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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Citation Styles

A library guide on citation styles and managers..

How to use sources

There are three main ways of incorporating sources into your paper:

  • Quote - Any time you use the exact wording found in a source it needs to be "quoted." Use minimally and only when the source has written something in an interesting/distinctive way.
  • Paraphrase - Putting an excerpt from a source in your own words, rephrasing but not shortening it.
  • Summarize - Boiling an excerpt down to its essential points, like describing an entire book in one or two sentences.


Tips for quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing:

  • Remember,  all three methods require a citation! See our Citation Styles page for more on how to do this.
  • Limit block quotes (long, direct quotations from a source) as much as possible.
  • Don't do this: "A quotation from a source without any explanation." It's called a dropped quote, it just sits in a paragraph on its own. Always explain where a quotation is from and why it's interesting. Analyze its language and explain its relevance to the research question you are pursuing.
  • Introducing and commenting on every quotation, paraphrase, and summary makes it easier to distinguish your voice from the source's.
  • Summaries are handy when you need to explain a lot of sources in a small space, to help the reader understand the background of your topic. Choose your words carefully to emphasize the most relevant aspects of longer passages.