Flow: Integrate Textual Evidence (Quotes, Paraphrases, Summaries)

Integrate Textual Evidence (Quotes, Paraphrases, Summaries) concerns

  • your ability to weave citations into a text, to synthesize all available information, in ways that support and substantiate the text–its thesis/research question, rhetorical stance, tone.
  • your ability to introduce and clarify the ethos of the quoted, paraphrased, or summarized information
  • your professionalism in terms of providing the details others need to locate the sources you’re citing and affirmation that information has value.

The ability to Integrate Textual Evidence is a core 21st century literacy, whether you’re writing for the workplace or school.

When quotations are smoothly integrated, writers can strategically introduce their readers to the new speaker, connect their point to the quotation’s theme, and provide their audience with a clear sense of how the quote supports the paper’s argument. Using these tactics to segue from the writer’s voice to the source’s voice can add agency and authority to the writer’s ideas.


In workplace and school settings, texts that are judged to be substantive are typically informed by textual research.

When working to integrate textual research into your text, you want your readers to understand how the new information relates to your ideas and arguments.

Here is one example of engaging with source material in an engaging, conversational mode:

Tom Smith writes, “Most ponies enjoy skateboarding on Saturday nights” (8). Though my findings support Smith’s claims that most ponies do enjoy skateboarding, however, my research shows that ponies tend to skate on Sunday afternoons. The differences in our findings may come from the recent changes in skateboarding laws, which are not applicable on Sundays because skateboarding officials have the day off.

In this example, the writer responds to the source material by comparing and contrasting the source’s ideas with his or her own. The source material is the section of the sentence that appears between the quotation marks. This sentence comes from page 8 of Tom Smith’s book; this is indicated by the number 8 that appears between the parentheses. If the writer and Tom Smith were at a party together, their conversation would be interesting and vibrant. Here is one example of unsuccessful source engagement:

Tom Smith writes, “Most ponies enjoy skateboarding on Saturday nights” (8). I agree.

In this example, we see no engagement with the source material. If the writer and Tom Smith were talking at a party, it would be a boring conversation that does not go anywhere. Simply agreeing or disagreeing does not continue the conversation, nor does it highlight the importance of your findings. Another way of thinking about source engagement is a three-step process: explain, engage, and discuss.

  1. Explaining: Explaining requires that you explain what the author in the source is talking about and why it is important. Do not take it for granted that readers will know why the source material you use is important or significant.
  2. Engaging: The second step, engage, requires you to talk back to the source
  3. Discussing: Finally, discuss the implications of your response. Here is an example of this process:

Example: The latest study from Bird University found that “parrots tend to sleep all day on Sundays” (1). This finding is significant because it supports my hypothesis that Sunday is the official day of rest for parrots. Further research on this topic is necessary; it could be significant to many other fields of study if other varieties of birds also rest on Sundays.

Five Strategies for Integrating Textual Evidence

When citing outside research, writers want to

  1. Avoid dropped quotes
  2. Introduce the Author’s Name and Publication
  3. Use a signal phrase at the beginning or end of the quotation
  4.  Use an informative sentence to introduce the quotation
  5. Use appropriate signal verbs
  6. Repeat the Author’s Name to Aid Cohesion & Comprehension When You Continue to Reference that Author
  7. Use Punctuation to Set off Sources from Your Prose.

Avoid Dropped Quotes

Dropped Quotes are quotes that are dropped into a text without being introduced. Readers are confused by dropped quotes, particularly when numerous quotes are dropped, because

  • they don’t know enough about the source to determine if its authentic, reliable, timely.
  • they cannot distinguish between what the writer is saying and what the sources are saying–i.e., who is speaking, who is driving the argument
  • they cannot tell how the dropped quotes relate to one another or the writer’s thesis/research question.

Dropped quotes disrupt the flow of thought, create an abrupt change in voice, and/or leave the reader wondering why the quote is included.

Instead of creating an unwelcome disruption in their paper’s cohesiveness with a dropped quotation, thoughtful writers should employ strategies for smoothly integrating source material into their own work.

You should introduce your quotes with your own words either before or after the quote—do not ask the quote to “speak for itself” and do all the work alone—you have to explain to the reader what the quote is doing there. You can avoid dropped quotes by

  • distinguishing between your ideas and those of your sources
  • introducing your sources, clarifying their ethos, pathos, logos.

Introduce the Author’s Name and Publication

When incorporating a source into your paper for the first time using MLA, reference not only the author’s full name (if provided) but also the title of the publication.

If you wanted to use a quote from Homi Bhabha’s The Location of Culture and you had not referenced this source yet in your paper, you would want to give it a full introduction:

In The Location of Culture, Homi Bhabha discusses the effect of mimicry upon the cultural hybrid, claiming that mimicry renders “the colonial subject . . . a ‘partial’ presence” (123).

