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Why is it important to conclude a paragraph with the writer’s voice rather than a quote?*

Though quotations from reliable sources are often used to add credibility and support to a writer’s ideas, the focus of the paper should remain on the writer’s voice and his or her own agency as a writer.

Credentialed evidence should be provided to support the points a writer makes, but not at the expense of diluting the writer’s voice with overdependence on quotations. Each paragraph’s conversation should be directed by and concluded with the writer’s own voice, not by another author’s words.

How can a paragraph be effectively concluded with the writer’s voice?

Conclude with at least one sentence that wraps up the paragraph’s main point and connects the voices of the writer and the quoted source:

  • Look for key words in the quotation that can be reiterated effectively in the concluding sentence(s).
  • Look for connections and reasonable conclusions that can be made as a result of weaving the writer’s and quoted material’s ideas together.
  • Look for a nuance in the quotation that could possibly be referenced to help create a transition to the next paragraph.

Let’s look at an example:

Main point of the paragraph: Plastics and plastic waste are found nearly everywhere in America, but only a small percentage are recycled.

Quotation: “Only 8% of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling” ("Plastics"). [1]

Content of the writer’s paragraph: Consumer goods made of recyclable plastic are utilized in a variety of ways by most Americans on a daily basis. Plastics are frequently encountered in marketplaces, restaurants, workplaces, schools, and in homes; these plastics may take the form of shopping bags, plastic packaging, food containers, or beverage bottles, among countless others. Since many of these recyclable items are disposable, consumers must decide whether to simply throw away the plastics or place them in a collection container that will be taken to a recycling facility. Of these disposable plastics, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that “[o]nly 8% of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling” (“Plastics”).

Note: Here the reader is left with a quote generated by the EPA. Though this statistic from a reliable source supports the writer’s point, the quotation creates an abrupt end to the paragraph and leaves the source’s voice speaking.

Suggested ending sentences: This statistic suggests that the majority of the plastic waste generated by American consumers is not being recycled. To target those who are a part of this majority, recycling programs could be initiated that are aimed at raising the percentage of plastic waste that is recycled.

Note: Here the first sentence uses key words from the quote (plastic waste and recycle) and draws a simple conclusion based on the information in the quotation. The next sentence makes a suggestion for action in response to the statistic presented in the quotation.

[1] “Plastics.” EPA. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.


*Sponsored by the University of South Florida, this page is used in conjunction with USF's online tool for reviewing and assessing documents, My Reviewers, https://myreviewers.com.