Using the Words of Others
One of the most important features of academic writing is the use of words and ideas from written sources to support your own points. Essentially, there are three ways to incorporate words and ideas from sources into your own writing:
1. Direct quotation. Bob Herbert says, “The nonstop humiliation of young black and Hispanic New Yorkers, including children, by police officers who feel no obligation to treat them fairly or with any respect at all is an abomination” (par. 1).
2. Paraphrase. In “Jim Crow Policing,” Bob Herbert notes that racial profiling in New York of black and Hispanic citizens is humiliating and unfair (par. 1).
This is a paraphrase of the quotation in #1; you can also paraphrase an entire article by putting it in your own words.
3. Summary. In “Jim Crow Policing,” Bob Herbert cites statistics and stories from New York City to prove that racial profiling is extensive and unjust. The New York Police Commissioner claims that these “stops” are “life-saving.” But according to the statistics the author provides, too often innocent citizens are harassed and the stops are unwarranted (par. 1).
In-Text Citation. MLA documentation style also requires in-text citations for every direct quotation, indirect quotation, paraphrase, or summary.
If the author’s name is given in the text, the page number should be furnished in parentheses at the end of the sentence containing the material. If the author’s name is not provided in your essay, put the author’s name and page number in parentheses after the material.
Practice with Sources. Choose two passages from the reading selection that you might be able to use in your essay. First, write down each passage as a correctly punctuated direct quotation. Second, paraphrase the material in your own words. Finally, respond to the idea expressed in the passage by agreeing or disagreeing with it and explaining why. Now you are ready to use this material in an essay.