Before quoting, you provide the reader with both the author (Homi Bhabha) and the title of the publication (The Location of Culture). That way, going forth, unless you introduce a different book or article, the reader knows that all references to Bhabha come from The Location of Culture.

Use Signal Phrases

When using information from a source, whether just summarizing or analyzing the information, you need to indicate where that information came from. If an you do not use signal words and phrases to show where the information came from, others may assume you are presenting your original ideas. That sort of error constitutes unintentional plagiarism. When incorporating quotes, facts, evidence, and/or paraphrasing from a reference, or source, indicate where the information came from with phrases such as:

  • According to the author…
  • The author states…
  • In the article…
  • The source provides information about…
  • Noted journalist John Doe proposed that “ . . . ” (14).
  • “. . . ,” suggested researcher Jane Doe (1).
  • Experts from The Centers for Disease Control advise citizens to “ . . . ” (CDC).

Below is an example of a source summary paragraph in which it is unclear whether the information is from the source or the author’s own ideas. In this summary, the author of the paragraph does not use signal words and phrases to link the information to the author of the research source. Click here for the original article.

Some people say that whoopee cushions originated in the Middle Ages, but they were actually invented in 1930s Canada. Whoopee cushions became popular very quickly, making appearances in a 1942 Bob Hope and Bing Crosby movie and 1950s comics. Over time, the whoopee cushion has changed from green to mostly pink in color and a wooden mouth to a rubber one. They are now made mostly in China.

Now, here is the same summary with signal words and phrases (in bold) to indicate that the information comes from a source. The author does not use a signal word or phrase for each sentence, but the author does make it clear when using information from a research source.

According to the article “Who Made That Whoopee Cushion, some people say that whoopee cushions originated in the Middle Ages, but they were actually invented in 1930s Canada. Authors Hilary Greenbaum and Dana Rubinstein describe how whoopee cushions became popular very quickly, making appearances in a 1942 Bob Hope and Bing Crosby movie and 1950s comics. The authors also state that over time, the whoopee cushion has changed from green to mostly pink in color and a wooden mouth to a rubber one. They are now made mostly in China.

Use an informative sentence to introduce the quotation:

  • Sample introductory sentences:
    • The results of dietician Sally Smith’s research counter the popular misconception that a vegan diet is nutritionally incomplete:
    • An experiment conducted by Dave Brown indicates that texting while driving is more dangerous than previously believed:

Use appropriate signal verbs:

addsconfirmslistsreports
arguesdescribesillustrates states
assertsdiscussesnotessuggests
claimsemphasizesobserveswrites

Repeat the Author’s Name to Aid Cohesion & Comprehension When You Continue to Reference that Author

When incorporating a source into your paper for the second time (or any other time following the initial introduction of that source) using MLA, provide the reader with only the author’s last name.

If you are still working with Bhabha’s The Location of Culture, you might do something like this:

As Bhabha writes, “[Mimicry] is a form of colonial discourse that . . . [exists] at the crossroads of what is known and permissible and that which though known must be kept concealed” (128).

Since you’ve already provided the reader with Bhabha’s full name (Homi Bhabha), there’s no need to give it again. All later references thus only require Bhabha’s last name. If pulling material from a different work of Bhabha’s, though, you’ll need to introduce the quote (or paraphrase or summary) by specifying this new title (though you’ll still only need to provide Bhabha’s last name).

Note: Never refer to an author by his or her first name. Either reference the author by his or her full name or by his or her last name, depending upon whether or not you’ve previously mentioned the author’s full name in your piece of writing.

Use Punctuation to Set off Sources from Your Prose

In the interests of Brevity, Clutter, Concision, you may not want to cite only a few words from a source rather than a lengthy quote. Dashes, Ellipses, Parenthesis–these forms of punctuation enable you to distinguish your ideas from your sources.

You may choose to use a dash (two hyphens) or a colon to introduce the quoted material.
This can be tricky, depending upon the excerpt you’re using, because you may have to rework the wording within the quote to suit the sentence structure.

Whenever you change or add/delete anything—anything at all, even a capitalization—within a quote, you must bracket [ ] the change, addition, or deletion.

The child crosses this bar when he enters into language, as he can never again access the Real—a realm that now may “only [be] approach[ed] through language” (Price Herndl 53).

You may choose to change the wording within a quote (and bracket accordingly) so that it works within your sentence structure.
The excerpted material must make sense within the context of your sentence, and the reader still must be able to distinguish between your ideas and those of your source.

The child crosses this bar when he enters into language, as he can never again access the Real, for “[he] can only approach it through language” (Price Herndl 53).

Works Cited

Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994. Print.

Price Herndl, Diane. “The Writing Cure: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Anna O., and ‘Hysterical’ Writing.” NWSA Journal 1.1 (1988): 52–74. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 30 April 2011