Identifying Sources in the Body of Your Paper

Identifying Sources in the Body of Your Paper


    The first time you cite a source, it is almost always a good idea to mention its  author(s), title, and genre (book, article, or web page, etc.).  If the source is central to your work, you may want to introduce it in a separate sentence or two, summarizing its importance and main ideas.  But often you can just tag this information onto the beginning or end of a sentence.  For example, the following sentence puts information about the author and work before the quotation:

Milan Kundera, in his book The Art of the Novel, suggests that “if the novel should really disappear, it will do so not because it has exhausted its powers but because it exists in a world grown alien to it.”

    You may also want to describe the authors if they are not famous, or if you have reason to believe your reader does not know them.  You should say whether they are economic analysts, artists, physicists, etc.  If you do not know anything about the authors, and cannot find any information, it is best to say where you found the source and why you believe it is credible and worth citing.  For example,

In an essay presented at an Asian Studies conference held at Duke University, Sheldon Garon analyzes the relation of state, labor-unions, and small businesses in Japan between the 1950s and 1980s. 

    If you have already introduced the author and work from which you are citing, and you are obviously referring to the same work, you probably don’t need to mention them again.  However, if you have cited other sources and then go back to one you had cited earlier, it is a good idea to mention at least the author’s name again (and the work if you have referred to more than one by this author) to avoid confusion. 



Quoting Material

What is quoting?

    Taking the exact words from an original source is called quoting.  You should quote material when you believe the way the original author expresses an idea is the most effective means of communicating the point you want to make.  If you want to borrow an idea from an author, but do not need his or her exact words, you should try paraphrasing instead of quoting. 

How often should I quote?

    Quote as infrequently as possible.  You never want your essay to become a series of connected quotations, because that leaves little room for your own ideas.  Most of the time, paraphrasing and summarizing your sources is sufficient (but remember that you still have to cite them!).  If you think it’s important to quote something, an excellent rule of thumb is that for every line you quote, you should have at least two lines analyzing it.  


How do I incorporate quotations in my paper?

Most of the time, you can just identify a source and quote from it, as in the first example above.  Sometimes, however, you will need to modify the words or format of the quotation in order to fit in your paper.  Whenever you change the original words of your source, you must indicate that you have done so.  Otherwise, you would be claiming the original author used words that he or she did not use.  But be careful not to change too many words!  You could accidentally change the meaning of the quotation, and falsely claim the author said something they did not.      

For example, let’s say you want to quote from the following passage in an essay called “United Shareholders of America,” by Jacob Weisberg:

“The citizen-investor serves his fellow citizens badly by his inclination to withdraw from the community.  He tends to serve himself badly as well.  He does so by focusing his pursuit of happiness on something that very seldom makes people happy in the way they expect it to.”
   
    When you quote, you generally want to be as concise as possible.  Keep only the material that is strictly relevant to your own ideas.  So here you would not want to quote the middle sentence, since it is repeated again in the more informative last sentence.  However, just skipping it would not work –  the final sentence would not make sense without it.  So, you have to change the wording a little bit.  In order to do so, you will need to use some editing symbols.  Your quotation might end up looking like this:

    In his essay, “United Shareholders of America,” Jacob Weisberg insists that “The citizen-investor serves his fellow citizens badly by his inclination to withdraw from the community.  He tends to serve himself badly. . .  by focusing his pursuit of happiness on something that very seldom makes people happy in the way they expect it to.” 

The ellipses (. . .) indicate that you have skipped over some words in order to condense the passage.  But even this version is still a bit lengthy – there is something else you can do to make it even more concise.  Try changing the last sentence from

“He tends to serve himself badly. . . by focusing his pursuit of happiness on something that very seldom makes people happy in the way they expect it to.”

to

“He tends to serve himself badly. . . by focusing his pursuit of happiness on [money].”


The brackets around the word [money] indicate that you have substituted that word for other words the author used.  To make a substitution this important, however, you had better be sure that “money” is what the final phrase meant – if the author intentionally left it ambiguous, you would be significantly altering his meaning.  That would make you guilty of fraudulent attribution.  In this case, however, the paragraph following the one quoted explains that the author is referring to money, so it is okay. 

    As a general rule, it is okay to make minor grammatical and stylistic changes to make the quoted material fit in your paper, but it is not okay to significantly alter the structure of the material or its content. 
     
Quoting within Quotes 

    When you have “embedded quotes,” or quotations within quotations, you should switch from the normal quotation marks (“”) to single quotation marks (‘’) to show the difference.  For example, if an original passage by John Archer reads:

The Mountain Coyote has been described as a “wily” and “single-minded” predator by zoologist Ima Warner. 

your quotation might look like this:

As John Archer explains, “The Mountain Coyote has been described as a ‘wily’ and ‘single-minded’ predator by zoologist Ima Warner.”

Note the double quotes surrounding the entire quotation, and the single quotes around the words quoted in the original. 


How do I include long quotes in my paper?

