Source Material - Research - NICC Library at Northeast Iowa Community College
Skip to Main Content


Putting in Source Material

When should you quote, paraphrase, or summarize?


  • When you want the author to lend authority and credibility to your point.
  • When there is a memorable or historically significant language you'd like to use.
  • When you don't want the author's meaning to be lost or changed.
  • If you find the author's wording clear and concise that you wouldn't be able to make the same point in different wording.

Summarize or Paraphrase:

  • When you can express the main points in fewer words than the original source.
  • When you just want the ideas presented in the source, but not the specific language.

Take a look at the boxes below to get more tips and tricks on how to add source material to your paper.


Quoting is defined: To repeat or copy (a group of words from a text or speech), typically with an indication that one is not the original author or speaker. To learn how to quote look below:

  1. Select the quote you'd like to use in your paper.
  2. Record it exactly as it appears in the original source.
    • Use ellipses (...) to mark spots where you have left out words from the original text.
  3. Place quotation marks around the complete text.
  4. Note the source and page number of the quotation in a launch statement or in parentheses.


Summarizing is defined by: To give a brief statement of the main points of (something). To summarize properly, follow the steps:

  1. Select a passage of text, article, chapter, or entire book that supports your research.
  2. Read the section(s) until you feel you have a good understanding of its main points.
  3. Write a sentence or two in your own words that captures the main points.
  4. Revise your summary so it reads clearly.
  5. Note the source (and page number, if there is one) in either a statement following your summary or in parentheses. 


A paraphrase is expressing the meaning of (the writer or speaker or something written or spoken) using different words, especially to achieve greater clarity. To paraphrase, follow these steps:

  1. Read the original text until you grasp its meaning.
  2. Using your memory, write down the main points or concepts. 
  3. Change the structure of the text by rewording the opening, changing the order of sentences, lengthening or shortening sentences, etc.
  4. Replace keywords within the sentences with synonyms or phrases with similar meanings.
  5. Note the source and page number of the paraphrase in a statement or in parentheses.