Using Sources, Page 2

Three Ways to Use Sources


Writers use sources to fill in gaps in their own knowledge about a subject. In general, there are three ways in which writers incorporate information from other sources into their own writing. They are

Regardless of what method you use to incorporate other information into your own writing, however, you must acknowledge your source. The level of acknowledgment--or "attribution"--will vary according to what kind of writing you are doing. In newspaper articles, for example, the acknowledgment of sources usually is expressed simply as "he said" or "she said." In more scholarly writing, you may need to use footnotes, endnotes, or combine in-text citations with a "Works Cited" page.

When to Give Your Source

You must acknowledge in your essays the source of

Pay particular attention to that last item, as it is frequently the cause of some anxiety among student writers. You must determine for yourself what "not commonly known" means based on your research, and this will vary for each instance. For example, it is commonly known that Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States and that he was president during the Civil War; however, something specific about his administration, or his policies, or his strategies in waging that war may not be commonly known. Information about such items would need to be acknowledged.


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