    The exact formatting requirements for long quotations differ depending on the citation style.  In general, however, if you are quoting more than 3 lines of material, you should do the following:

•    Change the font to one noticeably smaller (in a document that is mostly 12 point font, you should use a 10 point font, for example)
•    Double indent the quotation – that means adjusting the left and right margins so that they are about one inch smaller than the main body of your paper.
•    If you have this option in your word-processor, “left-justify” the text.  That means make it so that each line begins in the same place, creating a straight line on the left side of the quotation, while the right side is jagged.
•    Do NOT use quotation marks for the entire quotation – the graphic changes you have made already (changing the font, double indenting, etc.) are enough to indicate that the material is quoted.  For quotations within that quotation, use normal quotation marks, not single ones.
•    You might want to skip 1.5 times the line-spacing you are using in the document before you begin the quotation and after it.  This is optional and depends on the style preferred by your instructor.




Listing References

What’s a Bibliography?

A bibliography is a list of all of the sources you have used in the process of researching your work.  In general, a bibliography should include:

•    the authors’ names
•    the titles of the works
•    the names and locations of the companies that published your copies of the sources
•    the dates your copies were published
•    relevant page numbers (optional)

Different kinds of sources, such as magazine articles and chapters in multi-author volumes, may require more specific information to help your reader locate the material. 

Ok, so what’s an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is the same as a bibliography with one important difference: in an annotated bibliography,     the bibliographic information is followed by a brief description of the content, quality, and usefulness of the source. 

What are Footnotes?

Footnotes are notes placed at the bottom of a page.  They cite references or comment on a designated part of the text above it.  For example, say you want to add an interesting comment to a sentence you have written, but the comment is not directly related to the argument of your paragraph.  In this case, you could add the symbol for a footnote.  Then, at the bottom of the page you could reprint the symbol and insert your comment.  Here is an example:

This is an illustration of a footnote.1  The number “1” at the end of the sentence corresponds to the note below.  See how it fits in the body of the text? 


1 At the bottom of the page you can insert your comments about the sentence preceding the footnote.


When your reader comes across the footnote in the main text of your paper, he or she could look down at your comments right away, or else continue reading the paragraph and read your comments at the end.  Because this makes it convenient for your reader, most citation styles require that you use either footnotes or endnotes in your paper.  Some, however, allow you to make parenthetical references (author, date) in the body of your work.

    Footnotes are not just for interesting comments, however.  Sometimes, they simply refer to relevant sources.  In other words, they let your reader know where certain material came from, or where they can look for other sources on the subject. 

To decide whether you should cite your sources in footnotes or in the body of your paper, you should ask your instructor.
 
Where does the little footnote mark go?

Whenever possible, put the footnote at the end of a sentence, immediately following the period or whatever punctuation mark completes that sentence.   Skip two spaces after the footnote before you begin the next sentence.  If you must include the footnote in the middle of a sentence for the sake of clarity, or because the sentence has more than one footnote (try to avoid this!), try to put it at the end of the most relevant phrase, after a comma or other punctuation mark.  Otherwise, put it right at the end of the most relevant word.  If the footnote is not at the end of a sentence, skip only one space after it.   

What’s the difference between Footnotes and Endnotes?

The only real difference is placement – footnotes appear at the bottom of the relevant page, while endnotes all appear at the very end of your document.  If your notes are very important, footnotes are more likely to get your reader’s attention.  Endnotes, on the other hand, are less intrusive and will not interrupt the flow of your paper. 


If I cite sources in the footnotes (or endnotes), how’s that different from a bibliography?

    In footnotes or endnotes, you are citing sources that are directly relevant to specific passages in your paper.  In a bibliography, you are citing all of the sources that you researched, whether they relate to any specific part of your paper or not.  So your bibliography might contain “extra” sources which you read, but did not specifically cite in your paper.   Also, citations in footnotes or endnotes will always have page numbers, referring to the specific passages relevant to that part of your paper, while citations in bibliographies may have none (if you read an entire book, for example, you would not have to list specific page numbers in your bibliography.  If you quoted the book, however, you would have to mention the page numbers in your notes). 

What are “works cited” and “works consulted” pages?

Sometimes you may be asked to include these – especially if you have used a parenthetical style of citation.  A “works cited” page is a list of all the works from which you have borrowed material.  Your reader may find this more convenient than footnotes or endnotes because he or she will not have to wade through all of the comments and other information in order to see the sources from which you drew your material.  A “works consulted” page is a complement to a “works cited” page, listing all of the works you used, whether they were useful or not. 

Isn’t a “works consulted” page the same as a “bibliography,” then?

Well, yes.  The title is different because “works consulted” pages are meant to complement “works cited” pages, and bibliographies may list other relevant sources in addition to those mentioned in footnotes or endnotes.   Choosing to title your bibliography “Works Consulted” or “Selected Bibliography” may help specify the relevance of the sources listed. 

For more information on documenting sources, see Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/research/index.html

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