Using Sources
One of the fundamental skills emphasized in this class is the ability to use outside sources in writing an argumentative essay.

This lesson will teach you some of the basic principles about how to use sources in your own writing; at the end is an exercise testing your abilities.

Basic Principles for Using Documented Sources

To paraphrase, writers use their own words to restate the ideas of the original source. The paraphrase changes word choice and sentence structure but maintains the approximate length of the original.

To summarize, writers condense the source, restating only the main ideas — usually by paraphrasing. Summaries are always much shorter than the original source.

To quote, writers preserve the exact words, punctuation, and capitalization, and even the errors, of the source.

In practice, writers nearly always mix all three methods of citation. In order to summarize a paragraph, a writer may paraphrase the topic sentence but choose to retain, in quotes, the source's most vivid word choice.

Sources cited in this lesson are as follows:

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Revised January 9, 1999