CompFAQ/Research/Quotations and Paraphrases

From Gerald R. Lucas
📝 English Composition Writing FAQ 11011102📖

Integrating Quotations and Paraphrases in Your College Essays

When writing a college essay, you will often need to integrate quotations and paraphrases from sources to support your arguments and provide evidence for your claims. However, doing so can be tricky, especially for new writers who may struggle to find the right balance between using too much or too little of other people’s work. This entry discusses incorporating quotes and paraphrases into your essays in a way that adds credibility and depth to your writing.

Integrating quotations and paraphrases into college essays is an essential skill for any new college writer to master. Being able to incorporate the words and ideas of others into your own writing is a crucial part of demonstrating your understanding of the subject matter and supporting your arguments.

However, simply copying and pasting a quote or paraphrase into your essay is not enough. You need to make sure that the quotes and paraphrases are properly integrated and used effectively. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

Understand the difference between quotations and paraphrases.

A quotation is a word-for-word copy of someone else’s writing or speech. A paraphrase, on the other hand, is a restatement of someone else’s ideas in your own words. It is important to understand the difference between the two because the way you integrate them into your essay will be different.

Choose your quotations and paraphrases carefully.

Be selective about the quotations and paraphrases you choose to include in your essay. They should be directly relevant to your argument and support the points you are making. Make sure they are from credible sources, such as academic journals, books, or interviews with experts in the field.

Use a direct quotation when the exact words of the source are important. This is often the case when analyzing literature, discussing historical events, or citing an expert’s opinion. That said, avoid overusing direct quotations. They should be used sparingly and only when necessary to support your argument.

Use a paraphrase when the specific wording of the source is not as important as the overall message or idea being conveyed. This is often the case when summarizing research or scholarly articles.

Introduce the quotation or paraphrase.

Before inserting a quotation or paraphrase into your essay, introduce it to your reader. This can be done by providing some context, explaining who said it, or why it is relevant to your argument. This context helps to smoothly integrate the quote or paraphrase into your essay, making it seem like a natural part of the text. Quotations inserted by themselves into you essay are called “dangling quotations,” and should be avoided.

Use proper citation.

Always cite your sources when you use quotations or paraphrases in your essay. This is important for avoiding plagiarism and giving credit to the original author. The citation should include the author’s name, the title of the work, and the page number(s) where the quotation or paraphrase can be found.

Blend the quotation or paraphrase with your own writing.

It is important to seamlessly integrate the quotation or paraphrase with your own writing, so it flows smoothly and sounds like a natural part of your essay. Use transitional phrases such as "according to," "in addition to," or "as a result" to connect the quotation or paraphrase with your own words. Also, try to use your own words to explain the quote or paraphrase, so that it makes sense in the context of your essay.

Analyze and explain the quotation or paraphrase.

After you have integrated the quotation or paraphrase into your essay, analyze and explain it. This practice shows that you understand the idea and are using it to support your argument. You can do this by discussing how it relates to your argument, explaining what it means, or giving an example of how it applies to the topic.



When quoting from a text, make sure to incorporate the quotation into your sentence. For example:

Correct: The writer shares a connection with the axolotls through their eyes: “the axolotls spoke to me of the presence of a different life, of another way of seeing” (Cortázar 398).
Incorrect: “The axolotls spoke to me of the presence of a different life, of another way of seeing.” The writer shares a connection with the axolotls through their eyes.

In the first example, the quotation supports the author’s supposition with a gracefully integrated quotation. The second example presents a quotation out-of-context, supporting nothing, called a “dangling quotation.” Quotations cannot stand on their own.

Also, when the quotation exceeds four lines on your paper (or screen), you must present it as a block quotation by indenting it an inch and using no quotation marks. Also, when block quoting, do not use quotation marks, e.g.:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nulla tempus consectetur purus rhoncus egestas. Suspendisse malesuada mollis ante, quis tincidunt quam tincidunt et. Phasellus id tellus vel libero sodales sagittis. Duis rutrum neque orci, gravida accumsan orci consectetur ac. Vivamus in enim sed mi lobortis vehicula a in felis. Phasellus scelerisque tortor ac eros mattis, eu aliquam ipsum semper. Suspendisse in aliquet quam. Sed lacus nunc, venenatis eget mauris ut, posuere pulvinar mi. Proin tincidunt, ex quis euismod finibus, erat nisi volutpat est, et interdum ex odio eu metus. Aliquam convallis malesuada elit, sed auctor sapien maximus sed. Etiam sodales non elit vel consectetur. (Fisher 45)

Here is another example:

Original text: “The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.” - Audrey Hepburn
Ineffective integration: Audrey Hepburn said, “The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters” (Hepburn).
Effective integration: According to Audrey Hepburn, “The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters” (Hepburn). This quote reminds us of the importance of happiness in life, which is a central theme in many works of literature.

Example of an integrated quotation

Original sentence: The author argues that ‘it is impossible to achieve true happiness without first experiencing pain and suffering” (Smith 24).
Integrated sentence: According to Smith, true happiness cannot be achieved without experiencing pain and suffering (24).

Example of a quotation used for emphasis

Original sentence: The idea of the American Dream has been “an enduring theme in American literature” (Johnson 7).
Integrated sentence: The American Dream, an enduring theme in American literature, has shaped the way people think about success and happiness (Johnson 7).

Example of a quotation used for support

Original sentence: “The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly severe, and urgent action is needed to address them” (Jones 56).
Integrated sentence: Jones argues that urgent action is needed to address the increasingly severe effects of climate change (56).
Written: 2002, 2022; Revised: 04-15-2023; Version: Beta 0.7 💬