
- Because parenthetical documentation will include author last name(s) OR “Article Title” when there’s no known author…
- Don’t use the author name in the signal phrase so you can save it for the parenthesis.
- That way instructors grading your writing and readers can clearly see where the paraphrase ends and where your voice picks up again.
Strong vs. Weak Examples
Strong Example: readers clearly see where the paraphrase citation ends.
- The article “Can We Teach Creativity?” in Slate explains the importance of creative arts in the public school system and how positive involvement in the arts raises student success and retention rates—students self-report more involvement in the classroom and higher self-esteem outside of the classroom (Pond). Providing a creative outlet for students seemingly gives them a break from the academic rigor of the school day, but it also helps them build strategic planning skills in an environment where they can now express their individual creativity and work abstract personal or social issues that may be concerning them.
Weak Example: makes it unclear as to where the paraphrase citation ends; also, this signal phrase does not show off the relevance and credibility of your source.
- The Amy Pond article explains the importance of creative arts in the public school system and how positive involvement in the arts raises student success and retention rates—students self-report more involvement in the classroom and higher self-esteem outside of the classroom. Providing a creative outlet for students seemingly gives them a break from the academic rigor of the school day, but it also helps them build strategic planning skills in an environment where they can now express their individual creativity and work abstract personal or social issues that may be concerning them.
And please please please: do not slap parenthetical documentation at the end of all your paragraphs “just in case.”
- IVCC’s online Stylebook
- Purdue’s OWL Writing Lab
- MLA Style examples for citing sources in your essay: https://www.ivcc.edu/stylebooks/stylebook4.aspx?id=31490
- Examples of commonly used signal phrases; this refers to literature but is applicable elsewhere.
- “Introduction to In-Text Citation” PowerPoint located in our Blackboard shell.
- “Direct Quote vs. Paraphrase Citation” PowerPoint
- “Citation Best Practices” PowerPoint located in our Blackboard shell
- “Upgraded Language Expectations” PowerPoint and related post.
And here’s a link to transitional language post if you’re looking for ways to provide more transition within and between your paragraphs.