Example Paraphrase/Summary Citation

This post provides direction and best practices about properly incorporating MLA paraphrase/summary citation. First there’s an example of how to incorporate a paraphrase/summary citation using proper MLA formatting and Citation Sandwich body paragraph formatting. After that, you’ll find a description of “Paraphrase Best Practice” and a “Strong vs. Weak Examples” 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

Topic sentence of body paragraph. 1-3 sentences that set-up or build the paragraph’s claim. According to an article 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 (“Kids, Gender, and The Complexity of Social Gender Norms”). 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:

  1. The parenthetical documentation formatting of this source tells readers this article does not have a given author. On the Works Cited page, this entry would begin with the “Article Title.”
  2. The use of the introductory signal phrase as well as the continued reference back to the source (while including additional information) helps show readers where the paraphrase begins and where it ends as well as what source provided the info/idea.
  3. 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. 

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How to Summarize a Short Story’s Plot

When summarizing the majority or entire plot of a story, oftentimes appearing in the introduction of a literary analysis, it’s not necessary to include parenthetical documentation after each sentence. Instead, one should reference the author name and story title early in the paragraph, and then reference the author name a few more times during the summary. That ensures that readers are keenly aware that the writer is using a summary of the stated story written by the stated author.

Here’s a link to the IVCC Stylebook page that further explains MLA style summary and paraphrase citations.

Some aspects of the below example are misrepresented in order to provide a better example for the scenario of an ENG 1002 essay.

Plot Summary Example (no parenthetical documentation:

Written by Jennifer Lee, “Frozen is a short story about two sisters struggling to connect despite a childhood secret that is keeping them apart. Lee creates a symbolic setting for the sisters, a castle where both are isolated from loving connection, but only Elsa understands the true reason for their isolation. Ana eventually helps Elsa learn that love is more powerful than magical power, and Ana is rewarded with the sisterly connection she had been seeking for so long. Lee’s characters are royals in a magical, fairy-tale world, but their emotional disconnect from each other can be a stand-in for the emotional barrier social media places between the social interactions of modern individuals.

Notice how continued use of the author name keeps this summary from being considered plagiarism. And with a full plot-summary, most instructors don’t expect you to include the page numbers. If, however, you’re summarizing a short section, pages number may be necessary.