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Integrating Sources


Formatting citations correctly—both in-text and on your works cited/references page—is important when working with outside sources in a written assignment. However, working with sources involves much more than simply correct formatting. For many students, the biggest challenge is integrating outside sources into a paper smoothly, while still maintaining control of their own voice. Below are some tips from the WCC staff on integrating sources into a text. Students are welcome to make appointments at the WCC to discuss any of these concepts in more detail!

Before you write...

  • Make sure the sources you locate are credible, relevant, and timely.
  • Develop a system of organization for sources.
  • Determine the purpose of each source.

As you draft...

  • Organize your paper around YOUR argument, not your sources.
  • When you know the main idea of each paragraph, decide where each source will be located and what its purpose will be.
  • Make sure that you are paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting correctly.
  • Use the “sandwich method” for integrating source material.

Strategies for revision

  • Make a reverse outline.
  • Review the distribution of sources and adjust as needed.

Other tips

  • When paraphrasing, don’t look at the original source—this may cause you to unintentionally plagiarize.
  • When you want to cite a quote you find within a source, try to find the original first and cite that instead.
  • Generally, you should paraphrase more than you quote directly. Consider quoting directly in cases where careful attention to the original language is important or when you want to draw on the authority of the speaker.