Franklin Style Manual Online

1.3.1. Referencing sources in the body of the paper

As emphasized in Section 1.3, sources you reference in your paper should be utilized to help explain, support, and illustrate for your original observations and key points. Sources can provide examples; they can offer authoritative views on particular concepts; they can define analytical terminology you then apply to examples; and so on. Once you have determined the key points you want to make, you have a few options for drawing upon source material for support and illustration.


Quotation is using the exact wording of the original source. Be careful not to overuse quotations or present longer quotations than necessary. Quotations should only be used when the wording of the original source is either the main object of analysis or particularly poignant. You might, for instance, quote specific wording when analyzing controversial opinions expressed in sources, since readers will want reassurance that you are not just presenting a biased interpretation. While there are many other strategic reasons for using quotations of varying length to achieve a particular purpose, some general guidelines apply: (a) all quoted language must be put into quotation marks to avoid plagiarism (see the Section 1.4); (b) your own analysis and explanation of the quotation should be at least as long as the quotation itself; and, finally, (c) quotations should not generally appear in places where readers expect your original wording and observations (for instance, as a thesis statement, as a topic sentence for a paragraph, etc.).


Summarizing is reiterating the main point conveyed by the source or describing the source’s overall approach to the topic using your own words. You would summarize, as opposed to quote, when you want to report only the gist of the author’s writing or quickly describe the manner by which the source treats the topic. If you go into particulars beyond what most readers can easily take away from a quick review of the source themselves, then you probably need to provide quotations or paraphrase specific passages, each of which requires more careful considerations for integration into your own writing, especially in terms of proper citation. While a summary does not require specific page references be cited, since the summary presumably reflects the gist of the source as a whole, you nonetheless need to cite and credit the source to avoid plagiarizing.


Paraphrasing is putting the ideas presented in a particular passage of a source into your own words. You would want to paraphrase a passage, as opposed to quote it, in order to tailor the concepts and ideas expressed by the source to fit your particular audience, which may not have the same background and interests as the audience for whom the original source was written. You also might paraphrase a passage, rather than quote, to translate the ideas into terminology and concepts you already introduced in the paper, thereby better to support the overall purposes of your paper. Note that paraphrased passages can be either short, such as, a phrase conveying a statistic, or long, a whole paragraph explaining a complex idea. No matter their length, paraphrases should always be cited with references to specific passages in the original source. Bear in mind that paraphrasing is one of the key places where writers inadvertently plagiarize, either by borrowing original wording from the source without using quotation marks or by not making clear where the paraphrased ideas begin and original writing ends (and vice versa). See more in Section 1.4.

Figures and tables reproduced from sources

Many writing projects in the digital age now include visual evidence for support. If you use a figure or table in the body of your paper, expect to explain its significance at length, just as you would explain and analyze an extended quotation. If you discuss the figure only in passing, then consider shifting it to an appendix appearing after the main body of the paper. Cite the table or figure as you would a quotation or paraphrase, noting the source and referencing the location where it appears in the source. Be sure to note any modifications you have made and provide appropriate headings and formatting.See more in Section 3.3.2.

Last Updated: 06/8/2012 12:51